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updated: 6/12/2017 8:47 AM

Lester: Senators accuse Arlington Heights group of spreading faulty climate change info

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  • U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen, center, and other state officials test out the Wheaton Cold War bunker after its 1958 dedication.

    U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen, center, and other state officials test out the Wheaton Cold War bunker after its 1958 dedication.
    Photo courtesy of DuPage County

 
 

Four Democratic U.S. senators are taking aim at the Arlington Heights-based Heartland Institute, which sent more than 200,000 teachers across the country a book and CD criticizing the conclusion that humans are causing climate change.

A June 7 letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii accused the institute of spreading "alternative facts and fake science," and asked DeVos to tell them whether her department has collaborated with the Heartland Institute on any resource materials.

Heartland Institute spokesman Jim Lakely said in a statement that the book "Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming" was distributed "to make sure teachers were aware that there was alternative scientific research."

What do teachers think? Jon Pazol, a science teacher at West Leyden High School in Northlake, said Heartland's book sometimes "recited their own stuff" and touted being mentioned in journals where its theories had actually been debunked. Most of the copies he received "ended up in the trash," said Pazol, who has a master's in environmental science.

Smoking, too

Among the Heartland Institute's other issues, the senators point out, is its campaign against regulations on tobacco products. "The public health community's campaign to demonize smokers and all forms of tobacco is based on junk science," the institute says.

Elgin's funny lady

Elgin native Kelly Bolton tells me she'll perform three shows in the Chicago Women's Funny Festival June 15-18, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago. Bolton says her love for drama -- and her realization she was meant to be funny, not serious on stage -- began while she was participating in plays at Larkin High School. Tickets range from $15 to $100. See www.stage773.com.

Mixed memories of the bunker

"My memories of the bunker are varied," said Richard Bauer, who used to work in Wheaton's Cold War bunker. He says tearing it out is "truly the end of an era."

"It leaked, smelled badly at times and in the winter some of us rarely saw the sun, coming to work before the sun rose and leaving after the sun set. But there were good times as well," writes Bauer, who worked in the underground shelter with DuPage Public Safety Communications from 1978 to 2005.

DuPage County officials have said the bunker, built in 1958 and billed as the first A-bomb-proof command and control center in the country, is too expensive to repair. It's scheduled to be demolished June 26.

Not enough interest

You don't hear of this every day: A suburban festival canceled for lack of interest. But that's what happened this weekend in Lakewood, when village officials moved to nix their annual Celebrate Lakewood event due to "limited participation."

"We have lost some volunteers and new board members have not had sufficient time to plan or enlist participation from the local business community," Village Manager Shannon Anderson said in a statement. Lakewood is tentatively planning to host the event next year, she says.

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