Looks like the petition from Forecast the Facts calling on GM to stop giving money to the Heartland Institute, a major player in climate change denialism, is having an effect. GM hasn't promised to end its funding of the Institute's School Reform News publication, which is dedicated to covering news about things like charter schools and vouchers, but GM CEO Dan Akerson recently told the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that he is a believer in global warming and that he is committed to "taking another look at" the money that GM gives to Heartland.

The GM-Heartland connection came to light when internal Heartland documents were leaked by the Pacific Institute's Peter Gleick. From them, we learned that the General Motors Foundation (GM's charitable arm) made a $15,000 donation in 2011. In San Francisco, Forecast the Facts spurred the Commonwealth Club to ask Akerson about the connection through Facebook and in-person activism.

In response, Daniel Souweine, the director of Forecast the Facts issued a statement that said:

We are encouraged that CEO Dan Akerson has committed to review GM's funding of the Heartland Institute. We hope that review leads to the result that more than 10,000 GM owners have been asking for: a public commitment by GM to stop funding Heartland immediately.

You can see a video of the Q&A after the jump. Akerson jokes about his underwear, so it's worth watching just for that.



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GM CEO Responds to Demands to Cut Funding to Heartland Institute

Commonwealth Club Moderator Asks GM CEO about Heartland After Social Media Campaign by Forecast The Facts

San Francisco, CA - Yesterday, at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson directly responded to the campaign asking GM to pull their funding from the climate change-denying Heartland Institute. Speaking to a crowd of 250, Akerson stated that he believes in global warming, and committed to reviewing GM's funding for Heartland when he returns to Detroit.

Akerson's statements came in response to a direct query from event moderator Greg Dalton. Dalton was encouraged to ask the question by members of Forecast the Facts, who swarmed the Commonwealth Club's Facebook page prior to the event. In addition, activists from Forecast the Facts distributed flyers outside the event asking: "Why is GM Supporting Climate Change Denial." The flyer is available online here: http://forecastthefacts.org/cwclub_flyer/

Daniel Souweine, director of Forecast the Facts said, "We are encouraged that CEO Dan Akerson has committed to review GM's funding of the Heartland Institute. We hope that review leads to the result that more than 10,000 GM owners have been asking for: a public commitment by GM to stop funding Heartland immediately."

The event was part of the Climate One series at the Commonwealth Club, and much of the conversation centered around GM's efforts to shift to a more sustainable future, particularly through development of the electric Chevy Volt and the high-MPG Chevy Cruze. GM's ongoing support for Heartland, a leader in the effort to cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change, stood in stark contrast to the rest of the conversation.

The existence of GM's donation to Heartland was revealed several weeks ago when documents leaked from the Heartland Institute identifying its funders, which also include a number of other major corporations including State Farm Insurance, Microsoft, and Glaxo Smith Kline. Forecast the Facts, a new campaign focused on climate change denial among meteorologists, has collected 10,000 signatures from GM owners and 20,000 engaged citizens urging the automaker to stop funding the Chicago-based Heartland Institute immediately.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      Scambuster
      • 3 Years Ago
      The environmental Nazis are instructing or forcing certain corporations to acknowledge global warming and accept the theory that climate changes are due to auto emissions and other human air pollution. In relative terms, homids have been on earth a mere microsecond when compared to the age of the earth. Scientists, who research climate changes and global warming, have been studying the weather history that amounts to less than a nanosecond. This is equivalent to a catapillar tell us the weather for the next thousand of years based on its existence prior to metamorphosis. Yet, we are told to accept these limited scientific data as truth and extrapolate such data for hundreds of billions of years for the earth's atmosphere. Arrogance has no bound.
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Scambuster
        You don't even seem to understand the difference between weather and climate. And Homids? Just because you don't understand science, that doesn't mean others don't.
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Scambuster
        You don't even seem to understand the difference between weather and climate. And Homids? Just because you don't understand science, that doesn't mean others don't.
      GoodCheer
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The main reason for this has not been a lack of media support, government funding, political support, and even a general acceptance of the science. Nor has this been the result of effective opposition by sceptics etc.. No, the decline in popular support can be traced to the excesses of CW/CC advocates." This is a perfectly plausible theory, but has it been tested? You assert it as though there were (statistically significant) evidence to back it up, and I would be interested to learn of such evidence. The people who hire companies like HI to discredit science would also be interested to learn of this evidence, I'm sure, since it would suggest that their investments are not only unnecessary, but ineffective.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      not bad. glimmers of honesty. almost made me forget that the Volt is priced at double of what it should be and that GM produces millions of V8 pickup trucks
        theflew
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        The Volt might be $5k overpriced, but double is crazy. You're saying it should be cheaper than the equivalent Cruze?
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          Dan, you are missing so many factors and using bogus numbers. For example, you neglected to add an electric motor to the Cruze. Kinda need that for an EV. And a charging system. And $300/KWH at the pack level? You can't even get automotive quality Li-Ions at the cell level for that price. They need to have cells that allow them to have an 8-year & 100K mile warranty. The cells have been at the $500/KWH level when they started. And on top of that you need to add the costs of the battery management system . . . heating, cooling, cell balancing, etc. Auto companies cannot just slap in Thunderskys like some garage project.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          @EZEE Yes, I agree we are all speculating at the numbers. But I think there are things we can logically infer with 100% accuracy. For example, if GM could build the Volt for $25K then they would. They could sell it for $30K and make $5K profit on each on. People would snap the Volt up like crazy for $22,500 since their gasoline spending would drop like crazy. . . . that small of a price premium would pay for itself pretty fast. But it just isn't that easy to do. And it is not GM's incompetence because no other automaker has been able to do it . . . they are not all incompetent.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          a Cruze starts at 16800$ with a more expensive engine and it has a 6 speed tranmission. say we add the 16kWh battery at 300$/kWh at the pack level (should be cheaper), that's 5500$ including profit margin or about 22500$. the Volt has a planet gear prius style powersplit instead of a 6 speed gearbox and there is some powerelectronics. even if we say the Volt system costs 3000$ more to make which is doesn't, that's still only 25500. so why 41000.. if a base Volt retailed for 25500 I wouldn't complain about the price although if they were aggressive about the pricing they could make money on it at 22 and they wouldn't be able to produce enough of them. it's still a poorly engineered car because it's very conventional thinking, it's clumsy, inefficient, steel and overweight. but if only they did the price right it would be a smashing hit. another way you can understand is to realize that it's a prius with a slightly bigger battery. it could never justify 40. very clear cut
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          I have a sneaking suspicion that with the research costs, the volt may never be profitable. Now - ignoring research costs, it would be cool to see an actual breakdown of costs with the volt, or any of the main stream electrics (focus leaf). They SEEM expensive, but, until there is a breakdown of costs, we are all just ranting.
          Ziv
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          theflew, I think you are right about the Volt price. Between all the electric intent parts, the battery, the pack management system, the near luxury level fit and finish, the Volt is probably worth around $27,000. So an MSRP of $34,000 is right in the ballpark for normal buyers. Obviously the early adopters are going to have to pay more. The question is, when do you run out of early adopters? I am guessing the MSRP drops in May.
          Ziv
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          Uh, EZEE, isn't ranting what ABG is here for? ;-) Seriously, though, I have a great deal of respect for Statik's analysis of the auto industry. He was around from the early days on GM-volt.com and he was frequently proven to be right on the money with regards to the financial end of the auto industry. And I don't think even he can really say with any certainty what the cost to produce a Volt or a Leaf is right now. Less than 2 years ago is the best and most accurate answer I can come up with.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          @spec In no way do I think gm is ncompetent...I was just curious about the actual costs. I mean, they have broken out and explained the cost advantage Toyota has (had, per bankruptcy, I guess) on each car, so I was curious here. I spelled incompetent wrong lol.
      • 3 Years Ago
      fuel/energy efficiency should never have been about "the environment". it should have always been about financial efficiency, because the numbers are in favor of the better, smarter, cleaner choice. so when you have people on one side saying it's simply about global warming and climate change and you have people on the other side saying those things don't exist or cost too much to fix, the obvious reason gets ignored. your money is rotting away in a savings account or CDs earning less than inflation. your paying 10 to 20 percent interest on your credit cards. so you foolishly invest in traditional investments you know nothing about thinking that the market will carry you, but you end up only making 6 percent after commission and taxes. but energy efficiency and fuel efficiency pay anywhere from 10 percent all the way up to 10000 percent equivalent interest. solar and wind pay from 5 to 10 percent interest, so why not do efficiency first? arguing about climate change makes absolutely no sense when there are these very big obvious financial reasons to do something. nuclear now costs more than solar, why arent we taking advantage of that reality? Beuhler?.... Beuhler?
      Tweaker
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds like some people feel threatened by open dissent.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am simply searching for the site within the GM Foundation for information on team GM Cares and the Dollar for Doer grants that employees who help 501c3 non-profits can apply for
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      What I am going say will not prove popular with all those who believe "the end justifies the means'. Whether you agree or disagree with the Heartland Institute, they are a legitimate, legal organisation, protected in the US by the Constitution. I may disagree with their philosophies, and politics, but unless they break the law, or advocate the violent overthrow of the Government, they are entitled to the same protection all citizens and lawful political organisations. Freedom of speech, is a basic principle of all democratic societies. The Pacific Institutes Dr. Peter H. Gleick, and his supporters, knowingly, and with carefully planned malice, decided to covertly steal documents from their political rival at the Heartland institute. Not 'Leaked' by some courageous, public spirited, 'whistle-blower' reporting a criminal cover-up for the public good, but stolen in premeditated plot to defeat a philosophic and political rival! Peter H. Gleick's " hypocritical, and insincere apology , for his "error of judgement" would be more valuable if offered before caught, and facing charges! Even the wording of the apology shows only regret for being caught, Gleick still can't accept the level of his moral turpitude. He remains, unabashed, still blaming his victim, for his criminal folly. The Pacific Institute attempted to defame, and discredit the victim of their crime, by blending a carefully crafted forgery with real documents. How are the actions of the Pacific Institute, Dr. Gleick, and his supporters, any different than the reprehensible actions of Richard M Nixon's supporters at Watergate? If this is the standard of the ethic's practised by the Pacific Institute, why should anyone trust these people on any issue? Unashamedly, the Pacific Institute though it's front organisation, Forecast the Facts, continues it's campaign to pressure GM, and others to fund, The Pacific Institute rather than rivals. The Heartland Institute may publish some pretty silly and absurd views, they may even be funded by people you don't like, but that's democracy! Breaking the law, conspiring to knowingly publish forged or libellous documents, pressuring by intimidation and threats, freedom of speech, is an attack, not just on the Heartland institute, but the functioning of a democratic society. The can be no 'justification'! No 'cause', (no matter how noble), can ever justify the continuing actions of the Pacific Institute, and it's supporters.
        GoodCheer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        Who the f is this "Glieck", and who cares? I hadn't heard of him or the Pacific Institute before this, and I may or may not hear about him after. What I do care about is a society that has the capacity to more forward technologically and can improve its own knowledge of the world around it. -If- the HI is part of a system intentionally trying to destroy all faith in science, with the inevitable consequence that all science will be destroyed, and that in turn we will live as ignorant puppets of persuasive marketing without either the knowledge or the analytic capacity to determine true from lies, then of what value will this 'democracy' you speak of be? Rule by the masses who can be bought (even more so than today) by the best advertising and the most impassioned lies? I feel the HI's actions are a much greater threat to the things I value than Gleick's or PI's.
          GoodCheer
          • 3 Years Ago
          @GoodCheer
          "There can be no science without free and open debate!" Do you feel that HI is the champion of free and open debate? How much about their activities have your read? What is your understanding of their efforts to modify school curricula? "The HI, is no threat to anyone except it's own biased and bigoted membership. but, your views are far more dangerous." I don't believe that is the case. As with any lobbying organization, HI would fail as a company if their influence was as limited as you suggest. I'm blushing that you think I have am more influential than it. The rub of the matter is that, as you point out, HI did nothing illegal, while Gleick did. If your comment is intended to suggest that our system of laws is wholly inadequate to deal with the kinds of threats to society that currently exist, then I agree with you. If you're suggesting that because their actions are legal that they cannot possibly be injurious to society, then I disagree.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @GoodCheer
          @Goodyear, It's really sad that you feel that way. There can be no science without free and open debate! There can be no progress in any society which eschews the rule law. But, what's really sad, is you seem to be only headline literate, too lazy, or too proud of your ignorance, to bother to learn just a little something about the subject of the article before you feel qualified to mouth off with an opinion! The HI, is no threat to anyone except it's own biased and bigoted membership. but, your views are far more dangerous.
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      @Spec. Public interest in environmentalism, and GW/CC activism has been steadily declining over the last two years. The main reason for this has not been a lack of media support, government funding, political support, and even a general acceptance of the science. Nor has this been the result of effective opposition by sceptics etc.. No, the decline in popular support can be traced to the excesses of CW/CC advocates. Wild alarmist predictions, conspiracy theories, distorted science, and political rhetoric, conducted in an irritating, self-righteous, fanatics style. Joe public looks around and sees no real focus, and doesn't understand why the US and western taxpayer must suffer, so the PRC can build a coal fired power station every couple of days! Joe Public is sick of being lectured about car pollution by greenies who are totally disinterested in Ship fuel pollution which is 10,000 times worse!
      • 3 Years Ago
      forgot to add: leafs cost less than a dollar a gallon in electricity. they can save a few 1000 dollars a year if you drive less than 100 miles round trip per day. after incentives the pay back compared to a similar car is only 3 years. that's the equivalent of 33 percent interest that you will never get on the market. the prius is equivalent to 20 to 40 percent interest. the volt is comparable to solar the only 8 to 15 percent interest 4 the right buyer who really does do only 35 miles a day and only very rarely exceeds that. but that is still better then the guzzler alternative.
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