Forecast the Facts, Sierra Club, 350.org, SumOfUs, the League of Conservation Voters, and Greenpeace have now mobilized more than 150,000 citizens to call on corporations to pull their support for Heartland Following Extreme "Unabomber" Billboards
Pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly, BB&T Bank, and PepsiCo have all confirmed that they will not continue funding the Heartland Institute, joining GM, State Farm, and numerous other leading corporations in deserting an organization that produces radical attacks on climate science and scientists. The defections come aftergrowing pressure from corporate accountability and environmental groups, which have collected more than 150,000 signatures on a petition saying:
"All corporations should immediately pull their funding from the Heartland Institute in light of Heartland's ongoing and extreme support of climate change denial."
The coalition of groups — Forecast the Facts, the Sierra Club, 350.org, SumOfUs, the League of Conservation Voters, and Greenpeace — plans to continue pressuring Heartland's remaining sponsors, including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Comcast.
Statements From Coalition Members
"More than 100,000 Americans are telling corporations to stop polluting our democracy by supporting organizations like the Heartland Institute," said Daniel Souweine, Campaign Director of Forecast the Facts. "Heartland's remaining funders would be wise to heed their calls. Heartland's radical agenda stains the reputation of any business that wants to be considered a responsible corporate citizen."
"Corporate funders have been jumping ship from theHeartland Institute for years. Heartland's anti climate science agenda was too extreme even for Exxon, which stopped funding Heartland and other front groups in 2007 'whose position on climate change could divert attention' from the discussion of responsible energy production," said Kert Davies, Greenpeace Research Director, "Heartland's desperate billboard stunt is just the most recent offense, and its few remaining funders should understand that there will be more to come."
"The billboards are ugly, but they convey with graphic intensity the desperation of those who have fought on the side of the fossil fuel companies for a quarter century," 350.org founder Bill McKibben said. "The polling data indicates that growing majorities of Americans are deeply concerned about climate change, and eager to see our political leaders address it."
“The Heartland Institute’s extreme, climate-denying rhetoric is offensive to the millions of Americans who support common-sense policies to address the climate crisis,” said Mike Palamuso, LCV Vice President of Communications. “We applaud those companies that have already rejected Heartland’s outrageous and shameful campaign and call on all other corporate funders to also end their association with this anti-science organization.”
"Heartland is part of a steep trend towards corporations disassociating themselves from extreme rhetoric and policies," said SumOfUs founder Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. "Heartland is just the latest, after the likes of ALEC and Rush Limbaugh. Corporations are discovering that they are no longer able to talk out of both sides of their mouths on climate change, taking a public stance against it while secretly funding groups that organize against it."
“With their reckless and offensive billboard campaign, Heartland Institute's chickens have finally come home to roost,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club.
“Their donors now have a long overdue choice before them - they can continue their support for a group that insults Americans and exploits the victims of 9/11 and the Unabomber in the name of a Big Oil, anti-environmental agenda, or they can acknowledge reality and send a powerful signal to their customers that they will not support this type of sensationalism with their dollars.”
The campaign calling on corporations to pull from Heartland began in February after the leak of documents detailing Heartland's funders. In response to more than 20,000 petition signatures and a sustained social media campaign by Forecast the Facts, Automobile giant General Motors ended theirtwenty-year relationship with Heartland on March 28.
On May 4, Heartland launched a billboard comparing people who believe in global warming to Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. Similar billboards featuring Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden were planned. Heartland explained the billboards as follows:
“The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
After widespread condemnation, including from its supporters, Heartland suspended the ad campaign. But Heartland president Joseph Bast refused to apologize, and said they "will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.”
In the wake of the billboards, numerous companies defected, including beverage maker Diageo, the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, Renaissance Re, XL Group, Allied World Assurance, and USAA. Eleven companies and corporate associations have now publicly pulled out of the Heartland Institute.
"Lilly is not funding Heartland in 2012 and has noplans to do so in the future," David Marbaugh, Communications Director, Corporate Responsibility for Eli Lilly informed Forecast the Facts by email. "That type of ad is not consistent with how Lilly engages in public debate."
"As previously stated, our relationship ended in 2011," Paul Boykas, Vice President, Public Policy/Government Affairs for PepsiCo informed Forecast the Facts by email. "It is clear that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have an adverse impact on global temperatures, weather patterns and the frequency and severity of extreme weather and natural disasters," PepsiCo's website states.
"We do not have any active request from or any planned contribution to Heartland Institute in 2012," Maria Lachapelle, Vice President of Corporate Communications for BB&T, informed Greenpeace by email. BB&T's most recent contribution to Heartland was in 2010, for Heartland's now-discontinued work in finance, insurance and real estate.
Heartland Continues Climate Denial
Heartland's other initiatives include the development of a public-school curriculum that denies the facts of climate science, smear campaigns against prominent climate scientists, and coordination with groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to pass legislation against the regulation of climate pollution.
Next week, from May 21-23, the Heartland Institute will host its seventh conference to promote conspiracy theories about man-made globalwarming at the Hilton Chicago. Although some speakers have decided not to attend in the wake of Heartland's latest outrage, prominent climate denierssuch as Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) havedecided not to cancel their appearance. They have not disclosed what they are being paid by the Heartland Institute to attend.
Descriptions of Coalition Members
Forecast the Facts is a movement of concerned citizens dedicated to ensuring that Americans are accurately informed about climate change.
Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
SumOfUs is an international movement of consumers, workers and shareholders speaking with one voice to counterbalance the growing power of large corporations.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is a national non-profit organization that works to turn environmental values into national priorities.
350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis, led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.
As the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States, the Sierra Club and its 1.4 million members and supporters have been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself since 1892.