I can count on one hand the number of times I've been speechless. As a professional communicator, that's probably a good thing. However, when the following headline: "Heartland Institute Compares Belief in Global Warming to Mass Murder", reached my inbox last week, I sat staring at my computer screen, with my mouth gaping, completely at a loss for words. Seconds later, after finally recovering from my initial shock, the words "now I've seen it all" came to mind.
While the Heartland Institute is known for its outlandish claims against climate change, this is a new low and might I say ill-advised attempt to win over the hearts and minds of Americans. A recent poll from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion shows that 62 percent of Americans believe climate change is real. This number is significantly higher than polling from just two years ago. The trend is linked to respondents acknowledging their own personal experiences as the main reason they believe the earth is warming.
Aside from the fact that solid scientific evidence and public opinion are not on their side, the Heartland Institute decided to plow ahead with comparing the majority of Americans (myself included) to Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Charles Manson (a mass murderer) and Fidel Castro (a dictator) in their new ad campaign in Chicago. If, like us you don't really identify with those notorious figures, you're in luck. Future ads may feature Osama bin Laden. Seriously. I wish I was making this up.
There comes a time in all political discourse that someone must say "enough is enough" and this simply "goes too far." The Heartland Institute should be ashamed of this type of extremist gamesmanship. As the NRDC Action Fund previously stated in a blog, "No one actually wins this kind of game. Instead, we end up with one big loser: the American people."
What the American people want and need is a real dialogue about how we can work together to invest in clean energy, while protecting our precious resources and the health of our kids. It's time we all drew a line in the sand and told the likes of the Heartland Institute to stop these types of outlandish ads.