Yet another Google-funded organization is out promoting conspiracy theories about the threat of man-made global warming. On Monday, September 23, the Google-financed Heritage Foundation hosted hosted Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast, Willie Soon, and Bob Carter to present “Climate Change Reconsidered II,” in which they argued that the world’s scientific community have systematically overstated the dangers to humanity of unregulated carbon pollution.
Like the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, Soon, and Carter have significant funding from the fossil-fuel industry and a long record of questioning not only the economics of regulating climate pollution but the underlying science itself, as explained in our new Dealing in Doubt report
Greenpeace activists confronted Bast at Heritage after the event, asking him to reveal whether Chicago magnate Barre Seid funded the multimillion-dollar climate-denial initiative. Bast refused to answer the question.
Since Google’s selection of former Republican representative Susan Molinari as their chief lobbyist, the Internet giant has embraced key players in the climate-denial machine. In the last few months, Google was the top funder of the annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, famed for its “CO2: We Call It Life” ads, held a fundraiser for the re-election of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who penned the book “The Greatest Hoax,” and was revealed to be a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has argued that “substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States.”
Google’s support of the Heritage Foundation elicited new criticism from climate scientists associated with the company.
“Their motto may be ‘don’t be evil,’ but they apparently don’t have any problem with giving it money,” climate scientist Andrew Dessler, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University, told Hill Heat in an e-mail interview.
“If you want to be a corporate leader on climate change or science education, you should fund groups to combat the anti-science garbage produced by Heritage, not the other way around,” said climate scientist Simon Donner, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, when asked for comment.
Dr. Dessler and Dr. Donner were Google Climate Science Communication Fellows in 2011. They and 15 other Fellows recently sent an open letter to the company criticizing its fundraiser for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), writing that “in the face of urgent threats like climate change, there are times where companies like Google must display moral leadership and carefully evaluate their political bedfellows.”
In a campaign led by climate accountability organization Forecast the Facts, over 150,000 people have signed petitions challenging Google’s support for climate deniers, and have staged protests in Washington DC, New York City, and Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Climate change denial is a set of organized attempts to downplay, deny or dismiss the scientific consensus on the extent of global warming, its significance, and its connection to human behavior, especially for commercial or ideological reasons. Source: Wikipedia
In a bold and innovative new move for climate change deniers, Dan Dimicco, the CEO of Nucor - one of the largest steel companies in the U.S - has denied that the Heartland Institute is involved in climate change science denial.
For background, the Heartland Institute is a corporate front group, well known for attacking scientific findings that their corporate paymasters find inconvenient. Heartland has denied the health effects of tobacco smoke while taking millions of dollars from tobacco corporations, and currently denies the cause and effects of global climate change, while being paid by major carbon polluters like the oil and gas industry and Nucor.
Dimicco’s denial of Heartland’s climate denial came in the form of a letter to a concerned Nucor shareholder. The letter contains a number of outright fallacies, chronicled below:
"Heartland does not deny climate change"
Really? Then why has Heartland organized 7 conferences on climate denial? Why does Heartland president Joe Bast frequently say things like: "Most scientists do not believe human activities threaten to disrupt the Earth's climate."
See this blog by ThinkProgress for a longer list of Heartland's climate denial.
"[Heartland] supports research and scholarly debate on causes and effects of climate change"
An example of research and scholarly debate:
The Heartland Institute unveiled this banner in Chicago.
"It is entirely appropriate for Nucor and other like minded companies and groups to fund the Heartland Institute."
Because of Heartland’s extreme climate stance and indefensible tactics, many major corporations have distanced themselves from Heartland. In 2007 ExxonMobil, a major funder of climate science attacks, stopped funding the Institute, saying they could no longer support groups that “serve as a distraction” to the climate issue. In the last six months, 19 other major corporations like GM, Pepsico, and Bayer have cut ties with Heartland over their climate stance. These major corporations don’t think supporting Heartland is appropriate, why does Nucor?
Though it is tempting to find Dan Dimicco’s (picture right) absurd comments on Heartland and the climate change “debate” laughable, it is a deadly serious issue.
If all people act responsibly, including Nucor and the rest of the steel industry, overcoming the threats of climate change will be an enormous task. If industry leaders like Nucor continue to sit on the sidelines - or worse, intentionally obstruct climate solutions, people and the planet will suffer immensely.
Tell Nucor to stop obstructing solutions to climate change and stop funding attacks on climate science. Nucor needs to create a coherent and fact based stance on climate and stand by it.
Sign this petition and tell denier Dan Dimicco to stop funding attacks on climate science.
The Heartland Institute’s 7th Climate denial-palooza, fewer attendees, more fringe conspiracy theories
The Heartland Institute, a corporate funded anti-environmental front group, just wrapped up their 7th climate denial meeting, aka denial-palooza. This year saw a much smaller turnout of climate science denialists than previous years, but more fringe conspiracy theories than ever. The drop in attendance comes after the Heartland Institute’s failed billboard campaign comparing advocates of climate science to terrorists, murderers, and madmen.
The billboard, combined with Heartland’s illogical stance on climate science, has forced 11 corporate sponsors to drop financial support of the organization. Heartland had hoped to receive over $825,000 in funding from these corporations in 2012 and their departure has left Heartland's CEO Joe Bast desperate for funding. During his closing remarks, Bast said:
I'm not a good fundraiser and as a result I don't raise enough money to cover [the climate conference]...if you can afford to make a contribution please do, if you know someone, if you have a rich uncle... please ask him to contribute.
This year’s conference featured the usual self-contradictory climate denier arguments, which includes everything from outright denial that the earth temperature is going up, to admitting the globe is warming but denying that humans and CO2 are involved, to admitting the earth is warming, humans and CO2 are involved, but the warming will be beneficial. However, this year’s meeting also delved in to other fanatical conspiracy theories, like the belief that President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate is not real.
The truth is, if Heartland’s deceptive and dishonest talk about climate science was aimed at the few old contrarians that attended the latest meeting, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. However, Heartland doesn’t get paid by Nucor and other big carbon emitting corporations to mislead a fringe tribe of retired old white men. Heartland gets paid to derail solutions to climate change. This has meant creating anti-science curriculum for grade schools, paying spokespeople to deny climate science, and attacking the scientists that do real work on climate change.
And who pays for Heartland disinformation? Leaked internal fundraising and budget documents have revealed that major corporations like Nucor and Pfizer, as well as the coal industry, are substantial contributors to Heartland’s annual budget. As for the denial conference itself, it has recently been revealed that the organizations that co-sponsored this year’s event have taken $67 million from ExxonMobil, Koch and Scaife foundations.
Currently a coalition of groups including Greenpeace, Forecast the Facts, Sierra Club, SumofUs, and 350.org are gathering petitions from people concerned about the corporate funding of climate denial, and demanding that Heartland’s remaining corporate funders stop their support of the Heartland Institute. Sign the petition and tell these corporations to stop funding attacks on climate change science.
For more information, check out these recent articles on the Heartland Institute:
“Heartland reflects on its beating,” Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian
“Heartland Institute facing uncertain future as staff depart and cash dries up”, Suzanne Goldenberg, the Guardian
“For Heartland board, failed climate attack was a surprise” Evan Lehmann, Climatewire
“Heartland faces a mutiny amid furor over billboard campaign” Evan Lehmann, Climatewire
Adding to a growing list of defections, Eli Lilly, BB&T Bank, and PepsiCo have announced they will not fund the Heartland Institute in 2012. They join State Farm, USAA, and others who have stopped financial support of the Chicago front group after Heartland released a billboard featuring a picture of Ted Kaczynski next to the text “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?”
Sign our petition asking the rest of Heartland's corporate sponsors to stop funding climate science denial.
Just for background, Heartland’s fringe positions on science and loose grasp of reality is no secret in corporate circles. Heartland’s climate stance is so extreme that ExxonMobil, the great patron of climate science denial, dropped them years ago - saying they could no longer support groups that “serve as a distraction” to the climate issue.
Heartland peddles its own pseudo-science that contradicts the vast majority of scientists in the world, and observable reality. As James Hansen recently wrote in the New York Times, climate change can be conclusively linked to recent extreme weather conditions like the major heat wave that killed hundreds across Europe and the excruciating drought the western U.S. is still suffering from. (At right: A cow stuck in the mud in Texas, photograph by Jay Janner, 2011)
However, in part because the effects of global climate change have become perceptible to most Americans, fewer and fewer people are buying Heartland’s BS about climate science.
Which leads to the Big Questions: - where does Heartland get the money to buy crazy billboards?
Where do they get the money to pay for climate denying school curriculum?
With Exxon gone, which anti-science corporations still support Heartland’s loony climate denial meetings?
For starters: Pfizer.
Pfizer, the giant drug company, is a leading sponsor of the Heartland Institute. But wait you say, doesn’t Pfizer have a strong statement about the serious threats posed by climate change and the necessity of cutting greenhouse emissions? Yes, yes they do. But, Pfizer also has a history of saying the right thing to the public while doing the exact opposite behind closed doors. Take healthcare reform for example; Pfizer publicly supported president Obama’s Healthcare reform while quietly giving the Heartland Institute hundreds of thousands of dollars to savage the president and the healthcare law.
Side note: Pfizer is no stranger to being called out for their affiliations to unsavory corporate front groups. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the group that helped for-profit prison companies write and pass immigration bills that put more people in jail - and helped gun groups write and pass the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, (which protected the killer of teenage Trayvon Martin) counts Pfizer as a corporate sponsor. At a protest calling for Pfizer to drop ALEC, eight people were arrested outside of Pfizer’s gates. In a telling show of corporate hubris, Pfizer never even responded to the demonstrators requests.
Nucor, the steel manufacturer, is also a Heartland funder.
According to leaked internal documents from the Heartland Institute, Nucor directly funds Heartland’s climate work. Like Pfizer, Nucor talks openly about solutions to climate change, and their website proudly proclaims “Concerns about climate change not taken lightly by Nucor.”
Other corporate bad actors still funding Heartland include Comcast, Reynolds American inc, and Golden Rule Insurance. Tell these companies that their support of climate denial must be stopped, by signing this petition.
PolluterWatch: Greenpeace Investigates Heartland Institute Leaked Documents -- click to see a list of companies that dropped Heartland and ongoing investigations.
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.”
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.