By Neela Banerjee Dec 22, 2017
One of the longest and most consequential campaigns against science in modern history is becoming more extreme—and turning against its originators.
The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, launched a billboard campaign in 2012 to compare believers in global warming to “murderers and madmen” such as the Unabomber, Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. The backlash was so severe that Heartland pulled the plug within 24 hours, but it still lost major donors and political allies and faced criticism that its fight against climate science was beyond extreme.
Five years later, on June 1, 2017, the group’s chief executive, Joseph Bast, was a guest of Donald Trump in the White House Rose Garden as the president announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement.
“We are winning in the global warming war,” Bast declared later in an email to supporters.
Heartland’s rebound is striking. Its ascent into the Trump administration’s orbit, where it now advises the Environmental Protection Agency on climate change issues, marks the most dramatic success yet in a decades-long crusade, first funded by fossil fuel money, against the mainstream scientific conclusion that human activity is warming the planet and inviting disastrous consequences.