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Billionaires Covertly Funding Attacks on Climate Science

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Posted on Jan 25, 2013
laverrue (CC BY 2.0)

Secretive groups known as Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund are funneling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate science “without revealing the identities of [their] wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.”

Big surprise. An audit trail reveals that infamous American billionaire and financier of right-wing causes Charles Koch indirectly supports the Donors groups through a third-party organization called the Knowledge and Progress Fund. That group does not advertise its connection to Charles Koch and his brother, David Koch.

Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, estimates that in the past decade roughly $500 million has been given to organizations bent on undermining the science of global warming, with much of the cash flowing through such stealth third parties.

“We really have anonymous giving and unaccountable power being exercised here in the creation of the climate countermovement,” Brulle said. “There is no attribution, no responsibility for the actions of these foundations to the public.

“By becoming anonymous, they remove a political target. They can plausibly claim that they are not giving to these organizations, and there is no way to prove otherwise.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Independent:

The Knowledge and Progress Fund, whose directors include Charles Koch and his wife Liz, gave $1.25m to Donors in 2007, a further $1.25m in 2008 and $2m in 2010. It does not appear to have given money to any other group and there is no mention of the fund on the websites of Koch Industries or the Charles Koch Foundation.

The Donors Trust is a “donor advised fund”, meaning that it has special status under the US tax system. People who give money receive generous tax relief and can retain greater anonymity than if they had used their own charitable foundations because, technically, they do not control how Donors spends the cash.

Anonymous private funding of global warming sceptics, who have criticised climate scientists for their lack of transparency, is becoming increasingly common. The Kochs, for instance, have overtaken the corporate funding of climate denialism by oil companies such as ExxonMobil. One such organisation, Americans for Prosperity, which was established by David Koch, claimed that the “Climategate” emails illegally hacked from the University of East Anglia in 2009 proved that global warming was the “biggest hoax the world has ever seen”.

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