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The ATM for Climate Denial: Shadowy Group Bankrolls Vast Network of Science Skeptics

Millions of dollars have been handed out to organizations whose express purpose is spreading disinformation.
 
 
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Editor's note: the following is Part 2 of a Democracy Now! segment on Donors Trust, a secretive network that allows wealthy conservatives to funnel millions into right-wing causes and groups while remaining under the rader. Read part 1 here. 

While the secretive Donors Trust has given millions to a variety of right-wing causes, denying climate change appears to be its top priority. An analysis by the environmentalist group Greenpeace reveals Donors Trust has funneled more than one-third of its donations — at least $146 million — to more than 100 climate change denial groups over the past decade. In 2010, 12 of these groups received between 30 to 70 percent of their funding from Donors Trust. We’re joined by Suzanne Goldenberg, U.S. environment correspondent for The Guardian, who has written a series of articles detailing the ties between Donors Trust and opponents of climate change science. "The goal here is to create this illusion, this idea that there is a really strong movement against the science of climate change and against action on climate change," Goldenberg says. "In fact, that’s actually, to an extent, become a reality now: You see that opposition to action on climate change is central to Republican thinking."

AARON MATÉ: While Donors Trust has given money to a variety of right-wing causes, denying climate change appears to be its top priority. An analysis by the environmentalist group Greenpeace reveals Donors Trust has funneled at least $146 million to more than 100 climate change denial groups over the past decade. In 2010, 12 of these groups received between 30 to 70 percent of their funding from Donors Trust. Some of the recipients include Americans for Prosperity, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

AMY GOODMAN: Although many Donors Trust funders are unknown, at least two of its members include foundations bankrolled by the billionaire Charles Koch, a leading backer of climate denial. According to the most recent figures, the Koch-funded Knowledge and Progress Fund gave Donors Trust nearly $8 million through 2011.

For more on Donors Trust and the denial of global warming, we’re joined in Washington, D.C., by Suzanne Goldenberg, U.S. environment correspondent for  The Guardian. She has written a series of articles detailing the ties between Donors Trust and opponents of climate change science.

Lay out what you’ve found, Suzanne.

SUZANNE GOLDENBERG: Well, basically, what you see is that—over the last decade or so, you see a concerted effort by wealthy conservatives, conservative billionaires, to fund up and prop up a whole series of institutions that could work to undermine the science behind climate change and also work to undermine any kind of effort to pass legislation to deal with climate change. This money is going to think tanks. It’s going to activist groups. It’s going to so-called "scholars." It’s going to a wide range of individuals, you know, more than a hundred different organizations.

And, you know, the goal here is to create this illusion, this idea that there is, you know, a really strong movement against the science of climate change and against action on climate change. In fact, that’s actually, to an extent, become a reality now: You see that opposition to action on climate change is central to Republican thinking.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the different groups.

SUZANNE GOLDENBERG: You’ve got lots. You know, you’ve got sort of blue-chip think tanks in Washington, D.C., some of the really big institutions like the American Enterprise Institute. You’ve got organizations that really wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t, you know, make much of an impact at all if they didn’t get half their budget from Donors Trust. In that category, I would put the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. One of its main activities is to run a website that’s like a clearing house for articles that try and discredit the science behind climate change or, you know, launch personal attacks against people like Al Gore or climate scientists, you know, people who speak up against climate change. So you’ve got lots of different efforts going on. I mean, you’ve seen—I don’t know if you remember, a few years back, there was this organization called the Energy Citizens that was launched by Americans for Prosperity, you know, grassroots activists against action on climate change. That, it now turns out, had funding from Donors Trust, as well.

 
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