By Dave Johnson and James Boyce of Smoking Politics
What could be more important than dealing with the threat of global warming? Exposing the companies and groups that continue to try and distort the issue for financial gain and holding the media accountable for their role and complicity in the continuing distortion of the truth.
Let’s be perfectly clear. Global warming is a scientific fact – it is not a political issue. But a few corporations are bringing in incredibly high profit margins from the status quo. These profits depend on Americans and people worldwide burning more and more oil instead of working to put less carbon into the air. So they pollute the “marketplace of ideas,” deceiving people by spreading the lie of doubt that global warming is a real problem.
Just as Big Tobacco was willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars denying for decades that cigarettes caused cancer while hundreds of thousands died from their product each year — spreading the same lie that the science was not clear — so too is Big Oil willing to invest heavily in the global warming deniers.
“Doubt is our product” said the tobacco companies, and citizens continued to die. Now doubt is the product again – and the planet continues to grow hotter.
Global Warming Deniers are nothing more than paid political operatives who are willing to profit, greatly, by placing our future at risk. It is as simple as that. Doubt is their product.
This past weekend, we saw a clear example of how this strategy plays out. Just as Al Gore was attacked the day after winning the Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth,” just as Al Gore was attacked when his book was released, so now has the Vice President opened himself up again to further attack with the coming LiveEarth concerts.
Last Saturday, The Drudge Report linked to Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. This is an op-ed by James M. Taylor, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is one of the core organizations of the so-called “conservative movement,” and the Drudge Report is one of the movement’s primary communication outlets.
The strategy of creating a false op-ed that is linked to by Drudge is a cornerstone of the right. The Chicago Sun-Times either was duped or is a party to the crime. Either way, they should be ashamed.
Let’s track the Heartland Institute a bit.
SourceWatch identifies the Heartland Institute as a tobacco lobbying front group. Just one example from that research:
In a May 1991 document prepared for PM [Phillip Morris], Marden listed Heartland’s “rapid response network” as a “potential spokesperson” among the “portfolio of organizations” that the company had cultivated to support its interests.
SourceWatch traces the tobacco ties of other “conservative movement” organizations as well, writing
The Heartland Institute was one of the contacts they [Philip Morris] had “leveraged,” along with the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, Capital Research Center, Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, Consumer Alert, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the National Center for Policy Analysis.
As with so many organizations that were funded to serve as tobacco-company fronts, this organization is now also funded by Exxon to spread disinformation about global warming.
According to ExxonSecrets,
The Heartland Institute created a website in the Spring of 2007, www.globalwarmingheartland.org, which asserts there is no scientific consensus on global warming and features a list of experts and a list of like-minded think tanks, many of whom have received funding from ExxonMobil and other polluters.
[. . .] Walter F. Buchholtz, an ExxonMobil executive, serves as Heartland’s Government Relations Advisor, according to Heartland’s 2005 IRS Form 990, pg. 15.
And when you scroll down that page, you will see the funding that Heartland receives from Exxon.
The author of the Drudge-linked op-ed, James M Taylor, is not just a professional global warming denier. ExxonSecrets writes,
In the past, Taylor has served as a legal analyst for Defenders of Property Rights, an intern at the Cato Institute, and a member of the Federalist Society.
Taylor previously served as managing editor of CCH Incorporated’s disability law publications, where he became a nationally known expert and frequent speaker on a variety of employment law topics. Prior to that he was a legal analyst for Defenders of Property Rights. While at Syracuse University College of Law, he was president of the local chapter of the Federalist Society and founder and editor-in-chief of the Federalist Voice.
All of these are conservative movement organizations.
And the Heartland Institute is also not just a tobacco/oil front froup. It is one of literally hundreds of “conservative movement” tax-deductible organizations created by the same core group of wealthy funders. Media Transparency shows extensive funding the for core funders of the conservative movement – the Bradley, Walton, Olin, Scaife and the rest. Many, if not most of these organizations have missions statements that contain a variation of the same words. From the Heartland Institute website’s “About” page,
Heartland’s mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.
Heartland also serves as a Telecom front. They publish the Information Technology Update. They work for insurance, manufacturing and other corporate interests to promote “tort reform,” publishing the “Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly.” And they promote getting rid of public schools. And here is what Heartland writes about health care:
Advocates of free-market health care believe too much reliance on government regulations and subsidies is the cause of many current problems, and that solutions can be found in returning to sound market principles.
In other words – if you need health care you’re on your own.
The Heartland Institute is nothing more than a charitable fraud. A foundation that works to distort the facts, and create doubt about issues where none should exist.
What should have happened is the Chicago Sun Times should have reported to their readers who is behind this group and what their interests are. Instead, they set forth in motion another lie that is now spreading around the world.
Our future is in peril.
Our world is in danger. And we have a responsibility to tell the truth.
And the media has the responsibility to inform the public so everyone clearly knows what is a piece of opinion and what is a pack of lies.