When Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski becomes your poster child, you’ve reached a new low. And that’s exactly what happened recently in Chicago, when the Heartland Institute launched an anti-“global warming” ad campaign with a billboard on I-290 [Eisenhower Expressway]. The billboard featured a huge picture of the disheveled letter-bomber Kaczynski. The caption, in large maroon letters, said “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”
The implication, of course, is that only maniacs, murderers and madmen think global warming is real. And the Kaczynski billboard was intended to be just the first in a series that would underscore that point. According to Heartland Institute’s website, subsequent billboards were to have featured Charles Manson, Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and Osama bin Laden—all of whom, claims Heartland, have stated their support for the notion of global warming.
The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based, libertarian organization that describes itself as seeking “free- market solutions to economic and social problems.” [Wait…hasn’t the free market created a lot of our economic and social problems? But that’s a different post.]
Heartland’s website also says that the organization chose to feature some of the world’s most notorious killers on the 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.”
But don’t jump in the car to get a first-hand look at the billboard. It’s already gone. Twenty-four hours after it launched the campaign, the Heartland Institute cancelled it. Apparently, the billboard was so extreme that it offended even some global warming skeptics, as well as, of course, people who embrace climate-change science. According to the New York Times, one of its critics was Ross McKitrick, a Canadian global-warming skeptic who was scheduled to speak at a Heartland conference in May. McKitrick said he would not participate in the conference unless the campaign was cancelled.
Apparently, almost nobody warmed up to this particular anti-global-warming campaign. Heartland says it doesn’t apologize for the idea, and that it was all just an experiment designed to get people’s attention, and that it worked. Bottom line, though, it seems that the murderers-and-maniacs approach tells us more about the Heartland Institute than it does about global climate change.
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.