Joe Bast

Fri, 2012-06-01 10:57Taki Oldham
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How To Divide And Conquer The Free Market Climate Change Denial Movement

Much has been made lately of the Heartland’s Institute’s implosion over it extreme position on climate change. In February there was the revelation of internal strategy documents that included a plan to promote climate change scepticism in schools. In early May they unveiled a billboard equating those who believe in global warming with the Unabomber.

In the resulting uproar, nearly 50% of the Heartland Institute’s projected corporate donors for 2012 have pulled out. The funding drop has been so dire that at Heartland’s latest climate change sceptics conference in Chicago last month, Heartland president Joe Bast was reduced to asking the audience to find a ‘rich uncle’ to fund future conferences. 

But the most telling outcome may prove to be the defection of Heartland’s entire Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate division. As team leader Eli Lehrer told the Guardian 

“As somebody who deals mostly with insurance I believe all risks have to be taken seriously and there certainly are some important climate and global warming related risks that must be taken account of in the insurance market. Trivialising them is not consistent with free-market thought. Suggesting they are only thought about by people who are crazy is not good for the free market.”

Now coming out and agreeing with every major national science academy in the world may not sound so revolutionary. But it is for a number of reasons.

Thu, 2012-05-24 14:27Guest
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Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Verizon, and CUNA Drop Heartland Institute, Continuing Corporate Defections

This is a guest post by Jesse Coleman that originally appeared at PolluterWatch.

Pharmaceutical giants Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, along with Verizon, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, and Credit Union National Association, have announced that they will not fund the climate change denying Heartland Institute in 2012.  According to the Heartland Institute’s own fundraising document, it hoped to receive $130,000 from these potential funders this year.  Today’s announcement brings the total number of corporate sponsors to drop Heartland to 15, representing $955,000 of Heartland’s projected $7.7 million budget this year.

This announcement comes in response to a petition signed by over 150,000 people calling for Heartland’s corporate funders to drop support of the organization, which recently ran a billboard campaign in Chicago comparing those that advocate for solutions to climate change to “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”  The petition was organized by Forecast the Facts, Greenpeace, SumofUs, Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and 350.org.

The Heartland Institute just finished their 7th“International Conference on Climate Change” which ran from May21-23 in Chicago.  The conferences, which provides a platform and meeting space for professional climate science deniers, are dedicated to attacking the climate scientists and the scientific consensus on climate change.  This years conference also questioned the authenticity of President Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate. Because of the funding gaps brought on by the mass defection of corporate sponsors Heartland Institute president Joe Bast.  Joe Bast said at the conference:

“I hope to see you at a future conference, but at this point we have no plans to do another ICCC.”

Major corporations and trade groups like Nucor, Pfizer, Reynolds American Inc., and Phrma continue to fund the Heartland Institute.

Wed, 2012-05-16 16:51Richard Littlemore
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Heartland's Joe Bast lashes out at Institute's own "friends"

The somewhat hysterical Heartland Institute President Joe Bast has lashed out at the lengthening list of “friends” who are trying to distance themselves from the institute's increasingly embarrassing anti-science antics.

In a letter to one of the “scholars” who have asked to be removed from the list of “Heartland experts” (BigCityLiberal is keeping a good headcount here), Bast complains that his institute has always tried to stay “above the fray,” and it's now being victimized “by ideological extremists as part of the ongoing attack on us and our donors.”

In that light, Bast scolds his former supporter:

So John, I’m disappointed that you would side with folks who would use such tactics. if you want to stand up for truth seeking and honesty, for taking an unpopular stand against prevailing wisdom, then you should be speaking up for me and The Heartland Institute, not abandoning us in this moment of need.

Fri, 2012-05-04 10:36Richard Littlemore
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Heartland Billboard: "the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists; they are murderers, tyrants, and madmen"

The Heartland Institute's current President, Joe Bast, has launched a billboard campaign denouncing science, scientists, conscientious political activists - and by association EVERYONE else who speaks with concern about climate change - as murderous, tyranical or insane.

Settling on that third descriptor, it's difficult to imagine what kind of crazy person thought this was an appropriate attack on the public dialogue about the most pressing environmental issue in the history of humankind.

This is a link to the 2012 Heartland Fundraising strategy, a document the institute was careless enough to email to a stranger, regardless that it includes the full list of Heartland funders. General Motors has already announced that it wants off this list - that it is embarrassed by any association with a disinformation organization of this nature.

But if you are concerned about climate change, if you are NOT a murderer, a tyrant or a crazy person, and you are a shareholder or customer of any of the organizations on this list (maybe we could start with Microsoft), please send an email, write a letter, make a phone call or sell your stock. Let's make it clear that Joe Bast needs a vacation, permanently.

Mon, 2012-04-30 06:30Guest
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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.) 

Wed, 2012-03-14 09:02Richard Littlemore
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Heartland Double Standard: Institute Tried to Scam Greenpeace for Internal Documents

A Heartland Institute front man* phoned a Greenpeace activist and lied about his identity in an effort to get her to turn over UN climate conference documents to which he had no legitimate access. Heartland senior fellow James Taylor then boasted about the scam in a press release decrying what he described as Greenpeace's preferential access to UN information.

Now, in a belated act of optimism, Greenpeace's Cindy Baxter has written a letter to Heartland (attached below) requesting an explanation for the double standard. Baxter is asking, in effect, why Heartland thinks it's completely okay for them to misrepresent themselves, repeatedly, and to celebrate the misrepresentations of others who are attacking climate scientists, but then gets all righteous when someone suckers them into handing over their entire budget and fundraising policy for 2012.

The Heartland misrepresentation about which Baxter is now complaining occurred in 2007 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali. The Heartland caller phoned Baxter at four in the morning (Bali time), claiming to represent a U.S. environmental organization and asking if she would hand over the UNFCCC media list - which Heartland clearly had failed to secure through legitimate means.

Baxter demurred, after which Taylor sent out a press release, recounting the conversation, linking to a (possibly illegal) recording that Heartland had made of the phonecall, and “exposing” the fact that Greenpeace has a better working relationship than Heartland with just about everyone in the climate, diplomatic and scientific communities.

Thu, 2012-03-08 09:57Richard Littlemore
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Heartland has Long History of Blowing Smoke

One of the most bizarre reactions to the St. Valetines Day Striptease, in which the Heartland Institute was tempted by a mild-mnannered scientist to completely expose itself - its strategies, funders and plans for the new year - is the complaint by “neutral” observers like Judith Curry that people were somehow picking on Heartland unfairly.

Even aside from the reams of evidence in the Striptease documents, Heartland has a long history of mining money from questionable corporate funders and then representing itself as a (taxpayer subsidized) “think tank” - as if its some kind of educational organization contributing to the public conversation about difficult issues.

The document - and Heartland's own self-celebrating promotional efforts - make absolutely clear that Heartland is a lobbyist, and given that its favourite client through the years has been the tobacco industry, we know for sure it's a lobbyist with no particular standards.

Here, as evidence toward that point, is a wonderful wrap, by the blog Planet 3.0/Beyond Sustainability of Heartland's history of blowing smoke on behalf of funders Philip Morris, et al.

Thu, 2012-02-23 13:56Richard Littlemore
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At Heartland's law firm: "Carbon Matters"

Levenfeld Pearlstein, the law firm that has stepped up to pass on complaints about the publication of leaked Heartland Institute documents, appears to be one of the greenest in Chicago. For example, James Brusslan, head of the Environmental Services Group at Levenfeld Pearlstein, says companies should act now to prevent climate change because:

The IPCC has determined with virtual certainty that humans are the cause of significant global warming due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide and methane. Many scientists believe if we do not take action quickly, the impact could be catastrophic.

It would be interesting to know how Brussland gets along with Michael Padden, son of the Heartland Institute's founder David Padden and author of the most recent letter asking the DeSmogBlog to take down the document that describes, accurately and succinctly, Heartland's Climate Strategy for 2012.

Sun, 2012-02-19 14:34Richard Littlemore
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Heartland Demands DeSmogBlog Remove ''Climate Strategy" Document

Why isn't this girl smoking?

DeSmogBlog will leave them in place - in the public interest

Heartland Institute general counsel Maureen Martin has sent letters to the DeSmogBlog and several other publications demanding that we remove all Heartland-related documents that we posted on February 14, as well as all related commentary.

After due consideration, we could see no basis in fact or law for Heartland's demand that we remove these documents.

The Heartland letter is reproduced in full below with our observations.

Re:      Stolen and Faked Heartland Documents

http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-insider-exposes-institute-s-budget-and-strategy

Dear Mr. DeMelle:

On or about February 14, 2012, your web site posted a document entitled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy” (the “Fake Memo”), which is fabricated and false.

On or about the same date, your web site posted certain other documents purporting to be those of The Heartland Institute (“Heartland”). Heartland has not authenticated these documents (the “Alleged Heartland Documents”).

Your site thereafter has reported repeatedly on all of these documents.

Heartland almost immediately issued a statement disclosing the foregoing information, to which your web site has posted links.

DeSmogBlog: As soon as we learned that Heartland claimed the Climate Strategy document was “fake,” we posted a story, informing our readers and linking to Heartland's claim.

It has come to our attention that all of these documents nevertheless remain on your site and you continue to report on their contents. Please be advised as follows:

1.         The Fake Memo document is just that: fake. It was not written by anyone associated with Heartland. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. Publication of this falsified document is improper and unlawful.

DeSmogBlog: Heartland has never identified the alleged “obvious and gross misstatements” in the “climate strategy” document. We have not identified any. Neither does Heartland specify anything “unlawful” about publication of the “climate strategy” document.

2.         As to the Alleged Heartland Documents your web site posted, we are investigating how they came to be in your possession and whether they are authentic or have been altered or fabricated. Though third parties purport to have authenticated them, no one – other than Heartland – has the ability to do so. Several of the documents say on their face that they are confidential documents and all of them were taken from Heartland by improper and fraudulent means. Publication of any and all confidential or altered documents is improper and unlawful.

DeSmogBlog: Since Heartland does not know whether the “other documents” are fabricated, altered or authentic, we are at a loss to understand how Heartland is in any position to allege that the documents posted on DeSmogBlog were obtained by “improper or fraudulent means.”

3.         Furthermore, Heartland views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and blogged about them. Heartland fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.

Desmogblog: Again, since Heartland does not know whether the “other documents” are fabricated, altered or authentic, we are at a loss to understand how Heartland can allege that the documents were obtained or disseminated “in a malicious or fraudulent manner.”

Therefore, we respectfully demand: (1) that you remove both the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents from your web site; (2) that you remove from your web site all posts that refer or relate in any manner to the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (3) that you remove from your web site any and all quotations from the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (4) that you publish retractions on your web site of prior postings; and (5) that you remove all such documents from your server.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Very truly yours,

Maureen Martin

General Counsel

 

We look forward to learning the results of Heartland's investigation concerning the documents mentioned in their letter of February 18 and would encourage Heartland to include the “Climate Strategy” document within the scope of that investigation.

 

 

Thu, 2012-02-16 20:23Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

It’s a bird; it’s a hockey stick; it’s a faked document!

Why isn't this girl smoking?

 

Heartland response would be a useful PR tactic

The Climate Strategy that was emailed to the DeSmogBlog with a package of material from the Heartland Institute’s Jan. 17 Board of Directors meeting is serving as an excellent distraction from the legitimate issues raised in the other documents and reinforced by the excellent research paper by DeSmogBlog contributor John Mashey.

The DeSmogBlog has no evidence supporting Heartland's claim that the Strategic document is fake. A close review of the content shows that it is overwhelmingly accurate (“almost too accurate” for one analyst), and while critics have said that it is “too short” or is distinguished by “an overuse of commas,” even the skeptics at weatherguy Anthony Watts’s WUWT say that a technical analysis of the metadata on the documents in question does not offer sufficient information to come to a firm conclusion either way.

But in the tradition of the famous, and famously controversial “hockey stick graph,” the challenge to the single document has afforded the DeSmogBlog’s critics – and Heartland’s supporters – something comfortable to obsess about while they avoid answering questions raised by the other documents.

In the case of the hockey stick, people such as Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit have led a chorus of criticism for years, alleging that a supposed statistical flaw in Michael Mann’s excellent and prescient work should be sufficient justification to dismiss not only Mann’s original graph, but all of climate science. This, notwithstanding the fact that dozens of other climate reconstructions have validated Mann’s conclusions and replicated the hockey stick shape of his graph. Thus, the hockey stick has been a convenient weapon for those (like Joe Bast, President of the Heartland Institute) who would like to take people’s attention from the legitimate science of climate change.

Now, we have a case where Bast admits that some dope on his staff emailed Heartland's whole board package to a stranger. Yet rather than praising the opportunity that this provides for independent observers to judge the performance of a taxpayer-subsidized body (Heartland is a registered charity), as Bast did when someone stole the so-called ClimateGate emails from leading scientists such as Mike Mann, the Heartland boss has attacked the veracity of the Climate Strategy and used that to attempt to dismiss the legitimacy of the other material (Heartland Institute Responds to Stolen and Fake Documents).

The deniergang echo chamber has since jumped on that chorus, with sites like Marc Morano’s Climate Depot, Steve Milloy’s Junkscience, and Anthony Watts at WUWT all sputtering in outrage, even as Watts confirmed that, well, the information in the document pertaining to him was, but for a rounding error, almost too accurate.

The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on teh safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.

In the meantime, how about everybody take a moment to look away from the shiny penny in the magician's left hand and concentrate instead on the 100+ pages of damning evidence falling out of his right sleeve.

 

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