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The Heartland Institute’s Skeptical Chinese Fantasy

US and China Flags

US and Chinese flags in front of the White House. The USA and China recently agreed to reduce emissions of HFCs, which are potent greenhouse gases. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP


Powered by article titled “The Heartland Institute’s Skeptical Chinese Fantasy” was written by Dana Nuccitelli, for on Friday 14th June 2013 05.37 UTC

The Heartland Institute is a fossil fuel-funded think tank that gained notoriety in May 2012 for launching an ad campaign comparing those who agree that humans are causing global warming (that’s 97% of climate scientists and the majority of the rest of us) to the Unabomber and Osama bin Laden.

Billboard by The Heartland Institute

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

Heartland also funds a report written by a group calling themselves the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which tries to be the contrarian response to the IPCC. The NIPCC report itself is BS (Bad Science), repeating numerous long-debunked climate myths and cherry picking data.

However, a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently decided to translate the NIPCC report. The Heartland Institute has triumphantly trumpeted this as evidence that the Chinese are becoming “skeptics” and the climate consensus is crumbling, claiming for example,

“The trend toward skepticism and away from alarmism is now unmistakable,”

“Publication of a Chinese translation of Climate Change Reconsidered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences indicates the country’s leaders believe their [failure to sign a global climate treaty] is justified by science and not just economics.”

However, Heartland’s interpretation of these events does not jibe with the statements or actions of the translators, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, or the Chinese government. Here are relevant comments from the NIPCC translator’s preface [PDF]:

“The most recent [IPCC] report … found that most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (>90%) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, represents the consensus scientific opinions on international climate change studies. Yet, as with any academic topic, there are still differing viewpoints and debates on the causes, facts, impacts and trends in climate change.”

“In order to help Chinese researchers to understand different opinions and positions in debates on climate change, at the end of 2011, we contact The Heartland Institute, the publisher of these two reports.”

“The work of these translators, organizations and funders has been in the translation and the promotion of scientific dialogue, does not reflect that they agree with the views of NIPCC.”

And here is the Chinese Academy of Sciences response to inquiries about the translation and Heartland’s (mis)interpretation of its meaning:

“…this is only a book cooperation between the Lanzhou Branch of the National Science Library and Heartland Institute, and is limited only to copy right trading, with no academic research work involved.

A few CAS experts participated in the translation of the book, aiming to demonstrate different voices in the global scientific field to the Chinese science community, however, that does not mean that we CAS joined the research or agree with their view point; neither does it mean that CAS will decide ‘promote’ the climate ‘skeptic’ view or group.”

These are not quite the ringing endorsements of the NIPCC report or the climate contrarian position that the Heartland comments imply. In fact, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has signed onto this joint statement along with 12 other Academies of Science, in which they endorse the IPCC consensus position on human-caused global warming and note,


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