December 3, 2012

They say truth is the first casualty of war. In the war of words over climate change, that is plainly the case.

On Nov. 25, The Post ran a news article by reporter Juliet Eilperin [“Climate skeptics target energy law”] that falsely claimed my organization, the Heartland Institute, received millions of dollars from ExxonMobil and foundations affiliated with Charles G. and David H. Koch.

Not true. Over the course of a decade, ExxonMobil gave less than a tenth of the amount reported, never amounting to even 5 percent of our annual receipts. The reported level of support from the Kochs was even more egregiously wrong: Except for a gift of $25,000 last year for our work on health-care reform, the Kochs hadn’t donated a dime since 1998.

The Post ran a correction in the paper and on its Web site, but the damage was done. The article has been reprinted without correction in newspapers throughout the country. It adds to the false narrative that the only people and organizations that question the dogma of man-made global warming are shills for the oil industry.

We aren’t. We have more than 5,000 donors, receive only a small fraction of our support from the fossil-fuel industry (and always have), and we work with hundreds of highly qualified scientists to simply speak the truth about climate change.

The article also misrepresented our work. The Heartland Institute is not “skeptical of climate change science.” We are one of its leading supporters, having hosted seven international conferences (with an eighth one taking place in Munich this week) and published a comprehensive survey of the scientific literature in two volumes, with a third volume on its way. We spend more supporting climate science than all but a handful of public policy think tanks.

Finally, The Post reported that we ran a billboard “comparing those who believe in global warming to domestic terrorist Theodore J. Kaczynski.” Also untrue. The billboard simply reported the fact that the infamous Unabomber still believes in man-made global warming, despite the mounting scientific case against it, and asked viewers if they do, too.

Seldom does the The Post run an article on climate change that is anything other than dismissive or worse of the efforts of sincere and hard-working scientists and organizations that say the case hasn’t been made that man-made global warming is a threat to either public health or the environment. That’s a disservice to the newspaper’s readers, and because of the paper’s stature, to the nation.

Joseph L. Bast, Chicago

The writer is president of the Heartland Institute.