climate change

The Heartland Institute is a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank that was founded in 1984. Based in Arlington Heights, Illinois, its stated mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. However, it is perhaps most widely known for its controversial stance on climate change and its efforts to question the scientific consensus on the matter.

Early years and focus areas

Initially, the Heartland Institute focused on a broad range of issues, including education reform, health care, tax policy, and environmental regulation. It positioned itself as a proponent of free-market policies, arguing that such policies lead to more efficient and effective solutions than those proposed by government intervention. Later, it would begin to pivot towards advocacy around a singular issue: climate change denialism.

Climate change and environmental policy

The Heartland Institute’s engagement with climate change began to intensify in the late 1990s and early 2000s. During this period, the Institute increasingly questioned the prevailing scientific consensus on climate change, which holds that global warming is largely driven by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

The Institute has been accused of being a key player in the campaign to spread doubt about climate change science — following the disinformation playbook first established by Big Tobacco in the 1950s to fight against public awareness of the lethal dangers of smoking. Critics argue that Heartland has worked to undermine public understanding and acceptance of global warming through various means, including:

  1. Publication of Skeptical Research and Reports: Heartland has funded and published reports and papers that challenge mainstream climate science. Notably, it has produced and promoted its own reports, such as the “NIPCC” (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change) reports, which purport to review the same scientific evidence as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) but often arrive at starkly different conclusions.
  2. Conferences and Workshops: The Institute has organized and hosted numerous conferences that have brought together climate change skeptics, scientists, and policymakers. These events have served as platforms for presenting and discussing views that are at odds with the mainstream scientific understanding of climate change.
  3. Public Relations and Media Campaigns: Through press releases, op-eds, and social media, the Heartland Institute has actively worked to disseminate its views on climate change to the wider public. It has also attempted to influence policymakers and educators, at times by distributing educational materials that question the consensus on global warming.

Funding and controversy

The funding sources of the Heartland Institute have been a subject of controversy. The organization has received financial support from various foundations, individuals, and corporations, including those with interests in fossil fuels — including the Koch network and the Joseph Coors Foundation. Critics argue that this funding may influence the Institute’s stance on climate change and its efforts to challenge the scientific consensus.

In 2012, the Heartland Institute faced significant backlash following the leak of internal documents that revealed details about its funding and strategy for challenging climate change science. These documents shed light on the Institute’s plans to develop a K-12 curriculum that would cast doubt on climate science, among other strategies aimed at influencing public opinion and education.

Lies, Incorporated

The Heartland Institute’s role in the climate change debate is a highly polarizing one. Proponents view it as a bastion of free speech and skepticism, vital for challenging what they (ironically) claim to see as the politicization of science. Critics, however, argue that its activities have contributed to misinformation, public confusion, and policy paralysis on one of the most pressing issues facing humanity — as well as playing a role in fomenting a broader shift towards science denialism in American culture.

By questioning the scientific consensus on climate change and promoting “alternative facts,” the Heartland Institute has played a significant role in shaping the public discourse on global warming. Its actions and the broader debate around climate science underscore the complex interplay between science, policy, and public opinion in addressing environmental challenges.

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Climate Change Denial: From Big Tobacco Tactics to Today’s Global Challenge

In the complex narrative of global climate change, one pervasive thread is the phenomenon of climate change denial. This denial isn’t just a refusal to accept the scientific findings around climate change; it is a systematic effort to discredit and cast doubt on environmental realities and the need for urgent action.

Remarkably, the roots of this denial can be traced back to the strategies used by the tobacco industry in the mid-20th century to obfuscate the link between smoking and lung cancer. This companies conspired to create a disinformation campaign against the growing scientific consensus on the manmade nature of climate change, to cast doubt about the link between the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of the planet’s natural ecosystems — and they succeeded, for over half a century, beginning in 1953.

climate change and its denial, by Midjourney

Origins in big tobacco’s playbook

The origins of climate change denial lie in a well-oiled, public relations machine initially designed by the tobacco industry. When scientific studies began linking smoking to lung cancer in the 1950s, tobacco companies launched an extensive campaign to challenge these findings. Their strategy was not to disprove the science outright but to sow seeds of doubt, suggesting that the research was not conclusive and that more studies were needed. This strategy of manufacturing doubt proved effective in delaying regulatory and public action against tobacco products, for more than 5 decades.

Adoption by climate change deniers

This playbook was later adopted by those seeking to undermine climate science. In the late 20th century, as scientific consensus grew around the human impact on global warming, industries and political groups with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo began to employ similar tactics around lying at scale. They funded research to challenge or undermine climate science, supported think tanks and lobbyists to influence public opinion and policy, and used media outlets to spread a narrative of uncertainty and skepticism.

Political consequences

The political consequences of climate change denial have been profound. In the United States and other countries, it has polarized the political debate over environmental policy, turning what is fundamentally a scientific issue into a partisan one. This politicization has hindered comprehensive national and global policies to combat climate change, as legislative efforts are often stalled by ideological conflicts.

a burning forest of climate change, by Midjourney

Denial campaigns have also influenced public opinion, creating a significant segment of the population that is skeptical of climate science years after overwhelming scientific consensus has been reached, which further complicates efforts to implement wide-ranging environmental reforms.

Current stakes and global impact

Today, the stakes of climate change denial could not be higher. As the world faces increasingly severe consequences of global warming β€” including extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ecosystems β€” the need for decisive action becomes more urgent. Yet, climate change denial continues to impede progress. By casting doubt on scientific consensus, it hampers efforts to build the broad public support necessary for bold environmental policies that may help thwart or mitigate some of the worst disasters.

Moreover, climate change denial poses a significant risk to developing countries, which are often the most vulnerable to climate impacts but the least equipped to adapt. Denialism in wealthier nations can lead to a lack of global cooperation and support needed to address these challenges comprehensively.

Moving forward: acknowledging the science and embracing action

To effectively combat climate change, it is crucial to recognize the roots and ramifications of climate change denial. Understanding its origins in the Big Tobacco disinformation strategy helps demystify the tactics used to undermine environmental science. It’s equally important to acknowledge the role of political and economic interests in perpetuating this denial — oil tycoon Charles Koch alone spends almost $1 billion per election cycle, heavily to climate deniers.

A climate change desert, by Midjourney

However, there is a growing global movement acknowledging the reality of climate change and the need for urgent action. From international agreements like the Paris Accord to grassroots activism pushing for change, there is a mounting push against the tide of denial.

Climate change denial, with its roots in the Big Tobacco playbook, poses a significant obstacle to global efforts to address environmental challenges. Its political ramifications have stalled critical policy initiatives, and its ongoing impact threatens global cooperation. As we face the increasing urgency of climate change, acknowledging and countering this denial is crucial for paving the way towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

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Or capital vs. labor, oligarchs vs. plebes, plutocrats vs. proles, rich vs. poor — however you want to narrate it, the property vs. people struggle continues on in new and old ways, each and ere day.

Here in America, the plutocrats have devised many clever methods of hiding the class struggle behind a race war smokescreen, that is both real and manufactured — instigated, exacerbated, agitated by the likes of schlubby wife abusers like Sloppy Steve Bannon, wrinkly old Palpatines like Rupert Murdoch, and shady kleptocrats like Trump and Putin.

The United States has nursed an underground Confederacy slow burning for centuries, for sociopathic demagogues to tap into and rekindle for cheap and dangerous political power. Like The Terminator, racist and supremacist troglodytes seem always to reconstitute themselves into strange and twisted new forms, from slavery to the Black Codes to sharecropping to convict leasing to Jim Crow to Jim Crow 2.0 — the psychopaths want their homeland.

The political left loves people, and our extremists for the most part destroy capital or property that insurance companies will pay to make shiny and new again — unlike the right wing extremists who bomb federal buildings, killing hundreds of people and costing taxpayers’ money to replace.

Meanwhile, the right wing claims to be the righteous party for its extreme fixation on life before birth, yet its regulation-allergic capitalists destroy people and the natural world more broadly, from factory farming to deforestation, the destruction of habitats, strip-mining and other toxic extraction practices, and on into climate change itself. Being in fact the chief architects of manmade atmospheric devastation, they have managed to make themselves invisible from the deed by simply (wink wink!) denying it exists.

WWJD?!

Certainly, not anything the Republican Party is up to. Jesus would be sad.

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Another big legislative win crossed the line for Biden’s agenda late this Friday night: the $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the House with 6 Democrats dissenting and a whopping 13 Republicans joining to finally bring Infrastructure Week to the American people. Still to come is the other partner to the twin bills circulating in Congress, the Build Back Better reconciliation bill that would add another $2T to the most Keynesian U.S. budget in decades.

Nevertheless, the bill is largely paid for via various means including adding significantly to economic growth and GDP over the next 10 years. The Biden infrastructure bill will not raise taxes on any families making less than $400,000, a campaign promise the president consistently made and has now delivered upon.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill is the second significant piece of legislation passed under Biden’s tenure in the White House, following the $1.9T American Rescue Plan back in March to successfully tame the covid-19 pandemic.

Infrastructure Bill 2021: Breakdown

What’s in the bill? A slate of sorely needed national funds to modernize our transportation, energy, and broadband systems, including provisions for increasing renewables and lowering emissions on a large scale to combat climate change. Here’s a list of what’s included in the largest single infrastructure investment in American history:

  • $110B for roads, bridges, & other infrastructure
  • $11B for transportation safety
  • $39B to modernize public transit, including replacing 1000s of vehicles with zero-emission models
  • $66B to modernize passenger and freight rail
  • $12B for high-speed rail
  • largest federal investment in public transit in history
  • $65B in broadband
  • $42B in airports and ports, including emissions reduction and low-carbon technologies
  • $7.5B for 0- and low-emissions buses (including school buses) and ferries
  • $7.5B for national network of EV chargers
  • $65B to rebuild the electric grid
  • $55B to upgrade water infrastructure
  • $50B to critical infrastructure cybersecurity
  • $21B to clean up toxic waste
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  • proteanism is Robert Jay Lifton’s idea of a model for the self that could serve as an aspirational escape hatch from the clutches of cultism, which is otherwise always happening
  • cultism (i.e. “losing reality“) is what happens “by default” if effort is not made to form and maintain healthy cultures
  • cultism is what most individuals devolve to or maintain throughout their lives, if they lack proteanism
  • I believe professor Lifton is onto something real in this particular interpretation of our Manichaean struggle — in which the political left and the right have self-sorted into separate clusters with wildly disparate interpretations of reality
  • the cultists are dying (quite literally) for the words of a delusional sociopath who swept them out of power with his spew of thinly veiled white supremacy and gold veneer charm
    • they want the apocalypse to come
    • The oil preachers have brainwashed the masses into believing climate change is The Rapture — they want climate change. They think it’s God’s plan.

Cultism as a kind of collective personality disorder

  • we all get stuck in our own mental loops sometimes. Some people are exclusively stuck in their own mental loops — most are disregarded, but some achieve wide notoriety, wealth, and sometimes political power.
  • Some nefarious mental predators thrive on getting other people stuck in *their* loops — everyone from garden variety abusers to cult leaders take this general approach to convincing others to abandon their own ways of thinking and spend all their time consumed with thoughts of The Authority’s Philosophy. Some individuals with an authoritarian worldview willingly submit to a strongman and abdicate decision-making to untrustworthy others.
  • Charismatic leaders have ruled over human groups since the dawn of humanity itself, but only in the past century with the invention of mass media technologies and techniques have demagogues been able to achieve a kind of totalist saturation of the common space and common understanding — giving them an ability to spin the entire agenda in their favor, and in turn, effectively “own reality”
  • When a leader with a personality disorder achieves power, he draws the other antisocial sleeper cells out of hiding for the coming feast.
  • The leader installs his cronies into positions of power and corrupts the institutions that are meant to safeguard democracy. Instead of acting as a bulwark against nefarious intent, these agencies begin to look the other way against crimes committed by the leader and his buddies — and later, will directly participate and optimize their contributions.

The enemy at the gates is us

  • Cultism can be induced very simply, by stressing a population. That’s it — that’s all it takes, for people to turn inward, become suspicious, and react with excessive fear in the face of gnawing uncertainty.
  • It takes strong character to resist the siren songs of disinformation and spoon-fed flattery
  • Building strong character is hard work. Much much harder than most people are interested in putting in — or even capable of
  • Consequently, many people of weak character are easily taken in by con men, grifters, and slick talkers of all stripes.
  • However, these con artists are very good at one thing: convincing people of weak character that specific enemies are to blame for all their troubles, and getting them to give money or take action against these Satanic Democratic pedophiles who want to ruin the world with their Leftist Apocalypse, instead of ruining the world with the proper Rightist Apocalypse and Rapturing all the evil elites away!
  • These pawns, peons, and proles will dutifully go looking over hill and dale, under Pelosi’s chair for the violent Antifa socialists who want to take over the government
  • They want to build a physical border wall to keep out poor, bedraggled refugees while allowing foreign bidders to pay pennies on the dollar to buy political influence through Facebook, Google, and other unregulated new media platforms
  • It’s McCarthyism turned on its head — but since we’ve already cried wolf once, no one will really believe that Russians pulled off the greatest psyops campaign of all time
proteanismcultism
seeks expansion of event horizonradical reduction of the "size of the universe" and human potential
open systemclosed system
personal growthstagnation; stasis
Bayesian logicmotivated reasoning
collects dataselective exposure
positive disintegrationimmaturity
questions authorityfollows orders
new ideasold dogma
improvisationalritual
iterativerecursive
expansivelimited
motivated by lovemotivated by fear
generativedestructive
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We’re talking literal ocean surface temperature rises of 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit — an extraordinary delta, leading to a negative spiral feedback loop with coastal areas now suffering from extremely hot weather for the region.

Areas of Alaska are becoming uninhabitable, and impacts to the overall ecosystem are severe. Mass mortality events occur with regularity. Whether we call it climate change or not, we can’t stand idly by while geothermal conditions get worse and worse. The time to act is now.

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Without the doing of some thing brand inappropriate 
Something unmonetizable 
Unclickable 
Untraceable 
Untradeable Β  
| 
If i don't rend the cloth of this Culture Fit soon 
i will die 
Like the coral 
Like two-thirds of the wild 
Like the humans on the edge of a rising shoreline 
In a ceaseless world 
With iceless poles 
And icy proles Β  
| 
As the planet heats, 
Civilization chills; 
Swallowing our red or our blue pills; 
Interned into camps of grievers and shills 
| 
Grieve i do and for the West 
Our president the Bigly Best! 
We'll come and go at his behest 
Put down your Freedom of Info Requests 
Baby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet 
| 
Joe Walsh got his balls out, and his musket too 
The Lefties dream of Saskatoon 
We're all gonna get that Change real soon 
You'll see when fascism hits High Noon 
| 
We'll finish tearing ourselves apart 
In the streets and in the dark 
Can no longer recreate in this park 
Leslie Knope didn't fit the part 
| 
She had the mighty audacity 
To take purview over Benghazi 
Once Bush and Blair left Qaddafi 
Those GOP goons would never get off me 
| 
My God, all the emails 
The Chaffetz' anemic security details 
At least we're swaddled by all this retail 
Black Friday's never been so beyond the pale 
| 
Pale as a ghost 
White as a sheet 
Our New Balance host 
Circle jerks its meat 
| 
Of all the PUAs and all the Teas 
Even the most mundane of these 
See the female as a tease 
Hang the browns up in the trees 
We're all strange fruit upon our knees 
| 
Ain't no more reason to appease 
Already done killed off all them bees 
Turnt up the thermostat a few degrees 
TVs blaring back our postmodern sleaze 
| 
Found ourselves a favorite scapegoat 
And a good long length of real strong rope 
The corruption will be all excised 
By the 'tubes chock full of Russian spies 
This revolution will be televised 
As America just dies and dies 
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