Pharmaceutical giants Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, along with Verizon, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, and Credit Union National Association, have announced that they will not fund the climate change denying Heartland Institute in 2012. According to the Heartland Institute’s own fundraising document, it hoped to receive $130,000 from these potential funders this year. Today’s announcement brings the total number of corporate sponsors to drop Heartland to 15, representing $955,000 of Heartland’s projected $7.7 million budget this year.
This announcement comes in response to a petition signed by over 150,000 people calling for Heartland’s corporate funders to drop support of the organization, which recently ran a billboard campaign in Chicago comparing those that advocate for solutions to climate change to “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” The petition was organized by Forecast the Facts, Greenpeace, SumofUs, Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and 350.org.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.