The Heartland Institute sinks to a new low

Bad Astronomy
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May 4 2012 11:09 AM

The Heartland Institute sinks to a new low

The Heartland Institute, a far-right climate change denying "thinktank" has put up a series of billboards so disgusting, so vile, that I find it difficult to find words to tell you just how disgusting and vile they are.

So instead, I'll show you one:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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When I first heard of this earlier today, I thought it was a joke. No one would seriously do this, right? Creating an actual billboard like this would be taking Poe's Law and aiming right between your own eyes!

But it's real. Heartland actually put these up, and according to their press release, they're proud of it. And other people Heartland has on the billboards? Charles Manson, Fidel Castro, and they're considering putting up some with Osama bin Laden.

Yes, seriously.

I could go on and on about just how incredibly offensive this is, but you can read about it here, here, here, and here. [UPDATE: And here, here, and here.]

[UPDATE: Apparently, Heartland has decided to pull down the billboard ad... of course, they're claiming it "got attention" but somehow neglect to mention this attention was overwhelmingly negative and disgusted. But you can expect Heartland to continue their skeevy campaign against reality; I'll note that they not only do not apologize for the ad, but state outright they won't apologize for it. Lovely. Science writer and humanitarian Shawn Otto has posted a list of names and links of companies that support Heartland, just so's you know.]

Still, there's one thing I do want to highlight. The press release is a non-stop firehose of misinformation and spin, but among the venom-dripping things they say, one bit of crazy stands out:

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.

Actually, "a solid majority" of Americans think global warming is real. They're the radical fringe? As usual, the global warming deniers accuse others of doing what the deniers themselves are guilty of.

And the prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists? Like Michael Mann and James Hansen? Oh wait, those two are actual climate scientists. You know, the kind of people who are experts in climate science. The kind who don't tend to sign climate change denial screeds.

Also, the "murderers, tyrants, and madmen" line? Nice, Heartland, nice. Rhetoric like that really makes you look sober, sane, and willing to discuss things rationally.

The Earth is warming up. The rate of warming has increased in the past century or so. This corresponds to the time of the Industrial Revolution, when we started dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases warm the planet (hence the name) -- if they didn't we'd have an average temperature below the freezing point of water. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which is dumped into the atmosphere by humans to the tune of 30 billion tons per year, 100 times the amount from volcanoes. And finally, approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans.

Those are the facts. It's hard to believe anyone takes Heartland seriously at this point. And while they're fiddling, the world burns.



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