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Heartland Institute’s Deniergate: A New Definition for Irony

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The Heartland Institute - blinded by moneyThe past few days haven’t been very pleasant for the faux think tank Heartland Institute. On Tuesday a source going by the name of “Heartland Insider” leaked several strategy documents and Heartland’s 2012 budget to the DeSmogBlog.

A leading mouthpiece for climate denial and the fossil fuel industry, the right-wing lobbying group now finds itself at the mercy of their own tactics, with the sadly humorous twist (though not unexpected) that the irony of their situation is totally lost on the witless organization. Heartland was a proud supporter of “climategate,” in which thousands of private emails from climate scientists were hacked and misrepresented to the press, but now cry foul when their own policy adjectives are exposed for the world to see.

Among the items exposed in the leaked documents is a proposal for the Heartland Institute to pay climate skeptic David Wojick to develop a climate science curriculum for K-12 schoolchildren “that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain.” The $100,000 budget proposed for the  project would be funded primarily by one person referred to in the document as the “Anonymous Donor.”

Wojick holds a doctorate in epistemology and is not a climate scientist.

De-educating our children

The document goes on to say that the curriculum is needed because teachers and principals are “heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.” One key point the document cites for teaching children climate science is that natural CO2 emission are “20 times higher” than man-made emissions, apparently said with a straight face and total lack of understanding of the difference in the climate system between natural and man-made emissions.

And this is the insidious thing about such proposals. Schoolchildren today are the ones that will be forced to deal with the coming consequences of climate change, whatever those consequences may be. Children in the U.S. already struggle in learning science and math, and the idea that teaching science constitutes an “alarmist perspective” in favor of Heartland’s mangled idea of science is dangerous. Factoids like the predominance of natural CO2 emissions (something well understood and never denied by actual climate scientists) is endemic of the level of willful ignorance and obfuscation to which such organization like the Heartland Institute must resort to push their agenda. Seeding such willful ignorance into an already beleaguered science curriculum does little to prepare our children for the future we are handing them.

I guess the Heartland Institute just doesn’t care about our children.

Image credit: 350 or Bust
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