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Skeptics Dare Heartland Institute to Take Up $25,000 Climate Challenge

June 15, 2015

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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A leading science advocacy group is throwing down the gauntlet to the Heartland Institute, a group that claims that global warming stopped in 1998, with a stark, simple challenge: If the 30-year average global land surface temperature goes up in 2015, setting a new record, the Heartland Institute must donate $25,000 to a science education nonprofit.

The challenge is presented by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), a program of the Center for Inquiry, which held its “Reason for Change” conference last week in Buffalo, at the same time as Heartland’s own climate conference in Washington, DC. Heartland’s gathering opened with a keynote address by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who believes that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

Among the key findings of a 2013 report published by Heartland was that “The level of warming in the most recent 15 year period [since 1998] is not significantly different from zero” and “natural variability is responsible for late twentieth century warming and the cessation of warming since 1998.” While the report’s authors dismissed global warming forecasts published by mainstream scientists, they have avoided making any testable predictions of their own.

“If anyone really thinks that human-caused global warming is a hoax, and that the climate has stopped heating up, they must also believe that temperatures will now stabilize or drop,” said Mark Boslough, a physicist and CSI Fellow who devised the challenge. “Well, that’s a testable claim, so let’s test it.”

“It’s time for the Heartland Institute to put its money where its exhaust pipe is,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, home of CSI. “If Earth’s climate gets hotter, and keeps getting hotter, the naysayers at Heartland should publicly own up and pay up.”

If CSI’s prediction proves incorrect, and the 30-year average global temperature does not go up, CSI agrees to donate $25,000 to an educational nonprofit designated by the Heartland Institute. 

CSI offered the following challenge: 

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) hereby presents to the Heartland Institute a challenge as to whether the Earth’s climate will set a new record high temperature this year. The challenge will be settled using the NASA GISS mean global land surface temperatures for the conventional climate averaging period (defined by the World Meteorological Organization as 30 years) ending on December 31, 2015.  If the global average temperature does not exceed the mean temperature for an equal period ending on the same date in any previous year for which complete data exist, CSI will donate $25,000 to a nonprofit to be designated by Heartland. Otherwise, Heartland will be asked to donate $25,000 to a science education nonprofit designated by CSI. It is CSI’s intent to repeat this challenge every year for the next 30 years.

“The theme of Heartland’s climate conference was ‘Fresh Start,’” observed Lindsay. “By predicting that a new record average temperature will be set every year for the next 30 years, we are in effect giving them 30 ‘fresh starts.’ I fear that what we’ll all find, however, is that as temperatures rise and the crisis deepens, each ‘fresh start’ will grow more and more stale.” 

Last December, Fellows of CSI – which includes noted scientists, journalists, and other luminaries such as Bill Nye, Ann Druyan, Richard Dawkins, David Morrison, Sir Harold Kroto, Joe Nickell, Eugenie Scott, and Lawrence Krauss – circulated a widely noted open letter, drafted by Boslough, calling for the news media to refrain from referring to those who deny the scientific consensus on climate change as “skeptics.” Learn more at

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The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), a program of the Center for Inquiry, encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view. Learn more at

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Learn more at