Heartland Institute: Just a Matter of Enough Rope

WC has mentioned The Heartland Institute before. It’s the Neocon think tank that tries to dress as a sheep and talk about climate change: Bah, bah, bah.

The sheep disguise slipped off recently, when the Institute bought Cook County billboard space for this gem:

Heartland Institute's Billboard

Heartland Institute’s Billboard

That’s objective analysis of global warming, isn’t it? That’s a reasoned response in a discussion about science.

There was a surprising amount of criticism to the billboard, and the billboard came down in 24 hours. Afterwards, not before, the Institute announced it had been an experiment. If the Institute thought that was a science experiment, that goes a long ways to explaining its confusion about the science of climate change.

In a blog post ranting about the public’s and donors’ reactions to the billboard, in sequential paragraphs, mainstream climate scientists and critics of the Institute’s efforts are first called Hitler-deniers and then Holocaust deniers. A failure of reflection, to say the least. Finally, the Institute takes refuge in that playground favorite, “he-called-me-names-first.” So a failure of maturity, as well.

, US environment correspondent for the British paper  The Guardian, has identified the likely reason for the Institute’s schoolyard responses: the sponsors for their dubious climate conference are deserting in droves, and taking their checkbooks with them. Some staff have quit in protest.

Goldberg reports:

Board directors quit, conference speakers cancelled at short-notice, and associates of long standing demanded Heartland remove their names from its website. The list of conference sponsors shrank by nearly half from 2010, and many of those listed sponsors are just websites operating on the rightwing fringe.

But the conference has been saved. Both the Illinois Coal Association and Heritage Foundation stepped in to fund this week’s conference, after other corporate donors began backing out in protest at the offensive Kaczynski ad. Of course, any remaining shreds of the institute’s credibility and claims to objectivity vanished with the Institute’s acceptance of money from the coal lobby.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with crackpot fringe groups is just to keep giving them rope.