If you have been following Pale and Prole's in-depth exposee series here this week - and if you have not yet, play catch up with Part 1 (Ya Gotta Have Friends), here; Part II (Guild of Calamitous Intent), here; Part II (Think Tank Circle Jerk), here; and Part IV (Dueling Banjo's), here - the words Heartland Institute should set all of your alarm bells ringing.
You should know that my colleagues here are far from done. There will be more on this incestous, circle-jerking bunch. Look for it. While they're doing the heavy lifting, think of me as the guy (think the Peabody's Improbable History title sequence on the old Rocky & Bullwinkle show) with the broom following behind the parade.
Not content to merely attempt to bamboozle the adults that there are significant and serious disagreements within the scientific community about the existence and causes of global warming and climate changes, they are going to target our kids.
An American think tank has sent out more than 11,000 brochures and DVDs to Canadian schools urging them to teach their students that scientists are exaggerating how human activity is the driving force behind global warming.
Think tank? Ummm... more like think-not tank, hard-of-thinking, or 'We'll-do-the-thin'ng-round-here" tank, or spin tank, or suspend-your-disbelief tank.
The Chicago-based group, the Heartland Institute, said its goal is to ensure that students are provided with a "balanced" education about "an important and controversial issue,"
Ah, 'balanced'. I'm surprised they didn't also say 'fair'. I mean, why should Canadian kids learn science when they can learn 'science-y' stuff instead.
I think I can understand part of the problem here for folks at the Heartland Institute and similar institutions. It's probably a problem for our climate-change denying Ewwwwww! Government, too.
Canada appears to be a nation of aspiring scientists...
The OECD report ranked Canadian 15-year-olds in third place of 57 countries in their ability to do science, fourth in reading and seventh in math in the Program for International Student Assessment test, administered in 2006.
The United States lags behind most other developed countries when it comes to science education.
Finland emerged at the top of 57 countries in science, according to the 2006 survey results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The US ranked 29th, behind countries like Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein, and ahead of just nine other OECD countries.
In the spirit of blue-chip CEO panel led SPP regulation review, we better 'harmonize standards' now or forever be 'left behind'.
So, exactly what is being distributed here, and how did this come about? More in the Vancouver Sun.
The mail out, sent in February, included results from international surveys of climate scientists conducted in 1996 and 2003 along with a 10-minute DVD called Unstoppable Solar Cycles, The Real Story of Greenland.
The brochure and DVD said that scientists were "deeply divided" about "the notion that climate change is mostly the result of human activities." It also suggested that the sun was the main factor behind recent warming recorded on the planet.
The package does not make reference to the conclusions reached by governments and scientists from around the world in their 2007 assessment of the latest peer-reviewed research on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrote in its summary of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning report that global warming is unequivocal and that there is a 90-per-cent chance it is being caused by humans.
Ok, hold on a tick. Something sounds awfully familiar here. Would that be the same 'international surveys' discussed here?
The Heartland Institute published a list of 500, count 'em 500 scientists that they claim were united in disavowing the concept of global warming. Pretty impressive... until the scientists named start to find out and demand their names be removed from the list.
Oh yeah, that. And the folks at DeSmogBlog have been quite busy following that story here, here, and here. (oh, and the name Dennis Avery, one of the star playas of Pale and Prole's series make a dramatic reappearance).
Better yet, DeSmogBlog adds a kicker to the smackdowns - Heartland Institute Condemned for "Major Ethical Transgression".
There is no apology, clarification or correction. It's as if Heartland President and CEO Joseph Bast just doesn't care about the accuracy of his output or the credibility of his organization
Of course they don't care. They don't because, again as Pale and Prole have shown, they know how to package and market the 'science-y' stuff very well. It almost looks believable. Until you start digging.
"It took me a while to figure out what they were up to," said Eric Betteridge, who teaches at Hillcrest High School in Ottawa.
So there's the 'what', but how, you ask, is this getting to Canadian schools? The same way 'increase your penis size' e-mail spam gets into your inbox.
The Heartland Institute says that it purchased a database list of addresses of 11,250 schools from across the country, including about 10,000 private or faith-based schools, for a massive mail campaign aimed at Canadian children in all provinces.
Which seems to imply, at least for now, that this is staying out of the public schools.
The Sierra Club of Canada said that the Heartland Institute's information was far from being balanced.
"It's alarming that an American think tank is distributing misinformation on the most important issue of our time in Canadian schools, to actually create an illusion that there is a scientific debate," said Emilie Moorhouse, a spokeswoman for the environmental group.
After reviewing the Heartland Institute package, Betteridge said he was left feeling both amused and distressed that someone would try to promote this material to children in the classroom.
"I think I would be concerned because it was well written, and if somebody hadn't been aware of what the general consensus is among climatologists about global warming, you would begin to think, 'Wow, somebody's giving me the wrong story here."
And could it all possibly be about the oil patch? What isn't in Ottawa these days.
The Heartland Institute, which has received $791,000 in funding from Exxon-Mobil since 1998 according to a recent analysis by Greenpeace USA, also mailed out its package to 200 influential Canadian decision-makers, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
Moorhouse from the Sierra Club suggested that this might explain why the government has adopted climate change policies that were criticized for being soft on the oil and gas industry.
"It looks like they're listening to the Heartland Institute and other oil-industry-sponsored think tanks and they're following their curriculum rather than listening to the vast majority of what the scientific community is saying around the world," she said.
And our kids better damn well start listening to the same, too. That seems to be the suggestion here.
Naturally, and all 'science-y like', the Heartland Institute begs to differ.
A spokesperson for the Heartland Institute said that no company has ever contributed more than five per cent of the think tank's total revenues and no industry sector contributed more than 10 per cent of its revenues.
"Nobody buys research," said Dan Miller, the institute's executive vice-president and publisher. "That isn't the way it works. The funding follows the intellectual capacity, the intellectual integrity. It's not the other way around."
Bwahahahaha! They actually have the gall to claim they follow hallmarks of integrity despite all evidence to the contrary? Evidence? Evidence? The Heartland Institute don't need es-stinking evidence. They fit in quite nicely with the Consrevative Party of Canada, it's leader and it's Minister of the Environment, don't they?