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From the Heartland: Schoolchildren, Climate, and... Mass Murder?

This exposure of families and schoolchildren to the darker aspects of propaganda suggests the Heartland Institute's leadership has sunk to a juvenile bully's level of moral and ethical development.
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In February, leaked internal budget (PDF) and fundraising (PDF) documents from the Chicago-based propaganda contractor The Heartland Institute exposed the group's plans to spend $100,000 to create a 20-unit national school science curriculum falsely teaching that there is a scientific controversy over climate change. At the time Heartland described the person doing this, David Wojick, as a climate science expert who works for the U.S. Department of Energy. I contacted DOE spokesperson Jen Stuntsman, who told me Wojick was actually a part-time computer database contractor who "has never advised or conducted research for the Department on climate change or any other scientific topic."

This week, Heartland went live with billboards in the Chicago area further promoting their view, but the billboards are not what a typical soccer mom would normally expect of an organization preparing a curriculum having to do with schoolchildren and science. Here's one of them, which appears along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) in Maywood:

A news release from Heartland says "the billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010)."

Heartland Institute spokesman Jim Lakely said that the outfit chose to make the false association on the billboards "because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the 'mainstream' media, and liberal politicians say about global warming."

The billboard campaign shows a shocking lack of judgment by an organization that has become so radicalized that it would publicly characterize the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. Defense Department, NASA, NOAA and other mainstream science organizations and federal agencies as "the radical fringe" for acknowledging what billions of data points all show: that human behavior is warming the planet, and seek to associate these organizations in public billboards on family-traveled highways with mass murderers and tyrants. This exposure of families and schoolchildren to the darker aspects of propaganda suggests the Heartland Institute's leadership has sunk to a juvenile bully's level of moral and ethical development.

The Heartland Institute gets much of its funding from mainstream American corporations and their associated foundations. One has to question these corporations' judgment in supporting an advocate who displays such a poor sense of public decorum. General Motors wondered just that, and the General Motors Foundation has now pulled their support from the Heartland Institute.

Here are some other leading U.S. corporations and foundations who support the Heartland Institute. Those who do business with them and find the Heartland Institute's tactics objectionable may wish to contact these companies and ask them if they feel this is in keeping with their codes of ethics and corporate responsibility.

The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the private petro-chemical giant

Altria Client Services Inc, parent company of Philip Morris and Ste. Michelle Wine

John William Pope Foundation associated with Variety Wholesalers, Inc.

Reynolds American Inc., parent of RJ Reynolds

The United States was founded on the principles of science. Since the end of WWII, science is responsible for half of our economic growth. It provides immeasurable benefits and by expanding power and choice, it produces freedom. Denying the last 50 years of science, as the Heartland Institute propaganda seeks to do, is not going to take America where we need to go.

Get Shawn Lawrence Otto's new book: Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, "One of the most important books written in America in the last decade." Starred Kirkus Review; Starred Publishers Weekly review. Visit him at Like him on Facebook. Join to get the presidential candidates to debate science.

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