Have you heard of the Heartland Institute? I hadn’t until this week. According to their website, the Heartland Institute is “a 28-year-old national nonprofit research organization dedicated to finding and promoting ideas that empower people.” They say their mission is “to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.” In reality, the Heartland Institute is a lobbying organization which has worked to question the science linking secondhand smoke to health risks that now spends most of its time promoting public school curricula challenging the scientific consensus on climate change.
The Guardian reported yesterday that, “An associate of the Heartland Institute … taught a course at a top Canadian university that contained more than 140 false, biased and misleading claims about climate science, an expert audit has found.” The course was taught at Ottawa’s Carleton University from 2009-2011 by Tom Harris, a featured expert at the Heartland Institute. The University claims “that Harris’s choice of teaching material was an issue of academic freedom.”
Charles Koch of the infamous Koch brothers is “a key financier of the Heartland Institute.” Koch and his cronies have a plan to spend $100,000 to spread the message in U.S. primary and secondary schools that “the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science”, according to Heartland Institute documents that were initially thought to have been leaked earlier this month by an insider. On February 20th, Peter Gleick, a MacArthur genius grant winner, admitted to having solicited and shared the documents. Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times wrote earlier today, “It’s a sign of the emotions wrapped up in the global warming debate that Gleick should be apologizing for his actions today while the Heartland Institute stakes out the moral high ground.” That’s what happens when good people get wrapped up with sociopaths! But I digress …
Hiltzik continues, “It’s Heartland … that should be answering for its nearly three-decade history of corporate shilldom. In that time it has fought health and safety regulations on tobacco (with the financial assistance of Philip Morris), attacked evidence about acid rain as “flimflam” and the case against DDT as “scientific fraud.” The theme of its 2009 environmental conference was ‘Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?'” (Please, go read Hiltzik’s piece, which reveals the extent to which the corrupt will go to make themselves look above reproach in the name of evildoing.)
As Hiltzik notes, “Much of the outrage over the Heartland documents has focused on their disclosure of the organization’s plan to produce a grade-school curriculum casting doubt on the scientific consensus on global warming.” He says, “A Heartland spokesman defended this project to me as an effort ‘to put more science into public schools, not less.'” In response, Corey Husic, a high school student in Pennsylvania, has started a campaign to TELL HEARTLAND INSTITUTE: KEEP CLIMATE DENIAL OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS. This compelling video attached to the campaign stars high school students spewing the kind of anti-climate change rhetoric that Heartland wants our children to be taught. Hearing these ideas come forth from the mouths of young people is shocking:
My generation is already experiencing a very different climate from our parents and grandparents. We will be the ones responsible for making sure coastal cities are able to withstand rising sea levels. We are the ones who will have to protect ourselves from weather extremes like stronger hurricanes, longer droughts and hotter heat waves. Instead of trying to undermine the science that shows humans are causing climate change, we should be learning how those changes are going to affect us and what we can do about it.
To join Husic’s fight against the Heartland Institute, visit the Climate Reality Project.