Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Heartland's Leaked Documents Show How Climate Skepticism Spreads

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Heartland's Leaked Documents Show How Climate Skepticism Spreads

Article excerpt

Leaked internal documents from The Heartland Institute show how one organization is working to promote global warming denial.

Leaked internal documents expose some of the mechanisms a prominent 'free-market' think tank uses to discredit climate science.

The website DeSmogBlog, which seeks to "clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change" obtained documents leaked by the Heartland Institute, including the organization's 2012 budget, its fundraising plan, and recent board meeting minutes. The institute, which has offices in Chicago and Washington D.C., has claimed that one of the documents is fake, but admits that others were authentic.

The documents represent "a rare glimpse behind the wall of a key climate denial organisation," Kert Davies, director of research for Greenpeace, told The Guardian.

Whatever Heartland is doing, it seems to be working. Americans once largely embraced the science behind global warming, but no more. According to Harris interactive, in 2007, 71 percent of Americans believed that human activity was changing the Earth's climate. By July of 2011, that number had fallen to 44 percent.

Climatologists are mostly believers. Another Harris Interactive poll found that 97 percent of climatologists believe that global temperatures have increased in the past century. And 84 percent of these experts credit humans with causing the temperature increase. Scientists are still trying to understand the details of humans' impact on climate, what it means for the future and how to mitigate its effects.

But among most Americans, but belief - or disbelief - in climate science seems to be shallow, and it is largely driven not by science or scientists, but by politicians. A study published online in the journal Climatic Change last year, demonstrated that belief in climate change and its anthropogenic causes peaked in 2006-2007. …

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