Heartland Institute Anticipates Unfair Treatment in Tonight’s PBS Frontline Special ‘Climate of Doubt’

Press release


On Tuesday, October 23, PBS’s “Frontline” program will broadcast a special titled “Climate of Doubt.” It promises to go “inside the organizations” that helped turn the tide of public opinion, and then of elected officials, away from excessive concern over the possible threat of man-made global warming.

The Heartland Institute is likely to be a central figure in this program as we welcomed “Frontline” producer Catherine Upin and her crew to our Seventh International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago in May. Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James M. Taylor also gave a three-hour interview to the film crew in August. Earlier this year, The Economist called Heartland “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.”

We hope the program is accurate and fair, but past experience both with PBS and other mainstream media outlets leads us to predict it will be neither. Several Heartland staff will be watching the program and commenting live via Twitter and on our blog, Somewhat Reasonable.

Meanwhile, here are some facts to keep in mind when watching this program:

  • There is no “scientific consensus” about how much the planet has warmed, how much of the warming may be due to human activity, whether the warming has had positive or negative consequences, or what should be done about it. These are all hotly contested issues in the scientific, economic, and public policy communities.
  • The best scientific data show there has been no warming for 16 years, something none of the computer models that predict an eco-catastrophe predicted or can explain. Data show no connection between man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods. Natural variation in climate readily explains the small changes in temperature that occurred in the twentieth century. Global warming, simply put, is not a crisis.
  • The more scientists explore climate, the more they realize how small the human impact can be. But the global warming movement – the environmental activists, “green” businesses, politicians, and even the researchers – has strong financial motives to deny that the science behind their cause, never strong to begin with, is now collapsing.
  • The Heartland Institute emerged as a major voice in the international debate over climate change about seven years ago when we observed a lack of balance in the mainstream media’s coverage of the climate debate. We challenged Al Gore to debate his critics, and he never did. We documented errors in his documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” but he refused to correct them. We identified scores and then hundreds of scientists whose important work on the issue was being ignored – actually censored – by reporters in the mainstream media and published their work.
  • In 2009 and 2011 we published two volumes in a series titled Climate Change Reconsidered that comprehensively refutes the reports of the alarmist Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Our reports, which cite thousands of scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals, have never been refuted by alarmists because they cannot be refuted: They cite the published research of many scientists who self-identify as alarmists in the debate, but whose own research finds evidence of only a small or even nonexistent human impact on climate. After repeated scandals involving the IPCC, Climate Change Reconsidered stands as the most authoritative overview of the science of climate change now available.
  • Because of our leadership role in opposing global warming alarmism, Heartland has been mercilessly attacked and demonized by environmental groups and their allies in the mainstream media. We’ve even had our corporate documents stolen and our donors subjected to fake petitions demanding they stop funding us. The mainstream media has participated in these attacks in a clear violation of journalistic ethics.

For the record, The Heartland Institute has been advocating free-market solutions to social and economic problems for 28 years. We address a wide range of topics, not just climate change. We are supported by approximately 5,000 donors. We never take positions to satisfy our donors; donors support us because they agree with the positions we take. No corporation gives more than 5 percent of our annual budget. We have been endorsed by many of the world’s leading think tank leaders, elected officials, and policy experts.

38 thoughts on “Heartland Institute Anticipates Unfair Treatment in Tonight’s PBS Frontline Special ‘Climate of Doubt’

  1. It’s PBS and Frontline. They’re not interested in impartiality or journalistic balance. That much we know. I’ll be watch as much as I can stand without starting to throw stuff at the screen.

    It’ll be very, very interesting to see if they mention the sixteen (16) years of NO WARMING.

  2. There is no such thing as bad publicity. Can’t remember who said it but I think a broader audience (even a hostile one) is good.

  3. I hope you have your own raw audio/video recording of the interview. It would be interesting to compare the editing to see how well the comments made stay in context.

  4. Time to put Big Bird down on my tax dollar. I do not like to have Goebbels running free on my dime if I do not donate it. I donate to the various stations/channels around here in the Boston area, but that is my choice and not some collectivist action by the government.

  5. A humble privately funded think tank vs a government funded GROUP THINK TANK.

    Seems lobsided….but how bout….259 trillion cubic miles of molten rock and 310 million cubic miles of ocean vs 28 gigatons of benign, three atom naturally occuring gas ?

    Only massive PBS group think can empower this tiny amount of gas.

  6. Although I won’t be able to see the programme, I’m interested in how it pans out. Importantly, I hope you remembered the maxim, If you sup with the Devil be sure to have a long spoon.

  7. If the PBS presentation is fair and balanced, then it will be a first for a long time. PBS is just like BBC and ABC when it comes to representing truth….If it’s leftist, then it’s true.

  8. I’m thinking about resarch into Heartland as a place to donate in the future, and in place of Big Bird.

  9. Frontline’s more recent track record is not a good indicator of what this recent program will look like. Consider their 2-hour 2008 “Heat” program http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/heat/view/ which had all of a couple of minutes’ worth of skeptics right near the one hour point, where they were implied to be tools of ‘big oil’.

    Then there was the 2007 Frontline “Hot Politics” program http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/etc/script.html This was the program where Senator Tim Wirth infamously confessed to opening all the windows the night before for the room where James Hansen gave his ‘scorched’ June 1988 Senate testimony. Read through the rest of the transcript and you’ll see Ross Gelbspan, arguably one of the main promulgators of the long-term smear of skeptic scientists. Then consider its accompanying online report about skeptics http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/reports/skeptics.html which cites Gelbspan twice.

    The 2000 Nova/Frontline program “What’s Up with the Weather?” was the last reasonably balanced PBS program on global warming. The web site for the program http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/warming/ curiously does have a link for the transcript, it is at a different page which otherwise takes a decent amount of searching to find: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/27gwwarming.html

    So, call the latest two Frontline shows a trend if you want, while considering what I detailed about the PBS NewsHour’s apparent exclusion of skeptics from its program (“PBS and Global Warming Skeptics’ Lockout” http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/08/pbs_and_global_warming_skeptics_lockout.html ) over the last 16+ years compared to the amount of pro-AGW people they favor, and you may make an educated guess about what we can expect to see in tonight’s program.

  10. “And who’s behind it?”
    Wow. Another fossil fuel conspiracy. Yep, Obama is now silent on climate change because special interests have convinced the majority of Americans that its all a hoax, even though some recent polling shows just the opposite. People have been quite concerned about the climate recently due to wild fires and drought, so if there ever was an opportunity to exploit the ‘climate change is happening’ meme, now would be the time…..Must be heartbreaking for the alarmists.

    Obama must be part of the conspiracy! Or maybe he’s just being silent like the democratic equivalents in Australia, who waited until they were back into office before going bananas with carbon climate legislation.

    Heads or Tails.

  11. Perusing the Frontline promo at the link, the main subject matter will apparently be a general purpose fisking of skeptics, what ideologies make them tick, and what (presumably nefarious) conservative groups are at work behind the scenes. This does not sound promising if you’re hoping for a debate on the merits and shortcomings of the science.

    Yet their exploration might somehow be redeemed if they also question the funding sources for the AGW/CAGW researchers and whether or not these folks are ideologically motivated. I’ll just hold my breath for now and write back after regaining consciousness.

  12. Leftists like the producers of Frontline and other PBS & MSM shows will attack all those that oppose the secular green religion. That is because they “believe,” it’s not really about the evidence. My hotair comment:
    I was thinking about what’s the driving motivation behind the scare-mongering climate loons. And I realized that it is not climate. There’s something similar going on to when Obama said he would raise capital gains taxes even if it reduced govt revenue, for fairness. The Prophets of Doom are similar in that many of them have maintained that it probably won’t make any difference to the climate if we embarked on even the most apocalyptic CO2 reduction plans (like O’s cap & trade bill that would have mandated 83% CO2 cuts).
    I’m sure that the Chicken Littles could care less about the climate. Really. It’s driven by guilt, by a vacuum left by the vacancy of religious feeling in the predominantly leftist and non-religious climate change pushers. It’s a push for a sort of self-flagellation. When they see that life is all good with abundant energy, and that some energy in their mind is wasted on non-essential pursuits or bigger than necessary cars or the like, this is an easy target. Because of their secular guilt, they don’t like that “waste” to begin with. They were in search of a justification to legitimize their attacks on energy use, and in climate change they found it. Just like they did 35 years ago with the global cooling scare.

  13. If “the Heartland Institute is likely to be a central figure in this program ” and no one there was interviewed, I wouldn’t expect to see balanced reporting.

  14. Reblogged this on Is it 2012 in Nevada County Yet? and commented:
    Be sure and read the facts presented in the post when watching this program. If you know the facts, then your will know when to hit the BS Button, and call a foul on PBS. Please note that even the President has stopped talking about climate change. Not one word during the debates. It is all over, and PBS is just a little late to the game.

  15. Come to think of it, the Heartland Institute must be representing something like 0,039 per cent (or 390 ppm) of the global climate debate atomsphere. No wonder it is so influential and dangerous.

  16. An Opinion, Heartland said one of their senior fellows was interviewed for three hours. From my knowledge of editing for shows like this (which I learned from watching the Simpsons watching “Rock Bottom”), they will edit to contort his statements into something suitable for their narrative (very likely with many interruptions to “debunk” most of what he says).

  17. I made it through 24 minutes of the Frontline Project : Desperation Smear and Discredit. The same old talking points as always. I have to go throw up now.

  18. @ WUWT Admins

    There are trailing spaces in many of the above URL links in the main story, which then translate as %20 replacement characters in the browser address bar. With some websites, such as PBS, this then leads the user to a page not found, or defunct link message. If you want users to easily find those links then you ought to remove the trailing spaces after the final forward slash in those URLs.

  19. Just watched it. It was not balanced, it was about political aspects, and it was certainly not about science. They suggested that legal (their own exact word) FIOA requests of warmists scientists were meant to somehow have a negative impact on the taxpayer funded recipient of the request. Oh for shame, someone made a legal FOIA request! Then after suggesting that climate skepticism is VERY well funded, they went full bore, you guessed it, after shadow deep pocket funding. They even showed the facade of the powerful skeptic funding building. Scary stuff! Did they mention any forms of funding for the carborn trading, economy killing, warmists subterfuge and lies? No. Did they mention this website, which operates on a shoestring. No. Did they talk about the science? No. It was all political slant, and no science.

  20. You know, that was not too bad of a story by the “true green” PBS. I cringed at a few key points, like saying temperatures have been level for ten years instead of the more accurate fifteen years, ant the very distasteful treatment of Santer (but one by one his views are being proven correct across the board, global warming was not the first science-hijacked topic, it’s just that many learned their MO this time around). What did you expect. At least their ending that this will be revisited some fifteen years from now was pretty correct, politically that is, if ever. But yet you could still feel the alarmist-phobic overtones throughout the entire piece, after all, they are all still ocophobic, seems some real marked global cooling would be a blessing right now for a while to drive the science home (sorry northerners).

  21. Just finished watching, and must agree with David Ball above. It was difficult to sit quietly while listening to the smear and distraction tactics. It will keep the zombiefied loyalist fired up a little longer as it shores up, all of their usual BS, wrapped in the respectability of PBS.

    True believers indeed rule the MSM. GK

  22. I think the show got about 40 minutes in pretending a sort of balanced discussion before throwing in 100% bias and smear against the “evil oil funded conservative movement”. They totally relied on the bogus 97% consensus number as the basis of what is right and made every effort to avoid any facts unless they could spin it to show how the skeptics are using facts to undermine the truth.

    After the mid point they shifted the conversation to how skeptics are conservative, republican and teaparty idiots blindly lead by an elite group of professional contrarians who knowingly undermine he good science of the IPCC and every other science group to support their evil goals.

    In the end they claimed the world is currently undergoing every type of disaster and harm imaginable and everyone is too politically afraid of the evil oil funded groups to do anything about it. So in the end the lives of millions are being destroyed by people who will never be held accountable for the wrong they are knowingly committing out of pure selfishness and greed.

  23. MarqueG says:
    October 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    “Yet their exploration might somehow be redeemed if they also question the funding sources for the AGW/CAGW researchers and whether or not these folks are ideologically motivated. I’ll just hold my breath for now and write back after regaining consciousness.”

    I watched the whole thing and as MarqueG expected, no mention was made of the levels of funding or sources thereof for to the warmist faction. The “97% of climate scientists’ canard was trumpeted as gospel. Gavin Schmitt was given significant air time to wallpaper over the significance of the flat 21st century global temperatures with no mention of divergence from model projections. In spite of the bias, at least the program acknowledged that CAGW skeptics are a force of growing influence and can’t be easily dismissed. And maybe I am biased but Monkton, Singer and Michaels certainly had more presence than Schmitt, Dressler and Hayhoe.

  24. Well they were right. It was a more outrageous piece of propaganda than even is produced by the public broadcasters of socialist commonwealth countries like the BBC, CBC and ABC

  25. Gary says:
    October 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm
    “So in the end the lives of millions are being destroyed by people who will never be held accountable for the wrong they are knowingly committing out of pure selfishness and greed.”

    They were projecting, then.

  26. Does anyone know when the US govt will be declaring bankruptcy? I’d like to buy Hawaii when they have to start selling assets off.

  27. Thank you, PBS Frontline for uncovering this important truth about skeptics… umm.

    Well, personally, I appreciate the fact that Mr. Hockenberry did not muddy up his excellent piece with messy details about science. So many of those skeptics try to confuse us with silly arguments about the putative Little Ice Age, and the recent growth in the extent of Antarctic ice. I’ve watched many movies about Roman times, and it didn’t seem all that hot to me. And who can even spell Medieval.

    No, John, better to just do what you did: ask some fake-innocent questions with lots of doe-eyed gazes to really expose the venality of those stupid skeptics – make fools out of them with tricky questions like, “Did that make you feel good?” and then, in the sock-o finish, show how evil they are by bringing in a real scientist, like Mr. Schmidt, with the “modern historical” climate record – since 1850 – and show how it’s been zigzagging up the whole time. I laughed when you said, “scientists have a name for this: it’s called going down the up escalator”. Then you showed devastating images of how bad our world really has become. [Great shots of droughts, dust storms, smokestacks and forest fires! Don’t those people know they’re causing all this stuff?]

    Anyway, you sure made me and some others really think. Thanks.

  28. I think that the Heartland Institute was treated unfairly, in that Fred Singer was mistreated a bit in his interview clips, while other scientists, those with more dynamic and less skeptical personalities were not interviewed in the show. Also, there was a large section at the end, where alarmists were made to look like victims.

    An interesting part for me was in noticing the growing number of alarmists who are coming out as religious.

  29. Welcome to the People’s Revolutionary News Network. We are glad to know you have tuned in, even though we know you don’t have a choice.

    But let us get right to today’s Enemy of the People…

  30. Reading the latest comments here, I just realized I wrote of Dr Santer above and I meant Dr Singer. My bad Dr.Singer, your interview was perfect, no pussyfooting around about the facts that we now realize!

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