Peter Sinclair, founder of the "Climate Denial Crock of the Week" video series, and regular contributor to the Yale Forum, has posted a new video, "This is Not Cool: Murderers, Tyrants, and Madmen." The video addresses Heartland's recent billboard "experiment," and invokes the words of Margaret Thatcher, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, James Hansen, Steven Chu, and Isaac Asimov, among others.
"In a word-association game, it’s unlikely that many would bring up the names of Margaret Thatcher, or of Columbia University’s Wallace Broecker. Nor, for that matter, those of NASA scientist James Hansen; of the late biochemist and novelist Isaac Asimov; of theoretical physicist, author and cosmologist Stephen Hawking; of the late Cornell University astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan; of Microsoft’s Bill Gates; of Navy Admiral David Titley; or of Nobel Laureate, and now Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu.
Through an artful selection and piecing-together of some historical video and audio materials featuring each of those individuals expressing deep concerns about climate change, the video tees-off from a Heartland remark — defending its poster prank while at the same time ending the effort — that “the most prominent advocates of global warming are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
That billboard campaign, the first featuring Kaczynski, initially had been intended to include subsequent posters featuring Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden, and one or two additional scalawags and scoundrels. Instead, it has led a number of large corporate funders to follow-up Heartland’s pulling of the plug with a pulling of the plug on their own part: A number of well-known corporate sponsors have announced they are ceasing their relationships with, and funding for, further Heartland efforts."
NOAA's budget has been in the newsquite a bitrecently. NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce (brief insight into why it's under Commerce here). On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on, among other things, NOAA's fiscal year 2013 budget proposal. Jason Samenow writes about this cut today in the Capital Weather Gang blog:
Of a possible $1.4 billion dollars in proposed spending cuts in the Departments of Commerce and Justice for 2013, the U.S. House Representatives voted to approve none of them. None of them except a piddly $542,000 for a NOAA climate website. The amendment was approved 219-189 Tuesday evening TheHill.com reported.
The website - currently in a prototype stage - provides a rich set of climate information, tools, and data resources. With a little investment, it has the potential to provide tremendous benefits to decisionmakers. One wonders, then, why the 56 percent funding increase for this website proposed by the President was the low-hanging fruit snipped off the vine.
So far, this has only passed through the House. The Senate will also need to accept the changes that the House made to the budget. However, even if the cut does pass through the Senate, the website (climate.gov) will stay intact, since it's the proposed budget increase that's being cut.
Congressman Andrew Harris, a Republican for the state of Maryland's 1st district, proposed the amendment on these grounds:
"...I want to read, as you click on some of these topics, what the science is at this port. I am going to read from an article just published on the Web site on May 2. It talks about farming.
'The rain was as loud as pennies falling on the roof of the truck's cab.' Later on in the paragraph, 'We had been watching Johnson work in his field until the fat drops of rain sent us racing for cover.' Next paragraph, 'The machine behind the tractor makes it easier than ever for him to roll the grass into submission, thousands of stalks pointing accusingly at the device that just pancaked them.'
Madam Chairman, that's not a scientific article. That's something I read to my children at bedtime. But this is what NOAA is advancing as a scientific Web site to share scientific information and is asking for a 56 percent increase in their funding."
The Congressman pulled that quote from an article illustrating farmers' needs for climate forecasts to improve farming techniques (ie. reduce risk from climate change-related weather disasters, droughts, floods, and therefore save the American people money when they're at the grocery). This article was likely added to the front page to highlight the need both within the public and private sectors for improved decision-making capabilities related to climate change. And this is not the first time Harris has opposed the Climate Services Portal. When it was first proposed he opposed it saying, "the climate services could become little propaganda sources instead of a science source." So it's hard to tell whether this amendment was about $542,000, or if it was about continuing to deny the American public the facts on climate change.
NOAA describes the future of the Climate Services Portal (NCS Portal) on its website:
At this time, the NCS Portal prototype only scratches the surface of the many climate datasets, products, and services available across NOAA. This effort will gradually transition from a prototype to an operational status over the next year. Our plan is to actively gather user feedback through focus groups, usability studies, and informal communications. Over the next several years, we will expand the NCS Portal's scope and functionality in a user-driven manner to greatly enhance the accessibility and usefulness of NOAA's climate resources. As this effort continues to expand in future years, partners from outside of NOAA will become involved in this effort. The NCS Portal will be a central component of NOAA's commitment to enhancing the access to and extensibility of climate data and services, timely articles and information, education resources, and tools for engagement and decision-making.
We're introducing a new video series today in the Climate Change section: Climate Change Science in a Nutshell. These videos were produced by Planet Nutshell, who specialize in producing easy to understand videos about complicated matters. The work was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and KUEN TV.
I've posted the first two episodes of this series, and we'll adding a new video daily, so check back on our videos page.
New video series from Planet Nutshell explains the nuance of climate change in a nutshell.
We also have a new video from Jim Parks and Today's Green Minute on the declining bee population. New TGM videos are posted every two weeks.
How low will the Heartland Institute go to shame climate change "believers?" Very low, it appears. In it's most recent billboard campaign, which is running in Chicago, Heartland, an anti-science organization famous for climate change denial, compares those who accept climate science to mass murderers, like Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden.
The Heartland Institute is a conservative public policy "think tank" based in Chicago, Illinois. It claims to conduct research on things like healthcare, tobacco, and global warming, but is known for fabricating results to support its clients' bottom line. The institute is probably best-known for its work with Philip Morris in their mission to question the science connecting second-hand smoke and health risks, and to lobby against public health reforms. The New York Times describes the Heartland Institute as "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism."
The Guardian broke this murderous billboard story this morning, and calls it "quite possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns." You might actually recognize this tack from the meat industry's "Hitler was a vegetarian" campaign, which suggested that only fascists don't eat meat. (By the way, we don't suggest you give up meat to reduce your carbon footprint, just be smart about the meat you eat!)
In Heartland's description of the billboard campaign, they say:
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.
I asked Heartland spokesman Jim Lakely today to clarify which of the following is the position of his organization:
• The planet hasn't warmed in recent decades • The planet has warmed but humans didn't contribute to it • Humans contributed to warming but it's not a crisis
His response: "Heartland doesn't take official positions." Lakely forwarded my question to James Taylor, Heartland's senior fellow for environmental policy, who said "The best way to summarize the issue is that global warming is not a crisis." Taylor wouldn't say manmade global warming doesn't exist, even though the billboards and the accompanying press release make that very claim.
Update: 4:30pm ET
Brian Vastag, Science reporter for the Washington Post, has tweeted:
"Heartland Institute's President Joe Bast says they are taking down the Ted Kaczynski global warming billboard. Details to come."
4 p.m. update: Heartland Institute President and CEO Joe Bast has issued the following statement:
We will stop running [the billboard] at 4:00 p.m. CST today. (It’s a digital billboard, so a simple phone call is all it takes.)
The Heartland Institute knew this was a risk when deciding to test it, but decided it was a necessary price to make an emotional appeal to people who otherwise aren’t following the climate change debate.