Heartland’s report was written under the auspices of the “Nongovernmental International Panel of Climate Change” (NIPCC). If you read that sentence too quickly, you could easily confuse it with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That confusion is intentional.
The IPCC was founded in 1988 to bring together the world’s top climate researchers—it’s like The Avengers for science—and have them summarize the current state of knowledge about how climate is changing. The IPCC’s fourth assessment report earned the organization a Nobel Prize, won jointly with Al Gore in 2007. The IPCC’s fifth assessment report is currently being released in sections.
This Heartland NIPCC report presents an alternative reality for climate science. Just as Conservapedia offers its readers comforting information reinforcing predetermined views, the NIPCC gives self-styled climate “skeptics” a fig leaf for their rejection of standard science. While the IPCC analyzes the issue using relevant peer-reviewed science, the NIPCC offers the tiniest slice of information possible, cherry-picked factoids out of context and without regard to the overall picture.
The danger in the Heartland Institute's mass mailing is that some K-12 teachers may mistake what they see for real science. K-12 teachers teach a wide range of subjects in which they have variable experience and expertise. As climate science is incorporated into courses, many teachers find themselves looking for information to use in class. And here, delivered right to their mailbox, is Heartland's report dressed up to look like a real scientific assessment from that group...what was the name, again? NIPCC? IPCC? Are they different?
Here’s how teachers can tell the difference: