Virtually all scientists continue to believe that most indicators suggest the world as we know it is slowly ending, and that humans are to blame. Nature – oceans, deserts, crops, animals and insects – is in the process of being transformed by rising temperatures due to the fuel we burn to stay warm or cool, and to power factories, cars and jets. In the academies, the argument now is only between experts who predict “bad” and those who predict “catastrophe.”
Some people don’t want to hear it. Supporters of industries that profit from the fossil-fuel status quo routinely challenge those facts, and treat them as political talking points. This week, a dirty trick played on one of the chief industry front groups, the Heartland Institute of Chicago, a major source of “climate denialism,” as the fact-based scientists like to call it, revealed just how politicized the issue has become.
On Tuesday, an individual claiming to be a Heartland donor persuaded the group to email him or her the group’s annual budget, its fundraising plan and a 2012 strategy paper, outlining the organization’s intent to insert contrarian views of climate change into the nation’s elementary schools.
Heartland, which bills itself as anti-regulatory and libertarian, annually produces climate change “denier” conferences and pays expenses for elected officials to attend. For example, the budget shows that Heartland allocated $304,704 for scientists supporting its contrarian views in 2012.