Speaking to the seventh annual "International Conference on Climate Change" (ICCC) in Chicago on Wednesday, Heartland Institute CEO Joseph Bast revealed that "under 300" people attended this year, then begged those attendees for donations from their "rich uncle," admitting he's "not a good fundraiser" and that the group has struggled to meet its payroll.

Heartland has in recent weeks faced a being cut off by numerous major corporate sponsors, like General Motors, beverage makers PepsiCo and Diageo, insurance company State Farm, and pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, due to their decision to place a billboard in Chicago which promoted the conference by comparing climate scientists to the "unabomber," Ted Kaczynski.

After encouraging his audience to "network the heck out of the people you've met" at the conference, Bast seemed to acknowledge the billboard controversy, saying that this year's sponsors were "courageous." He then proceeded to single out two of them.

"The Heritage Foundation came on board as a co-sponsor this year," Bast said. "We really appreciate that. They're a class organization and it was a real vote of support for what we're doing. And the Illinois Coal Association came on board this year, much to the distress of our liberal critics. 'Oh my God, the coal industry is funding this conference!' Well, I would like to personally thank the Illinois Coal Association for its $500, which is the first-ever gift we've gotten from [them]. I sure hope it's not the last gift that we get from them."

Then, the real fireworks started.

"Please consider supporting the Heartland Institute," Bast said. "These conferences are expensive and I'm not a good fundraiser. As a result, I don't raise enough money to cover them and we really scramble to make payroll in order to cover these expenses. So, if you can afford to make a contribution, please do. If you know someone, if you've got a rich uncle or somebody in the family or somebody that you work with, please give them a call and ask them if they would consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Heartland Institute. We would really, really appreciate it."

After praising his staff members and soliciting applause for them, Bast concluded: "A lot of people came up to me and said this was the best conference ever, it's extremely well run. I really appreciate that. It's a vote of support for our efforts. I hope to see you at a future conference, but at this point we have no plans to do another ICCC, okay? So, have a great day."

Reacting to Bast's announcement, Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts -- a climate change advocacy group that's been leading an advertiser boycott of Heartland -- said in an advisory that he "welcomes" the conference's demise.

"On behalf of our 20,000 members, Forecast the Facts welcomes the demise of the Heartland Institute’s climate change denial conferences," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, decades of corporate support for Heartland’s efforts have seriously damaged our nation’s ability to respond to the crisis of global warming. Which is why we will redouble our demands that major corporations like Pfizer and Comcast join the long-overdue exodus from the Heartland Institute."

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that climate change is real, according to a recent survey. Almost half of the respondents attributed their belief in climate change to personal experiences with extreme weather events, which have risen dramatically in the last four decades according to the International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics.

In a draft report late last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that climate extremes are more likely than ever in the coming decades, largely due to human activity causing changes in Earth’s atmosphere and weather systems.

This video is an excerpt from the 2012 ICCC's closing address, originally published on LiveStream.com on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Note: This video's audio track is not properly synced.


Raw Story Senior Editor David Edwards contributed to this report.

(H/T: DeSmog Blog)