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Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network 848

Posted by samzenpus
from the obvious-things-are-obvious dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Suzanne Goldenberg reports that conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, helping build a vast network of think tanks and activist groups working to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarizing 'wedge issue' for hardcore conservatives. 'We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,' says Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust. Ball's organization assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes with a guarantee of complete anonymity for donors who wished to remain hidden. The money flowed to Washington think tanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore. 'The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing,' says Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. 'These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable.'"
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Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network

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  • by elucido (870205) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:46AM (#42927657)

    So the network can be put through social network analysis to produce interesting facts. That data can be crunched, so who is going to crunch it?

  • Cuts both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:49AM (#42927677)

    Let them purchase as much free speech as they like.

    And let others exercise *their* free speech calling them out on how they choose to exercise it and what they choose to say- which is exactly what's being done here.

    That said, when it's being exercised in such a non-transparent and intentionally misleading manner, I'd question whether it actually *is* even "free speech" in the first place.

  • Are we so naive? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:56AM (#42927705)

    No one need tell us that somethig change in climate in 25 years. In Brazil, when I was a kid at 5 at the beach, the only kind of sun protection my mother and lots of mothers used in hers sons was a stripe of a talk-based cream on the nose of the children. I stayed 3, maybe 4 hours in the direct sunlight of the beach and the worse thing that could happen was became a little pinky. Today If I go to a jungle where there is lots of shadows in a rainy day and not use a suncream of at least 20 FPS, I will lost my skin and lirerally became untouchable for 4 days.

    I think the problem is not only misinformation, it is political inertia, specially in Brazil. Sh*t, we are f*cked robbed every single day by ours politicians and we do nothing.
    In USA the problem looks even worse, because of the incidence of hurricanes, snow storms and tornados. But I see no one give a sh*t or take any step in change nothing. Probably we will live inside a dome before somebody take a attitude. including me.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:35AM (#42928009)

    It's not fine. If they're knowingly lying in order to deceive others into taking actions that benefit the liar, that is textbook fraud.

    There has never been "free speech" as you think it is. You can't say whatever you want, whenever you want, for any reason.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:37PM (#42928451)

    For the first time? You think that the rich industrialists have never before paid to oppose science? Well, you might want to think about the link between cancer and smoking.

    Now, why is it you're so keen to play the part of a useful idiot?

  • by AlabamaCajun (2710177) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:48PM (#42929069)
    While politics and media commentary rule the blogs and airspace, Science get shredded into worthless dribble. Climate Science needs to be taken seriously and not turned into media spectacle. The problem is, the real stuff can be quite boring and mostly looked over. Stories about carbon levels, thermal convection and greenhouse gasses are not read by the majority of readers. Most of the media today is sensationalized and pumped with soundbites to increase readership. Just about every attempt by Al Gore to pass along data his group has collected is countered with disinformation. You never see an attempt to deflate some missed data and provide what the other group thinks is more realistic, We only see a polar opposite approach the just discredits each view and the public takes these battles to the office and public places. Even with all this funding the real Science does tend to get heard by the people that need to hear it. I've noticed over the years how changes have taken place that are more indirect approaches to reduce climate change. Many businesses are reducing consumption of power, most say it's to increase profits by reducing waste. Recycling programs have been around for at least four decades now but it's just starting to catch on due to waste elimination costs. Meanwhile these same corporations are funneling money into the disinformation channels. The real question becomes, why are we wasting money on propaganda when that money would better to be spent in fixing the problems.
  • Re:Secretly? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ambassador Kosh (18352) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:13PM (#42929275)

    It is hard to do better with nuclear power when you have the fossil fuel industries paying off officials to keep nuclear out and running pretty impressive fear campaigns. We have developed solutions for a lot of the current problems. That is not the problem at all the problem is that we can;t use the solutions because some of those with a LOT of money oppose change.

    Even if we finally came up with a very good, safe and cheap form of fusion tomorrow that could power our entire society it would not matter because fossil fuel companies would pay for it to be regulated to hell so that they could keep doing what they are doing.

  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:20PM (#42929827) Homepage

    The Tea Party is actually really the most sophisticated astro-turfing I've ever encountered, because there are many many rank-and-file Tea Partiers that have no idea that it's astro-turf. For example, I encountered one Tea Partier who was a true believer and a bit offended by my offhand remark about the Tea Party being a megaphone for rich people, but was totally flummoxed when I asked him how they had come up with $500K to pay Sarah Palin to give a single speech at the Tea Party Convention (this was back when she was somebody important). That kind of cash is not something a real grassroots group has lying around to blow on a pep talk - it would represent months of fundraising efforts, and probably be directed at something much more useful.

  • by b00le (714402) <interference@NOSPaM.libero.it> on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:00PM (#42930071) Homepage

    Thank you. Climate change is of course real, but it is an epiphenomenon: the underlying fact is over-population, which seems to have become a taboo subject.

  • Re:Disgusting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by terec (2797475) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:32PM (#42932129)

    If the US situation is too confusing for you, look at Europe, where politicians are united on anti-global warming efforts. Has it helped? Not one bit. Europeans have been saddled with large costs and no effective reductions to show for it. Electric and hydrogen vehicles are nearly non-existent in Europe, and car ownership and VMT remain high. The only reductions in carbon output have been due to outsourcing carbon-intensive production to China and due to economic slowdowns. Countries are also not doing so well on renewables, with production in most European countries only being 10-20% (but places like Germany only achieve that by importing a lot of non-renewable energy).

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:57PM (#42932217)

    Notice the AC divided volume (3 dimensions) by area (2 dimensions) leaving 1 dimension for the answer. It's good math and the answer comports with scientists estimates of ~60 meters once complications such as the ocean spreading out and the fact that some Antarctic ice is under sea level even though it is sitting on ground are taken into account.

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