Dropping the Unabomb

Posted on May 6, 2012


A few years ago, the American Association for the Advancement of Science along with the heads of a number of other prestigious scientific organizations wrote a letter to the United States Senate on the subject of climate change, warning of serious impacts and the need to mitigate and prepare.  This is the letter.

 Scientists Urge Action on Climate Change

 October 21, 2009

Dear Senator:

As you consider climate change legislation, we, as leaders of scientific organizations, write to state the consensus scientific view.

Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.  These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment. For theUnited States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades.1

1.  The conclusions in this paragraph reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for

example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. Global Change Research

Program. Many scientific societies have endorsed these findings in their own statements,

including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society,

American Geophysical Union, American Meteorlogical Society, and American Statistical Association.

If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design, more sustainable management of water and other natural resources, modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to storms, floods, fires and heat waves.

We in the scientific community offer our assistance to inform your deliberations as you seek to address the impacts of climate change.


American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Chemical Society

American Geophysical Union

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Meteorological Society

American Society of Agronomy

American Society of Plant Biologists

American Statistical Association

Association of Ecosystem Research Centers

Botanical Society of America

Crop Science Society of America

Ecological Society of America

Natural Science Collections Alliance

Organization of Biological Field Stations

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Society of Systematic Biologists

Soil Science Society of America

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Then the Heartland Institute Drops the Unabomb

Then, the other day the Heartland Institute put up the following billboard which compares environmentalists—and anybody else alarmed about climate change—to the Unabomber.  They had follow-up billboards at the ready with images of Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden.

No kidding.

So I guess I have to make something clear, and I suspect I’m not just speaking for myself.

No, Heartland Institute, I’m not concerned about climate change because the Unabomber is (if he is.)  I’m concerned because 97% of the world’s climate scientists are concerned, because organizations like those who signed the above letter are concerned, because it’s obvious to anybody paying attention that there is cause for concern.  A lot of cause.

So no, I never intended going to your dumb Denialpalooza.

Yes, that’s right.  The Heartland Institute conceived of the above billboard campaign as a way of driving up business for their annual climate denial conference.  They ended the campaign almost right away when even other climate change deniers thought it went too far.

Too far?  Goodness, really?