In the wake of the outrageous Heartland Institute billboard campaign equating everyone who acknowledges the science of global warming with “murderers, tyrants, and madmen,” many of the group’s corporate donors are fleeing away, lest their public reputations get sullied by Heartland’s recklessness.
July 2006 column by Heartland President and CEO Joseph Bast:
The Inconvenient Truth About Al Gore
….I have difficulty taking Gore seriously on environmental issues ever since it was reported that Ted Kaczynski, the murderous “Unabomber,” kept a heavily marked-up copy of Gore’s book, Earth in the Balance, in his tar-paper shack and liberally borrowed from it when writing his anti-humanity treatise. There’s even a Web site (http://www.crm114.com/algore/quiz.html) that offers a quiz to see if you can tell Gore’s words from Kaczynski’s. I bet you can’t.
Was that a cheap shot? Maybe….
The Unabomber also was absolutely sincere in his belief that technological progress was an evil that had to be stopped, with violence if necessary. Fortunately, Kaczynski didn’t have access to the incredible powers of the Presidency of the United States. Unfortunately, Al Gore still aspires to that post.
This organization is off its rocker. Consider that Heartland’s climate position is so extreme that even ExxonMobil and Koch Industries stopped funding their climate denial work years ago.
But the latest round of corporate donor defections appears to pose a big problem for Heartland’s future.
The drop-off in funds could wreck Heartland’s ambitious plans of increasing its fundraising by 67% in 2012, from $4.6m to $7.7m.Heartland watchers have suggested the thinktank may be running short of funds, especially after moving into expensive new premises.…The defecting companies between them contributed more than 15% of Heartland’s budget last year. Companies such as State Farm were among the thinktank’s biggest single donors.
“Recent revelations of the Heartland Institute’s radical position on climate change as portrayed on the new billboard featuring Ted Kaczynski made our association with other parts of your organization untenable.”
Heartland’s D.C. staff who worked on insurance and other issues are reportedly considering heading for the hills, perhaps mindful that they’ve lost credibility in Washington on their other issues because of the extremist climate denial work done in the Chicago headquarters.
Eli Lehrer – Heartland’s insurance expert – has worked with the insurance industry and environmental organizations including Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club in the Smarter Safer Coalition to reform national flood insurance and the Green Scissors initiative to cut anti-environmental government subsidies.
No longer – all those insurers have bailed, Lehrer has bailed, and the coalitions with green groups have disowned Heartland. (USAA‘s Facebook announcement surely referred to Lehrer’s departure as the reason for their decision to leave.)
Rightfully so. At this point, one has to be more than a little crazy to ignore the wide and deep scientific consensus on climate change. When people cling to belief in the face of science, it shows how out of touch they are with reality.
Competitive Enterprise Institute will still co-sponsor, the Reason Foundation is still sponsoring, as is CFACT, the Ayn Rand Institute and other ideological allies.
Steve Milloy the Junkman described the billboards as “fact-based.” Really.
WILL THERE BE ANY ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THIS CHARADE?
People should contact these remaining companies – ForecasttheFacts.org has a petition, Sierra Club has another – and ask why they support Heartland’s reckless climate denial. A key reason this many of Heartland’s corporate donors pulled out is because everyday people stood up and made their voices heard.
The exodus of corporate donors getting cold feet about funding Heartland is similar to what’s happening at ALEC – these extreme industry front groups are shedding support among companies with reputations to consider. ALEC’s lost at least 15 corporate sponsors and around 30 legislators.