Editorial viewpoints from Climate Central's writers and editors.

Heartland Institute Jumps the Shark

By Mike Lemonick

By taking climate change seriously, I always thought I was in the company of some of the world’s most accomplished scientists and most passionate defenders of the environment. But now, thanks to the campaigners for truth at the Heartland Institute, I know better. My real peers are some of the most despicable criminals and tyrants in modern history, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson and Fidel Castro.

I know this because Heartland has begun putting up billboards in Chicago featuring Kaczynski and the other villains in advance of the organization’s upcoming climate conference, to let Chicagoland residents know what’s what. “I still believe in Global Warming,” declares a scary-looking Kaczynski. “Do you?”

Credit: Heartland Institute. 

Tough stuff, but you’ve got to love the reasoning, which Heartland explains on its website. “…what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the “mainstream” media, and liberal politicians say about global warming.”

It’s a breathtaking tour de force in logic: if a murderous lunatic believes something — anything at all — then everyone else who believes it is a murderous lunatic. By this impeccable reasoning, you’d better not be against smoking, because…so was Adolf Hitler (believe it or not, this gambit has actually been played). Hitler was also a vegetarian, at least some of the time, so if you subscribe to both of these beliefs, you’re doubly despicable.

Or maybe you’re a devout Catholic. So was the Spanish Inquisition’s chief torturer and burner-at-the-stake Torquemada. I even heard once, though I can’t confirm it, that former Ugandan strongman Idi Amin loved little kittens, and I have it on good authority that Genghis Khan was good to his horses.

I, for one, am ready to accept whatever Heartland tells me — that the theft of emails in the so-called “Climategate” affair was justified because it revealed the lies and deceptions of mainstream climate science, and that any vindication of the emails’ original senders was a whitewash. When a climate scientist tried deceiving Heartland into releasing its own internal documents, on the other hand, the institute was shocked — shocked! — that anyone could be so devious.

But they shouldn’t have been, of course. According to them, anyone who considers anthropogenic climate change to be a serious threat would do anything — send mail bombs to strangers, send his disciples out to murder people or impose a politically repressive regime on a Caribbean Island. And worse: on the list of future billboard stars is none other than Osama Bin Laden.

So as of this moment, I hereby renounce anything I ever said about humans and climate change. Those so-called “greenhouse gases” I used to talk about until… an hour ago, more or less… aren’t the cause of anything. They can’t be, because if they were, Bad People wouldn’t think so.

And that column I wrote recently about the unbelievable nonsense some climate skeptics keep talking? I take it all back.

While I’m at it, I think I’ll take up smoking, and go find a horse to kick.

**Update: 5:30 PM, May 4: The Heartland Institute pulled the digital billboard late this afternoon, after it ran for 24 hours. In a statement to the press, Heartland President Joseph Bast did not apologize for the billboard, and said it was deliberately designed to stir up strong reactions. "This provocative billboard was always intended to be an experiment. And after just 24 hours the results are in: It got people’s attention," Bast stated. “This billboard was deliberately provocative, an attempt to turn the tables on the climate alarmists by using their own tactics but with the opposite message. We found it interesting that the ad seemed to evoke reactions more passionate than when leading alarmists compare climate realists to Nazis or declare they are imposing on our children a mass death sentence. We leave it to others to determine why that is so."

"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."

« Commentary


By Kevin (Nashville, TN)
on May 4th, 2012

Unbelievable!  I wouldn’t even expect Congress or the Senate to stoop this low!

Maybe we should put up billboards too.  Here’s an idea - put up unflattering pictures of Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, etc. with the quote, “I don’t believe in Global Warming despite the fact that 97% of climate scientists do.  Now why would you believe ME?”


Reply to this comment

By Makan (Sydney, Aust)
on May 4th, 2012

Sharp and witty and logical. You’re singing to the choir, or using a clever lock pick when a sledgehammer is needed.

Reply to this comment

By Robert Ashworth
on May 5th, 2012

And Heartland have charity status, so are subsidized by the taxpayer to do this??

Reply to this comment

By mememine69 (Detroit)
on May 6th, 2012

Vote Liberal or your kids will die in a CO2 hell? NOW who’s the neocon eh?
We are the fear mongering neocons now and condemning the voter’s kids to the greenhouse gas ovens will keep us out of power forever. The world has moved on from the CO2 legal exaggeration. Pollution is real but death for my kids from the CO2 mistake is not real and this planet lover is happy, not disappointed a crisis was averted.

Reply to this comment

By Rick Clayton (USA)
on May 7th, 2012

Wow! You really get around. I have seen you post the same gibberish (“condemning the voter’s kids to the greenhouse gas ovens”) in response to any number of climate change articles on numerous blogs and under various pseudonyms. But always the same message: “There is no crisis. No one will die. Move along. Nothing to see here.”

I might say you were a paid denier hack, except you can’t write worth a damn. So, an alternate explanation is needed. Hmmm…

Reply to this comment

By dan in illinois
on May 7th, 2012

It’s certainly not fair to associate anyone at Climate Central or any other organization advocating AGW with Ted Kaczynski or the other bad folks that were depicted.  But it’s also not fair to associate skeptics with Nazis and other bad folks.

I think Heartland Institute makes an excellent point.  The word “denier”, when preceded by Global Warming or Climate Change, is meant to put those folks in the same category with Holocaust deniers.  Heartland Institute should stop displaying those billboards as soon as the Climate Change advocates agree to stop demonizing those who are skeptical of such views.

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By Ron chappell (Plantation FL 33322)
on May 31st, 2012

Heartland:  I am VERY disappointed in the Chicago billboard campaign.  That a professional organization would stoop so low.  It is demeaning to stoop to the same kind of ad-hominem by association name calling carried on by the AGW crowd and is unworthy of the many serious scientists who you wish to represent.  I understand the severe frustration in trying to engage the AGW colossus in any kind of dialog but please, not on their UN-anserable gutter politics level.

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