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The Heartland Institute is a stock-issue conservative/libertarian "think tank" based in Chicago and founded by Joseph L. Bast. It has ties to Richard Mellon Scaife, Exxon, and Philip Morris (the usual suspects).
Heartland concentrates especially on "free market environmentalism," which is Newspeak for denialism. "Smoker's rights" is one of their favorite issues, which comes as no surprise as a Philip Morris executive once sat on their board of directors. They have consistently denied the link between second-hand smoke and cancer. They are also a front of global warming denial, publishing "research" by notorious deniers Anthony Watts and S. Fred Singer. No surprise, once again, that an Exxon exec once sat on their board as well. This unsavory combo of denialism makes them among the most dangerous organizations out there.
The banner on their home page displays, along with libertarian ideologues like Ayn Rand (who underwent surgery for lung cancer) and Ludwig von Mises, a number of historical figures including Crispus Attucks (first man killed in the Boston Massacre), Benjamin Franklin, Booker T. Washington, John Locke, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson. No doubt they are rolling in their graves.
In 2011, Heartland launched ClimateWiki, which is supposedly an "encyclopedia of climate change research organized by topic." It seems to be mostly copy-pasted from Wikipedia with the usual denialist "research" thrown in (Ross McKitrick, S. Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, the Idso family, Roy Spencer, Christopher Monckton, etc.) along with some "original" content. Registration is by e-mail only and so far the only registered users are other Heartland flacks.
2012 leaked budget documents
In February 2012, DeSmog Blog obtained budget documents from an insider although the Heartland Institute claimed someone mistakenly e-mailed the documents and that one document was false. Other sources seem to corroborate the authenticity of the leaked documents and all of the concrete items appear in the budget, albeit with different amounts. The documents have proven controversial for their detailed explication of Heartland's campaign on behalf of climate skepticism.
Mass murderer-global warming advertising campaign
On May 4, 2012, Heartland started a new campaign with pictures of Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson, and Fidel Castro with the words "I still believe in global warming. Do you?" (And it's not Poe's Law.) Heartland said in a press release, "Scientific, political, and public support for the theory of man-made global warming is collapsing. Most scientists and 60 percent of the general public (in the U.S.) do not believe man-made global warming is a problem. (Keep reading for proof of these statements.) The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen."
Amid near unanimous outcry from enemies and allies alike, Heartland pulled the campaign that day, saying, "We know that our billboard angered and disappointed many of Heartland’s friends and supporters, but we hope they understand what we were trying to do with this experiment. We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate." As a result, Diageo (i.e., Guinness, Smirnoff, and Johnnie Walker), the United Services Automobile Association, State Farm and several other insurers pulled their support for the think tank. The insurance companies migration reflects a "mutiny" at Heartland's Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate, especially after its head, Eli Lehrer, decided to leave Heartland. "Lehrer was largely responsible for raising $1.03 million from insurers over the last two years for programs that seek reduced government subsidies in federal flood insurance, decreased development along coastlines and increased funding for efforts to strengthen homes against natural catastrophes." Later, Eli Lilly, BB&T Bank, and Pepsi also withdrew their support.
Since the billboards were now empty, the Climate Reality Project posted billboards asking "Who to believe on climate: Heartland?… or EVERY National Scientific Academy in the world?" The billboards were posted in advance of Heartland's
media self love event annual conference.
Chinese Academy of Science rebuke
On June 12, 2013, Heartland posted a story on its website entitled, "Chinese Academy of Sciences Publishes Heartland Institute Research Skeptical of Global Warming." with the claim, "The trend toward skepticism and away from alarmism is now unmistakable… Publication of a Chinese translation of Climate Change Reconsidered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences indicates the country's leaders believe their [failure to sign a global climate treaty] is justified by science and not just economics." The Chinese Academy of Sciences strongly rebuked the piece:
“”The claim of the Heartland Institute about CAS’ endorsement of its report is completely false. To clarify the fact, we formally issue the following statements:
(1) The translation and publication of the Chinese version of the NIPCC report, and the related workshop, are purely non-official academic activities the group of translators. They do not represent, nor they have ever claimed to represent, CAS or any of CAS institutes. They translated the report and organized the workshop just for the purpose of academic discussion of different views.
(2) The above fact was made very clear in the Translators’ Note in the book, and was known to the NIPCC report authors and the Heartland Institute before the translation started. The false claim by the Heartland Institute was made public without any knowledge of the translator group.
(3) Since there is absolutely no ground for the so called CAS endorsement of the report, and the actions by the Heartland Institute went way beyond acceptable academic integrity, we have requested by email to the president of the Heartland Institute that the false news on its website to be removed. We also requested that the Institute issue a public apology to CAS for the misleading statement on the CAS endorsement.
(4) If the Heartland Institute does not withdraw its false news or refuse to apologize, all the consequences and liabilities should be borne by the Heartland Institute. We reserve the right for further actions to protect the rights of CAS and the translators group.
As usual, Heartland Institute tried to cover up the problem, retracting the story and claiming, "Some people interpreted our news release and a blog post describing this event as implying that the Chinese Academy of Sciences endorses the views contained in the original books. This is not the case, and we apologize to those who may have been confused by these news reports."
Even more bizarre is that Anthony Watts posted a story, "Heartland’s NIPCC report to be accepted by Chinese Academy of Sciences in special ceremony." It's unclear if the "special ceremony" occurred.
- Forbes magazine (employs James Taylor as a
- Cato Institute
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Independent Institute
- Their site
- Left Exposed, a site linked to them, claiming "investigative journalism" (we doubt it) to exposing left-wing movements and players.
- Sourcewatch entry
- Collection of tobacco denialism at Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.
- Heartland fact sheet at Exxon Secrets(broken link)
- Heartland on Global Warming at PRWatch
- DeSmog Blog category
- Debunking Heartland's "500 skeptical scientists" list, Greenfyre
- Shorter Heartland Conference, Deltoid
- The wiki in question
- Stoat on ClimateWiki: The Heartland Institute's failed wiki, It's fun to snark
- Heartland Institute launches a 'closed' climate change wiki, The Guardian
- Heartland Insider Exposes Institute's Budget and Strategy, DeSmog Blog
- Heartland Institute Responds to Stolen and Fake Documents, Heartland Institute
- Heartland Confirms It Mistakenly E-mailed Internal Documents, DeSmog Blog
- See also http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-is-desmog-blogs-document-scanned.html
- Mashey Report Confirms Heartland's Manipulation, Exposes Singer's Deception, DeSmog Blog
- Heartland budget
- Heartland Institute Ends Experiment with ‘Unabomber’ Global Warming Billboard, Archive.org from their website in 2012.
- Ross McKitrick wrote in a letter to Heartland president Joe Bast: "You cannot simultaneously say that you want to promote a debate while equating the other side to terrorists and mass murderers. Once you have done such a thing you have lost the moral high ground and you can never again object if someone uses that kind of rhetoric on you." . Donna Laframboise, who also takes issue with the IPCC, pulled out of Heartland's conference.
- Understand trying to associate the scientifically literate with mass murderers? Not really.
- The article is no longer on Heartland's webpage, but a copy can be found here