The right-wing Heartland Institute launched an “experiment” Friday, comparing believers in climate change to infamous figures such as Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Charles Manson, and Osama bin Laden. After 24 hours, the group pulled down its Chicago billboard but made no attempt to apologize for or retract its stunt.
Even worse, the image of the billboard is still on their website along with some of the most extremist hate-speech ever seen from a global warming denial group — including this absurd assertion, “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
Now, Heartland is seeing the fall-out: After the latest outcry, the leading drink company Diageo, which owns brands like Smirnoff, Guinness, and Johnnie Walker, told The Guardian it will end its ties to Heartland:
DIAGEO SPOKESPERSON: “Diageo vigorously opposes climate scepticism and our actions are proof of this. Diageo’s only association with the Heartland Institute was limited to a small contribution made two years ago specifically related to an excise tax issue. Diageo has no plans to work with the Heartland Institute in the future.“
A few months ago, ThinkProgress reported on Heartland’s corporate-funded plan to teach climate denialism in schools. At the time, Diageo said it “vigorously” opposed climate skepticism and it would “be reviewing any further association with this organization.” Diageo contributed $10,000 to Heartland in 2010. Diageo joins corporations including General Motors and AT&T that have recently ended its funding to Heartland’s radical agenda.
UPDATE: ClimateWire (subs. req’d) reports this morning:
The Heartland Institute’s failed billboard campaign attacking the existence of climate change is driving a surge of corporate donors to abandon the group and prompting a mutiny among its Washington-based staff, which is decamping for less volatile surroundings, according to sources.
At the center of the retreat is a contingent of insurance companies and trade groups that donated more than $1 million over the last two years to the libertarian group’s Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate in Washington, D.C., for programs related to federal insurance reform….
“It was disgusting. It was revolting,” Brad Kading, president of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, said of the ad in an interview over the weekend. “It was a terrible mistake.”
Insurers express ‘disgust and shock’
His group, which donated $125,000 to Heartland over the last two years, told the libertarian president of Heartland, Joe Bast, that their relationship is “untenable” in a letter Friday evening.
Other insurers are also cutting ties in a major upheaval that coincides, sources say, with the departure of Eli Lehrer from Heartland’s Washington-based center, known by its acronym, FIRE. Lehrer and his staff were shocked by the billboard campaign, which they learned about in an emailed press release from Heartland headquarters Thursday, said Ray Lehmann, deputy director of the center….
“All of the insurers and reinsurers that funded Eli are either in the process of withdrawing funding from Heartland or are considering doing so,” said the source, who asked not be identified. “I think everybody’s reaction [to the billboard] was one of disgust and shock. It was the last straw for everybody.”
How radioactive has Heartland become? Consider one invited speaker to their forthcoming conference, Donna Laframboise, a Canadian climate denier who has spent the last several months launching an absurd attack on the IPCC [see Fox Scraping the Barrel for Attacks on UN Climate Panel (or, You Have Got To Be F*!$*%@&! Kidding Me)]. She just published a piece, “Why I Won’t Be Speaking at the Heartland Conference,” writing: