Free Speech at the Heartland Institute

Wed, 2008-03-05 07:36Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Free Speech at the Heartland Institute

And who are you that we should care one whit about your opinion?

With that tart quip, Diane Bast of the Heartland Institute dismissed a recent query about the rationale for its last-stand global warming denial conference . Bast, presumably is related to Joseph Bast, founder and president of the Heartland Institute.

Here is the query that elicited Diane Bast's incurious response:

Why is the Heartland Institute paying skeptical scientists to speak at a 'conference'?

At most scientific conferences, scientists are not paid to speak. It's an honor just to be invited to give a talk, and they're lucky to get some travel expenses paid or the conference fee waived.

The Heartland Institute (right-wing “think tank” with ties to the tobacco and oil industries) is inviting scientists to a 'conference' called “The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change”.

“The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective.”

The purpose of conferences is usually to discuss ideas and data in order to advance scientific understanding, not to attract PR. And the Heartland Institute is paying skeptical scientists $1000 to speak at the 'conference'.

What do you think are the motivations behind this 'conference'?

Previous Comments

Ha, what a loser! ExxonMobil turns $40 billion in pure profit a year. If Al Gore knew what was good for him, he’d have gotten into the fossil fuel business a long time ago.

You forgot to mention that Exxon also paid $30 Billion in taxes in the US annually. That is the equivalent of US tax revenue from the entire bottom 50% of individual taxpayers. Or, to put it another way, one corporation (Exxon) pays as much taxes as 65,000,000 US citizens combined.

Yes, Exxon made slightly over a thousand times more profit than Gore, but it also required 106,000 times more people to do it.

You failed to mention that Exxon is a huge company, employing more than 106,000 people. Al Gore is one person. Per person, Exxon generated a profit of approximately $377,000 per employee.

In comparison, one person – Al Gore – increased his wealth to $35,000,000 in less than eight years. By that measure, Al Gore has actually made almost 100 times more profit than Exxon (a corporation of over 106,000 employees).

At least Exxon makes their profit providing some of the most useful products known to man, ie. fuels, petrochemicals, and lubricants. What has Gore provided us to justify his profit? His only product seems to be hot air.

Why yes, all this ill-begotten profit is definitely from the evil carbon cap-and-trade scheme, right?

But carbon cap-and-trade hasn’t even started in the US!

Is Gore so Satanic that he has access to Satanic time travel technology?

Frank Bi,

What in God’s name are you babbling about now?

Hello Rob!

Let’s gang up on Frank and blog’em until his brain is cleared of all this climate change claptrap and global warming gobblygook, and he is transformed in a hard-nosed, no-nonsense skeptic who doesn’t belive in anything and trusts absolutely no one.

Fat Al has most likely hedged his bets and bought stock in the oil companies. After all, food goes by freight trucks now and will always go by freight trucks!

Oh noes, it’s the conlibertarian’s secret weapon – Calling People Fat!

Michael Moore is Fat!

Al Gore is Fat!

The quality of denialist “logic” continues to rise… to new lows.

Frank Bi,

Hello Frank!

You miss the point about the nickname “Fat Al”. Mobsters always have nicknames. Al “Fat Al” Gore is a mobster because he running an “enviromental protection racket” and trying shake-down a guillble public for “protection money”, i.e., carbon credit-trading fees, speaking fees, book fees, etc.

Keep in mind “Fat Al” is first and foremost a politician. Ask yourself this question: Where is he coming from and where is he going to? I really don’t know.

Gore is no longer a politician. He is a person who does climate change awareness stuff. He will never seek office again, which is a shame because he is an excellent man.

Everything you say about him, Harold, is derogatory. You ought to shut up now.

Leopards don’t chnge their spots!

- direct funding from fossil energy companies,
- direct funding from family foundations, at least some of which have fortunes built on fossil energy ownership,
- indirect funding through all sorts of other entities, of which some clearly comes from fossil energy companies, some clearly doesn’t, and much is muddy.


1) Companies
1a) Direct, as in ExxonMobil’s funding of various entities over the years.

1b) Indirect, where one or more companies fund an entity, and then it funds something further along, as in:
companies ->
Western Fuels Association ->
Greening Earth Society ->
Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (Idso), although I think they also got some directly from ExxonMobil.

In any case, Greening Earth sent some money -> Heartland. Would that count as coming from a fossil company?

Of course, the same approaches were used for cigarettes, i.e., like TIRC.

2) Family foundations (which is almost certainly the far larger fraction of funding of most of these things compared to direct fossil company funding, although as we’ll see, it isn’t easy to tell.)

Here’s See Foundation Funders section, of which at least several (Koch, Scaife) have oil as one of their fortune’s bases.

3) Complicated combinations
For those really interested in more, I found ttp://, , which offers Full donor lists from, and a 2004 tax return.

The 20003 document was called “Recent xxx Donors”, and is 3 pages long, with hundreds of donors I don’t recognize offhand. I did notice:

BP Amoco Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, General Motors Foundation,

American Petroleum Institute, Asphalt Institute, Chevron, Citgo Petroleum, Exxon Mobil Corp, Ford Motor, General Motors, Greening Earth Society [which you’ll recall was Western Fuels], Occidental Chemical, Philips Petroleum, Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Union Carbide.

I have no idea of the provenance of this material, but it looks real. It is of course, very hard to known how the money flows and who’s behind all these things, as some are obvious, but a lot aren’t.

The 2004 IRS form is of interest. On Page 15, we find that the Board of Directors included Walter Buchholtz of ExxonMobil and Thomas Walton of General Motors.



For more than a year, oil giant BP has waged a massive public relations battle to convince Americans that the company has been bamboozled by the oil spill claims process relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout.

This BP PR campaign has involved full-page newspaper ads paid for...

read more