Diageo to end funding of Heartland Institute after climate change outburst
Firm has 'no plans' to work with thinktank following campaign comparing people concerned about climate to mass murderers
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 6 May 2012 12.15 EDT
Ted Kaczynski was shown on a billboard alongside the caption: “I still believe in global warming. Do you?” Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP
Diageo, one of the world's largest drinks companies, has announced it will no longer fund the Heartland Institute, a rightwing US thinktank which briefly ran a billboard campaign this week comparing people concerned about climate change to mass murderers and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski.
On Thursday, a billboard appeared over the Eisenhower Expressway in Illinois showing a picture of Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who in 1996 was convicted of a 17-year mail bombing campaign that killed three people and injured dozens. The caption read: "I still believe in global warming. Do you?" A day later it was withdrawn.
The London-based drinks giant, which owns brands such as Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Moët & Chandon, said this year that it was "reviewing any further association with Heartland" following the release online of internal Heartland documents which revealed its corporate donors as well as a plan to promote an alternative climate change curriculum in US schools. Following the widespread outcry triggered by Heartland's billboards, a Diageo spokeswoman told the Guardian: "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."
In February, a US scientist, Peter Gleick, admitted obtaining and publishing internal Heartland documents which showed that Diageo hadgiven the thinktank $10,000 (£6,190) in 2010. The documents, one of which Heartland later claimed was a fake, said the thinktank was expecting another $10,000 from Diageo this year.[snip]
Some Background on Heartland, first from Wikipedia:
The Heartland Institute
Location One South Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Key people President and CEO: Joseph L. Bast
Executive VP: Kevin Fitzgerald
Chairman: Herbert J. Walberg
Area served Worldwide
Revenue US$6.8 million (2009)
The Heartland Institute is a American conservative and libertarian public policy think tank based in Chicago, which advocates free marketpolicies. The Institute is designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit by the Internal Revenue Service and has a full-time staff of 40, including editors and senior fellows. The Institute was founded in 1984 and conducts research and advocacy work on issues including government spending, taxation, healthcare, tobacco policy, global warming, information technology and free-market environmentalism.
In the 1990s, the group worked closely with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question the science linking secondhand smoke to health risks, and to lobby against government public-health reforms. More recently, the Institute has focused on questioning the science of climate change, and was described by the New York Times as "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism."The Institute has sponsored meetings of climate change skeptics, and has been reported to promote public school curricula challenging the scientific consensus on climate change.
In 2012, internal documents leaked to the public disclosed some sources of the organization's funding, and include a "Climate Strategy Memo" whose authenticity has been challenged.
From the Heartland Institute Website:
The Heartland Institute's Center on Climate and Environmental Policy produces an ambitious program of research and educational projects in defense of free-market environmentalism. It has assembled a team of leading scientists and economic experts to participate in the production of books, videos, a monthly public policy newspaper, events, and other public relations activities.
The environmental movement needs voices devoted to sound science and market-based, rather than government-based, solutions to environmental problems. The nation's air and water quality, the safety of its food, and the health and productivity of its forests all depend on bringing the best-available science and economic research to bear on protecting the environment.
Heartland has organized and hosted six International Conferences on Climate Change, events that attracted extensive international attention to the debate taking place in the scientific community over the causes, extent, and consequences of climate change.