Why take the bait from a decidedly unfriendly media outlet?
Climatewire reports in “Heartland’s president once believed in climate change, but now says it’s a ‘myth'”:
… Heartland, in some ways, is on its own. Other conservative think tanks, like the American Enterprise Institute, have scholars who focus on shaping public policy approaches around reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than trying to rebut the vast accumulation of climate-related research.
Bast describes that approach as “pre-emptive surrender.” Heartland rejects climate change at its origins — man’s contribution. That makes the debate about how to address global warming unneeded — because there’s nothing to fix.
“I think it’s a terrible tactic,” Bast said of AEI. “You don’t concede the science. You don’t argue about the best way to destroy Western civilization [with cap-and-trade policies] in the name of a scientific myth.”
Bast suggests that AEI scholars adopted that position to gain entry into the mainstream debate — and to be quoted in national newspapers. That isn’t the way that AEI climate scholar Kenneth Green sees things.
Green calls himself a “modest warmer” — one who believes that human emissions are changing the climate to a small degree. He said that if Bast “wants to dismiss the idea that one is actually supposed to think scientifically or read the science, that’s fine”…
As to Bast’s conversion to skepticism, Climatewire reports:
… [Bast] left home at 18, in 1976, to attend the University of Chicago. It was then that he cast his first — and last — vote for a Republican president. It was Gerald Ford.
“I have rued that vote ever since,” he said. “When I vote, I vote libertarian as a protest vote. I don’t have a lot of love for Republicans.”
The draw of the solitary woods remained with him, and a period of experimentation with “deep ecology” led him to embark alone on several long hikes along the Appalachian Trail. When he and his wife, Diane, married in 1981, they spent their honeymoon hiking a come-and-go trail along the terminus of ancient glaciers that once dominated central Wisconsin.
“I’m still an environmentalist,” Bast said.
At about that time, Bast decided he wanted to live off the land. He and Diane moved to northern Wisconsin and built an energy-efficient geodesic dome. They planted an apple orchard and practiced raised-bed agriculture. They were vegetarians.
At this point in the interview, James Lakely, Heartland’s communication director, offered this insight to his boss: “You’re a weirdo.”
Before the mid-1990s, Bast says, he believed in climate change. That changed suddenly, he says, when Peter “P.J.” Hill, a libertarian professor and a prominent voice in the free-market environmentalism movement, sent him a box of articles and studies in preparation for the book they were co-authoring, “Eco-Sanity: A Common-Sense Guide to Environmentalism.” The uncertainties detailed in the dozen or so climate articles gripped Bast with a skepticism that continues today, he said…