The documents show how groups play up controversy to undermine confidence in well-established scientific findings
After the leak from the Chicago-based thinkthank the Heartland Institute, much attention is now being focused on the alleged deception used by the water scientist Peter Gleick to obtain the sensitive internal documents.
And while acts of deception cannot be condoned, it is also important to note that the documents obtained by Gleick provide an insight into how some of those groups that are fundamentally opposed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases attempt to convey the impression that their arguments are founded on science rather than on ideology.
The Heartland Institute states on its website that its mission is “to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems”, and that the aim of its work on climate change is to promote “market-based, rather than government-based, solutions to environmental problems”. The Institute has been one of the most active lobbyists against policies in the United States to curb emissions, primarily by attempting to undermine confidence in the findings of scientific research that climate change is driven mainly by human activities.
One of the newly released documents shows very clearly how the institute intends to target teachers and schoolchildren with this strategy. It begins by claiming:
“Many people lament the absence of educational material suitable for K-12 [kindergarten to 12th grade] students on global warming that isn’t alarmist or overtly political. Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.”