Leaked Heartland Institute documents include plan for climate disinformation curriculum in schools


Leaked internal documents obtained from the Heartland Institute include a fundraising plan with the outline of a project to develop teaching modules for use in K-12 education that would characterize climate science issues as major controversies (e.g., “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”). Science, or anti-science?  Initial funding for the Chicago-based ‘free market’ advocacy group’s project would come from an ‘Anonymous Donor’ who has given more than $8 million to Heartland for its disinformation campaign activities.

The February 14 post on DeSmogBlog that kicked off this story by making public the leaked documents:  Heartland Insider Exposes Institute’s Budget and Strategy

Follow-up:  Heartland Confirms that it Mistakenly Emailed Internal Documents

New York Times:  Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science

Los Angeles Times:  Climate change doubter Heartland Institute documents leaked

Guardian: Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science

Guardian: Heartland Institute claims fraud after leak of climate change documents

Associated Press:  INFLUENCE GAME: Leaks show group’s climate efforts

Two blog posts that each have numerous links to additional commentary in the climate blogosphere:

Adam Siegel’s Get Energy Smart!Now! blog:  Breaking Heartless-news for Valentine’s Day

Greg Laden’s Blog:  The meaning of HeartlandGate

John Mashey’s detailed research corroborates and adds to the story of Heartland’s disinformation campaign:  Fake science, fake experts, funny finances, free of tax

The documents include the outline of a plan to develop a disinformation-campaign curriculum for teaching about climate change in K-12 schools.  See:

MSNBC Open Channel online:  Leaked: a plan to teach climate change skepticism in schools

Think Progress Green:  INTERNAL DOCUMENTS: The Secret, Corporate-Funded Plan To Teach Children That Climate Change Is A Hoax

Scott Mandia’s blog:  Heartland Institute: Hey Kids, Have a Smoke and Denial
Mandia notes that John Mashey’s research shows how Heartland Institute’s director Joseph Bast staunchly defended “Joe Camel,” the infamous campaign to addict younger children. Heartland got tobacco funding for many years, along with a Philip Morris Board member.

Also, Shawn Lawrence Otto’s neorenaissance blog:  They’re Coming for Your Kids – Heartland Institute’s Plan to Brainwash Children

From the Heartland fundraising plan:

Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools

Many people lament the absence of educational material suitable for K-12 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. Moreover, material for classroom use must be carefully written to meet curriculum guidelines, and the amount of time teachers have for supplemental material is steadily shrinking due to the spread of standardized tests in K-12 education.

Dr. David Wojick has presented Heartland a proposal to produce a global warming curriculum or K-12 schools that appears to have great potential for success. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. He has a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science and mathematical logic from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. in civil engineering from Carnegie Tech. He has been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon and the staffs of the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Lab.

Dr. Wojick has conducted extensive research on environmental and science education for the Department of Energy. In the course of this research, he has identified what subjects and concepts teachers must teach, and in what order (year by year), in order to harmonize with national test requirements. He has contacts at virtually all the national organizations involved in producing, certifying, and promoting science curricula.

Dr. Wojick proposes to begin work on “modules” for grades 10-12 on climate change (“whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”), climate models (“models are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is controversial”), and air pollution (“whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global food supply and natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions”).

Wojick would produce modules for Grades 7-9 on environmental impact (“environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather”), for Grade 6 on water resources and weather systems, and so on.

We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $5,000 per module, about $25,000 a quarter, starting in the second quarter of 2012, for this work. The Anonymous Donor has pledged the first $100,000 for this project, and we will circulate a proposal to match and then expand upon that investment.

Who is “The Anonymous Donor,” who has given more than $8.4 million since 2007 to fund Heartland’s global warming disinformation activities?

A statement from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Public Affairs (posted here) on DOE’s relationship with Dave Wojick:

David Wojick has been a part-time support contractor for the Office of Scientific and Technical Information since 2003, working to help the office manage and organize its electronic databases.  He has never advised or conducted research for the Department on climate change or any other scientific topic, and the office he works for is not a research organization.  As would be the case for any of the Department¹s roughly 100,000 contractors, his collaboration with the Heartland Institute is outside of any consulting work he has done with the Department, and any comments he makes on the subject matter of climate change are made as a public citizen and are not reflective of any Energy Department policies or research.

More on Wojick here and here.

From Shawn Otto:

So Wojick’s expertise is as a contractor to help DOE manage their databases. It has nothing whatsoever to do with climate science or any other scientific research. So why is he being paid $100,000 to prepare a national K12 science curriculum on the subject?

The answer seems to be because his PhD and DOE affiliation lends him a veneer of credibility which the Heartland Institute can use to market him to the unsuspecting science teacher, administrator, school board member and parents. This is similar to the tactic the organization used to promote the OISM Petition Project,  in which they claimed that more than 31,000 “scientists” had signed a statement saying they disagreed with the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change. The only problem is that 99.9% of the scientists listed in the Petition Project are not climate scientists. The petition is open to anyone with a Bachelor of Science degree. This is one of the foundations to their claim of a “scientific controversy.” …

If there is a perception of a controversy, that is enough to persuade many science teachers to give it a pass in order to avoid being hassled by politically motivated parents, or “parent triggers,” and uneducated politicians. This is the same strategy often used by political opponents of teaching evolution in science classes. The secret documents show the curriculum is intended to create a similar false sense of scientific controversy …

But this is not science; it is antiscience. It is the corruption of science, because it is creating a curriculum that is not based on knowledge gained from fifty years of observation and experimentation, but is instead promulgating a predetermined political objective that has been set not by the laws of nature, but by the Heartland Institute and it donors.

I attended Heartland’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, held in Washington, DC, in July 2011. Much of it felt like a somewhat surrealistic, alternative reality experience. I don’t normally link to ‘skeptic’-contrarian-disinformation-denialist sites, but some of you might find it interesting to visit the archived videos of that event.  The slant in the roster of scientists is evident enough. But I especially commend the over-the-top performance by politico Marc Morano of Climate Depot. Imagine yourself in a room with a couple of hundred people who are eating this stuff up, and it will add to your perspective on the Heartland Institute and its agenda.

Earlier posts:

On defending the National Climate Assessment – The Heartland disinformation campaign begins

Corporate funding in public education – is anyone watching?

Scholastic and the American Coal Foundation


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3 Responses to Leaked Heartland Institute documents include plan for climate disinformation curriculum in schools

  1. Pingback: What I’m Reading Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Rationally Thinking Out Loud

  2. klem says:

    It does not matter really, it’s been about two days now since these documents were leaked and the ‘scandal’ is not garnering any traction with the public. The media has already dropped it, in a few days it will be forgotten.

    OTOH, the Climategate scandal was two years ago and people still blog regualrly about it.


  3. Borogove says:

    Well, now we know that the only ‘scandal’ is the truth of these documents.

    Hmm. Does “Fake, but accurate” sound familiar?

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