A PROMINENT Australian scientist has rejected as offensive any suggestion he is doing the bidding of a US climate-sceptic think tank that is paying him a monthly fee.
Confidential documents leaked from inside The Heartland Institute, a wealthy think tank based in Chicago and Washington, detail strategy and funding for an array of activities designed to spread doubt about climate change science, paid for by companies that have a financial interest in continuing to release greenhouse gases without government interference.
Among the recipients of funding is Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University, a geologist and marine researcher who spoke at the ''convoys of no confidence'' protests against the carbon price last year alongside the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, and writes columns for News Ltd newspapers.
The documents show Professor Carter receives a ''monthly payment'' of $US1667 ($1550) as part of a program to pay ''high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist [anthropogenic global warming] message''.
Professor Carter did not deny he was being paid by The Heartland Institute, but would not confirm the amount, or if the think tank expected anything in return for its money.
''That suggestion is silly and offensive - a kindergarten level argument,'' Professor Carter told the Herald.
''Institutions or organisations simply pay for services rendered - in the same way that an architect is paid for their work, so are scientists,'' he said. ''What they may make any payment to me for, I'm not discussing with anybody outside of my family.''
Altogether, more than $US20 million had been spent funding and co-ordinating the activities of climate sceptics and bloggers since 2007, the documents suggest.
Other cash recipients include Anthony Watts, the leading US climate sceptic blogger, who is to receive $US90,000 for his work this year. Programs slated for funding include new curriculum modules that teach science from a climate-sceptic perspective, to be sent to US schools.
The documents discuss strategy to ''keep opposing voices out'' of the media and co-ordinate efforts with other ''groups capable of rapidly
mobilising responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavourable blog posts.''
The funding comes from 1800 donors, including many manufacturing and resources businesses, and also drug companies.
One anonymous donor has given a staggering $US8.6 million to the think tank since 2007.
The Heartland Institute did not respond to the Herald's questions about the content or veracity of the documents yesterday.
The documents were first published on a Canadian website, DeSmogBlog, which monitors the public relations efforts by some industry groups to discredit climate change science. ''An important message here is for the media to learn how to recognise this co-ordinated attack on science and to see through the PR pollution that Heartland and its network creates to cast doubt on climate change,'' said the website's executive director, Brendan DeMelle.