"ArticGate" – Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation

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Incompetent or Dishonest – Either Way They’re Wrong

The former astronaut and proud climate change denier Harrison Schmitt is not alone in making the false claim that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” He has been bolstered  by the smokey hacks at the Heartland Institute, and especially by the brittle letter writer and Heartland head honcho, Joseph Bast.

If Schmitt’s false statement had stood on its own (or if he had moved to correct it when it was pointed out), you could reasonably have dismissed it as an error made in good faith.  But when Bast stooped to the flagrant manipulation necessary to argue that Schmitt’s assertion could have some basis in fact, well, you have to wonder – especially when there is already an established relationship between Schmitt and Heartland (check the name on the podium in the Schmitt denier video).

It’s awkward always to trace climate denial back to the money trail. Some people – maybe even Schmitt – deny climate science out of ideological blindness, not greedy self-interest. But it’s interesting that Heartland’s two favourite projects are denying the science of climate change and arguing that tobacco is really not all that bad for you. It’s relevant, too, that before they started hiding their funding sources, Heartland used to acknowledge the generous support of the tobacco and oil industries in propping up the “think” tank’s operations.

With this kind of backing – and little evidence of having the kind of conscience that might keep you awake at night for fudging details in the creation of an argument -Heartland has also been fiercely aggressive on occasions when they think they can intimidate or outshout someone with less influence. Bast’s diatribe in the Santa Fe New Mexican against the scientist Dr. Mark Boslough is typical.

But Heartland may have misjudged Boslough even as it continued to misrepresent the science. Bast, Schmitt, et al, are getting roasted today in all manner of outlets (Scott Mandia’s Blog, Skeptical Science, Huffington Post, elsewhere in the DeSmogBlog, Climate Denial Crock of the Week and Climate Progress). And the worst may be yet to come.

Bast might actually invite Schmitt over to the Heartland Smokers Lounge for a puff on something a little stronger. Against this storm, they may need even more help maintaining their delusions – or they may finally have to speak directly to whether they knew what they were saying was wrong at the time that they said it.

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