Microsoft, General Motors and Diageo are among the companies that have donated money to the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that denies the ongoing existence of global warming, according to the Guardian.
The newspaper cites industry watchdog site DeSmogBlog, which says a think tank insider leaked it confidential documents detailing the Heartland Institute’s strategy and fundraising network.
But Heartland said that at least one of the posted documents is a fake, some may have been altered, and some were stolen. It said Heartland president Joseph Bast has not yet had a chance to review all documents to see what has been altered, so until then the institute is refusing to confirm the documents’ authenticity.
It is threatening to pursue civil and possibly criminal charges against “individuals who have commented so far on these documents,” and said it would seek prison time for the person responsible for stealing documents.
According to DeSmogBlog and the Guardian, Heartland has received funds from a number of companies that publicly support action to stop climate change. Many of the companies acknowledged their donations.
Microsoft gave the institute $59,908 in 2011, but said the money was earmarked for a program providing free software licenses to non-profit organizations. GlaxoSmithKline said its $50,000, two-year donation was for a healthcare initiative.
General Motors gave $15,000 each in 2010 and 2011, for non-climate-related projects. Diageo gave $10,000 over the past two years, for a project related to excise duty.
Microsoft, GSK and Diageo all told the Guardian that they do not support the institute’s views on climate change.
Tobacco companies Altria and Reynolds America, and drug firms Pfizer and Eli Lilly, also gave to Heartland. In all corporations have given over $1.1 million in the past two years and are planning another $705,000 this year, the documents said, but much of the institute’s work to discredit the science of climate change has been funded by a single anonymous donor, who gave $4.6m in 2008.
The institute is a prominent climate change denier. In a briefing on its website, the organization says that the global warming trend has already stopped, and that about two-thirds of warming in the 1990s was due to natural causes. It also says that moderate warming is likely to bring about benefits outweighing its costs.