Earlier this week DeSmogBlog announced the release of confidential documents from the Heartland Institute, the industry-funded political pressure group based in Chicago. As pointed out by Puckerclust last year, one of the Heartland Institute’s activities is smearing and vilifying honest scientists who are engaged in climate research. Heartland has the habit of making things up about people and trying to destroy reputations by publishing falsehoods about people’s credentials.
Heartland is now claiming that one of the leaked documents, a “strategy memo” is a fake. Among the information in the supposedly faked memo:
“Our current budget includes funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.”
If the memo is fake, it stands to reason that it would contain factually incorrect information. Such detailed quantitative data should be easy to verify.
As it turns out, Fred Singer gave a presentation at the University of New Mexico last night, where I was able to ask him about it.
“You may be aware that in the news in the last couple days there’s a story that some documents were leaked allegedly from the Heartland Institute. And one of those says that you get $5000 a month from them. Is that true?”
“I read the story this morning on the internet. My understanding is that someone–we don’t know who–impersonating himself as a board member of the Heartland Institute called them and pursuaded a secretary to mail him these documents. That’s a criminal act… Maybe if they find him he may go to jail. But I want to answer your question. The answer is yes. …I don’t ask them. They give money not to me. Not to me, I get nothing. But to the Science and Environmental Policy Project. And what do we do with this money? Well we in turn hire students whose job it is to review current papers in the literature and these are reviewed and get published in the NIPCC reports. So its a simple transaction. We don’t gain anything from it, except satisfaction.”
It seemed notable to me that he didn’t deny the specificity of the amount he is paid, only where it goes. To clarify, I approached him after his presentation and I brought up the supposedly faked memo again:
“I looked at the memo because somebody sent it to me. And it said they pay you $5000 a month.”
Again, Fred told me where the money goes, but did not contradict the $5000 a month claim:
“I haven’t seen it. And I hire students. And we advertise for students. I’ve now got a group of them visiting and reviewing papers. I can’t review all these papers. I don’t get any money.”
Of course, this doesn’t prove anything. But it strongly suggests that the information in the confidential strategy memo is true. If somebody was going to fake a document in an attempt to smear the Heartland Institute, why wouldn’t they include fabricated information to exaggerate Heartland’s misdeeds? And if they already had the funding numbers that Fred Singer doesn’t deny, why didn’t they just release the original source of the information?