War on Science: Weather.com exposes Heartland’s climate change “experts”

  • Published on April 11th, 2019

Everyone loves to win, but, unfortunately, not everyone can. Over at Heartland, though, the spirit of participation trophies is strong. To recognize leaders in the field of protecting fossil fuels, Heartland has been giving out awards at their annual conferences over the past few years.

climate change deniers tom toles

By Climate Denier Roundup 

What sort of luminaries is Heartland rewarding? Certainly the honorees must be scientific titans if they know better than the thousands of scientists responsible for developing the vast body of evidence that has given rise to the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.

Well, Pam Wright over at weather.com took a look last week at the award winners between 2014 and 2017. The results are predictably pitiful.

Of the 19 “winners,” only six have published on climate change in peer reviewed journals, and only five have a degree in climate science. Seven have no background in science whatsoever, one has no degree at all (glorified weather-reader turned blogger Anthony Watts, who last week formally joined Heartland) and another claims his expertise comes from reading “some 50 books… on the science of climate change.”

What’s more relevant than their actual credentials, though, is that all 19 are connected to Heartland or other nodes in the organized denial network.

This is really why they’re being rewarded–not because they do any real work, but because of the important role they’ve played as tools in the organized denial machine. As Heartland’s Jim Lakely told Wright, without the work of Heartland and these award-winners, there “would be no organized and scientific push-back on alarmist dogma.”

And Lakely is right. As Union of Concerned Scientists’s Andrew Rosenberg explained, deniers don’t come along spontaneously–rather, they “follow a disinformation playbook.” As for those few deniers with academic credentials who should know better, Oklahoma State’s Riley Dunlap points out that their “views are seen as colored by their conservative ideologies and/or religious orientations” and their work “is increasingly viewed as deeply flawed.”

So people who do shoddy work for political purposes are held up by an organized industrial propaganda campaign with the intention to create the perception of scientific disagreement, even though the majority of them have never actually published real science.

These lists of “award” winners, then, might just come in handy if society decides to start calling for key figures involved in the fossil fuel industry’s denial operations to be charged with committing  crimes against humanity.

Because sure, it’s nice to win an award from Heartland, but who could turn down an all-expenses paid trip to the Hague?

(Crossposted with DailyKos.  Cartoon by Tom Toles at the Washington Post)

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