Heartland Institute Attacks Pope Francis: Calling climate action “paganism”


At a press conference in Philadelphia last week, the climate denier group the Heartland Institute denounced Pope Francis’s call for urgent action on global warming, accused the pontiff of “left wing” politics and said he is returning the Catholic church to “paganism.”

The press event on September 17th at Independence Hall saw a trio of Heartland officials peppered with questions about their often outlandish scientific claims as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars Heartland has received from big oil and coal companies like ExxonMobil and Alpha Natural Resources.  Heartland failed to answer those questions directly, claiming no single funder gives more than 5 percent of their budget.  However, investigation has previously revealed that in 2012 one “anonymous donor” contributed more than half of Heartland’s budget.

The Heartland delegation offered a number of theories about what drove the Vatican to begin its anti-climate change campaign.

“What is environmentalism but nature worship,” said Gene Koprowski, the group’s marketing director, during a presentation that dropped allusions to everything from obscure medieval religious rituals to psychiatrist Carl Jung.  “I’m wondering as a scholar if pagan forms are returning to church.”

Jay Lehr, a hydrologist who is Heartland’s scientific director despite a criminal conviction for defrauding the Environmental Protection Agency,  said that the overwhelming consensus that global warming is real and is driven by fossil fuel emissions is dead wrong, and that in fact, the earth is entering a cooling period that will be caused by a decline in sunspot activity.

Lehr argued that what he referred to vaguely as “observational data” contradicted the scientific community’s views.  However, when questioned by reporters, he failed to cite any studies or actual measurements to support his claims.

The press event was apparently an effort by Heartland to gets its message across to Philadelphians ahead of the Pope’s hugely-anticipated arrival in the city later this week.

All of this infuriated a local environmental activist, who called Heartland a group of irresponsible right wing ideologues.

“I’m a Philadelphian who cares about this city and this city will be under water if we don’t do something about climate change,” she said as she was forced out of the room.

That ended the press conference.


More resources on Heartland Institute’s legacy of lunacy on climate change:

DeSmogBlog library on Heartland

Climate Investigations blog “This is your planet in Heartland Institute drugs”

Jay Lehr on Polluterwatch

Posted by Dan Zegart