• Mar 5th 2012 at 12:05PM
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The Heartland Institute is a big daddy in climate change denialism and recently became a more household name thanks to a trove of documents that were exposed on DeSmogBlog. The documents purport to be leaked internal memos that detail the ways the institute is funded and disseminates its "nothing to see here, folks" message. The Institute started off decades ago when it helped cigarette company Phillip Morris minimize the association between smoking and cancer, and there have been many questions about its integrity since then.

According to the documents, which were leaked by the Pacific Institute's Peter Gleick, there is only one connection between a car company and Heartland, and even that relationship is not as direct or damaging as it could be. It was a $15,000 donation made in 2011 by the General Motors Foundation (GM's charitable arm that "has donated more than $350 million to send students to college, educate parents on how to keep children safe in and around vehicles, promote diversity and support vital non-profit organizations") to Heartland's SRN, with the same amount expected in 2012 (see page 23 of this PDF). SRN here means Heartland's School Reform News publication, which shares news about charter schools, vouchers and the like. In short, nothing directly about climate change denialism.

The connection is still a slippery slope and it would be in GM's better public image interests not to be associated in any way with the Heartland Institute. To this end, Forecast The Facts is collecting signatures to demand GM stop funding any part of the Heartland Institute. The petition, which FTF claims has 20,000 signatures, including 10,000 from GM vehicle owners, calls out GM for "hypocrisy on climate change." Daniel Souweine, Forecast the Facts campaign director, said in a statement that:

Supporting the Heartland Institute stands in direct contradiction to GM's public stance on climate change and its effort to reinvent itself around cars like the Chevy Volt. When taxpayers bailed out GM, this is not where they were expecting their money to go.

FTF's petition can be found here. The first 20,000 names were sent to GM, but FTF says the automaker has not yet responded. Given FTF's proposed plan to start making this issue more public in the coming weeks, we don't expect GM to stay silent for long.
Show full PR text
More than 10,000 GM Owners Demand Company Pull Its Support from Heartland Institute
Over 20,000 Join Campaign against GM Hypocrisy on Climate Change


San Francisco, CA – More than 10,000 current and former owners of General Motors vehicles are calling on the company to pull its financial support from the Heartland Institute, a leader in efforts to deny the science behind climate change. The campaign coordinated by Forecast the Facts comes in response to leaked documents that revealed a host of major corporations funding Heartland.

"Supporting the Heartland Institute stands in direct contradiction to GM's public stance on climate change and its effort to reinvent itself around cars like the ChevyVolt," said Daniel Souweine, Forecast the Facts campaign director. "When taxpayers bailed out GM, this is not where they were expecting their money to go."

Heartland has long been a key cog in the climate change denial machine. They hold a regular conference of leading climate change deniers, publish reports questioning the broad scientific consensus, and provide direct funding to prominent deniers. The leaked documents also unveil their intention to insert climatechange denial into American classrooms through curricula that positions climate change as "a major scientific controversy." Prior to their climate change work, Heartland worked closely with tobacco company Phillip Morris to question links between secondhand smoke and cancer.

The petition drive around GM began two weeks ago, immediately after the leaked documents were published. On Wednesday, Forecast the Facts sent the first 20,000 signatures to General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson and has also posted selected comments from GM owners online here: http://forecastthefacts.org/stories/gm_heartland/. General Motors has yet to respond, but a spokesman did previously defend their support of Heartland, saying: "We support a variety or organizations that give careful and considerate thought to complex policy issues and Heartland is one of them."

The comments from GM owners reflect both their deep affinity for the company and their intense frustration that GM would provide support to a group like Heartland. For example, John C. of Ballston Spa, NY had this to say upon signing the petition: "I have been a Chevy fan from a very young age. I am now 61. My parents bought only Chevys and it has been my usual car of choice. I own a classic 74 Camaro LT. However your donation to the Heartland Institute, with its anti-science, pro-oil stance, has me angry. Change yourpolicy or I will never buy another GM auto."

In the coming weeks, Forecast the Facts will use a host of online and offline tactics to ensure that GM is well aware of the customer frustration their support of Heartland has caused.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who wouldn't try to stop AGW? The point of AGW and other issues, like second hand smoke, are to establish individual rights infringement. After individual rights have been infringed upon, laws can be written. AGW is for morons. The economic problems associated with rampant resource consumption are already sufficient to invoke legislative fiat. Furthermore, AGW doesn't govern human behavior. AGW could be an infallible theory, provable in every possible way using numerous mathematical and scientific methods. It could be delivered by angels with God's signature on it. It still won't change human behavior. Utility must be created. Utility has nothing to do with physics or AGW. Heritage is not stopping utility creation.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Whats amazing is the fact nobody has ever proven smoking causes cancer much less anything else in humans or animals.........If they had proof theyd be screaming it everywhere............. JOINT STATEMENT ON THE RE-ASSESSMENT OF THE TOXICOLOGICAL TESTING OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS" 7 October, the COT meeting on 26 October and the COC meeting on 18 November 2004. http://cot.food.gov. uk/pdfs/cotstatement tobacco0409 "5. The Committees commented that tobacco smoke was a highly complex chemical mixture and that the causative agents for smoke induced diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, effects on reproduction and on offspring) was unknown. The mechanisms by which tobacco induced adverse effects were not established. The best information related to tobacco smoke - induced lung cancer, but even in this instance a detailed mechanism was not available. The Committees therefore agreed that on the basis of current knowledge it would be very difficult to identify a toxicological testing strategy or a biomonitoring approach for use in volunteer studies with smokers where the end-points determined or biomarkers measured were predictive of the overall burden of tobacco-induced adverse disease." In other words ... our first hand smoke theory is so lame we can't even design a bogus lab experiment to prove it. In fact ... we don't even know how tobacco does all of the magical things we claim it does. The greatest threat to the second hand theory is the weakness of the first hand theory.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, what is the Heartland Institute and who is behind it? http://exiledonline.com/radicals-for-corporate-pollution-the-koch-cartel-the-heartland-institute/
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        Shessh. The Kooky Koch's again. Their sleazy coal/oil/natural gas money is everywhere.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Equally, who is the Forecast for Facts? and who is behind that organisation? Keep a sense of perspective. At the worst, GM contributed a small sum to a road safety campaign run by someone you don't like.
      • 3 Years Ago
      $15k is not that much to a company like GM, maybe they were hoping that a few dollars would get them to stop spreading lies about the Chevy Volt. http://thinkprogress.org/green/2012/02/16/426471/gm-defends-contributions-denier-heartland-institute/
      Smith Jim
      • 3 Years Ago
      There are many people like me who used to be very skeptical of man-made climate change. I could give you my opinion and why I changed my mind but nobody cares because I'm just some geek nobody from Missouri. Here's a story about a geek who ain't a nobody: Nathan Myhrvold — former Microsoft exec, kajillionaire, inventor and certified genius. http://grist.org/climate-change/climate-safety-requires-massive-clean-energy-transition-with-no-natural-gas-myhrvold-finds/
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      doesn't sound too serious. weren't they involved in law suits against california to dissuade them from promoting EVs? that seems like a much bigger crime. and that adding 4500$ worth of batteries to a 16800$ Cruze turned into 41000 also seems more incriminating.
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, if you don't agree with the pseudo science of "climate change" that makes you "bad"? Liberals are such an intolerant and bigoted group.
        • 3 Years Ago
        If you aren't a scientist and aren't qualified to pass judgement but reject the judgement of the experts out of hand, we think you're an idiot, yeah. And that's not even coming from a liberal really
      • 3 Years Ago
      @ DF, Before you make such judgement you might consider, what I am actually 'standing up for'. Open mindedness, tolerance and respect for the persons holding other viewpoints. These are very much the way St Francis conducted himself in debates. (Perhaps you would be inspired by studying the behaviour of St Francis when debating with Sultan Malik al Kamil)
      • 3 Years Ago
      Correlation is not causation as much as youd like people to believe.........The fact remains there is no proof of anything causing cancer in anyone except high dose radiation that can alter cells!
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is so retarded I don't even know where to start. Everyone should save their breath and go do something productive instead of bitch and moan about this one...
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seriously?? "The connection is still a slippery slope and it would be in GM's better public image interests not to be associated in any way with the Heartland Institute." What an absolutely lame attempt to drive page views - this post should be pulled. This is a new low for ABG and shows a clear lack of any kind of standards!!
        Smooth Motor
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Sebastian Blanco is an anti-industry, partisan hack. Zero credibility as an objective writer. ABG would be doing themselves a favor flushing this guy..............
      • 3 Years Ago
      'sends money to organization that denies climate change*' * organization money sent to does not deny climate change, but was once seen at the same place where it was rumored that a climate change denialist had once thought about going but decided to go to McDonalds instead.'
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