Fakegate: The Increasing Desperation of the Alarmists
“Hoist by his own petard”. It”s a Shakespearean phrase (from Hamlet) which means “being blown up by your own bomb.” And that”s exactly what happened to a group of climate alarmists last week when they used leaked documents to try to smear the free-market, climate sceptical US think-tank the Heartland Institute.
What they wanted was Deniergate – damning proof that the climate “denial” lobby behaves at least as badly as the scientists exposed by Climategate. But what they got instead was Fakegate – as it quickly emerged that the most incriminating document they had supposedly unearthed was nothing but an inept forgery.
The alleged scandal was broken last week on climate alarmist blogs including DeSmogBlog and in left-leaning newspapers including the UK Guardian, which headlined its account “Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science.”
According to the Guardian:
The inner workings of a libertarian think-tank working to discredit the established science on climate change have been exposed by a leak of confidential documents detailing its strategy and fundraising networks.
DeSmogBlog, which broke the story, said it had received the confidential documents from an “insider” at the Heartland Institute, which is based in Chicago. The blog monitors industry efforts to discredit climate science.
The scheme includes spending $100,000 for spreading the message in K-12 schools that “the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science”, the documents said.
Unfortunately for the Guardian and the DeSmogBlog, the central pillar of their argument turned out to be as shaky as their cherished theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. The Heartland Institute had never said any such thing about “dissuading teachers from teaching science.” The document was a fake.
Among the first to smell a rat was the climate sceptical website Watts Up With That?, which noted that it was poorly punctuated, got simple factual details wrong and was the only “leaked” document which had been “scanned rather than produced by a PDF document publisher”. The Heartland Institute issued a statement confirming that the document was a fake. But it wasn”t just climate sceptics who were crying foul. In the Atlantic, senior editor Megan McArdle – despite disagreeing “pretty strenuously with Heartland”s position on global warming” – noted that whoever wrote the document had got the tone all wrong.
It”s like the opposition political manifestos found in novels written by stolid ideologues; they can never quite bear (or lack the imagination) to let the villains have a good argument. Switch the names, and the memo could have been a page ripped out of State of Fear or Atlas Shrugged.
Basically, it reads like it was written from the secret villain lair in a Batman comic. By an intern.
McArdle”s point was well-made. But perhaps the most obvious giveaway was this: climate sceptics like those associated with the Heartland Institute do not see themselves as anti-science but as pro-science. So the idea that Heartland would ever issue a document – even a top secret internal one – plotting how best to dissuade “teachers from teaching science” is patently absurd. What they want science teachers to teach in schools is good science, rather than “environmental” or “climate” science which they consider to be little more than political activism concealed behind a thin veneer of dubious hypotheses and junk data.
But perhaps the silliest aspect of this failed publicity stunt, argues Australian blogger Jo Nova, is that it simply draws attention to the extraordinary success which underfunded climate realists have had in countering the much better-funded propaganda of the climate alarmists.
The annual budgets of climate alarmist organizations (Greenpeace: $300 million; WWF $700 million; Pew Charitable Trust $360 million; Sierra Club $56 million) dwarf the puny $7 million budget of the Heartland Institute. Then of course there”s the $7 billion the US government spends funding “climate science and technology” (as against the $0 it spends funding sceptical scientists).
As Nova writes:
What the hyped non-denier-gate shows just how incredibly successful the Heartland Institute is. Look at the numbers. The sceptics have managed to turn the propaganda around against a tide of money, and it is really some achievement.
As I always say when these matters are raised, YES Please. Let’s do talk about the funding.