Heartland's latest propaganda campaign still failing to impress

Climate activitists holding signs.

Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash.

Two reports — one from Agence France-Presse (April 4, 2023) and one from the Independent (April 6, 2023) — discussed the climate-change-denying Heartland Institute's latest campaign of mailing unsolicited propaganda to science teachers across the country, both with the aid of NCSE's Deputy Director Glenn Branch.

"The scaling down of the mailing — to a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books it sent out in 2017 — may be a 'tacit admission' that Heartland's strategy is not effective, said Glenn Branch," AFP's story observed, adding, "Science teachers have become ‘better prepared to teach climate change effectively and tend to be accordingly leery of climate change denial material,’ Branch told AFP."

Similarly, Branch was quoted by the Independent as saying that the small scale of Heartland's latest campaign seemed like "a tacit admission that this is not a winning strategy." Noting that state science standards across the country incorporate climate change, he suggested that as a result, "Teachers are learning more about climate change and they're less vulnerable to a propaganda campaign of this sort."

Susan Joy Hassol, the director of Climate Communication, concurred with Branch's assessment of teacher reactions to the campaign, telling the Independent, "[T]he vast majority of teachers are not fooled by this nonsense, and promptly dump the materials in the recycling bin." She also concurred with his view of the campaign's impact: "I would not expect this campaign to have much effect. It may instead be viewed as a last ditch effort by a dying industry."

Hassol similarly told Agence France-Presse, "It is outrageous that such propaganda was sent out," while Jeff Grant, an NCSE Teacher Ambassador in Illinois, described the campaign as "very sad, to say the least." Kate Cell of the Union of Concerned Scientists speculated that the material was "strategically distributed ... to provide cover for certain politicians to continue to deny or deceive or delay on climate change."

Earlier, Agence France-Presse (February 22, 2023) fact-checked the material involved in Heartland's campaign, finding that "a number of assertions in the book are misleading or lack context." NCSE's Branch also discussed the campaign with Grist (February 6, 2023), as NCSE previously reported.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.