Dark Money Fueling Climate Change Propaganda

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — This spring, new research out of Canada's McGill University that reviewed historical temperature records and geological data (ice cores, tree rings and lake sediments) concluded with 99% certainty that our current climate change predicament cannot be ascribed to natural cycles.

But many are still dubious that man-made climate change is real. What's more, some skeptics even claim climate change is a money-making scam. In reality, you can follow the "dark money" to see how targeted funding is perpetuating these misconceptions -- even as climate change awareness and research groups lose funding.

Pulling Their Stakes

First of all, the Canadian government has seriously slashed funding for climate research in recent years. In 2012, the Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy — its federal advisory panel that consulted on climate change — was completely eliminated. The Canadian government has also laid off more than 2,000 scientists and defunded hundreds of science programs in the past five years.

Here in the United States, things do not fare that much better. As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, the federal government invested only $6 billion in renewable energy companies in 2007 as compared to $52 billion in the fossil fuel industry.

The public's confusion on climate change and the role money plays in addressing it — or not, as the case has often been — should come as no surprise, considering how much money actually fuels climate misinformation.

The Flood of "Dark Money

A study released out of Drexel University at the end of last year found that 140 foundations had directed $558 million between 2003 and 2010 to approximately 100 organizations, which in turn devoted those funds to climate misinformation campaigns.

The study, which was conducted by environmental sociologist Robert Brulle and published in the peer-reviewed journal Climactic Change in late December, found that much of this "dark money" is funneled through third-party foundations like DonorsTrust and Donors Capital. In particular, DonorsTrust was found to account for 25% of all traceable foundation money used by organizations to promote climate skepticism. Other groups found to be significant funders of climate skeptic material were the Searle Freedom Trust, the John Williams Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

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