Update: Heartland Institute pulls the billboard. See below.
A free market think tank is taking its beef with climate change alarmists to the Chicago skies.
The Heartland Institute has announced a billboard campaign highlighting the unsavory characters who “still believe in global warming,” including “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, mass murderer Charles Manson and dictator Fidel Castro.
According to Heartland, terrorist Osama bin Laden and Discovery Channel hostage taker James J. Lee may also occupy a climate change billboard in the near future.
“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,” Heartland explained on their website.
Heartland said that the comments these infamous men have made about global warming are all too similar to comments by those who represent the authority on climate change science.
“[W]hat 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,” Heartland wrote on their site. “They are so similar, in fact, that a web site has a quiz that asks if you can tell the difference between what Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, wrote in his ‘Manifesto’ and what Al Gore wrote in his book, Earth in the Balance.”
The campaign is meant to get people to question their belief in global warming — which they argue is not a “‘mainstream,’ smart, or sophisticated” viewpoint — with the face of the men plastered next to the question, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”
Heartland does offer the caveat that belief in global warming does not indicate a predisposition to murder.
“Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants. But the Climategate scandal and the more recent Fakegate scandal revealed that the leaders of the global warming movement are willing to break the law and the rules of ethics to shut down scientific debate and implement their left-wing agendas.”
The effort is already under attack.
“It really is hard to know where to begin with this one,” wrote The Guardian’s Leo Hickman. “But let’s start with: ‘What on earth were they thinking?’”
The Hill reports that the Sierra Club has panned the effort as one of Heartland’s “inflammatory tactics” that will “backfire.”
And Esquire has labeled it “The Worst Billboard in America.”
Jim Lakely, Heartland’s spokesman, told The Daily Caller that the ad is “deliberately provocative,” despite the fact that the outfit “doesn’t often do provocative marketing or communication.”
“Heartland has spent millions of dollars contributing to the real debate over climate change. In return, we’ve been subjected to the most uncivil name-calling and disparagement you can possibly imagine,” Lakely explained. “The other side seems to be playing by different rules. So I find all this outrage at Heartland for a single billboard a little puzzling since there seems to be little public outrage at those who constantly attack us for speaking the truth about the climate.”
The first billboard went up Thursday and is located on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) in Maywood.
UPDATE: Heartland announced that it had pulled the digital billboard of Charles Manson late Friday afternoon.
“We know that our billboard angered and disappointed many of Heartland’s friends and supporters, but we hope they understand what we were trying to do with this experiment. We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate,” Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast explained in a statement.