A line-by-line evaluation of the Climate Strategy memo, which the Heartland Institute has repeatedly denounced as a “fake” shows no “obvious and gross misstatements of fact,” as Heartland has alleged. On the contrary, the Climate Strategy document is corroborated by Heartland’s own material and/or by its allies and employees.
It also uses phrases, language and, in many cases, whole sentences that were taken directly from Heartland’s own material. Only someone who had previous access to all of that material could have prepared the Climate Strategy in its current form.
In all the circumstances – taking into account Peter Gleick’s explanation of the origin of the Heartland documents, and in direct contradiction of Heartland’s stated position – DeSmogBlog has concluded that the Climate Strategy memo is authentic.
Based on the balance of probabilities, I would say the document is authentic. Of course most climate sceptics will continue to deny that the document is authentic. Why?
Heartland Institute has little choice to deny ownership of the document. Where they to admit authorship, they expose themselves to:
- the possible loss of their tax-exempt charitable status
- confirmation of the role of think tanks in undermining the IPCC and the work of scientists
- the reputation of not just of Heartland, but those affiliated with its activities, being destroyed.
Bad actors: doubt is their only product
Heartland Institute has been proven again, and again to be “bad actors” in any contentious public policy debate. For decades it mislead the public on the effects of second-hand smoke and the seriousness of climate change. It’s “donors” operate behind a smokescreen of anonymity.
As recently as 2007 Heartland’s CEO Jo Bast was questioning the link between second-hand smoke. That Heartland receives funding from tobacco companies is of course coincidental.
In Bast’s view the link is unproven, and anyone asserting there is a link they must be part of an enormous conspiracy to impose government regulations and rob people of their “freedoms”:
Who’s Claiming Consensus?
Far from being the last word on the health effects of secondhand smoke, Carmona’s report and its uncritical acceptance by frequent commentators on smoking raise questions about bias, error, and the deliberate orchestration of public opinion. The commentators who echo the Surgeon General’s claim fall into one or more of five groups:
- Liberal advocacy groups such as the Center for Tobacco Free Kids, American Cancer Society, and American Legacy Foundation, which clearly profit from increased public attention to secondhand smoke.
- Government agencies, including the Office of the Surgeon General, the Department of Health and Human Services, and EPA, which exist largely for the purpose of discovering and publicizing health risks, even if they are backed by dubious research.
- Some corporations–notably Johnson & Johnson, which makes smoking-cessation aids–which give liberal advocacy groups hundreds of millions of dollars to demonize smoking and compel more consumers to use their products.
- The news media, which simply publish the news releases from the first three groups.
- Politicians, who read the newspaper stories and hear from the advocacy groups and rationally calculate their odds of being reelected improve if they proclaim deep concern over secondhand smoke and propose solutions that will cost taxpayers and consumers billions of dollars annually.
The idea that smokers and nonsmokers might solve this problem voluntarily is dismissed out of hand by those who claim secondhand-smoke exposure is a public health crisis. The “solutions” they want all require bigger government: higher taxes on cigarettes, bans on smoking in public, restrictions on advertising and health claims, etc.
Oddly, these solutions all work to advance the self-interest and agendas of the five groups that repeat Carmona’s claim of “consensus.” What are the odds this correlation is coincidental?
Note the arguments employed are almost exactly the same used in the war against climate science: liberal conspiracies, the media, big government… this is the denier script for climate change.
The 2012 Strategy Document confirms what we’ve known all along: organisations such as Heartland are in the business of manufacturing a single product.
And that product is doubt.