Heartland Institute Facing Uncertain Future as Staff Depart and Cash Dries Up

Free-market thinktank’s conference opens in Chicago with president admitting defections are hurting group’s finances.

The Heartland Institute

The first Heartland Institute conference on climate change in 2008 had all the trappings of a major scientific conclave – minus large numbers of real scientists. Hundreds of climate change contrarians, with a few academics among them, descended into the banquet rooms of a lavish Times Square hotel for what was purported to be a reasoned debate about climate change.

But as the latest Heartland climate conference opens in a Chicago hotel on Monday, the thinktank’s claims to reasoned debate lie in shreds and its financial future remains uncertain.

Heartland’s claims to “stay above the fray” of the climate wars was exploded by a billboard campaign earlier this month comparing climate change believers to the Unabomer Ted Kaczynski, and a document sting last February that revealed a plan to spread doubt among kindergarteners on the existence of climate change.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.