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In Las Vegas, Climate Change Deniers Regroup, Vow to Keep Doubt Alive

The Greener Horizon booth at the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change
The Greener Horizon booth at the 2009 International Conference on Climate ChangePhotograph by Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times via Redux

Earlier this week, the Heartland Institute convened its Ninth International Climate Change Conference in Las Vegas. A nonprofit, free-market think tank in Chicago with a $6 million annual budget, Heartland has been hosting conferences since 2008 for those dubious of the science confirming human-caused climate change. It is called the ICCC for short, the acronym an intentional echo of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body that has published the most comprehensive studies of global warming. The ICCC, not IPCC, conference has been held in New York, Munich, and Chicago. This year’s kicked off with a dinner for roughly 600 in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, the top floors of which were decorated with a glinting advertisement for a Michael Jackson reenactment show.

“The headline is probably going to be, ‘Coal Industry Funds Denier Conference in Boiling Hot Las Vegas,’” Heartland President Joseph Bast said during his opening address as the lemon chicken was cleared. Near the ICCC registration table a sign thanked a long list of co-sponsors, among them the Australian Taxpayer’s Alliance, the Ayn Rand Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Illinois Coal Association, which, according to Heartland, donated a mere $150 to the conference. His joke was clearly a preemptive jab at any reporter tempted to cite Vegas’s triple-digit heat and the ICCC’s fossil-fuel sponsors in the same sentence.