Looks like the petition from Forecast the Facts calling on GM to stop giving money to the Heartland Institute, a major player in climate change denialism, is having an effect. GM hasn't promised to end its funding of the Institute's School Reform News publication, which is dedicated to covering news about things like charter schools and vouchers, but GM CEO Dan Akerson recently told the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that he is a believer in global warming and that he is committed to "taking another look at" the money that GM gives to Heartland.
The GM-Heartland connection came to light when internal Heartland documents were leaked by the Pacific Institute's Peter Gleick. From them, we learned that the General Motors Foundation (GM's charitable arm) made a $15,000 donation in 2011. In San Francisco, Forecast the Facts spurred the Commonwealth Club to ask Akerson about the connection through Facebook and in-person activism.
In response, Daniel Souweine, the director of Forecast the Facts issued a statement that said:
You can see a video of the Q&A after the jump. Akerson jokes about his underwear, so it's worth watching just for that.
We are encouraged that CEO Dan Akerson has committed to review GM's funding of the Heartland Institute. We hope that review leads to the result that more than 10,000 GM owners have been asking for: a public commitment by GM to stop funding Heartland immediately.
Commonwealth Club Moderator Asks GM CEO about Heartland After Social Media Campaign by Forecast The Facts
San Francisco, CA - Yesterday, at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson directly responded to the campaign asking GM to pull their funding from the climate change-denying Heartland Institute. Speaking to a crowd of 250, Akerson stated that he believes in global warming, and committed to reviewing GM's funding for Heartland when he returns to Detroit.
Akerson's statements came in response to a direct query from event moderator Greg Dalton. Dalton was encouraged to ask the question by members of Forecast the Facts, who swarmed the Commonwealth Club's Facebook page prior to the event. In addition, activists from Forecast the Facts distributed flyers outside the event asking: "Why is GM Supporting Climate Change Denial." The flyer is available online here: http://forecastthefacts.org/cwclub_flyer/
Daniel Souweine, director of Forecast the Facts said, "We are encouraged that CEO Dan Akerson has committed to review GM's funding of the Heartland Institute. We hope that review leads to the result that more than 10,000 GM owners have been asking for: a public commitment by GM to stop funding Heartland immediately."
The event was part of the Climate One series at the Commonwealth Club, and much of the conversation centered around GM's efforts to shift to a more sustainable future, particularly through development of the electric Chevy Volt and the high-MPG Chevy Cruze. GM's ongoing support for Heartland, a leader in the effort to cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change, stood in stark contrast to the rest of the conversation.
The existence of GM's donation to Heartland was revealed several weeks ago when documents leaked from the Heartland Institute identifying its funders, which also include a number of other major corporations including State Farm Insurance, Microsoft, and Glaxo Smith Kline. Forecast the Facts, a new campaign focused on climate change denial among meteorologists, has collected 10,000 signatures from GM owners and 20,000 engaged citizens urging the automaker to stop funding the Chicago-based Heartland Institute immediately.