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climate change

May 7, 2012

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Graham Readfearn writes: In a promotional video for the upcoming Heartland Institute’s climate change sceptics’ conference in Chicago, the think-tank’s president Joseph Bast said the scientists coming together for the shindig “deserve a lot of attention”.

So how would Joe Bast help them to gain that richly deserved attention?

How about sticking a picture of murderer and terrorist Ted Kaczynski — a.k.a the Unabomber — on a giant billboard next to the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

According to a Heartland press release, this would be the first in a series of ads which would feature Osama Bin Laden, Fidel Castro and Charles Manson, who Heartland says all “believe” in global warming.

As Joe Bast said in the company’s statement:

“Heartland’s first digital billboard…  is the latest effort by the free-market think tank to inform the public about what it views as the collapsing scientific, political, and public support for the theory of man-made global warming. It is also reminding viewers of the questionable ethics of global warming’s most prominent proponents.”

There’s not much point in spelling out why this campaign is mind-numbingly dumb and stupefyingly offensive, but then let’s be pointless for a moment. I wonder if the unabomber, or Castro or bin Laden accept evolution too and if I should then feel dirty and grubby for having that in common with them. On the picture used for the billboard, Kaczynski can clearly be seen wearing clothes. I wear clothes too. Am I turning into some sort of nutcase?

The Guardian’s Leo Hickman called the campaign “possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns”.

Bast, with his hypocrisy-booster now turned up well past eleven, justified the posters by saying: “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.”

Perhaps climate science denier Christopher Monckton should give Bast a call to set him straight, given he has cornered the market in Nazi name-calling.

Heartland has now pulled the digital billboard after a stream of protests from those which it would consider to be on their side, although Joe Bast said he would not apologise. Climate sceptic Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, one of the conference speakers, threatened to pull out if the ads were not removed. Another speaker, climate sceptic Ross McKitrick, called the ads “fallacious, juvenile and inflammatory” and believed the campaign “sullies the reputation of the speakers you had recruited”.

Heartland last made headlines when a small cache of documents, deceptively acquired from its headquarters by scientist Peter Gleick, revealed the institute was planning to devise a new curriculum to teach climate denial in schools. The documents also revealed it was paying some academics thousands, including James Cook University’s Bob Carter, who is a speaker at the Chicago conference at the end of the month. Professor Carter is an advisor to a string of climate science misinforming organisations, including the Institute of Public Affairs, a sponsor of previous Heartland conferences.

Carter isn’t the only Australian connection to the conference. Among its “silver sponsors” are the Australian Libertarian Society and the Carbon Sense Coalition.

The ALS treasurer is Tim Andrews, the executive director of the new Australian Taxpayers Alliance which has stated its first mission to campaign against Australia’s carbon price legislation. Andrews is a veteran of the Koch Associate Program in the US, a project of the oil industry billionaire Koch brothers who have been pouring millions into climate denial campaigns.

The Carbon Sense Coalition is a small-time climate change sceptic organisation founded by coal industry veteran Vivian Forbes, a current director at Brisbane-based Stanmore Coal.

Presumably after this episode, the 19 corporations which — along with the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil — have helped fund some of Heartland’s projects over the years will now be considering whether they’re happy to ever again have their names associated with a think-tank which juxtaposes climate science acceptance with the morals of mass murderers.

After the Heartland leaks earlier this year, GM Motors said it was severing all ties with Heartland. Will the likes of PepsiCo, Pfizer and Time Warner Cable now follow?

*This post first appeared on Graham Readfearn’s blog.

8 comments

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8 thoughts on “Heartland unleashes the Unabomber in its newest advertising campaign

  1. Fran Barlow

    [Gift of tradable emission permits = free access to sewer + right to sell access.]

    They only get one or the other or some balance between the two, so your join should be an “OR” . In the end though the cost they escape is borne by the end users of all the businesses bearing the cost. The only way they can avoid that cost is if in practice there is no cap, but then the permits would be as useful as Weimar notes from 1923.

    The bottom line is this — while the big polluters can be partially shielded, many of their trading partners — often their clients — will get the cost shifted onto them. In the end, that makes fossil HC less valuable by a more complex route. So in the end, the FossilHC crowd would prefer that simply nothing be done. There is no free dump here, to paraphrase an old idea, unless no explicit or implicit (i.e. regulatory burden) price is imposed.

  2. Gavin R. Putland

    “All free permits can do is transfer the cost of the big polluters not polluting or polluting less to everyone who isn’t a big polluter.”

    And wouldn’t big polluters like that? – privatizing profits and socializing costs?

    “They would sell their excess permits to others who were not polluting enough to get the free permits.”

    And wouldn’t they like that too?

    “In the end, any system that reduces the value of fossil HCs or things dependent on that value holding up is going to be opposed by business.”

    What if it creates a new class of speculative assets which automatically hedge “fossil HCs or things dependent”, and which are gifted to those who need the hedge?

    “Any system that denies business the right to use the biosphere as a free sewer will be opposed by them.”

    Gift of tradable emission permits = free access to sewer + right to sell access.

  3. Fran Barlow

    [Hmmm… I wish I hadn’t added the bit after the dash]

    Indeed. Actually I don’t think even then that they would fervently believe in global warming. In the end, it doesn’t matter to the right whether big polluters get to pollute for free. All free permits can do is transfer the cost of the big polluters not polluting or polluting less to everyone who isn’t a big polluter. They would sell their excess permits to others who were not polluting enough to get the free permits.

    In the end, any system that reduces the value of fossil HCs or things dependent on that value holding up is going to be opposed by business. Any system that denies business the right to use the biosphere as a free sewer will be opposed by them. It’s the outcome they oppose rather than the means.

    Wouldn’t everyone like to be able to have an unlimited amount of any kind of rubbish collected for free. (I think I saw that in The Simpsons). The problem is the collective action problem — what serves every individual will in a zero sum game, if everyone gets served, harm almost every individual, and worse, harm exactly along the lines of existing inequality.

    That’s why we must stop the big polluters from being big polluters by whatever means is adequate and timely.

  4. Gavin R. Putland

    Hmmm… I wish I hadn’t added the bit after the dash. 😛

  5. Fran Barlow

    [The Right would fervently believe in global warming if only the Left would agree that big polluters should get their tradable emission rights free of charge – and sell them for massive windfall gains as emission caps are lowered.]

    That doesn’t make sense. If the cap is low and the permits are valuable and the polluter sells them then it has to find a way not to emit the pollution (since the emissions are then not the subject of the permits, but are covering someone else’s emissions). That’s fine if they can operate without polluting, but if they can’t they have to buy them right back, or get fined. The fines would be larger than the value of the permits by some margin.

  6. Gavin R. Putland

    The Right would fervently believe in global warming if only the Left would agree that big polluters should get their tradable emission rights free of charge – and sell them for massive windfall gains as emission caps are lowered.

  7. ConnorJ

    I believe in gravity too. Do you know who else believed in gravity? That’s right, Hitler. HITLER! ergo, I am Hitler. QED bitches!

  8. lindsayb

    An excellent development. The more these people say, the more reasonable human beings will see what extremist irrational crazies they are, and hopefully start asking questions about the less extreme crap they peddle.

https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/05/07/heartland-unleashes-the-unabomber-in-its-newest-advertising-campaign/ == https://www.crikey.com.au/free-trial/==https://www.crikey.com.au/subscribe/

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