A new study investigating the details of the finance behind climate change denial has revealed a system of ‘dark money’ and untraceable funding.
Environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, from Drexel University in Philadelphia, published the paper – the first of its kind – in the journal Climate Change.
Brulle had already investigated the issue of climate change denial funding earlier this year, when it emerged that organisations such as the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund were giving millions of dollars to climate denial activities.
The new research confirms the role of some famous ultra-free market conservative foundations such as the Searle Freedom Trust, the John William Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.
The study also said that much of the funding – around 75% – comes from untraceable sources thanks to the involvement of organisations that guarantee the anonymity of donors.
Brulle said, “Like a play on Broadway, the countermovement has stars in the spotlight – often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians – but behind the stars is an organisational structure of directors, scriptwriters and producers, in the form of conservative foundations.”
The Koch Affiliates Foundations and Exxon Mobil stopped doing traceable donations in 2008, after having done so from 2003 to 2007.
Brulle is going to analyse environmental and climate movements, to compare its funding with that of the climate denial.
“The real issue here is one of democracy. Without a free flow of accurate information, democratic politics and government accountability become impossible”, said Brulle.
“Money amplifies certain voices above others and, in effect, gives them a megaphone in the public square. Powerful funders are supporting the campaign to deny scientific findings about global warming and raise public doubts about the roots and remedies of this massive global threat. At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts.”