Heartland Ad Likens Climate Advocates to Notorious Terrorists
Sceptics' ad compares climate change believers to terrorists
Sydney Morning Herald (Au.), May 8, 2012
It is either a brilliantly antagonistic marketing ploy or a remarkable misjudgment.
One of the world's most prominent climate sceptic organisations is facing widespread condemnation for a planned advertising campaign likening climate change believers to mass murderers and tyrants.
But the Heartland Institute says the billboard in Chicago brought an extra 10,000 people to a website promoting a coming climate sceptic conference - despite being pulled within 24 hours.
The institute's digital billboard ad featured a mugshot of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber who killed three people and injured dozens in a 17-year mail bombing campaign. Beside the photo was the text: ''I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?''
The institute said it planned other ads linking Charles Manson, Fidel Castro and possibly Osama bin Laden to acceptance of climate science. It wanted to make the point that ''believing in global warming was not 'mainstream', smart or sophisticated'', but was ''more than a little nutty''.
''What these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the 'mainstream' media, and liberal politicians say about global warming,'' it said.
The reaction was swift. The Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who opposes laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions, threatened to cancel his appearance at the conference if the ads were not pulled.
The Canadian writer Donna Lamframboise, author of a critical book on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, withdrew from the conference, saying her reputation had been harmed. ''Being collateral damage in someone else's ongoing marketing experiments isn't my idea of a good time,'' she said.
But the Australian sceptic Bob Carter, an adjunct professor of earth sciences at James Cook University and an adviser to the Heartland Institute, said while he would have cautioned against such a provocative billboard if asked, he now felt that advice would have been wrong.
He said the reaction to the ad from the ''the usual liberal media sources'' had been ''amazing, immediate and over-the-top'', and that he would still speak at the conference.
The Heartland Institute president, Joe Bast, was unrepentant. He pulled the ad, which he described as an experiment and said cost just $US200, but did not apologise.
''The ad was rigorously accurate. The person pictured has publicly made statements about global warming that are indistinguishable from Al Gore's statements,'' he said.