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The Koch and Exxon Funded Think Tanks Supporting, and Being Courted by, Britain’s Brexit Campaigners

Owen Paterson speaking at the Heritage Foundation

The Republican National Convention kicks off this week in Cleveland, Ohio and among the crowd clamouring to see Donald Trump will be one man who crossed the Atlantic to be there: Nigel Farage.

The former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) helped lead Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) and is famous for saying last year “I haven’t got a clue whether climate change is being driven by carbon-dioxide emissions.”

But he’s made the trip this week to deliver a message to Republicans that the UK’s vote to leave the EU, or ‘Brexit’, holds lessons for America.

How US Senators’ #WebofDenial Helped Spawn and Sustain Climate Science Denial in the UK

Senator Whitehouse describing the Web of Denial in the US Senate

In the 1990s, personnel from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) were flying across oceans to stoke climate science denial.

In 1995, in what is thought to be the first conference promoting climate science denial in Britain, the CEI’s then president Fred Smith joined another US guest from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation for a series of talks that undermined warnings about the impacts of fossil fuels on the climate.

Now more than 20 years on, Democratic Senators from across the pond have completed a blitz of speeches describing the fossil fuel funded “web of denial” – with organisations including the CEI featuring heavily in their forensic analysis.

This “web of denial” has held back action to cut greenhouse gas emissions while confusing the public on climate change. 

Jane Mayer's "Dark Money" Book Reveals Koch Brothers Paid Firm Run by Former NYPD Chief to Smear Her

The just-published book “Dark Money,” penned by New Yorker staff reporter Jane Mayer, reveals that the Koch Brothers hired the former commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD— and his daughter, a former FBI agent  to smear her as a “plagiarist” in the months after the release of her August 2010 bombshell article on the Kochs.

That article, titled “Covert Operations,” served at the time as one of the first in-depth pieces of long-form investigative journalism on David and Charles Koch and the influential right-wing political and climate change denial Tea Party network they had Frankensteined. Mayer's book exposes that the Kochs hired the firm Vigilant Resources International, run by former NYPD head Howard Safir and his daughter Jennifer Safir (the former FBI special agent), to do dirty work on their behalf.

Republican Donor Stands by Scandal-Rocked UK Climate Denial Charity He Helped to Fund

Republican donor David Herro is standing by Lord Lawson’s UK climate change science denying charity – which he helped to fund – amidst allegations that its peer review process is flawed.

In December 2015, Greenpeace revealed that one of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) leading academic advisers Professor William Happer offered to write an academic paper casting doubt on climate change on behalf of a fictitious oil company. Happer suggested this paper be reviewed under the GWPF’s ‘peer review process’.

When asked whether these revelations have any impact on his decision to fund the GWPF, Herro responded stating: “No comment till proof is provided of an unethical behavior.”

Chart Shows Why 'CO2 is Good' For Climate Science Denial Groups Funded By Exxon and Kochs

What difference does influential corporate cash make to the arguments that climate science denial groups make in public?

This was a question that Yale University’s Dr Justin Farrell tried to answer in an exhaustive piece of research published late last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Farrell’s paper - Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change – contained this remarkable chart, which I missed at the time but reckon it deserves a bit more daylight.

Study Finds The 'Era of Climate Science Denial Is Not Over'

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.

In Midst of ExxonMobil Climate Denial Scandal, Company Hiring Climate Change Researcher

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.

New Study Exposes True Extent, Influence Of Climate Denial Echo Chamber For First Time

Thanks to a recent poll from ABC News and the Washington Post, we know that nearly two-thirds of American adults think global warming is “a serious problem facing the country.”

And now, thanks to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change (full study available at this link), we know exactly how many people are out there taking money from dirty energy interests to try and confuse Americans about climate changeto derail overdue action and protect the fossil fuel industries' profits.

Justin Farrell, a professor of sociology at Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the author of the report, studied both the institutional and social network structure of the climate denier movement and found that there are some 4,556 individuals with ties to 164 organizations that are involved in pushing anti-climate science views on the public.

The Climate Science Deniers And Free Market Activists Backing Bjorn Lomborg

STOP ACADEMIC CENSORSHIP” screamed the full caps headline on the half-page advert in the Murdoch-owned The Australian newspaper earlier this week.

Referring to the Danish climate change contrarian and US think tank boss Bjorn Lomborg, the advert claimed: “We stand for academic freedom. We stand with Dr Lomborg.”

"Seven Nobel Laureates" Behind Climate Contrarian Bjorn Lomborg's Think Tank Are Not All They Seem, Or Even All Alive

As a way to sell your think tank’s ideas, get people to fund it or even just collaborate with it, there could be few more enticing prospects than being able to rub shoulders with seven Nobel prize winning economists.

In Australia, Danish climate change contrarian and head of the US-based Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) Bjorn Lomborg has been working overtime to respond to the fallout of the decision by one university to pull out of hosting an Australian arm of his project.

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