PolluterWatch Blog

Heartland Institute Compares Climate Advocates to Mass Murderers

The Heartland Institute, a “think tank” in Chicago that serves as an epicenter for the denial of climate change, unveiled a series of billboards that equate climate change advocacy with mass murder and terrorism. The billboards featured pictures of Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson, and Fidel Castro, next to the text “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?” For a full background on the Heartland Institute's PolluterWatch profile. 

 

The billboards were so outrageous Heartland was forced take them down soon after they premiered.

 

A further explanation of the billboard campaign on Heartland’s website clarified the message:

“the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”

And their plan for more billboards:

“Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).

The billboard campaign is the latest in Heartland’s continuing battle against the scientific evidence of climate change. Heartland has sponsored and organized six conferences on climate denial in the past 5 years, and they recently announced a seventh to take place May 21-23 in Chicago. The “International Climate Conferences” provide a platform and meeting space for the small cadre of professional climate science deniers that have derailed meaningful solutions to the threats of global warming in the U.S.

These same climate deniers have distanced themselves from Heartland over the deranged nature of the recent billboard campaign.  The Washington Post reported:

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), scheduled to headline the Heartland Institute’s annual conclave of climate-change skeptics this month, said through a spokeswoman that he “will not participate in the upcoming climate-change conference if the Heartland Institute decides to continue this ad campaign.”

Though these billboards reach new levels of absurdity and desperation, the Heartland Institute’s president Joe Bast is no stranger to using indefensible tactics to attack climate science.

Heartland recently made headlines for their scheme to create a school curriculum on climate change for grades K-12. The curriculum will be designed to delegitimize established climate science by teaching students that human beings’ role in climate change is “a major scientific controversy.” According to leaked internal documents, Heartland paid a well known climate denier, David Wojick, to create the curriculum, which Heartland then planned to send to teachers across the country.

The leaked documents also revealed plans to pay university professors and federal scientists to deny the reality of global climate change.  For more on the internal Heartland documents and their implications, see the ongoing Polluterwatch investigation.

 

Who funds Heartland?

 

The Heartland Institute has a long history of taking extreme stances on policy that benefit the institute’s corporate funders. They received hefty funding from tobacco corporations while fighting regulations on cigarettes, and have taken funds from Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and other polluters while fighting solutions to environmental problems like climate change.

Media attention on Heartland’s extreme climate stance, like Heartland’s plan to mislead teachers and children, has caused major corporations like GM to stop supporting the organization in recent months.  However, major corporations like State Farm, Nucor and Microsoft still fund Heartland’s activities.  A full list of donors is available on Polluterwatch and includes strange bedfellows such as the reinsurance industry (represented by RennaisanceRe, Allied World, and USAA) and secretive right-wing foundations like the Donors Capital Fund.

Charles Koch, David Koch, Joseph Bast

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