Heartland Institute Award Winner Compares Work of Climate Science Deniers to 9/11 Firefighters

Scott Armstrong

An award winner at a flagship conference for climate science deniers has compared their work to the heroics of firefighters during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Greeted with applause, the statement was made by University of Pennsylvania marketing professor Scott Armstrong at the end of day one of the Heartland Institute’s meeting in Washington, D.C.

Armstrong was accepting a “lifetime achievement award” from the Heartland Institute when he told a story about a visit he had made to the 9/11 museum in New York the previous summer.

I cry easily,” said Armstrong in audio captured by DeSmog from the official video stream of the conference. “When I got to the part about the firemen … you know … that’s their duty.  They go in there, and that’s what you guys do.”

Armstrong has long denied the risks of human-caused climate change. Like many of the attendees, Armstrong's views are countered by all of the world's major scientific academies.

Robert Mercer Supports Heartland

At this same meeting, Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and formerly a lead in Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team, was given a “Speaks Truth to Power Award.”

Former astronaut Walt Cunningham was handed a “Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award” from the Committee for a Contructive Tomorrow, another organization which denies the science linking greenhouse gas emissions to dangerous climate change.

Earlier in the day, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith delivered the keynote speech to the conference. Smith is the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The Heartland Institute conferences attract a core of climate science denial activists from around the world. This year, the conference has a tagline “Resetting U.S. Climate Policy.”

Heartland runs regular conferences for climate science contrarians and deniers and has been funded by fossil fuel interests, including ExxonMobil.

Reclusive hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah have given $4.98 million to the institute through their family foundation since 2008. They served as major funders and influencers of Donald Trump’s successful election campaign.

Mercer has also donated to several of the Heartland Institute conference sponsors, including the Heritage Foundation and the Media Research Center, which has received more than $13 million from the Mercer Family Foundation.

In an introduction to the conference, Heartland Institute President Joe Bast wrote in the program: “Thank you for joining us here in the nation’s capital for what promises to be a historic event: the moment when 'realists' finally and clearly began to win the global warming war.”

During a May 2012 Heartland conference, the institute ran a billboard campaign using a picture of murderer and terrorist Ted “unabomber” Kaczynski next to the words: “I still believe in global warming. Do You.”

Main image: Screen capture of Scott Armstrong during his speech to the Heartand Institute in March 2017.