Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Campaign to Mislead the Public on Climate Change

Wyoming just became the first state in the nation to reject world-class science standards that teach our kids about climate change. Interest groups that pushed for this move would like to bar climate science from being taught in other states too.
Wyoming legislators voted to support a last-minute budget amendment that prohibits the Wyoming State Board of Education from spending funds to even consider the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) because students would learn about climate change in this fossil fuel-dependent state.
Wyoming State Rep. Matt Teeters, who authored the anti-science budget amendment, told the Casper Star-Tribune that teaching climate change as fact would "wreck Wyoming's economy...and cause other unwanted political ramifications." Governor Mead signed the anti-science provision into law.
The Board of Education could push back against political meddling and assert its authority over setting science standards, but it will take an outcry from parents and science supporters from Wyoming and throughout the country.
It is a dangerous precedent to allow those who deny climate science for ideological or economic reasons to censor the science education kids need to be ready for college, career and a changing climate. Science education standards should be written by scientists and educators, not by legislators whose concerns may be more political than educational.
Ten states have adopted the NGSS, a set of science standards for K-12 students developed by an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.But Wyoming could be the beginning of an assault on climate education in the states still considering these 21st century science standards. 
Wyoming students deserve access to high quality, world-class science standards just as much as students anywhere else in the nation. Given the stakes for our children’s future, it’s imperative that kids everywhere learn the facts of climate change so they can all become part of the solution.
Thank you for taking action for our kids and grandkids!
Marguerite Herman, Advocate for Science Education, Climate Parents Member
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Climate Denialists Spending Billions in untraceable Dark Money to fool the Public

By | Dec. 24, 2013
(By Lauren McCauley)

The expansive misinformation campaign behind climate change denial is increasingly being funded in the dark, reveals a new report published Friday in the journal Climatic Change

According to the study titled "Institutionalizing Delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations," while the largest and most consistent funders of climate change denial are a number of well-known conservative foundations and industry groups, the majority of donations come from "dark money," or concealed funding.

Delving into what he calls the climate change counter-movement, or CCCM, report author and Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle uncovers the various players behind the powerful global warming misinformation campaign.


“It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this,” Brulle told the Guardian. “This is a large-scale political effort.”
"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," Brulle adds. "At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts.”
In an earlier interview with PBS's Frontline, Brulle compares the tactical spending of the climate change counter movement to that of pro-environment groups:
What’s interesting is that in comparison to the environmental movement, it actually doesn’t have as much money. The environmental movement actually has more funding, but it’s the nature of the spending that makes the difference.
When you look at what the environmental movement spends its money on, it actually tries to spend its money on developing solutions to climate change, such as developing a solar panel industry in China, making sure everybody in India has an appropriate solar oven to reduce CO2 emissions, things like that. And they spend hardly anything on political or cultural processes. The climate change countermovement spends all of its money there.
So you end up with this great difference between the two movements. As one movement is actually out there trying to develop technological solutions on the ground, the other is engaged in political action to delay any kind of action…(Source: Institutionalizing Delay)
Mirrored from

Sheldon Whitehouse
US senator for Rhode Island

Time to Wake Up: The Campaign to Mislead the Public on Climate Change
As delivered on the Senate floor
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thank you, Madam President. We are gathered here in the Senate in the somber shadow of the events in Boston at the marathon. And I guess I will start by conveying my sympathies to the individuals and their families who were killed or hurt in that terrible act. I share the determination of so many people that our law enforcement folks will indeed get to the bottom of this, and will get the resources they need, and we will have answers and justice for the families that are affected.

I rise again though, on the subject I come to the floor every week we are in session to discuss, which is the need for this body to wake up to the reality of the clear scientific consensus that human activity is driving serious changes in our climate and oceans.

For more than two decades, the fossil fuel companies and certain right-wing extremists have cooked up a well-organized campaign to call into question the scientific evidence of climate change. The paid-for deniers then manufacture an interesting product, they manufacture uncertainty so the polluters who are doing the paying can also keep polluting, because a sufficient atmosphere of uncertainty has been created to inhibit progress.

This is not a new strategy. We have seen this played before. Industries eager to drown out scientific evidence to maximize profit is not a new story. They questioned the merits of requiring seatbelts in automobiles. They questioned the toxic effects of lead exposure. And they questioned whether tobacco was really bad for people.

Well, they were wrong then and they’re wrong now about climate. Interestingly, they do not actually care. It is not their purpose to be accurate. They just want to create doubt; to sow enough of a question to stop progress. So these sophisticated campaigns are launched to give the public the false impression that there actually is a real scientific debate over climate change. And here in the Senate, regrettably, some of my colleagues even promote this view.

But, let’s be practical here. Which is the more likely case?

April 16 2013 Climate Change Speech Chart 1

Are a handful of nonprofit environmental groups using their limited funding to pay off literally hundreds and hundreds of climate scientists in an internationally coordinated hoax to falsify complicated climate research? Really?

April 16 2013 What is More Likely Chart 2

Or is it more likely that fossil-fuel corporations are using a slice of their immense profits to float front groups to protect their immense profits?

Well, the answer to that question is obvious I think, just from the logic. But we don’t have to apply logic. We can follow the money and look at evidence.

According to an analysis by the Checks and Balances Project, a self-described pro-clean-energy government and industry watchdog group, from 2006 to 2010, four sources of fossil-fuel money, just 4 of them, contributed more than $16 million to a group of conservative think tanks that go about the business of being publicly critical of climate science and clean energy. Those four sources are the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and oil giant ExxonMobil. On the receiving end is a lengthy roster of well-known and often-cited rightward-leaning outfits: The top 10 (we’ll just talk about the top 10 in this set of remarks):

American Enterprise Institute
Cato Institute
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Heartland Institute
Heritage Foundation
Hudson Institute
Institute for Energy Research
George C. Marshall Institute
Manhattan Institute
Mercatus Center

Who’s giving? Well, Charles Koch is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries and he is the 6th-richest person on the planet. Koch Industries is the second-largest privately held company in the United States. Koch companies include the Koch Pipeline Company, and Flint Hills Resources, which operates refineries with a combined crude oil processing capacity of more than 292 million barrels per year. That much oil accounts for 126 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year—as much as 35 coal-fired power plants produce or 26 million cars. So to put it mildly, this fellow has got some skin in the game.

Between 2006 and 2010, the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave almost $8 million to think tanks and institutes, including $7.6 million to the Mercatus Center, and $100,000 to the American Enterprise Institute.

Charles Koch, along with his brother David, also established the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation – those two have the same source - and they direct that foundation’s giving as well. This foundation provided almost $5 million to climate denying think tanks and institutes, including over $1 million to the Cato Institute, and more than $2 million to the Heritage Foundation.

The Earhart Foundation was started by Henry Boyd Earhart using funds from his oil business, White Star Refining Company—now a part of, you guessed it, ExxonMobil. The Earhart Foundation has donated almost $1.5 million to climate denier groups: $370,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, $330,000 to the Cato Institute, and another $195,000 for the George C. Marshall Institute.

That leaves us, of course, ExxonMobil itself, which is the second largest corporation in the world, and among the most profitable. Ranked number one among Fortune 500 companies, its total revenues reached nearly half a trillion dollars in 2012, and their profits were nearly $45 billion. ExxonMobil produces over 6 million barrels of oil per day at its 36 refineries in 20 countries, so it’s the world’s largest oil producer. From 2006 to 2010, the petroleum giant gave institutes more than $2.3 million: $1.2 million for the American Enterprise Institute, $220,000 for the Heritage Foundation, $160,000 for the Institute for Energy Research, and $115,000 for the Heartland Institute.

So what did the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and ExxonMobil get for all of that so-called charitable giving? Well, the Checks and Balances Project found that from 2007 to 2011, these ten organizations that I cited, the top 10, were quoted, cited, or had articles published over 1000 times, over 1000 times in 60 mainstream newspapers and print publications, and invariably they were promoting fossil fuels, undermining renewable energy, or attacking environmental policies.

That’s good investing. Spend millions of dollars on a handful of think tanks to protect billions of dollars in profits; really a thousand-to-one return. But here’s the problem: the public is unaware of the connection, usually. Only a handful of these attacks were accompanied by any explanation by the media that the fossil-fuel industry was involved in them.

Here’s one prime example. Last summer, when the Navy displayed its Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group that runs on a 50-50 blend of biodiesel and petroleum, Institute for Energy Research president Thomas Pyle wrote a column for U.S. News and World Report, calling that initiative “ridiculous,” and “a costly and pointless exercise.”

Never mind that our defense and intelligence communities have repeatedly warned of the threats posed by climate change to national security and international stability, and of their own need to secure a reliable and secure fuel supply. What’s misleading here is that U.S. News and World Report in publishing that article attributed the column simply thus: “Thomas Pyle is the president of the Institute for Energy Research,” with no mention that the Institute for Energy Research is a front for big donors like the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and ExxonMobil.

This is one example of this misleading practice in the media.

[Show Media Description Chart]

More than half of the time, media outlets do nothing more than state the name of the publishing organization, like Thomas Pyle and the Institute for Energy Research, or they may add a functional description, like “think-tank” or “non-partisan group.”

The instances when the publication described the basic ideology of the group, for example as a “free-market” or “conservative” think tank, amount to less than a third.

In all of the media outlets reviewed between 2007 and 2011, the financial ties between the authors and the fossil-fuel industry were mentioned a mere 6 percent of the time. 94% of the time, the fossil fuel industry funders got away with it. This chart shows some examples:

[Show Anonymity Chart]

The Washington Post ignored the financial connection 88 percent of the time;
POLITICO – ignored the financial connection 95 percent of the time;
Christian Science Monitor – ignored it every time;
USA Today – ignored it 98 percent of the time;
The New York Times – ignored it 90 percent.

So the scam of laundering money through independent-sounding organizations works. The media lets it work. The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring, but a recent Gallup poll revealed that only 62 percent of Americans believe the vast majority of scientists agree global warming is occurring.

Well over 90 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that humans are the main cause. The only uncertainty is about how bad it is going to be. And the leading research predicts warmer air and seas, rising sea levels, stronger storms, and more acidic oceans.

Most major players in the private sector actually get it. While the big fossil fuel polluters try to confuse the public to boost their bottom line and prolong their pollution, hundreds of leading corporations understand that climate change ultimately undermines our entire economy. Let me think of, let me mention some of the examples: Ford; Coca-Cola; GE; Walmart; the insurance giant Munich Re; Alcoa, the great aluminum maker; Maersk; Proctor and Gamble; Fedex; and the so-called BICEP Group which includes EBay, Intel, Starbucks, Adidas, and Nike. So this notion that this is a hoax, that there is doubt, is belied by some of the most respected names in the private sector. And those companies join the National Academies, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Government Accountability Office, the American Public Health Association, and yes, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the majority of Americans, in understanding that it is time to wake up, to end the faux controversy that has been cooked up by the fossil fuel industry, and to do the work here in Congress that needs to be done to protect Americans from the harms of carbon pollution.

I thank the presiding officer and I yield the floor.

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