More Response to House Democrat Freak-out Over Heartland Climate Book Mailing

Published April 4, 2017

Someone asked if we could reply more specifically to some of the claims made in yesterday’s news release from Congressman Grijalva (S-AZ) and two other liberal Democrats upset about our mailing of Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming (and an accompanying DVD) to tens of thousands of teachers nationwide. Okay. The news release says,

Right-wing funders, including the Koch and Scaife financial networks, have contributed millions of dollars to Heartland Institute projects.

Heartland raises and spends about $6 million a year, and most of our donors are conservatives or libertarians, so the statement is technically correct. But “the Kochs” have donated only $25,000 to The Heartland Institute – directly indirectly, through “dark money channels,” or via envelopes of cash slipped under doors late at night – once in the past 15 years, and that was for a health care reform project. They never supported our work on climate change. We aren’t invited to their donor events, and apparently members of their “network” aren’t encouraged to support us. See “Is The Heartland Institute funded by the Koch Brothers?” for more commentary on that chestnut. The Scaife Foundation hasn’t contributed to us in more than 20 years.

The news release also claims,

The organization previously worked with and accepted money from the tobacco giant Philip Morris to question the validity of research on smoking and cancer, among other activities.

We do accept funding from tobacco companies, but not to “question the validity of research on smoking and cancer.” They contribute to us because they support our opposition to high taxes on tobacco products and smoking substitutes such as e-cigarettes Our position on tobacco control is mainstream. We have never contested the fact that smoking causes cancer. We HAVE, as many other scholars have, said the risk is exaggerated by public health advocates to justify unfair taxation and regulation of smokers, and in particular, the risk of second-hand smoke has been exaggerated. We oppose smoking bans and high taxes on smokers on libertarian grounds. We urge smokers to quit, and we point to e-cigarettes as the most effective way to help smokers quit. We therefore urge policymakers not to tax or regulate e-cigarettes out of existence. All this is explained at “Is Heartland’s position on tobacco control ‘extremist’ or outside the scientific mainstream?”

The news release quotes a “Texas district court judge” rebuking me. That judge – a wacknut liberal probably on the payroll of teachers unions – rebuked every witness who favored school choice (vouchers) called to testify in a case involving education finance, a case in which I was pre-qualified as an expert witness. I take his criticism as high praise indeed. You can read my testimony here and my full CV here.

The news release mentions that even the Department of Defense accepts “the consensus that manmade emissions are worsening the process of climate change.” No, the Department of Defense recognizes that climate change, whether natural or man-made, has implications for defense that ought to be studied and taken into account when planning America’s defense. No one at the DOD conducted an independent study of the issue, no one asserts anything about a “consensus,” and the department has been very clear that it will not sacrifice military preparedness in the name of “fighting global warming.”

Rep. Scott claims we are “push[ing] a false agenda on global warming.” No, we have produced more objective research on the causes and consequences of climate change than any other think tank in the U.S., and probably in the world. The four volumes of Climate Change Reconsideredwritten by nearly 100 scientists and other policy experts, cited in more than 100 peer-reviewed journals, and so respected that the Chinese Academy of Sciences translated the first two volumes into Chinese and published it itself, cites more than 6,000 peer-reviewed studies and concludes that climate change is not a crisis. What is “false” about that?

Rep. Scott also claims “our nation’s schools are an inappropriate place to drive that agenda.” Really? Does Rep. Scott think it is inappropriate to show Al Gore’s documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, in public schools? That film was found to be “propaganda” by a British court, and it is no different from hundreds of other alarmist publications, study guides, and videos being promoted to K-12 teachers in the U.S. The only thing that distinguishes our work from that of others is we believe a fair review of the science shows global warming is not a crisis. That is what Rep. Scott objects to, and nothing else.

The news release quotes Rep. Grijalva saying “Lying to children about the world we live in to further corporate polluter profits is cruel.” No, “cruel” is a congressman lying about the motives, funding, and quality of research produced by a nonprofit organization that is speaking truth to power. “Cruel” is ridiculing and demeaning the 5,000 donors to The Heartland Institute who simply want the truth to prevail in the public debate over a complicated and very consequential public issue.

Mr. Grijalva, please stop being cruel.