Billionaires Attempt to Discredit Climate Change Science
American conservatives are using secretive funding channels to pump millions of dollars of their considerable personal wealth into groups working to cast doubt over the findings of the scientific community.
Using two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, almost $120m has been discreetly put towards “promoting liberty”, which Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust, defines as “limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.” Though the various donors represent a range of right wing politics, according to Ball, opposing legislation to enforce cuts to greenhouse gas emissions is a common goal.
Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, who managed to compile information on how anti-climate change groups receive their funding with reference to tax records, notes that there is no transparency in how campaigns against the environmental movement are paid for:
The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them.
Robert Brulle, a Drexel University sociologist has studied the role ‘dark money’ (a term for anonymous funding) plays in the activities of such groups:
This is what I call the counter-movement, a large-scale effort that is an organised effort and that is part and parcel of the conservative movement in the United States […] We don’t know where a lot of the money is coming from, but we do know that Donors Trust is just one example of the dark money flowing into this effort […] Donors Trust is just the tip of a very big iceberg.
The use of such funding channels has grown exponentially over the last decade. In 2002 the funds in question raised less than a million dollars for climate contrarian projects, much less than other groups with a vested interest in scepticism. However, the funds now dwarf the amounts being given by more well known opponents of green initiatives, such as Exxon Mobil or Koch brothers.
Green Steve’s Reaction
Just as you cannot have up without down or light without dark, there wouldn’t be a pro-environment movement without such counterbalancing sceptics who quite clearly care little about whether climate change is real or not but rather care how potential legislation is going to affect their wealth.
I do think, however, that the impact of the sceptics’ work is palpable given the often fleeting interaction of the everyday man with the subject of climate change. With grotesquely biased headlines appearing in right-wing press outlets across the world, the public are being misinformed as to the seriousness of climate change and this in turn is contributing to a sense of apathy, and sometimes anger, towards the enforced transition towards a greener economy.
Without true impartiality, there can be no true science which is why, in my opinion, areas of science which may prove contentious should be primarily government funded to avoid conflicts of interest. Whether this is a realistic view when many countries are facing huge austerity I cannot say.
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