Heartland Institute releases new fake science report, shoots self in foot

This is an open letter to Joseph Bast, President and CEO of the Heartland Institute

Dear Joe,

I noticed you’re making outlandish claims, in yet another fake science report, that carbon pollution is not harmful to people’s health or to the planet. I’m sure you’re aware that your extreme political viewpoint and dirty energy funding is driving your consistent misreading of facts. In reality, carbon pollution and climate change puts our health, our grandkids, and our planet at risk. The science is so clear at this point that I’m hoping even you might put politics aside and embrace facts when this new report is rejected like the others.  

If you don’t want to accept climate change for the right reasons, perhaps consider that your climate denial is shooting yourself in the foot. When you denied the existence of climate change with that infamous Ted Kaczynski billboard, the Economist estimated that the Heartland Institute lost $825,000 in expected donations. Some estimate the lost funding as high as $1.3 million. Taking a look at Heartland’s tax forms, I noticed the your losses were roughly 20% to 30% of your total 2011 revenue. Wow. You remember that, right?

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If you don’t remember losing all that money, maybe you recall the staff revolt. The Heartland Institute’s insurance project split into their own organization, the R Street Institute, to distance themselves from your crazy antics. As reported in the Insurance Journal:

The divorce [between Heartland Institute and its insurance team] came after a controversial anti-global warming campaign by Heartland caused some of its corporate backers including insurers to drop their affiliations.

I couldn’t help but notice, however, that Heartland Institute Communications Director, Jim Lakely, continues to have a doctored video posted to his YouTube account twisting footage from the Hitler bunker scene in the movie Downfall, in order to depict Hitler as the mastermind behind “the dream of a one-world government based on strictly enforced CO2 restrictions.” Lakely’s video depicts prominent climate scientists in the roles of Nazi officers that were later executed for their war crimes. What are the words I’m looking for here? Crazy? Outrageous? Pure lunacy?

You must realize your funding disappeared and your staff quit because just about every credible scientific organization on the planet has concluded the burning of coal, oil, and gas is the major driver of carbon pollution and climate change. The National Academy of Sciences shows that 97% of climate experts have found that humans are causing climate change. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the Royal Society of London are among the many prominent science organizations that agree we must address the risks of a changing climate.

The science is settled --  climate change is a problem. Unfortunately, the polluter-connected “scientists” that you’re hiring just willfully misinterpret the facts. For example, your latest report looks at the science showing that carbon dioxide fertilizes plants; ergo you leap to the absurd claim that carbon pollution is only beneficial. Unfortunately, the report purposefully ignores the evidence that carbon pollution leads to increases in extreme heat, droughts, floods, storms, insects and pathogens, which all result in negative impacts on plants and agriculture. Real scientists recognize the carbon fertilization effect, but they also look at the rest of the overwhelming climate change data that shows the negative consequences on agriculture will outweigh any positive impacts.

You must be feeling lonely at this science denial party. Back in the 1990’s, it was the place to be. Nowadays, scientists funded by the oil baron Koch brothers can’t deny the truth of climate change.  Even oil giant ExxonMobil released a report recently admitting climate change is caused by humans and presents real risks – of course, they stop short of saying they need to change business practices, as my colleague Dave Hawkins describes. But still, one of the world’s biggest oil companies and best-known corporate climate deniers now recognizes climate change is a problem. Since ExxonMobil gave Heartland over $650,000 over the years, I thought you might listen to them if not to me.

Joe, it’s time to admit you have a problem.



Photo credit: Sourcewatch