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Dark Money Funding Majority of Climate Change Denial

The majority of climate change denial funding comes from unidentified sources according to new report in the journal Climatic Change.  Dark money, or untraceable support that is given to influence a campaign, makes up 75 percent of hundreds of millions of dollars donated to denial groups nationwide.

The study, conducted by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, found a dramatic upswing in the number of donations passed through third-party organizations in recent years.  These middlemen, such as Donors Trust and Donors Capital, render the donations to climate denial groups untraceable, allowing donors to remain anonymous.

At the same time, according to the report once openly supportive climate change denial funders such as Koch Industries and ExxonMobil have disappeared from the public record, showing no traceable support in recent years.

According to Brulle, the move to hidden accounting makes knowing exactly who is behind climate change denial an untenable task.

“Without a free flow of accurate information, democratic politics and government accountability become impossible,” Brulle said. “Money amplifies certain voices above others and, in effect, gives them a megaphone in the public square.”

Yet, those funding climate denial are currently obscured by a few outspoken proponents and funding middlemen who serve as the public face of the movement.

“Like a play on Broadway, the countermovement has stars in the spotlight ,often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians,” Brulle explained, “but behind the stars is an organizational structure of directors, script writers and producers.”

While some conservative groups, such as the Searle Freedom Trust, the John Williams Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, have openly supported the climate deniers, providing a consistent funding base, many more influential organizations and corporations remain hidden.

This, Brulle said, obscures what is really going on behind the scenes of the climate change denial movement.

“At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts,” Brulle insisted.

Photo Credit: Robert DuHamel

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.

  • Mary Rodgers

    It occurs to me, if the deniers of climate change could use their funds to help solve the problem, perhaps we could be well on our way–only a thought.