"Charles Manson Still Believes in Global Warming. Do You?"
That's the essence of a thoughtful and nuanced new billboard campaign put together by the Heartland Institute, the nation's top climate change-doubting think tank. The billboards feature portraits of figures like Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, Charles Manson, and Fidel Castro, alongside giant lettering that reads "I Still Believe in Global Warming. Do You?"
The insinuation is as subtle as a sledgehammer: If you believe in climate change, you are no better than a mass murderer. Stay classy, Heartland. The Guardian's Leo Hickman aptly describes the billboards, noting that the "Heartland Institute ... has launched quite possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns."
Here's how the think tank itself describes its latest, and by far most blatantly twisted efforts:
Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world's most notorious criminals say they "still believe in global warming" – and ask viewers if they do, too…The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010). These rogues and villains were chosen because they made public statements about how man-made global warming is a crisis and how mankind must take immediate and drastic actions to stop it.The billboards are linked to the group's upcoming climate conference in Chicago, where Heartland is based. By the way, this is the same organization that has repeatedly bemoaned climate scientist "alarmists" for failing to engage in "civil debate"—by refusing to attend the very conference they're promoting by comparing them to serial killers. Wonder why any reputable scientist or journalist would want to steer clear of these guys?
Why did Heartland choose to feature these people on its billboards? Because 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.
Not to mention that the logic propelling this campaign is beyond stupid. Presumably, each of those killers also "believes" in any number of things that you or I do—I dunno; in gravity, that the earth orbits the sun, in the four laws of thermodynamics—do those shared beliefs also make us all maniacs?
To tell you the truth, I'm actually glad Heartland has embarked on this repulsive campaign—the only actual impact it will bear is to solidify its position as a fringe group with fringe beliefs (which is, ironically, the opposite of what this campaign intended to accomplish). In case they hadn't gotten the memo, overwhelming majorities of Americans not only believe in climate change, but now link global warming to current extreme weather trends. Only a vocal minority flat-out deny climate change now. This billboard campaign reveals that Heartland is not only capable of operating in extremely poor taste, but that it's hopelessly out of touch, too.