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Tuesday, 17 March 2015 06:29

Koch Brothers Are Endangering the Planet by Funding Climate Change Denial

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aclimatedenialThings don't go better with Koch. (Image: Wolf Gang)

The Koch Brothers, the most noted billionaires in the crusade to corral US democracy into an oligarchy, are back in the news for their funding of climate-denial flummery. In this case, according to The Guardian, they are making news for not revealing how much money they have invested in trying to debunk the reality of global warming:

The Koch brothers’ conglomerate Koch Industries has refused to comply with an investigation by three Senate Democrats into whether the company has funded groups or researchers who deny or cast doubt on climate change.

In response to a request from senators Barbara Boxer, Edward Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse for information about Koch Industries’ support for scientific research, Koch general counsel Mark Holden invoked the company’s first amendment rights.

Notice how the Koch Brothers attorney stresses "first amendment rights" for Koch Industries. This claim of corporate personhood echoes the plutocratic majority opinion in Citizens United: the opinion that companies have the same rights as individuals in elections. Only in this case, the notion of businesses being persons is applied to the funding of propaganda to elevate climate denial into a scientific theory.

Greenpeace is one step ahead of the Democratic senators seeking information about the climate-denial funding: The organization did an analysis of the Koch brothers' financial backing of climate-denial front groups and spokespersons:

Billionaire oilman David Koch used to joke that Koch Industries was "the biggest company you've never heard of." Now the shroud of secrecy has thankfully been lifted, revealing the $67 million [from 1997 to 2011] that he and his brother Charles have quietly funneled to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming, most of which are part of the State Policy Network.

The Greenpeace estimate of Koch financial backing for climate science denial cannot, of course, be entirely precise, because given the refusal of the Koch brothers to voluntarily reveal their financing, it is not possible to verify the full extent of their funding.

Dahr Jamail and other Truthout reporters have been reporting on the devastation of global warming in real time, in an ongoing environmental feature, "Planet or Profit." The revelations in the articles are indisputable and alarming.

If the Koch brothers believe in free enterprise and the unfettered accumulation of personal wealth, why should they be so secretive about their funding of political campaigns, organizations and projects that benefit their personal wealth? As Greenpeace states, "Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest in delaying climate action: they've made billions from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in America (which also happens to have an especially poor environmental record)." Why not just fess up to their backing of efforts to continue pollution regardless of its impact? 

After all, they are proud of how they catapulted their inherited wealth through instruments of corporate growth that reject a responsibility to the maintenance of the planet.

According to the website Responding to Climate Change, last year former President Jimmy Carter denounced the Koch brothers for their underhanded activity in opposing measures to prevent irreversible planetary damage:

Jimmy Carter has criticized the Koch brothers for distorting the climate change debate through multi-million dollar donations to skeptic organizations.

Speaking in Paris yesterday, the former US president said that there was an “unpleasantly successful” campaign to undermine the science on global warming.

This is backed by the donations of the country’s wealthiest, he said, including the fossil fuel magnate Koch brothers, whose net worth was recently valued at over US $ 100 billion.

The Guardian (which is published in the UK) explores the nefarious influence of the Koch brothers in efforts to muddle up the reality of global warming, but most corporate mass media in the US won't investigate the expenditures of big business billionaires, because those media are owned by corporations who don't their own secrets exposed.

In its article on the Koch brothers' determination to keep their anti-science funding secret, The Guardian reveals:

The senators’ investigation was prompted by documents obtained through a freedom of information request by Greenpeace, the environmental group. The documents revealed a prominent Harvard-Smithsonian Center scientist hadaccepted more than $1.2m from the fossil-fuel industry. The scientist, Wei-Hock Soon, has espoused on television and before Congress alternate theories of climate change, including a discredited theory that the sun’s energy explain global warming.

Soon received at least $230,000 from the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation, according to the documents obtained by Greenpeace.

Why is it that such an exposure comes from Greenpeace and not the likes of The New York Times or The Washington Post?

The answer speaks for itself. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the destruction of our planet.

Not to be reposted without permission of Truthout