American Enterprise Institute
Conservative think tanks in the United States are a sort of “ground zero” for the production of doubt about the links between fossil fuel burning and dangerous climate change.
These think tanks produce reports, hold conferences, write books, go on television, produce columns and blogs and generally and liberally splatter the public discourse with talking points.
You’ll have heard their manufactured doubt everywhere. “CO2 is great for the planet… fossil fuels are good… climate scientists are wrong… the world has been hotter in the past… cutting emissions will kill the economy.” That sort of thing.
But there has been speculation that as the world continues to break heat records, and as oceans rise and the science sends ever more clear and urgent signals, that the focus of these think tanks will shift away from attacking the science to discussing policy.
Now a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change has declared unambiguously “the era of climate science denial is not over”.
Dr Travis Coan, of the University of Exeter, and Dr Constantine Boussalis, of Trinity College Dublin, analysed 16,000 articles, reports, transcripts, letters, reviews and press releases from the websites of 19 conservative think tanks, mainly based in the U.S, who work on climate change.
In the study, Boussalis and Coan discuss how commentators had been speculating about an end of climate science denial for more than a decade.
Analysing documents from 1998 until mid-2013, Boussalis and Coan found that think tanks had in recent years been focusing less on policy and more on attacking the science.
Caught in the crosshairs of an ongoing New York Attorney General investigation exploring its role in studying the damage climate change could cause since the 1970's and then proceeding to fund climate science denial campaigns, ExxonMobil has announced an interesting job opening.
No, not the new lawyer who will soon send the “private empire” billable hours for his defense work in the New York AG probe, though that's a story for another day. Exxon is hiring for a climate change researcher to work in its Annandale, New Jersey research park facility.
“We are seeking a candidate to advance research and assessment providing fundamental understanding on global climate change issues,” reads the job description.
It’s known as the Kochtopus – the extensive network of think tanks, institutes, university departments, political funding arms and “grassroots” activist groups funded by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch.
The multi-tentacled network has pumped tens of millions of dollars into groups that deny the risks of human-caused climate change.
But if it is Koch cash that helps fuel these groups, then what is it that fuels the Koch brothers themselves beyond the obvious financial interest?
As DeSmogBlog has revealed, Charles Koch is a long-standing member of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) – a global group of industrialists, academics and economists who share the “neoliberal” ideology of limiting government control.
If the Koch network has many groups dangling from its tentacles, then Charles Koch’s membership with the Mont Pelerin Society provides a window into the ideological heart of the Kochtopus.
DeSmogBlog today publishes the global membership directory of the Mont Pelerin Society as it was in 2010, with all personal contact details redacted.
Follow the money. October 23, PBS Frontline's Climate of Doubt gave viewers an hour's coverage of the tactics of climate anti-science, its advocates and a quick look into the funding behind it. Read on to follow the money deeper into the funny finances, all free of tax.
Last February, Fake Science, Fakexperts, Funny Finances, Free Of Tax explored some of those issues in detail. More information has been unearthed since, especially on DONORS TRUST, which Robert Brulle discussed with Frontline. Charles Koch and others use DONORS TRUST to anonymize their funding of policy/advocacy groups. The attached revision exposes more detail of the $311 million given through DONORS between 2002-2010, managed by Whitney Ball.
When does a study on the unconventional shale gas industry become a “shill gas study”? The quick answer: when nearly everyone writing and peer reviewing it has close ties to the industry they're purportedly doing an “objective” study on.
The newest kid on the block: a recent study published by SUNY Buffalo's Shale Resources and Society Institute, titled, ”Environmental Impacts During Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies.”
The four co-authors of the “study” all have backgrounds, directly or indirectly, in the oil and gas industry:
Timothy Considine and Robert Watson: A professor emeritus at University of Wyoming and a professor at Pennsylvania State University respectively, Considine and Watson co-authored a Marcellus Shale Coalition “jobs” study often cited by the industry and mainstream press titled, “The Economic Impacts of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play,” published in May 2010. The Marcellus Shale Coalition is a gas industry lobbying group representing nearly all of the corporations fracking for gas in the Marcellus. That “jobs” data was used in a July 2011 New York fracking jobs “study” shown to be farcical by Food and Water Watch in a November 2011 report, as covered by DeSmogBlog.
Nicholas Considine: Head of the University of Wyoming's Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy. He co-authored, along with his brother Timothy and Robert Watson, a Manhattan Institute-commissioned paper published in June 2011 titled, “The Economic Opportunities of Shale Energy Development.” The Institute is heavily funded by the oil and gas industry.
- John Martin: Martin is a Consultant at JPMartin Energy Strategy LLC. According to his biography appearing on the JPMartin website, he has spent decades working in various sectors of the oil and gas industry, during which he also was responsible for overseeing the research and writing of the first examination of “the natural gas potential of New York's Utica Shale that helped stimulate significant industry investment in this resource.” Martin also serves as co-director of the recently created SUNY Buffalo's Shale Resources and Society Institute, which published this “study.”
Steven F. Hayward
- Ph.D., American studies; M.A., government, Claremont Graduate School
- B.S., Business and Administrative Studies, Lewis and Clark College
Steven F. Hayward is a conservative writer and journalist covering issues including environmentalism, law, economics, and public policy. He is a regular blogger at Power Line.
“In short, for every anti-science Republican that exists, there is at least one anti-science Democrat. Neither party has a monopoly on scientific illiteracy. Indeed, ignorance has reached epidemic proportions inside the Beltway.”
I accused the author, Alex Berezow, of constructing a false equivalence between right and left wing science abuse. The latter does occur sometimes, and I’ve given many examples (ionizing radiation risks, vaccines, GMOs, etc). But it has relatively little mainstream influence today—and can hardly compare with the sweeping denial of huge bodies of knowledge (e.g., all climate science, all evolutionary science) that we see on the right.
Joe Romm also reposted my post and weighed in, further trashing Berezow’s weak argument, and particularly on the nuclear power front. Paul Raeburn also weighed in at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, noting Berezow’s conservative media connections.
In the comments on my post (no longer available, as the blog has just moved to a new URL—please update!), and then in a subsequent post, another conservative—Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute—weighed in. Who is Kenneth Green?
PolluterWatch is serving up a great tongue-in-cheek “memo to the Koch PR team” tonight, noting the obvious blunders from Koch Industries’ astroturfing and attack squad lately. The Kochtopus keeps revealing just how highly coordinated its media and blogger network is, mysteriously generating defensive and offensive pieces in quick succession at the drop of a billionaire’s hat.
If it weren’t so blatantly obvious in slinging the same mud and honey around the media Koch-o-sphere, perhaps Koch’s ever-ready defender squad might be worthy of compensation? Oh wait, New Media Strategies does get paid by Koch to blatantly and disastrously attempt to edit the Koch profile on Wikipedia.
And even if Koch’s friends in media claim to rush to the company’s defense out of pure ideological zealotry and not for compensation, there are a few instances where that argument fails to impress. As PolluterWatch points out, Koch’s PR team recently posted on the company’s Facebook page about a piece written by Steven Hayward that seemed to support Koch’s anti-science position on climate change and predictably tooted the old Climategate dud.