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Earth Government The Almighty Buck News Science

Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network 848

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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  • Secretly? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:36AM (#42927581) Homepage
    Was there somebody who didn't know this was going on?  Petrochemical plutocrats were obviously behind this.  In many cases they didn't even bother to hide.
  • The Sheep Look Up (Score:5, Informative)

    by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:52AM (#42927689) Journal
    I just finished reading the excellent novel "The Sheep Look Up", written in 1972 by John Brunner. I was amazed at the many parallels between the novel's dystopian vision and today's environmental issues. Even though some of the novel's environmental issues were mitigated (at least in the West) by education and regulation (DDT, leaded gasoline, smog, etc), many continue to this day. One thing that struck me particularly was the collusion of big business in denying that environmental issues exist and the draconian measures they went to to discredit and silence their critics. Also striking was government's powerlessness to act in the face of lobbying and bullying by big business.

    A recommended read, as appropriate today as it was 40 years ago.
  • The Numbers (Score:5, Informative)

    by jamesl ( 106902 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:46AM (#42928087)

    The reported $120 million is total funding, not what is spent on "climate."

    Greenpeace annual spending (year ended 12/31/2010) -- $35 million

    Al Gore's Climate Reality Project had revenues of $16 million and spent $25 million in 2010.

    WWF, formerly The World Wildlife Fund, spent $243 million in 2012.

    The US government has spent over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks. []

    There's a lot of money floating around, most of it being spent by "warmers."

  • Misleading (Score:4, Informative)

    by dog77 ( 1005249 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:49AM (#42928101)
    The article is misleading. Donations were giving anonymously to conservative think tanks. Many conservative think tanks are skeptical of human impact on climate change. These donations were not given directly the cause of deny climate change. This article seems to exist for the purpose to incite controversy where there is very little. Based on the comments on this site, I think it has been successful.
  • Re:The Sheep Look Up (Score:5, Informative)

    by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:54AM (#42928127) Journal
    Big business continues to be the problem. The only reason they installed catalytic converters, eliminated lead, added power plant filters, etc, etc was because they were required to by law. I remember when all these environmental mitigations were being introduced. Industry spread FUD through the media that everything would cost more, cars wouldn't run as well, blahblahblah. After the FUD campaign failed they shut up and grudgingly took care of things.

    A side note: cars are actually cheaper (inflation adjusted), safer and more reliable than they were in 1972.
  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:54AM (#42928133)

    The left says asking for I.D. before someone votes interferes with the RIGHT to vote and makes it hard for minorities to vote. Why it makes it hard for minorities and not whites I have no clue.

    Yes, you have no clue. Apparently you have no clue what the left has been saying either, which is that the problem is with the provision of the ID, and the limitations of the bureaucracy responsible for issuing it. You've apparently missed the numerous complaints about having to travel many miles to get the ID, the numerous requirements of documentation, sometimes even putting people in the position of needing the ID to get the documentation demanded to get the ID in the first place.

    As a people the only difference is skin color and blacks are just as capable as whites in getting I.D.

    The problem isn't simply one of a race's capacity on the individual level, but with the government. That's where the true racism is.

    You ignore it.

    Anyway, so the I.D. is an almost impossible hurdle for some to enjoy their RIGHT to vote.

    Wow, you admit it? But no, you seem to think that the right to vote is something they enjoy. Wrong. It's a duty of the government to provide it.

    This ID thing is an excuse under false virtues to deny it to others.

    Yet last I looked, we had a RIGHT to own guns. Look what's being done to stop that right. No, I am not talking about background checks although it seems to me you have to have I.D. to own a gun, another right just like voting. They want to put a tax on every gun you own. Isn't this really designed to make it harder to own a gun? They are looking into requiring you to get liability insurance to own a gun. Again, isn't this just a way to make guns too expensive for some?

    The hypocrisy on the left knows no bounds.

    Funny how you call the Left out on hypocrisy, yet are silent on the right's actual hypocrisy.

    The Right? Postures and pretends it is doing something noble to protect the right of voters, but never admit they are causing actual problems with people's access to the ballot box. They will deny any harm caused by their restrictive actions, and justify it all in the name of their false virtues. They're selling a con job and trying to get us to think it's wonderful.

    I'm sure you can find ways to turn that accusation on the left with regards to gun control, but there's plenty of people on the left who will flatout tell you they don't want you to own guns. I doubt you'll get anybody on the right to admit the real reason for their voting restrictions.

  • Re:The Sheep Look Up (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:00PM (#42928173)

    The one thing that strikes me these days, is the way how the exact same people who solved the problems you are talking about - DDT, leaded gasoline, smog etc. - are still demonized and portait as plotting to destroy the earth.

    They didn't solve those problems, they created them. They created the polluting products. DDT, leaded gasoline, cigarettes, CFC aerosols etc. Government regulation stopped them from manufacturing those polluting products anymore, or at least cut down on them. Without the government regulation they would have kept on polluting, and more so every year.

    It's exactly the same now. They won't fix their polluting till government regulation makes them do so. And they are putting that government regulation off for as long as possible by denying science, just as they did before.

  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:4, Informative)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:12PM (#42928269)

    So the Tea Party is just astro-turfing? Yet the Occupy Wall Street is grass roots?

    That's correct. The Tea Party was a construction made with the Koch brothers money and the assistance of Fox News to publicise it.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Informative)

    by RJFerret ( 1279530 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:17PM (#42928303) Homepage

    The climate will keep changing regardless.

  • Re:Secretly? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:45PM (#42928511)

    So what?

    People are funding client skeptics, and people are finding Climate Change studies.

    Are you really that fucking stupid? That you actually believe that what's being funded by "The Donors Trust" is research? Damn...

  • Re:The Sheep Look Up (Score:3, Informative)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @05:23PM (#42930627) Journal

    Re DDT you might want to review the research; the fact is that DDT is a poster-child for the misinformed politically-driven 'eco-conclusion' that ISN'T informed by science.

    The tests that were used for the basis of the book Silent Spring were deeply flawed, and the scientists that ran them, themselves acknowledged that they'd drawn the wrong conclusions as the birds' lab diets were woefully low in calcium - needed to make strong eggshells. When the same labs ran the same tests with adequate diets, there was NO consequence of significance identified in the birds fed DDT (they were slightly healthier, in fact, but it was within the variability of the test).

    Meanwhile, millions died of malaria due to mosquitoes that WERE being controlled by DDT (although DDT-resistant mosquitoes were always a possibility, so it's unlikely to have continued to be the panacea it had been).

    So one might want to be careful who one labels "sheep".

  • Re:Disgusting (Score:4, Informative)

    by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @07:05PM (#42931195)

    You do realize it's relatively trivial to convert an engine to work with Ethanol, right?

    No it isn't. It involves changing out all of the gaskets and rubber parts in the engine and fuel system and replacing them with more chemically resistant varieties. Even if the cost of the new parts is trivial, the cost of the labor is not. Building new engines that are ethanol capable is fairly straightforward, retrofit on the other hand is prohibitively expensive (it would be cheaper to replace the vehicle).


  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:06AM (#42932497)

    The problem with the anthropogenic part is that it's almost impossible to come up with something that's scientific and falsifiable ...

    We can certainly measure the radiative absorption characteristics of CO2, that's scientific and falsifiable. We can measure the level and rate of change in CO2 in the atmosphere. We can measure the approximate emissions of CO2 by human activities and observe that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is a bit less than half of those emissions. That plus solar input and feedback from water vapor are about all you need for a first order calculation.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:4, Informative)

    by OneAhead ( 1495535 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @01:44PM (#42995993)
    Oh my, you don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about, do you? []
    The phrase "You can't prove a negative" is a quip that is meant to express the more formally correct "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". It does not mean that any statement with "no" or "wrong" cannot be argued in favor of; that would be silly because all statements can be expressed as the negative of another statement. What it does mean is that, if there would be no data on anthropogenic climate change, then that absence of data can not be taken for evidence that anthropogenic climate change does not exist (and neither that it does exist). However, there happens to exist quite a large body of data, and it happens to speak in favor of anthropogenic global warming. So the only thing the climate change denialists can do is pound the evidence ("prove us wrong" indeed). That's what they are trying to do, but from a scientific point of view, they've never been able to make a dent. The public opinion point of view is a different matter; as you just demonstrated, ignorant people can be told just about anything. Scientifically spoken, there is no controversy.

Information is the inverse of entropy.