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Global Warming, Cigarettes and the Almighty Dollar

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It's no secret that many of the people and organizations funded by cigarette companies to defend "smoker's rights" and downplay the harmful effects of tobacco smoke have been involved in the energy industry-funded campaign to downplay the serious effects of climate change.

No group typifies this more than the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based "think" tank that simultaneously operates the "smoker's lounge" and "global warming facts" sections on their website. The former arguing for "smoker's rights" and railing on about the need for "sound science" on tobacco issues and the latter arguing that "global warming is not a crisis."

It's no coincidence that the Heartland Institute has also received funding over the years from companies that stand to benefit from delaying government regulation in the areas of tobacco and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to publicly available documents the Heartland Institute has received $676,000 from oil giant ExxonMobil. The oil money stopped flowing in 2006 from Exxon, but Dan Miller, executive vice president of the Heartland Institute, called its funding from ExxonMobil "pocket change." "We can live without Exxon's contribution just fine," Miller said.

Ya right.

Other reported funders over the years have been Philip Morris Management Corp., Chevron USA, the National Coal Association, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco corporation, Ford Motors, and General Motors.

In his self-published book on tobacco smoke oddly titled Please Don't Poop in My Salad, Heartland's President, Joseph Bast argues that a moderate amount of tobacco smoke is a mere annoyance:

So this year, I will pledge to reduce, but not quit, smoking. If you are an anti-smoker, I ask you to consider making a New Year's pledge too. Admit you may be over-estimating the health effects of smoking in moderation and underestimating the pleasure tobacco brings to the smoker's life. Pledge to be more tolerant of the smokers in your midst. We, in turn, will do our best not to let our habit annoy you.

On global warming, Bast argues on Heartland's website that:

Except for radical environmentalists--who always have been a small minority of the general public and even a minority within the environmental movement--most people don't " believe" in global warming. They believe--and rightly so--that the science is still undecided and government action is unnecessary.

Downplay the effects, downplay the need to do anything - same strategy, different piles of money. I guess everyone has to make a buck somehow.

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