Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland
Foundation Accused of Planning
Anti-climate Change Curriculum
for U.S. Schools
By Peter Winkler
Translated By Peter Robbins
17 February 2012
Edited by Mark DeLucas
Switzerland - Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Original Article (German)
Accused foundation claims documents were forged.
Climate change activists have alleged that a well-known conservative foundation has been preparing to launch a campaign in schools aimed at discrediting climate research. The foundation, on the other hand, is claiming brazen identity theft and forgery.
The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based association set up to promote free enterprise and renowned for its skeptical attitude towards climate change, is said to have planned a campaign to sow doubt among teachers and principals at U.S. schools concerning the validity of climate research and man-made climate change, according to documents reputedly written by the institute’s top management. These documents were first published on DeSmogBlog, a website run by Canadian climate change activists, and it was not long before they made their way onto climate change forums and into the media.
The DeSmogBlog group claimed that it had obtained the documents from an insider at the Heartland Institute, although a spokesperson for the foundation moved quickly to stress that they had been emailed to an unknown party, who had called the foundation posing as a member of its board who had changed his email address.
It appears that the documents had been prepared for a meeting of the foundation’s board in January. Among other things, they contained strategies, lists of donors and information on employees. A number of high-profile donors named in the documents, including Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline, rushed out press releases emphasizing that their donations had been earmarked for other Heartland projects — newsletters on technology or pharmaceuticals. Both companies stressed that they did not share the institution’s opinion on climate change. It was a two-page strategy paper that fueled the main accusation of a concerted campaign in U.S. elementary schools, although it does differ markedly from the other documents in terms of form and layout —even if a lot of the factual information matches up.
Radicals on both sides
According to this strategy paper, the Heartland Institute planned to fund the development of a curriculum aimed at countering efforts to bring climate research and its results into the classroom. The paper suggests that teachers and principals were biased toward the “alarmist perspective.”
Heartland’s curriculum appears designed to explicitly cast doubt on the theory that burning fossil fuels endangers the long-term well-being of the planet. The crux of the matter is that a Heartland spokesperson is disputing the authenticity of the strategy paper. Also, the author of the original documents has apparently been unable to check whether any changes had been made to them.
Although the accusation of forgery only relates to two out of over 100 pages, the “new front” in the struggle against climate change that Heartland reputedly plans to open is only mentioned in this one paper. Nowadays, climate change is more controversial in the United States than it is in Western Europe, with the issue sometimes being regarded as the latest chapter in the “ideological struggle” that, so far, has seen the country divided more so on the creation of the world or the question of contraception. Should the supposed strategy paper by the Heartland Institute really turn out to be a fake, then whole incident will, above all, be further proof of the well-known fact that the gloves are off as far as radicalized groups are concerned.
However, information has also come to light that suggests Heartland also intervened in specific political disputes, something that, although less prominent than the climate-change allegations, could potentially be more unpleasant for the foundation — and something that, as a foundation, it is banned from doing.
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