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Koch Brothers Political Empire Holds Action on Climate Change Hostage

The main elements of any meaningful multilateral accord to protect our planet remain deadlocked due to America’s crippling ‘Koch problem.’

This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

“Warning signs are all around us,” were the admonishing words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon urging national negotiators meeting several weeks ago in Doha, Qatar, to forge an ambitious new global agreement to counter climate change. 

While a pathetically weak deal was approved to keep hope alive, the main elements of any meaningful multilateral accord to protect our planet remain deadlocked due to America’s crippling ‘Koch problem.’

That is, the world is held hostage by the deepening political polarization among policymakers due to a dangerous dependence of an extremist conservative faction on the dark and dirty money of carbon billionaires Charles and David Koch (pronounced, Coke).

As the U.S. Senate scrambled to cover $80 billion in clean up costs from Superstorm Sandy, and the body count approached 1,000 from another extreme weather event in the Philippines, Charles and David Kochs’ combined net worth ($80.2B) surpassed that of the world’s wealthiest main, Carlos Slim ($71.8B), allowing them to outspend all other oil companies, even Exxon, to prevent the phase out of fossil fuels.

A new report from the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) sheds light on how Koch funds buy votes and the right to continue polluting for a profit. Since 1998, the Koch brothers have spent more than half a billion dollars influencing politics, policy, and public opinion.

Through their web of spending, the Kochs and their related organizations have spent a staggering amount of money influencing politics including; $12.6 million on campaign contributions, $6 million to congress, $60 million to groups denying climate change, $69 million in lobbying efforts, and organizing over $400 million for the 2012 election cycle. They also fund or donate to a host of think tanks, artificial grass roots groups like Americans for Prosperity (which boasts of giving rise to the Tea Party), and host political and media retreats wherein top conservative media outlets and politicians are invited.

The Koch’s vast wealth based in fossil fuels was largely amassed following the creation of unregulated oil derivatives markets. It is no coincidence that the world’s wealthiest men also have its largest carbon footprint.

Possible future boons to profits include the Keystone XL pipeline and shale processing, while any move to halt these controversial pollution intensive projects or any discussion of EPA regulation of carbon would mean they must innovate or lose some of their windfall profits. That’s why they have initiated an extremist campaign that equates ‘economic freedom’ with the right to pollute, and advances the myth that an economy of endless material expansion is possible on planet that has already gone beyond its ecological limits.

The science surrounding anthropomorphic climate change is overwhelming. Even Koch-funded climate skeptics have changed their tune after finding conclusive evidence that human-caused greenhouse gasses are indeed warming the Earth.

The World Bank announced in a report this year that not only is the proof for anthropomorphic climate change undeniable, but that we also know the measures to take in order to ensure that we hold the temperature raise at 2°C, rather than the disastrous 4-7°C raise that we are currently heading for.

There is little debate among American citizens; they overwhelmingly want some kind of definitive action to address the threats of climate change.

Given the rising consensus of scientific study combined with numerous ‘once in a lifetime’ weather events like Superstorm Sandy, the droughts in the US and Russia, or spiking food prices, one might think that climate change would be near the top of all politician’s priorities.