Friday, October 15, 2010

Funding climate change denial

Why is a large block of the American public unconcerned with climate change? The answer is money. Tens of millions of dollars, if not more, are poured into organizations that promote climate change denial.

Over the years Exxon/Mobile, Shell Oil, PB and many other corporations and industry groups has given millions to promote climate change denial but the biggest donor is most likely Koch Industries, a privately held company owned by David and Charles Koch. The Koch brother's ideological network is known in Washington as the Kochtopus because of its far reaching influence. 

In a recent New Yorker article on the Koch brothers, Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, speaking of the Koch's influence on American politics,
“The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
An in-depth report by Greenpeace details Koch Industries involvement in climate change denial.
The Koch brothers, their family members and Koch Industries employees direct a web of financing that supports conservative and libertarian special interest groups and think-tanks, with a strong focus on fighting environmental regulation and easing limits on industrial pollution.
This web is currently fueling a campaign to oppose clean energy and climate legislation, by funding organizations that generate, disseminate and repeat inaccurate and misleading information about climate science, clean energy and climate policies. This information is then provided to astroturf groups (fake grassroots organizations that are created or sponsored by industries)—some of which are also funded by Koch interests—which use the misinformation to increase opposition to clean energy policies and climate solutions.
Koch foundations contributed over $48 million to climate opposition groups from 1997 to 2008.
Exactly how much is spent on climate change disinformation is difficult to know but it is clear from the review of literature that the disinformation funding is significant. Koch Industries stands out because the size of its funding but also, and I disagree somewhat with Greenpeace here, the Koch brothers are not exactly secretive about their opinions. At the company website they have a page called "ViewPoint" which implies their ideological leanings. Disinformation does however require secrecy without which it would be apparent for what it truly is.

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