Heartland Institute Event Convinces Scientists—No, Wait, I Mistyped That

With so many of the world’s major players in climate change gathered in the City of Light for the COP21 climate talks, it is not surprising that climate denialist groups are riding the coattails of this event to promote their anti-science agenda.

The Heartland Institute is one such group. As I have described previously, the organization has put out an alternate reality set of “reports” by the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change” (NIPCC), supposedly as “an audit of the science”. But in truth it's a fact-free counter to the pesky climate research summarized by the official and legitimate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). When I disparaged Heartland earlier, I was delighted to have the president of Heartland personally respond to me (I’ve been meaning to get that response bronzed, but have been too busy fighting for good science in schools).

Now with the big party in Paris, everyone wants to be in on the action—even if they didn’t get an invite. While about forty thousand people attend the two-week conference on climate change, the Heartland Institute organized its own alternative “Day of Examining the Data” (yikes—talk about an exciting and thrilling way to spend time!).

But as our friends at DeSmogBlog report, before the event commenced, journalists were removed from the room and barred from the event. DeSmog reported that Heartland’s communications director personally guarded the locked doors, because nothing conveys openness and dispassionate examination of the data like impersonating a club bouncer.

Inside, very few people attended; reports suggest as few as fifteen. Apparently many of them were the guest panelists. So while tens of thousands of people are involved in COP21, you could almost count the attendees at Heartland’s event on your fingers and toes. Especially if environmental pollution caused by Heartland’s funders gave you extra fingers and toes.

It is heartening that Heartland’s event attracted so few, and it is also encouraging that they are so desperate to avoid having the weakness of their positions exposed that even credentialed journalists are turned away. Science doesn’t fear criticism or exposure; real communications directors try to increase media coverage as widely as possible, because if you have the scientific facts on your side then you have nothing to hide. The Heartland Institute’s climate deniers have never had the science on their side, but if they have to adopt a North Korean-style relationship with the press, it means they are close to the end and they know it. As Maximus from Gladiator might have put it, “The time for honoring yourself with fake events will soon be at end.”


Short Bio

Steve Newton is a former Programs and Policy Director at NCSE.

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