Heartland Replies to Naomi Oreskes

Published March 31, 2017

Naomi Oreskes, the socialist historian who has done so much to politicize and discredit climate science in recent years, was recently interviewed in a fawning piece by Alvin Powell in the Harvard Gazette. Near the end of the article, Powell writes:

Denial, she said, isn’t about science but about individualism, skepticism of government power, the self-interest of those in affected industries, and conceptions of freedom. For those moved by those concerns, climate change is just the latest in a series of scientific problems leading to greater government intrusion. Disputing climate facts has roots in fear, Oreskes said — not of climate, but of higher taxes, bigger government, and lost freedoms. That’s why fighting on the facts is not enough, she said. Deploying a value-based argument — such as the values of fairness, of responsibility, of protecting health — is crucial.

As is typical of Oreskes and other leftists, she’s mixing truth with lies.

I and other spokespersons for The Heartland Institute have made the argument frequently that the climate debate isn’t about science, but about “higher taxes, bigger government, and lost freedoms.” We entered the debate as libertarians, not as scientists, but with a commitment to learn the science in order to find the truth behind a campaign waged against freedom by the left. This is why we published some 9.9 million words about climate science between 1998 and 2013 (according to an article in Global Environmental Change), more, I would guess, than all but a handful of other think tanks in the world.

We don’t criticize the warmists’ science out of fear that climate change somehow demonstrates that capitalism can’t work. That’s silly. Capitalism can survive and has survived natural climate changes much greater than the amounts likely to occur in coming centuries. Capitalism is why people value protecting the planet today and have both the will and the means to do so. Capitalism thrives on solving problems like those created by climate change. It’s easy. It’s called “adaptation” and “insurance.”

We entered the climate debate because of copious evidence that progressives, communists included, had infiltrated the scientific debate and were misrepresenting and “weaponizing” the science in order to advance their agenda. The names, dates, and important episodes of the left’s take-over of the environmental movement, and then of EPA, were reported in many books, none of them published by The Heartland Institute:

Ron Arnold, Freezing in the Dark: Money, Power, Politics and the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, 2007.

Wilfred Beckerman, Through Green-Colored Glasses: Environmentalism Reconsidered, 1996.

Larry Bell, Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax, 2011.

James T. Bennett and Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Cancer Scam: Diversion of Federal Cancer Funds to Politics, 1998.

Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell, Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left, 2012.

Rupert Darwall, The Age of Global Warming: A History, 2013.

Jeff Gillman and Eric Heberlig, How the Government Got In Your Backyard, 2011.

Indur M. Goklany, The Precautionary Principle: A Critical Appraisal of Environmental Risk Assessment, 2001.

Geoffrey C. Kabat, Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology, 2008.

Wallace Kaufman, No Turning Back: Dismantling the Fantasies of Environmental Thinking, 1994.

Aynsley Kellow, Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science, 2007.

S. Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman, Environmental Cancer – A Political Disease? 1999.

Christopher Manes, Green Rage: Radical Environmentalism and the Unmaking of Civilization, 1990.

Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger, Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, 2016.

Steven J. Milloy, Junk Science Judo: Self-Defense Against Health Scares and Scams, 2001.

A.W. Montford, The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science, 2010.

Daniel T. Oliver, Animal Rights: The Inhumane Crusade, 1999.

James M. Sheehan, Global Greens: Inside the International Environmental Establishment, 1998.

Julian Simon, Hoodwinking the Nation, 1999.

Zubrin, Robert, Merchants of Despair, 2012.

These books – and I could list many more like them — were our reason for “looking under the hood” at the underlying science behind the global warming scare. Leftists have no reason to look at the science, since it supports their agenda. We do.

What we found were leftists flooding university science departments, science societies, and organizations such as EPA and the IPCC. We saw liberal foundations turning small environmental groups such as Ozone Action into mammoth direct mail machines and reliable allies of the Democratic Party such as Greenpeace USA. And we saw computer models, postulates, and circumstantial evidence parading as real science… in short, a fraud.

We oppose climate alarmism because we know it is a fraud, a disinformation campaign used by the left to advance the same anti-human agenda they were pushing in the 1960s and 1970s, when (as Robert Zubrin carefully documents in Merchants of Despair), eugenics and population control were their “science,” long before “global warming” took their place.