Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement
Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement
The overwhelming majority of climate scientists, international governmental bodies, relevant research institutes and scientific societies are in unison in saying that climate change is real, that it's a problem, and that we should probably do something about it now, not later. And yet, for some reason, the idea persists in some peoples' minds that climate change is up for debate, or that climate change is no big deal.
Actually, it's not “for some reason” that people are confused. There's a very obvious reason. There is a very well-funded, well-orchestrated climate change-denial movement, one funded by powerful people with very deep pockets. In a new and incredibly thorough study, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle took a deep dive into the financial structure of the climate deniers, to see who is holding the purse strings.
According to Brulle's research, the 91 think tanks and advocacy organizations and trade associations that make up the American climate denial industry pull down just shy of a billion dollars each year, money used to lobby or sway public opinion on climate change and other issues.
“The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires,” says the Guardian, “often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change.”
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
GQ - Jay Willis
How the GOP Became a Potent Force in Climate Science Denial
Most Americans care about climate change. So why can’t politicians in Washington do anything about it? ...
But fully accepting the urgency of global warming would require drastic intervention, and drastic intervention imperils the bottom line of giant corporate interests—especially those that depend on the ability to emit greenhouse gases with impunity. At every opportunity, stakeholder corporations and the billionaires who control them have responded to reform efforts exactly as you'd expect. A 2015 InsideClimate News investigation detailed how fossil-fuel behemoth ExxonMobil made drastic cuts to its in-house climate-research funding in the 1980s, even as it boosted spending on PR campaigns that sought to quell well-founded fears about global warming. As Jane Mayer documented in The New Yorker and in her book Dark Money, David and Charles Koch, whose eponymous conglomerate is among America's top air polluters, are among America's most vigorous climate-denialism financiers, too. For decades, they have funded think tanks and nonprofits that obediently recast the crisis as overblown, uncertain, or nonexistent. The Koch brothers' influence and activism played a key role in killing cap-and-trade legislation during the Obama administration, all in the name of keeping taxes low and protecting freedom, America's most precious resource.
By cloaking their self-interested anti-regulatory agenda as part of the fight for individual rights and libertarian principles, the Kochs and others like them helped intertwine the maximization of corporate profits and the promotion of conservative ideology. Much of this sort of giving, as noted in a 2013 Drexel University study, now comes in the form of dark money—untraceable donations to groups with anodyne-sounding names like DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, which can pass money along to professional science-questioners while keeping the source of the funding private. The failure of campaign-finance reform and the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened up the door to unlimited corporate spending in U.S. elections, has allowed fossil-fuel interests to invest more heavily than ever in electing Republicans who will do their bidding.
Today, climate skepticism is part of the bedrock of mainstream Republican politics. (As GOP strategist Whit Ayres told The New York Times in 2017, “In some ways, it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican.”) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now says he believes humans cause climate change, but also dismissed a Green New Deal proposal earlier this year as "nonsense." Texas senator Ted Cruz struck a conspiratorial note during his 2016 presidential campaign, calling climate change a "pseudoscientific theory" and blaming modern concerns on "liberal politicians who want government power over the economy, the energy sector, and every aspect of our lives." Donald Trump may or may not believe climate change is a hoax created by China to sabotage the U.S. manufacturing sector. Trump's first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, believes more "review and analysis" is necessary before we can draw any real conclusions about its causes, and personally instructed staffers to memory-hole climate change information on the EPA's website when he took office. Right-wing media routinely treats global warming as a hilarious joke, if it covers global warming at all.
The result of all this is the emergence of an alternate reality on the right, and especially among conservative Republicans in power—one in which an overwhelming scientific consensus can be safely ignored, because so-called experts cannot be trusted to say or do what is in the public's best interest. This is not an accident; it is the product of a massive, well-funded effort to preserve corporate wealth and power at the expense of meaningful action. Even though most Americans want their government to do more to tackle the challenges posed by climate change, the conservative movement's successful hijacking of reality ensures that elected officials in Washington cannot do anything about it.