One of the damning Heartland Foundation documents from a few weeks ago revealed the name of the climate-denial think tank’s major donors. One of them: A foundation connected to General Motors. Oops. Heartland’s not exactly the sort of friend that a company like GM wants to be seen with in public, especially since it’s trying to promote its green-minded Chevy Volt.

Now, at least 10,000 of its customers are letting it be known that they don’t appreciate GM hopping in bed with Heartland, and they’re perfectly willing to become ex-customers if it continues. Another 10,000 people who don’t own GM-made cars have joined in, saying that the company will never get their money at this rate. Forecast the Facts, a group usually focused on the climate-denying tendencies of meteorologists, has been organizing this particular group of consumers, who have all signed a petition asking the company to stop funding the Heartland Institute. NOW.

Here’s the sort of business GM could lose:

  • A 61-year-old who’s been “a Chevy fan from a very young age” but who “will never buy another GM auto”
  • A “buy-American” Californian who was planning on purchasing a Buick LaCrosse
  • A Wisconsin customer who chose a GM car for its fuel efficiency but who will “be buying another MAZDA faster than you can say Zoom, Zoom!!”

The GM foundation wasn’t a particularly generous donor to Heartland; it gave $15,000 per year. That better be giving them a disproportionate amount of warm fuzzy charitable feelings, given how much they now stand to lose.

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UPDATE: GM got in touch to let us know that the company does not support Heartland’s position on climate change and that “the donation through GM Foundation was designated to general funds not specifically toward climate related matters.” Also that “Through the GM Foundation, we associate with and provide donations to a variety of organizations. These also include organizations that strongly support the science behind climate change.” The examples: Ceres: the World Environment Center and Global Green.

So do with that what you will. It’s clear that GM is taking this negative attention seriously enough to put the PR people on the case. I’d note that general funding is often more valuable to nonprofit organizations than funding earmarked for specific projects. It gives organizations the flexibility to do whatever they want, which in Heartland’s case included promoting climate skepticism. If the GM Foundation didn’t support the organization’s position on climate change, they could have earmarked the funding to go to a program they did believe in.

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