Global Warming Denial-a-palooza 2008 Where is Exxon?

by Kert Davies

March 3, 2008

The Heartland Institute has emerged over the last year as the ringleader of global warming denial, challenging Al Gore to pointless debates and now hosting what is possibly the largest Denial cnvergence ever- we’ll call it

Denial-a-palooza 2008…

This two day festival of stuff and nonsense, might be better suited as an opening act for Monty Python’s Spamalot, playing down the street on Broadway. The conference is sponsored and attended by the small and shrinking tribe of diehard deniers who question the veracity of the global warming crisis and attack those who are trying to do something about it. 

But where on earth is Exxon?  diehard sponsor of said organizations…  A few years back, Exxon would have been giving the keynote speech at a show like this, or at least behind the scenes pulling puppet strings.  In fact many companies would have been eager to endorse this counterinsurgency.  Not now apparently.


The train has left the station, but they’ll always have each other, huddled grumpy on the platform.  Well, a little better than the train platform, this week’s conference is being held at the quite pricey Marriot Marquis right on Times Square in New York City.  Someone with deep pockets must be paying Heartland’s bills these days.  We wonder who?

The subtitle of the innocous and official sounding 2008 International Conference on Climate Change is the pleading“Can you hear us now? Global Warming Is Not a Crisis?  There is a megaphone on the cover. While on its face, this is a conference about global warming science, there are well populated conference tracks on Climate Change Politics and  Economics.  To us here at ExxonSecrets, there is no difference between doubting and denying the science and attacking policies to solve it.  The overwhelming and unsettling conclusions of the scientific community on global warming have imparted an urgency and inspiration to the policy community around the world.  If you argue we should do nothing, or do less, you ARE denying the science.  There is no doubt about it.


What Inspires Them?

One wonders how these hardy deniers keep it up in the face of the momentum that has finally arrived.  Or perhaps that is exactly what inspires them.  This is the final battle for this crowd.  It is a crisis for them, a crisis of lost credibility and corporate backing. After at least 15 years of success with tactics of delay and denial and distraction, they are losing badly. 

We are finally on the cusp of passing national global warming regulations in the US (hopefully when we get a new president).  Numerous major corporations have endorsed that goal.  Still more corporations are moving ahead with corporate carbon reduction goals and moving into the market for clean technology. Just what do these denial professionals think of the likes of turncoats Walmart, General Electric, GM, Alcoa, Fed-Ex, Coca-Cola, Bank of America to name a few, who have acknowledged the threat, and either endorsed regulatory approaches or and taken measures to shift investment and business practices?

States and local communities across the country have moved even faster than the Fed to pass regulations and regional carbon reduction efforts.  What do these deniers think of Arnold "the Global Warming Terminator" out in California?

And just what do they think of the fact that our next president, Obama, Clinton and McCain WILL tackle global warming one way or another.  They are all speaking about global warming as the number one environmental threat, and speaking about the economic opportunity in finding solutions?  No wonder Rush Limbaugh and the conservatives hate McCain, he went to the Arctic with Hillary a few years ago to see global warming damage firsthand with the scientists.  McCain has been the unlikely Republican stalwart on global warming since 2000.

So Who Is Here?

There are weathermen, PR flacks, pundits, some scientists as well.  Some fifty organizations are co-sponsors.  Heartland, the host, has asserted on its website and in the program that “No corporate funding was used to support this conference.”  One wonders why they are so insistent on stating this.  Until a few years ago, these groups would proudly proclaim that they were supported by great American corporations (without disclosing their funders).

We’ve done an ExxonSecrets deluxe map of those we know about.  We have all the cosponsors on the left side, the 50 some odd speakers down the middle and the other organizations they are linked to down the right.

We have data linking some $7.5 Million in Exxon funding (98-06) to many of the prominent cosponsors along with the Heartland Institute.  Maybe Exxon opted out of Heartland’s workplan for 2008 or stipulated that it wouldn’t sponsor this conference?  Again, why are they being so defensive about corporate funding?

We know that a few of the conference cosponsors were dropped by Exxon like rotten hot potatoes in 2006:
Competitive Enterprise Institute,
Center for Defense of Free Enterprise,
Independent Institute
Free Enterprise Education Institute the precursor to Steve Milloy’s Free Enterprise Action Fund

But 10 conference co-sponsors received a total of $782,500 from Exxon in 2006, the latest year for which Exxon has revealed its handouts.

The preface of the conference program claims 400 people will attend, including the 100 or so assorted speakers and panelists.  The featured attendees include PR flacks, pundits, thinktankers, and a small handful of the old-school doctors of denial like Singer, Seitz and Micheals, a few ex-weatherman and even a comedian, not kidding.  There are profiles of the 50 some odd people we know on  ExxonSecrets wiki and DeSmog has posted some detailed profiles here.


The title of ABC’s John Stossel’s closing address on Tuesday is "Freedom and Its Enemies”  The conference must have something to do with “freedom” or more specifically “free enterprise”, which translates to freedom for corporations.  There are five cosponsoring organizations with free in their names -The Center for Defense of Free Enterprise, Frontiers of Freedom, Free Enterprise Action Fund, The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, The Free Market Foundation (from S. Africa).  

We will report on this mess over the next couple of days.  Stay tuned.

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