Greenpeace has just updated its ‘follow the money’ report on the climate science denial campaign largely funded by a few very rich people and one or two big fossil fuel companies. I skimmed through the report, which is pretty interesting and then I read through the case study on the Heartland Institute just because Heartland sent me a book that was amazing. It had these great graphics and big, cartoonish pictures and words –– and just about everything in it was misconstrued, or just plain wrong. In case you’re not familiar with the Heartland Institute, remember Philip Morris? Heartland worked with them in the 1990s to debunk second-hand smoke risks – if you still like hanging with second-hand smoke and need a good excuse, just go to their smoker’s lounge where you too will never, ever get cancer from smoke.
But back to climate deniers, as Greenpeace lays out, a very rich Chicago guy named Barre Seid has reputedly long funded Heartland. Heartland decided that the path to science reputability was to hold a series of rigged conferences on climate change. But before the last of the rigged conferences, the Institute erected the first of what were to be several digital billboards. The billboard featured a picture of the Unabomber with the tagline “I believe in climate change, do you?” (Heartland has some very serious scholars.) One result of the billboard was that funders began exiting, with the last big one leaving in Dec 2012 (Pfizer – wonder what they think about second-hand smoke?).
But that hasn’t stopped the denial machine. Heartland is now working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to pass state laws that would make it hard for teachers to present climate change facts to students in public schools – they’ve succeeded in four states: Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, and Louisiana. Almost all of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations and private individuals.
The Greenpeace report is worth reading, just pick whatever chapters interest you. Read the report, become informed, and teach your neighborhood kids about climate change.