Heartland Institute Attacks Forecast the Facts, Denies Its Climate Change Denial

This is a guest post by Daniel Souweine, Campaign Director, Forecast The Facts

On April 24, Heartland Institute President Joe Bast issued an angry missive attacking Forecast the Facts, a new campaign that successfully petitioned automobile giant General Motors to end their financial support of Heartland earlier this month. In a 2,000-word screed, Bast defended his organization's efforts to disseminate anti-science propaganda to public classrooms and the general public, while making a number of wildly inaccurate claims about our group.

While much of what Bast wrote does not warrant a reply, we felt it important to address the most pernicious falsehoods, and also to remind Heartland's corporate donors exactly why support for the organization is so untenable (although Bast does an excellent job of that himself). 

The saddest and most offensive attack on Forecast the Facts is the Heartland president's suggestion that the more than 20,000 signatories of our successful petition to General Motors may not even exist, calling the petition a “fraud.” We stand by the validity of our petition one hundred percent. But even more so, we proudly affirm the existence of our members and their commitment to fighting climate change denial. The signers of the petition are real people with valid email accounts and sincere concerns that major corporations continue to support Heartland's climate change denial. (You can see some of their powerful comments here).

While Bast directs his venom at the everyday Americans who comprise the Forecast the Facts campaign, it's clear that his primary intent is to soothe the concerns of his corporate donors, many of whom are now reconsidering their support of his organization. If anything, his rant lays bare just how disreputable Bast is.

In a truly Orwellian turn, Bast vehemently denies Heartland Institute's climate change denial. (As a reminder for those less familiar with Bast, his primary focus before becoming a leader in the climate change denial movement was to question the links between smoking and lung cancer at the behest of Philip Morris, which remains a Heartland backer.) 

The Heartland Institute has for decades been a leading attacker of the mainstream definition of “climate change” – the scientific conclusion that the burning of fossil fuels threatens ecosystems and human society by rapidly warming the planet with an artificially intensified greenhouse effect. Attempting to mollify his corporate supporters, Bast uses red herrings and solipsistic arguments to deny Heartland's denial.

“The Heartland Institute does not 'deny the existence of climate change,'” Bast writes, arguing that the group concedes the fact that the earth's climate changes over time. Bast also concedes that “some warming occurred in the second half of the twentieth century,” because every study of planetary temperatures, even those funded by the denialist Koch brothers, have confirmed rapid warming in recent decades. 

Bast continues, “Since Heartland does not deny climate change is occurring, and in fact is bringing together the world’s leading scientists and economists to study the issue, it is entirely appropriate that corporations and foundations that have publicly stated their concern over climate change would continue to fund us.” The “leading scientists and economists” the Heartland Institute gathers are in fact a motley crew of ideologues with ties to the fossil-fuel industry, almost none of whom have done peer-reviewed work in climate science. In contrast, practically every major scientific organization on the planet has affirmed the threat of man-made global warming.

After throwing up these smokescreens, Bast reiterates his organization's discredited attacks on the fact that fossil-fuel pollution is responsible for present-day global warming, the widely validated scientific theory of anthropogenic climate change. Bast claims that the Heartland Institute has “effectively rebutted” the work of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And then, bringing things full circle, he reiterates his claim that “global warming is a 'scam,'” and calls it a “problem that may not exist.”  

Finally, Bast makes the fantastic argument that widespread climate denial among the American public is a reason for public corporations to continue to support Heartland's anti-science propaganda:

Importantly for public corporations that support us, a majority of Americans also share Heartland’s views on global warming. Rasmussen Reports – a pollster that tends to lean right – reported in April that only 40 percent of Americans believe human activities are responsible for global warming. Gallup– a pollster that tends to lean left – put the figure at 52 percent in March. Other surveys show most Americans put concern over climate change near the bottom of their concerns, and even at the bottom of their environmental concerns.

These facts are indeed important considerations for the public corporations who support the Heartland Institute. The gap between the overwhelming scientific consensus of the threat of greenhouse pollution and public concern is a primary barrier to governmental action. For decades, the Heartland Institute has played a central role in questioning the science of climate change. Corporate support for Heartland is critical to its continued ability to block solutions to climate pollution.

As Bast noted, Forecast the Facts has been contacting the public corporations that support the Heartland Institute and asking them to end their contributions to the anti-science group. The fact that these corporations continue to support Heartland is a stain on their reputations, especially because Heartland's work on climate change is in diametric opposition to the public positions of many of its corporate funders, including Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline, RenaissanceRe, and Diageo. Unfortunately, State Farm and Microsoft have informed us that they intend to continue their relationship with the Heartland Institute. 

In sum: Joseph Bast denies that the members of Forecast the Facts exist. He denies man-made climate change, and yet amazingly denies this very denial. In fact, it is difficult to find anything that Joseph Bast won't deny–unless it's money from America's corporations. It's high time they started denying him.

by Daniel Souweine, Campaign Director, Forecast The Facts


Promptly signed the GM petition after reading this.  And gosh, I’m a real person, or I was the last time I checked!

“Since Heartland does not deny climate change is occurring, and in fact is bringing together the world’s leading scientists and economists to study the issue,

Source: Desmogblog (http://s.tt/1aoM9)

Heartland is being very selective with its wording as usual. Many of the participants in the Heartland denier conferences flat out deny that there is any warming happening. They use mealy mouthed comments like this above to avoid playing a straight bat. They don’t deny climate change is occuring, but they do deny that man has anything to do with it and that adding millions of tonnnes per day of GHG’s somehow does nothing and if it did, it could only be beneficial for us…….despite having no evidence of this.

“Bringing together scientists and economist” is a very generalised commment and distracts from the fact that it is only scientists and economists that support fossil fuel points of views that are brought together…….and there is no study going on, no reseacrh. Just propaganda.


They are bringing together DOZENS of scientists…. yeah… appearently the number of ‘experts’ on their side would fit in a few egg cartons.  Perhaps they should spread their money around a big further and buy some more opinions.

If you haven’t seen this before… its an interesting watch.


The IPCC report was written by 620 scientists, from 40 countries.  They wront almost a 1000 pages on the topic, which was reviewed by 400 scientists from 113 countries.  Our annual gathering is the largest in the world, over 15,000 scientists go to it every year.

Heartland’s efforts are microscopic and myopic by comparison.

Then why do they need to sanction this?

WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) – A 10-year research plan outlined by the White House will focus on how human economic activity influences climate change, the administration said.

The White House said it formalized a 10-year strategic plan for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The plan will focus on the relationship between human economic activity and global climate change.

“Human actions are altering the atmosphere, the land and our oceans, placing new pressures on the Earth’s ecosystems and threatening the health and economic welfare of our Nation and the world,” Tom Armstrong, executive director of the USGCRP, said in a statement.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/05/01/US-rolls-out-10-year-climate-study/UPI-44911335873156/#ixzz1teP3K9bp


So it’s not settled is it?

Perhaps you could explain what you think isn’t settled instead of making vague inconclusive gesticulations.  In the engineering world, we are very precise.

For the most part the science right now is dealing with measurement and understanding the impacts of global warming. i.e. what parts are of biosphere will be damaged by global warming and how will it survive.

According to the USDA, our trees need legs.


So far… nothing is shaking out that would for instance disprove all physics of global warming.  No one is even working on that.  Will massive increases in humidity and changes the global jetstream cause huge freezing winters in Europe?  They are trying to figure that out.

Besides your quote is unequivocol;

“Human actions are altering the atmosphere, the land and our oceans, placing new pressures on the Earth’s ecosystems and threatening the health and economic welfare of our Nation and the world,”

Sounds settled to me.  We’re just girding for an age of consequences.  Here’s what US military think tanks are working on;  (I’ll give you a hint: STARVATION, and WAR.)


“So it’s not settled is it?”

Well, enough to act anyway. The science wasn’t settled for smoking either. They still don’t have any conclusive 100% evidence that smoking causes cancer and how it is caused. But they had enough to warrant action.

You don’t have 100% evidence that walking across a freeway will gaurantee you will be hit by a car do you? But still you are cautious enough not to try your luck.

We all share this planet and our kids don’t get a say in what we are doing and their kids and their kids. Why take the chance? At this stage, the impacts of mitigation will be barely noticable. 


Oh come on.  Newton’s Laws aren’t settled science either, thanks to relativity theory and the quest for a Grand Universal Theory, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to jump off buildings because “gravity is only a theory”. 

Medical science isn’t settled either - it’s a big, complex field with new knowledge coming in and either confirming or refuting existing knowledge all the time.  But if you get ill, your best bet is still to listen to the doctor.

AGW, as in the basic radiation-absorbing properties of CO2, the greenhouse effect, the link to average temperature, the lockstep rise of the two at speeds way beyond anything seen in the geological era, and the isotopic fingerprint of fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere, is settled science.  (To the point that the climate science community response to BEST was a large yawn.)  I think it was the president of the NAS (Cicerone) who said it was a theory as strong as the theory that vaccines can immunise against illnesses, i.e. one of the strongest scientific theories around, with massive evidentiary support.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t ongoing research into improving the detailed understanding of how the climate behaves, and so there should be, because our lives depend on it.  And one of the hot topics at the moment is attribution: computing the probability that the slew of extreme weather events over the last few years could be due to natural variation alone.  (And the answer is, very little chance, i.e. climate change is here.)

As for the White House, so what?  The US gov has been dragging its heels on the issue since day one, thanks to a bought and paid for political system which has gridlocked.  Outside the US, we’re a lot more interested in Europe and China, who are way, way ahead in this game.

Just go through the science…

For instance no 1’s or 0’s in a computer all.  There never was.  Its all statistics..  high voltage and low voltage.  When they sell you a computer part, its just the one they ‘think’ works that well.  Since there are no 1’s and 0’s there are no computers.

Don’t get me going about Fowler Nordhiem electron tunneling.  Electrons ‘magically’ crossing insulators.  No way that works!  Its an insulator!  These crazy scientists know nothing of the real world.

The science for computers is also very young and hardly proved or measured.  I’ve noticed that they stop telling engineers what technology their chips use.  (That’s because they must be faking it!)

How can you possibly believe that they have cameras that work in microns?  Crazy talk.  Next thing you know, they’ll say they have a microphone that can hear ants.

But in all seriousness, I’ve been following the science of death.  Specifically CPR isn’t the best thing you can do to revive someone who’s had a heart attack.

Wonder if we could ask to be on this page : http://fakegate.org/the-fakegate-gang/.  All you have to do is write a blog post, apparently!