Recently over at the Blog Climate Sight, Kate wrote a Post about the antics of the group known as the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based PR group that denies the existence of human-caused climate change. Kate has given me permission to reproduce her post in full.
Here’s a classy way to slam people you disagree with: compare them to terrorists, dictators, and mass murderers.
Such was the focus of a recent billboard campaign by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a PR group that denies the existence of human-caused climate change. The only billboard that was actually displayed featured Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and read, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”
The message is clear: if a monster believes something, citizens of good moral standing should believe exactly the opposite. The Internet was quick to ridicule this philosophy, with parodies such as the following:
Similar billboards featuring Charles Manson and Fidel Castro were planned, but never publicly displayed. Heartland also considered putting Osama bin Laden on a future billboard. On their website, they attempted to justify this campaign:
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.
We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.
Even though the campaign has been cancelled, the Heartland Institute continues to suffer financial repercussions. Dozens of corporate donors, including State Farm Insurance and drinks firm Diego (which owns Guiness and Smirnoff) have ended their support as a direct result of this campaign. Earlier in the year, Heartland lost financial backing from General Motors after internal documents exposed some of the group’s projects, particularly the development of an alternative curriculum to teach K-12 students that global warming is fake.
Will they recover from this failed campaign? Given Heartland’s reliance on donations, their prospects look poor. It seems that the Heartland Institute, previously one of the most influential mouthpieces for climate change denial, is going out with a bang.
My prayer is that the aforementioned institute goes out, not with a bang, but with the sound of whimpering! Because the right of free speech is abused and shamed by such disgraceful actions. Well done, Kate.
All my life, well all the years that I have appreciated a ‘tea-break’, stopping for a cup of hot tea has been laden with symbolism. A chance to let the brain catch up with whatever one is doing. When working with others an opportunity to stand back and evaluate how the particular project is going. When sharing a project with a loved one, an opportunity to lay down memories for future years, and so forth. (Jean and I were building a chicken coop yesterday afternoon.) Sure there are millions of people that share these feelings.
Anyway, as many of you have been aware, the last 10 days or so on Learning from Dogs have been pretty ‘full-on’ in terms of man and Planet Earth. It started with me publishing on the 27th February a Post called Please help! – A plea to those who understand climate science so much better than I do!. Then on the 2nd March, I republished a Post from Patrice Ayme called The collapse of the biosphere.
That there were a total of 6,313 viewings of those Posts and 69 comments (OK, that doesn’t mean different individuals) was incredibly gratifying – a very big ‘thank you’ to all of you that read the Posts, and likewise to those that commented.
But one of the most wonderful aspects for me was the incredible sharing of ideas and resources. So the point of today’s Post is to bring all those links and contacts onto one ‘page’, so to speak.
Martin Lack was the first to point me in the direction of the book, Merchants of Doubt. There are a number of videos on YouTube but the one below is a good introduction to Naomi Oreskes.
On October 28, 2010 historian of science Naomi Oreskes gave a presentation at Forum Lectures (US Embassy Brussels), based on her new book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, about how right wing scientists founded the George Marshall Institute which has become a key hub for successfully spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about climate change, along with other environmental issues, and how myths about science enable these political strategies to work.
An in-depth video of over an hour from the University of Rhode Island’s Spring 2010 Vetlesen Lecture Series, hugely worth watching, is here.
Then there is the powerful blog site, De Smog Blog. As the site explains, “The DeSmogBlog Project began in January 2006 and quickly became the world’s number one source for accurate, fact based information regarding global warming misinformation campaigns. TIME Magazine named DeSmogBlog in its “25 Best Blogs of 2011” list.”
Moving on. One of the challenges is knowing how to look up some reasonably reliable information about a person who is claiming this or that. That’s where SourceWatch is invaluable. The website describes itself, “The Center for Media and Democracy publishes SourceWatch, this collaborative resource for citizens and journalists looking for documented information about the corporations, industries, and people trying to influence public policy and public opinion. We believe in telling the truth about the most powerful interests in society—not just relating their self-serving press releases or letting real facts be bleached away by spin.”
Let me give you an example of how SourceWatch works. In my Post A skeptic’s view, Dan offered extensive comment about U.S. Senator James Inhofe’s book The Greatest Hoax. A quick search on SourceWatch revealed (a) (my emboldening)
Arthur B. Robinson is one of the three co-founders of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a group best known for organising a petition disputing the scientific evidence for human-induced global warming.
On January 7, 2009, the Willamette Week reported that Robinson is “in the vanguard of a small but vocal and persistent collection of scientists, industry advocates and commentators who dismiss human culpability for climate change. … Robinson’s critics say his analysis is simplistic, but it remains persuasive a decade later with powerful policymakers like U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a visible and effective player in blocking a bill to limit greenhouse-gas emissions last fall.
James Mountain Inhofe, usually known as Jim Inhofe, has been a Republican Senator for Oklahoma since winning a special election in 1994.
James M. Inhofe has voted in favor of big oil companies on 100% of important oil-related bills from 2005-2007, according to Oil Change International. These bills include Iraq war funding, climate change studies, clean energy, and emissions.
On to another book. I forget who recommended the book by James Hansen, Storms of my Grandchildren but it’s another ‘must-read’ for all those wanting to better understand the risks that lay ahead. As the book’s website explains,
In Storms of My Grandchildren, Dr. James Hansen—the nation’s leading scientist on climate issues—speaks out for the first time with the full truth about global warming: The planet is hurtling even more rapidly than previously acknowledged to a climatic point of no return.
On that website there is a section Hansen On The Issues that includes this 2-minute YouTube video of Dr. Hansen talking about his book.
I can’t close without mentioning some other wonderful websites. There is Skeptical Science, described thus,
Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation
Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn’t what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that refutes global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?
Then there’s ClimateSight, a wonderful effort by Kate, “Kate is a B.Sc. student and aspiring climatologist from the Canadian prairies. She started writing this blog when she was sixteen, simply to keep herself sane, but hopes that she’ll be able to spread accurate information about climate change far and wide while she does so.” Kate’s interest and passion in the subject is unmissable and it’s a real pleasure to subscribe to her postings.
Bill McKibben’s famous site, 350.org, is a must for the thousands of people that are working for a better future. As the mission statement opens up,
350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.
350 means climate safety. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.
350.org works hard to organize in a new way—everywhere at once, using online tools to facilitate strategic offline action. We want to be a laboratory for the best ways to strengthen the climate movement and catalyze transformation around the world.
RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science. All posts are signed by the author(s), except ‘group’ posts which are collective efforts from the whole team. This is a moderated forum.
There are so many more fabulous sources of real caring about the society we are and, more importantly, the society we hope to be. In this category comes Wibble. Then there’s Dogs of Doubt, that I shall be referring to tomorrow on Learning from Dogs, and The Green Word and so on and so on. It shows the power of ‘hands across the ether’ that the modern world of web sites now offers. I put great faith in this power becoming the power of truth and the power of change. (If you have a blog or a website that resonates with the ones mentioned here, please do drop me an email giving me details.)
Finally, I’m closing with this. If it all sometimes feels too much for you and you want to drift away into the world of the inner consciousness, into the world of dreamtime, then you can do no worse than to call by Sue Dreamwalker‘s wonderful website. Try this, for example. Dan and I had no idea what we were getting into. 😉