Op-ed: Clock is running out on Heartland Institute

Hateful billboard campaign and misleading conference talks a sign of desperation among global warming deniers

The residents of Tuvalu are very concerned about global warming and sea level rise, despite the best efforts of the Heartland Institute to convince them everything is going to be OK. PHOTO BY STEFAN LINS VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a bizarre convocation, oil-smeared pseudo-scientists mingled with right-wing think tankers at the Heartland Institute’s annual anti-science climate conference, an event that would be funny if there weren’t so much at stake.

The panel sessions focused on launching repeated ideological and political attacks against efforts to curb global warming. In one of the first sessions, meteorologist Joe Bastardi invoked bible verses to end his presentation, suggesting that God is in charge of the climate, and that human efforts to cut greenhouse gases are meaningless in the big picture.

The day ended with Czech President Václav Klaus charging that climate activists are “exactly like communists” in their efforts to arrange society according to their desires.

In between, speakers said not to worry about malaria because, hey, we can simply start using DDT again, and that a warming climate is good for forests and agriculture — notwithstanding clear evidence that forests around the world are under stress as temperatures rise, and that rice farmers in Asia are already seeing impacts of climate change.

Some of the most vitriolic attacks were reserved for the Obama administration’s move to limit greenhouse gases via EPA regulations, with wildly overstated claims of how those steps could “destroy” the U.S. economy, again ignoring that numerous studies have already shown how warming is hitting American consumers in the pocket book by raising food prices.

Fortunately for the future of the planet, the Heartland Institute’s credibility has been shrinking faster than the Arctic ice sheet, as numerous corporate sponsors have withdrawn their support after the group bought billboard advertising and equated respected climate scientists with crazed lunatics like the Unabomber.

As climate science builds ever-more compelling evidence for human-caused warming and the likely impacts, the few fringe deniers still left at the margins of society are growing more desperate. The billboard campaign was a sign of that last-ditch effort to try and discredit the hard-won scientific credibility of the climate science community, earned with thousands of hours of research and review.

The outcry and response to the billboards was immediate, as mainstream companies, including General Motors and State Farm, chose to vote with their wallets to not be associated with the anti-environmental extremists.

The response was galvanized in part by groups like Forecast the Facts, and those same organizations are rallying their supporters to respond to the messages at the Heartland conference with protests.

“Given that the Heartland Institute’s conference is the preeminent gathering to promote conspiracy theories about climate science, it’s amazing that major corporations, many of which profess to care about climate change, continue to support their efforts,” said Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts. “We are going to make sure those corporations are aware that huge numbers of people — including their customers and shareholders — find that unacceptable.”

Forecast the Facts, SumOfUs.org and 350.org have organized their members to “crowd-fund” bicycle-driven billboards that parody the Heartland Institute’s Unabomber ads. These people-powered ads, which feature Heartland supporters Pfizer, Comcast, and Microsoft, will circle downtown Chicago during Heartland’s climate change denial conference at the Hilton Chicago beginning Monday morning.

The ads include the logos of the aforementioned corporations, the amount of their recent contributions to the Heartland Institute, and the message, “We still support climate deniers. Do you?”

“The Heartland conference is one of the most brazen examples of how the fossil fuel industry funds climate change denialism for its own profit, at the expense of the millions of people around the world already suffering from massive climate disruptions — floods, droughts, and more. Do Pfizer, Microsoft, and Comcast really want to be complicit in this human tragedy by continuing to fund Heartland?”

The bicycle ads will feature content that was rejected by Clear Channel Chicago. Clear Channel ran a Heartland Institute ad featuring the Unambomber on its digital billboard network in Chicago, but rejected the Forecast the Facts parody because it criticized a corporation.

Clear Channel also rejected proposed alternative billboards from Forecast the Facts. According to Johnson, Clear Channel executives then falsely informed the press that they rejected the ads for legal concerns.

In addition to the ads, Forecast the Facts will be joining local activists as well as members of SumOfUs.org, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and Greenpeace in a grassroots rally on Tuesday morning (May 22) outside the Hilton Chicago.



31 thoughts on “Op-ed: Clock is running out on Heartland Institute

  1. Watermelon science, Green on the outside, Red on the inside.
    Science becomes voodoo when politicians polute it with agendas. Climate change is natural, and to be expected, deal with it, the earth has for the last 3 billion years.

    1. Barry, if you think the current warming trend is natural, you still have to supply an explanation. Climate changes when something makes it change.

      What is making it change now?

      1. Well what do you think has always made it change, Human Co2 output? Must of been stoneage humans lighting fires.

        1. What caused change in the past? Changes in solar output. Changes in Earth’s orbit/tilt/etc. Massive vulcanism. Asteroid strikes. Continental drift. Slow geological and biological processes that affected the composition of the atmosphere.

          Many things affect climate, not just CO2. No one has ever said otherwise, and no one has said “Oh, it’s warming, must be CO2” without examining the other things that cause climate change.

          My question was, and is: What, specifically, is causing the climate to change now? It is no good saying “It’s natural” if you can’t identify the agent of change. It’s just handwaving. Climate doesn’t change for no reason. It changes because something made it change. If you can’t identify what that is, you haven’t said anything.

          1. Good response @chrisd3

            The Earth most certainly has not had a climate conducive to humans or life as we know it for 3 billion years. Which is the point, precisely. Yeah, it changes–not always, from our perspective, for the better. Might be good for pathogens and pests of all sorts though. But not for a population already perched in a tenuous climate that requires billions in infrastructure costs to, say, deliver water to its citizens, farmers, ranchers, energy producers, and industry…being thoughtful about the future and not just mindlessly embracing the status quo because the powerful manipulate you to serve their interest, is a worthy pursuit. Try it.

            The following is complete gobbledygook and indicates…well something.

            “Watermelon science, Green on the outside, Red on the inside.
            Science becomes voodoo when politicians polute it with agendas.”

            What the hell does that even mean? That its ‘communist’ science because you either disagree or (much more likely) fail to comprehend it?

  2. “climate science” is the only discipline that takes computer models that usually are deemed a deprture from reality to be equated with reality or even to replace reality.

  3. You warmers really make me laugh as you all seem to be in total denial of the fact that global temperature has plateaued over the last 13 years. The sea levels are rising, if not lower, at the same post Ice Age rates they always have done. Hurricanes are now less not more active, the Antarctic sea ice has been running above average for years and the Arctic sea ice has returned to normal. What are you lefties gonna blame America, England and the west in general, for next.

    The only clock running out is the one on your predictions.

  4. We appear to be witnessing a long overdue shift in the approach being taken by those who accept the science of global warming and recognize how serious this problem is.

    They are finally going on the offensive.

    It’s about time!

    Remember, negative does not equal slander. It is only slander if it is not true.

    Don’t say anything you wouldn’t be prepared to defend in court.

    Joe Bast’s world is crumbling. These fools are up against a wall.

  5. “oil-smeared pseudo-scientists mingled with right-wing think tankers”

    No doubt about where you are coming from then….I love nice objective debate.

    1. And to expand a bit on Barry’s statement: “…..oil-smeared pseudo-scientists…..”

      Please state your proof to back that up. Not with vague references to Ross Gelbspan’s books or other people citing his (Hoggan/Littlemore, Oreskes, Gore, McCright & Dunlap, just to name a few of the more famous ones), but actual proof of money given by fossil fuel industries in exchange for demonstratively false fabricated climate assessments.

      Fail to do so and you only end up pointing to one of the bigger faults in the entire issue, an enslavement to smearing the global warming critics with unsupported character assassinations, which I described in my American Thinker piece two weeks ago, “Heartland Institute ‘Unabomber billboard’ brings out Global Warming Alarmists’ One-Trick Pony” http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/05/heartland_institute_unabomber_billboard_brings_out_global_warming_alarmists_one-trick_pony.html

        1. Repeating the critical part of the sentence commenter “chrisd3” apparently missed, “actual proof of money given by fossil fuel industries in exchange for demonstratively false fabricated climate assessments”.

          The Guardian / Greenpeace article accusation has been widely repeated, and is still completely meaningless. When all we have here is a guilt-by-association accusation, it is evidence that would be laughed out of any court case in cross examination. When you fail to prove the fraud, what you have left are corporations giving money to institutions that put out material they agree with. And nothing more.

          Try harder “chrisd3”. Find the actual fraud, and you will be a hero to the man-caused global warming side. Fail to do so and you are simply among so many others with an agenda to distract the general public away from considering skeptics actual science assessments. Why not take down those first and then prove the corruption as the absolute capper to this issue? Or are you unable to do so?

          1. Taking denialism to a whole new level – not just denying the science itself, but even denying that that the anti-science side is funded by fossil fuel companies – awesome! That’s certainly one way to distract from the essence of the problem. No, I don’t have a photocopy of a check from ExxonMobil to a anti-science think tank – darn it, I guess that means it’s not true.

          2. Oh, right, Soon is going to conveniently provide “actual proof of money given by fossil fuel industries in exchange for demonstratively false fabricated climate assessments”.

            This is not a court of law, and there is not going to be any “proof.” Your question includes a requirement that can’t possibly be met, as I imagine you knew. The lack of such proof does not by ANY stretch of the imagination mean that there is no link between the energy industry’s cash and Soon’s bad research.

            All we can ever have, barring a confession, is this: Evidence of oceans of cash flowing from the fossil fuel industry to Willie Soon, followed as night follows day by reams of demonstrably and outrageously wrong research papers authored by Willie Soon, all of which (surprise!) support the industry’s position and conflict with the findings of virtually the entire rest of the scientific community.

            If you think this is a coincidence, I can do nothing but politely suggest that you remove your blinders.

          3. Berwyn: “No, I don’t have a photocopy of a check from ExxonMobil to a anti-science think tank – darn it, I guess that means it’s not true.”

            commenter “chrisd3”: This is not a court of law, and there is not going to be any “proof.” Your question includes a requirement that can’t possibly be met…

            So this is the best you two can do, along with commenter “climatehawk1” linking to a Desmogblog page, a site built entirely around the central figure I describe in my own online articles, Ross Gelbspan. Of course the requirement can be met, it MUST be in order to prove this accusation or any other kind of guilt-by-association accusation. If you guys were found to be in association with others involved in immoral or illegal acts, you most certainly would demand the accusation to be proven true if you were also broadbrushed with it. Heard of “innocent until proven guilty”? If you want it applied to you, you apply it to skeptic climate scientists, particularly when I point out in detail in all my articles how there is a sea of red flags surrounding the accusation.

            Instead trying to duck out of this by claiming there’s ‘impossible standards’, why on earth would you not call for the best investigators on your side to put that accusation under the hardest possible scrutiny to be sure it survives? So far, the ‘best’ investigator you’ve had turns out to be somebody who’s never apparently had the confidence to share his ‘evidence’ with all of us in its full context or tell how he got it, and he had to start spinning the bit about being a Pulitzer winner after that situation went out of control. Meanwhile, the people I mentioned in my first comment above, along with scores of others, are enslaved to citing Gelbspan because nobody else has ever corroborated his accusation.

            You don’t see the massive problem here? Or are you denying its abundantly obvious existence?

          4. If you’re determined not to see the blindingly obvious, there’s nothing anyone can do about that.

            Have a nice day.

          5. “chrisd3”, thanks for playing. If such an assessment about me comforts you, more power to you, but it is yet one more in a series of domino that falls under hard scrutiny. I’m not blind to the “obvious”, what I clearly see is an unresolved contradiction between the skeptics and the IPCC side, and I do not have the science knowledge to determine which side is right. What I also see even more plainly are promoters of man-caused global warming who cannot or will not engage in debate on the topic but instead do everything in their power to distract the public from perceiving skeptic climate scientists as legitimate critics. THAT speaks volumes about the IPCC side of the issue, and I’d suggest you are the one determined not to see the blindingly obvious problem with that tactic.

          6. “promoters of man-caused global warming who cannot or will not engage in debate on the topic”

            Well, that’s amusing.

            It’s a scientific debate, and scientific debate occurs in the pages of the scientific literature, which is precisely where it has been going on for many decades.

            Here’s the debate that you think is not happening:


            If your dissenting scientists have a case for some cause of the current warming trend other than the 40% increase in Earth’s dominant noncondensing greenhouse gas, I suggest that you invite them to publish it where it’s supposed to be published rather than in amateur blogs.

  6. Global Warming is not caused by humans, this is obvious. It is related to increased activity of the sun. The reason for the C02 argument is money. Universities to ” study ” it, Cap and Trade as a monetary system. This is simple with just a little objective research.

    1. Since there is no evidence of any “increased activity of the sun”, isn’t this a pretty difficult position to defend?

      Here is a plot of incoming solar radiation during the satellite era (1978-present):


      And here is a plot of global temperature over the same period:


      Can you tell me how the first graph provides the explanation for the second graph?

      What “objective research” can you provide to substantiate your claim? (And by “objective research,” I mean published, peer-reviewed research, not blogs and the like.)

    2. I responded to this yesterday, but it’s stuck in moderation, presumably because it contains links to two graphs.

      If the current warming is related to “increased activity of the sun,” you need to be able to demonstrate that the sun has, in fact, been more active.

      Since there has been essentially no overall trend in incoming solar radiation (“insolation”) since at least the 1950s, I think this will be pretty hard to do.

      You mentioned “objective research.” Can you point to any “objective research” that shows this “increased activity of the sun”? Note that blogs and the like aren’t “objective research.” I’m looking for published, peer-reviewed scientific papers from scientists with appropriate credentials.

      The two graphs that I apparently can’t link to show insolation and global temperature over the course of the satellite era, about 35 years. Over that period, the global temperature has risen sharply while insolation has, if anything, declined a little bit. So I’m very interested to know what research you have that shows something different.

      1. I’m pretty sure I approved all your comments, but I’ll check. Shouldn’t be a problem, because you’re not calling anyone names or using ad hom attacks …

        1. Well, I left a response to Eugene Hamptons yesterday at 11:07 AM that still shows as “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

          1. Yep, missed it yesterday. Usually after I approve the first comment by someone, the rest post automatically; not sure what happened. Thanks for your interest in this story.

  7. Another intentionally ignorant headline … no one say’s global warming is anything but the normal cycles of the planet and solar system. The Man Made Global Warming is the farce to insert cap and trade as a currency and to fund “research ” . The problem with understanding is bonehead publications preaching to sheep who believe anything they hear without even a little objective research. The problem? … the Media and fools like the one who wroth this headline and one sided story.

    1. “no one say’s global warming is anything but the normal cycles of the planet and solar system”

      Actually, something like 97-98% of the most expert climate scientists, and 80-85% of ALL scientists, say that the current warming trend is NOT “the normal cycles of the planet and solar system.”

      If you want to say it’s just normal cycles, you have to be able to identify the specific cycles and the specific physical causes of the current warming trend.

      Can you do that?

      If you want to claim that it’s all a hoax to fund research, you have to be able to demonstrate that there’s no other research to do, that only climate research receives funding, and that climate research gets funded only if it supports global warming.

      Can you do any of that?

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