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Guess who claimed that climate change scientists are just like Charles Manson, the Unabomber and Fidel Castro?  Our good friends at the Heartland Institute, a notorious conservative think tank that promotes denial that man-made global warming is behind climate change:  Here's one image of the billboards they were running:

These billboard ads were obviously meant to intimidate climate scientists by inflaming public opinion against them and their research through the implication that supporters of climate science are mass murderers, serial killers, terrorists and murderous, dictators.  Fortunately the outcry over those ads forced Heartland to remove the billboards after only a few hours:

"I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?" reads the ad, next to a picture of Unabomber Kaczynski. It went live on Thursday afternoon on an electronic billboard on the Eisenhower Expressway near Chicago, where the Heartland Institute is based.

However, within hours, an outpouring of opposition - much of it from Heartland's own supporters - led the organization to pull the ad. And it's now claiming that it meant to all along.

Nonetheless, despite this PR disaster, the good folks at Heartland still stand by their message.  Indeed, you could say they doubled down on their message that climate change is a terrorist plot:

"The most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists," says Bast.

"They are Charles Manson, a mass murderer; Fidel Castro, a tyrant; and Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Global warming alarmists include Osama bin Laden and James J Lee [who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010]."

Smacks of desperation doesn't it.  Sadly, with the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere at record levels and rising at an exponential ever increasing rate, tactics such as these are delaying any real action on the threat posed to our present (extreme weather events, e.g.), and even moreso to our future.  Already, deaths directly tied to climate change worldwide are in the thousands:

WASHINGTON Nov 29 (Reuters) - Climate-related disasters killed 21,000 people in the first nine months of this year, more than double the number in 2009, the humanitarian organization Oxfam reported on Monday.

Those are deaths that we can directly tie to extreme weather events.  Estimates of actual deaths from disease for which climate is a contributing cause are much higher. The World Health Organization estimated in 2001 that 150,00 deaths could be attributed to global climate change.  However, more recent projections of deaths from respiratory diseases and disorders alone from ozone and other emissions caused by the continued burning of fossil fuels will run into the millions over the next 20 years.  Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developmentpredicts that, by 2030, up to 3 million people will die each year from pollutants in the air caused by burning fossil fuels, and 47% of the world's population will live under conditions of "water stress" (i.e., the lack of sufficient supplies of safe drinking water):

The number of premature deaths per million inhabitants linked to PM10 (fine particulates) could double to 2030 per million inhabitants ...

Almost half the world population (47%) will be living under severe water stress by 2030 if no new policies are introduced.  That is over one billion more people under severe water stress in 2030 than today (absolute numbers will increase from 2.8 to 3.9 billion people).

In other words, reasonable projections of the consequences of continuing to do nothing to prevent the increased emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants estimate that millions more people will die as a result of disease, famines, fires, floods, extreme storms, malnutrition, sea level rise, etc.  These are all likely consequences of our rapidly changing climate over the coming decades, unless we act as soon as possible to reduce emissions from fossil fuels.

So, I ask you: who poses the greatest threat to mankind?  A dead Osama bin Laden, the incarcerated murderers Ted Kaczynski and Charles Manson, a hald-dead dictator in Cuba, or climate change deniers, such as the Heartland Institute, whose propaganda, disinformation campaigns and outright lies help the fossil fuel industry delay measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? The same industries that are the principal financial supporters of think tanks like Heartland that actively deny man-made climate change) delay development of renewable sources of energy.  The same industries making record profits and spewing record amounts of pollutants and greenhouse gases into our atmosphere?

Originally posted to Steven D on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Some time back G2Geek proposed labeling (12+ / 0-)

    deniers in terms of "hitlers". Given that Hitler was responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of 50 million people the deniers could be rated on that scale. So a "millihitler" would be 50,000 deaths (Republican policies blocking health care are roughly a millihitler). If half a billion people die from the effects of global warming that'd be a dekahitler. How many hitlers are the Heartland Institute shooting for?

    All my sig lines are hand-crafted by demented elves living in my skull.

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:37:40 AM PDT

    •  How many hands and toes do you have? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ontheleftcoast, sockpuppet

      Larger than that.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:41:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Climate change is important but so is language (7+ / 0-)

      Jon Stewart has said before, people we need to let Hitler be Hitler. Maybe we can just be honest about the horrendous, anti-science, pro-oil and pro-pollution Heartland Institute! Leave Hitler to the horrible past, and start dealing with the horrible present.

      I don't like this diary language either. Comparing the Heartland Institute to Al Quaeda by using the term Terrorist really does a disservice to environmental scientists, imho.

      And I AM an environmental scientist.

      I know, no mojo for me here with this post but I have to call it like I see it.

      •  I agree. The title really bothered me. Heartland (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Institute is a group of liars.  They are propagandists for the 1%, and they're contributing to a lot of deaths in the future.  But they aren't terrorists.  Their guilt lies in their words, their propaganda, their dishonesty.  No bombs, no guns, no direct violence.  

        It doesn't help us to become propagandistic too.

        On the other hand, I loved the clarity and force of the last paragraph.

        --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

        by Fiona West on Tue May 08, 2012 at 11:14:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Exponential rate? (7+ / 0-)

    Why do you say CO2 is rising at an "exponential" rate?  Do you really mean the exact mathematical definition of that word?  Or just that it's rising?  Rising quickly?

    I suspect a lack of precision in your use of the word that's a bit worrisome.  In these aggressively anti-science times, I think it's extra-important not to lapse into insupportable hyperbole.

    In other words, if you've got support for "exponential", could you provide it?

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:41:39 AM PDT

  •  "Terrorist"? (6+ / 0-)

    If over-the-top hyperbole qualifies as terrorism, what on earth do we call people who actually blow stuff up and kill people?

    If everyone who attempts to inflame public opinion against their opponents is a terrorist, we're going to need to build a few more Gitmos.

    •  Guess you haven;t been hit by a tornado (4+ / 0-)

      Though to be fair dying from a bomb blast would be less cruel than from starvation due to famine.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Mon May 07, 2012 at 11:35:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The harm you're accusing Heartland Institute of (0+ / 0-)

        abetting is real, and the suffering is going to be great.  The paid denial-propagandists need to be called out much more, and more forcefully, for their irresponsibility and their shameful lies.  You're right about that.

        But "terrorism" is one particular kind of evil, i.e. using violence against civilian populations to gain a political end.  It's not the name for all evil.  Using it in this kind of situation just becomes a distraction.  That's true among those who essentially support your position, and would be much, much more true if you were speaking to a broader audience.  It's not an effective tactic, and I think that's worth keeping in mind in future writing.

        --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

        by Fiona West on Tue May 08, 2012 at 11:44:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  More specific: Stochastic Terrorism (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, sockpuppet, Spoc42, GreyHawk

      Based on mathematical models of probability, a lone wolf terrorist will follow through on suggestions to complete some form of destructive/fatal violence.

      Read more about Stochastic Terrorism

      Also, read a recent, April 20th, dKos diary on
      the subject.

      More on the subject at dKos:

      Stochastic Terrorism:  Triggering the shooters.

      *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

      by josmndsn on Mon May 07, 2012 at 01:39:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm familiar with it. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        josmndsn, bethcf4p

        "Stochastic Terrorism" is a term made up by a Daily Kos user and it refers to speech which he would like to see exempted from 1st Amendment protection. And many free-speech advocates disagree with the concept.

        Call it hate speech, or inflammatory rhetoric, or irresponsible flame-fanning, but it's not terrorism.  Not by any accepted definition I'm aware of.

        •  Terrorism is a strategy to instill fear ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          which may inspire a follower to act out a tactic, like assassination or bombing.

          Hard to understand how "hate speech, or inflammatory rhetoric, or irresponsible flame-fanning" are not attempts to instill fear. They do  fit the definition of terrorism:

          "Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion."
          Was Timothy Mc Veigh a terrorist or a bomber or both?

          Was Scott Roeder a terrorist or an assassin or both?

          *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

          by josmndsn on Mon May 07, 2012 at 03:30:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Grow up. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bill W, this just in, josmndsn

            If what you say is true then half the commenters on this blog are terrorists.

            What's next? You gonna start calling anyone who isn't doing what you consider necessary to fight global warming a terrorist?  The soccer mom with a minivan full of kids?  The working poor construction worker in a 71 Chevy pickup?  How about the UAW worker that builds those suburbans at get 12mpg?

            This is thhe kind of shit that scares me.  That anyone wants to consider speech terrorism and a crime.  

            Or is it only speech you don't like that is terrorism?

            •  Just speech that instills fear is terrorism ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              as a strategy to coerce others.

              "If what you say is true then half the commenters on this blog are terrorists."

              The distinction is a matter of intent.

              Is a bully, who threatens physical harm, not  a terrorist?

              Failure to respond to the bully's terroristic treats may result in a punch in the face.

              If the school bullys are not  terrorists, no school kid has ever had to hand over his lunch money, since he was never terrorized into being robbed. He just donated his lunchmoney to a school friend.;)

              It boils down to the impropriety of launching such things as a War on Terror, a strategy, rather than to seek out, capture and detain international criminals who killed people by crashing planes into buildings, a tactic.

              *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

              by josmndsn on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:55:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I am not a fan of this (0+ / 0-)


      But are the tactics fascistic?

      I think you can make the argument.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Mon May 07, 2012 at 04:30:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  a careful definition of terrorism ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nowhere Man, bethcf4p

      ... might begin from: "the deliberate infliction of violence on noncombatants in pursuit of political goals."  

      Arguable?  Sure.  But it excludes the relentless use of "terrorism" as a synonym for "something I don't like".

    •  +10000 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frank Knarf

      I agree completely! It's good people get the importance of climate change, but this language is inappropriate. When wingers call Planned Parenthood terrorists it's wrong, and it's wrong here too. Sigh.

  •  When I first saw this picture... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joey c, rb608, Spoc42, tle, triplepoint, Nowhere Man

    I came to the opposite conclusion than Heartland is trying to convey.

    I saw it as these mass murder/dictators have the sense to believe in global warming - why don't you?

    Clearly that's not the message they were going for, but even as far as really offensive advertising / bully / mockery goes, this is not that clear.

    •  Bingo! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And pretty amazing, really.  Typical politicians won't speak of the (pardon me) terrifying direction of the ecology of this planet, but the fringe people will.

      I refuse to shoot the messenger.  

      I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

      by tle on Tue May 08, 2012 at 04:51:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And not to be confused w/ Heartland International (0+ / 0-)

    .. they too are based in Chicago, but they do good work !

    "..The political class cannot solve the problems it created. " - Jay Rosen

    by New Rule on Mon May 07, 2012 at 01:34:16 PM PDT

  •  Name Names (0+ / 0-)

    Wno are the corporations that fund the Heartland Institute?

    My guess:

    Exxon ...

    British Petroleum ...

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon May 07, 2012 at 01:46:38 PM PDT

  •  It's called economic terrorism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D

    Instead of IEDs, dollars are used to create havoc and spread fear. It's all about striking at people's emotions to change their behavior, and anything goes.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon May 07, 2012 at 02:29:26 PM PDT

  •  This is the dumbest kind of argument. (5+ / 0-)

    They've been out of real arguments for a long time.

    I'm not surprised that they resorted to TEH UNIBOMBER IS SCARY ZOMG!

    Let's play the stupid sign game:

    This is easy. This is shooting fish in a barrel easy. It's stupid, it's wrong, and it's easy.

    I'm really not surprised that it's the sort of thing they've resorted to.

    That David Duke has been consistently running for the republican nomination isn't a reason not to vote republican. There are MILLIONS of good reasons not to vote republican. Austerity, Defense, The Economy, Education, Schools, the Environment, the fact that you like breathing, the fact that you think rape should be a criminal act and that "wearing a skirt" doesn't make it the woman's fault, all of these are good reasons not to vote republican.

    These signs are dumb. If conservatives want to get in a dumb sign contest, I'm sure that we liberals could easily win it.

    The question is, how do we respond best to attacks like this one?

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

    by OllieGarkey on Mon May 07, 2012 at 04:11:45 PM PDT

    •  Yes -- that's the question. What's the best (0+ / 0-)

      response?  Since the sign was taken down so quickly, there really isn't an opening to respond much to this particular (and enormously stupid) sign.  But how do we respond to the paid deniers?

      We need to compare them to the tobacco-hirelings, the doctors and scientists who promoted outdated information and outright lies to protect the tobacco companies, telling people that cigarettes were safe or at least that no connection with cancer had been proven.  This is a parallel that people can get on a gut level, but we need to convey that vastly more lives are at stake, along with the quality of life for humans, permanently, on this Earth.

      --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

      by Fiona West on Tue May 08, 2012 at 11:53:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Then anti-nuke activists are terrorists too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey, Utahrd, Frank Knarf

    By the same logic, if the supporters of fossil fuels are to blame for the deaths caused by pollution, then I submit that anti-nuke activists in Japan will orders of magnitude more people than the Fukushima plants.

    The other 46 shut down nuclear reactors are all still there, still radioactive, still full of hot fuel, now doing nothing but dumping out waste heat.  No electrical power, but all the radiation.

    Meanwhile, the coal and oil plants are burning overtime, dumping CO2, to make up the difference.  Conservation and wind aren't going to do it.

    So the number of people who will die because Japan turned off the nukes and turned on the coal will be higher than if they'd left the nuke plants running.  It will be higher.

    In the face of man made climate change, I call for the acceptance of nuclear power until all fossil fuel use is ended, and an acknowledgemetn of the deaths the anti-nuke people will cause.

    If we're being scientific that is.

    •  Piffle. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, Norm in Chicago

      If half of the gobs of government/taxpayer money that has been thrown uncritically at nuclear power over the past fifty years had been put toward development and deployment of safe, renewable forms of energy, we'd be cruising along on renewables by about now, as opposed waiting a few decades that it'll take now that the crisis has already arrived. If we'd added in half the subsidies for fossil fuels spent since 1980, we'd be watching those graphs trend downward into the realm of the normal already.

      The idea that the people who have a sane mind in their heads about not using egregiously dangerous technologies when they're unnecessary should be held accountable for the excesses of the society which they warned in good time is idiotic, not scientific.

      Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

      by rcbowman on Mon May 07, 2012 at 09:48:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Necessary until the fossil fuels are gone (0+ / 0-)

        My counter argument is that as long as coal and oil are burning and dumping C02 into the air, then our existing, already built and fueled nuclear plants are necessary.  Japan will emitt much more C02 now than before.  The nuke plants are necessary.

        They won't be necessary forever, but on the issue of climate change, people have to make a choice to fight C02 or not.

  •  I like this version of the sign better... (7+ / 0-)

    I think it makes at least as much sense.


    Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

    by protothad on Mon May 07, 2012 at 06:47:14 PM PDT

  •  Let's buy some billboards in response. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, Miss Jones, Fiona West

    Billboards are really cheap right now, though I expect the prices are starting to rise again.

    I'd love to see or some such exactly duplicate these billboards, but carefully alter the language, and use celebrities everyone likes, with maybe a few Nobel laureates thrown in, to say that yes, they too believe the evidence.

    The issue, of course, is buying into the language of "believing in" the stuff. But I think we could come up with the right phrasing, if we worked at it.

    Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

    by rcbowman on Mon May 07, 2012 at 09:36:53 PM PDT

  •  Sorry but your title is misleading (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Knarf, Fiona West

    I second your emotion and devotion to the earth, but using the Terrorism language is illogical and does a disservice to people in the field. I dismiss it when wing-nuts bring out the terrorism card for Obama or liberal causes, and have to call it here too.

    I work in science, with environmental activists in a professional way. This analogy doesn't help the cause, imho. I even think it hurts, by being so inflammatory.

    Global warming is real, is a huge problem, and YES even more dangerous to more people than terrorism. But stupid right-wing, oil-funded organizations are NOT terrorists who blow up hotels, take down buildings, and cut people's heads off. Sorry, can't go there.

  •  so are the 76 limbaugh-endorsing universities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites

    that broadcast sports on limbaugh stations and numeraoud other universities that broadcast on other RW radio stations- most of them do heartland inst and heritage foundation GW denial all day long and have been for years and owe much of their community standing to those associations with those unis.

    prominent climate scientist michael mann just told bobby kennedy jr that the manufactured "climategate" event set public opinion back 3 years and scuttled the copenhagen climate talks.

    "climategate" relied significantly on those RW radio stations to get sold, and they piggyback those universities. without limbaugh doing climategate BS all week 2 weeks before copenhagen to launch it it wouldn't have flown.

    those unis need to get out of RW radio this year.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue May 08, 2012 at 03:12:11 PM PDT

  •  Say it, man! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    If Obama doesn't deserve credit for getting Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger, Bin Laden doesn't deserve the blame for 9-11 because he didn't fly the planes.

    by Bush Bites on Tue May 08, 2012 at 05:10:38 PM PDT

  •  Tons of anti-science letters in nearby Rockford (0+ / 0-)

    Were written to the paper today. One titled "Evolution is not Science" which claimed that "no evidence existed to prove it". Also, a supposed Professor from Iowa wrote a letter stating that something like "many scientists do not believe in Global Warming" and then stated that it is a political based belief.

    Wouldn't be surprised if this was coordinated. We are about an hour north of Chicago and one of the largest cities outside of Chicago.

    "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

    by 815Sox on Tue May 08, 2012 at 07:57:19 PM PDT

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