Cleaning up the climate debate (5). Follow the money. Merchants of doubt vs merchants of alarm

Conclusion. Please, no more talk about skeptics getting all the big money from powerful interests.

It is common knowledge in progressive circles that Big Oil and Big Coal are “merchants of doubt” feeding Big Money to climate skeptics and their organizations. Naomi Oreskes has been active in defence of the struggling climate scientists standing like David against the Goliath of the science deniers movement, lavishly funded by Big Oil, coal and other corporate interests. Nomi Oreskes identified the “merchants of doubt” who empower a handful of rogue scientists to confuse people by dominating the public debate, helped by naïve media outlets that insist on equal time for both points of view.

She was scandalized that Exxon Mobil contributed $75,000 to the free enterprise Cato Institute and sums of $40,000 and $50,000 to other organizations for climate work challenging the consensus. Her view is endorsed in the first serious treatment of climate science by a philosopher of science, Eric Winsberg in Philosophy and Climate Science (Cambridge Uni Press, 2018). He noted that Oreskes and Conway in their book Merchants of Doubt have shown how a small group of scientists backed by powerful interests have “manufactured controversy” about climate issues.

Their well-documented claim, in a nutshell, is that this small group of scientists used millions of dollars of funding to create a kind of illegitimate dissent, doubt and controversy. If Oreskes and Conway are right, and by all accounts they are, then there must be a distinction between legitimate dissent (which is fundamental to science) and “manufactured” dissent which is both epistemically detrimental to science and ethically detrimental to society.

This is a strange turn of phrase to find in work of philosophy – “by all accounts” – with no accounts provided. There is another account by Matthew Nisbett that provides a fuller picture of the flow of funds to various groups involved in the climate debate. Admittedly the paper appeared while Winsberg’s book was in press, still the information was available for years and Nisbett just did the sums and published the results.

Oreskes was scandalized by the tens of thousands that Exxon Mobil contributed to assorted deniers noted above and presumably even more by the grants amounting to some $16 million to denier advocates between 1998 and 2004. It seems that the Big Oil money for deniers dried up after that and Exxon-Mobile granted $100 million to Stanford for research to develop non-warming energy sources. That is not surprising because Big Oil and a lot of other Big Business has gone Green to chase the trillions that are on offer as the carbon credit system and the money in renewable energy matures for the benefit of merchant bankers and well-connected Green investors.

Foundation Funding for the Merchants of Alarm

While the alarmists refer to the sinister activities of the merchants of doubt it seems that the really big money is going to the Green “merchants of alarm”. This is clear from Matthew Nisbett’s paper “Strategic philanthropy in the post‐Cap‐and‐Trade years: Reviewing U.S. climate and energy foundation funding” in Wires Climate Change, July/August 2018. The paper is behind a paywall and a summary is available at The Daily Caller “Climate Change ‘Philanthropy’ Efforts Included $20 Million To Al Gore’s Group”.

The usual suspects foam over the $7 million Heartland Institute budget while the Sierra Club alone received almost $US50 million between 2011 and 2015 and the top 20 recipients of climate-related charity took a total of $230 million during that time. The top 20 granting bodies spent $556 million (listed below).

A key player is the Energy Foundation set up as a “regranting body” in 1991 by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust and the MacArthur Foundation joined later by the Hewlett Foundation, the Packard Foundation. In 2006 Hewlett and others hired a firm of consultants to produce a report “Design to Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming”. The suggestion was to triple funding from $210 million in 2007 to $600 million per annum over the next decade.

In 2008 the sponsoring bodies set up Climateworks as a regranting organisation intended to invest more than a billion worldwide. In addition to Hewlett and Packard this involved the Energy Foundation, Kresge Foundation, the Sea Change foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Oak Foundation.

Top 20 charitable donors to climate-related lobby groups 2011 – 2015 (Nisbett 2018) giving a total of 556 million

Energy Foundation 95M (actually a regranting body), Hewlett and Kresge 70M, MacArthur 53, Doris Duke 42, Rockefeller Brothers and Schmidt Family 28, Skoll 26, Bloomberg 23 (Bloomberg spends much more than that on its own anti-coal activities worldwide), Packard 23, Climate Works 18, Surdna Foundation and Heinz Endowments 15, McKnight 14, and others – Moore Foundation, Park, Oak, Wallace Global down to number 20 Ford Foundation with a piddling 3.2.

Top 20 beneficiaries accounting for $230 million 2011 – 2015

Sierra Club 49, Alliance for Climate Protection 20, Nature Conservancy 19, The Partnership Project 17, National Resources Defence Council 14, Environmental Defence Fund 13, New Venture Fund 13, Bipartisan Policy Centre 10, Wildlife Conservation Society 10, Clean Air Task Force 9, Climate Control 8, Regulatory Assistance Project 7, Institute for Market Transformation 6, Ceres 6, Sustainable markets Foundation 6, American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy 5, Great Plains Inst for Sust Dev 5, Georgetown Climate Centre 4.5, Environmenmtal Law and Policy Centre 4.5, Union of Concerned Scientists 4.

Bloomberg versus Coal.

New York, NY — Just after announcing a renewed commitment of $64 million to the Beyond Coal campaign in the United States and during this year’s UN Climate Conference COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, announced a $50 million commitment to partners worldwide to catalyze a global effort to move nations away from coal dependence. European Climate Foundation will be the leading partner in Europe.
Bloomberg’s announcement marks his first investment in efforts outside the U.S. to decrease reliance on coal and shift to renewable, cleaner energy sources. In the U.S., Bloomberg’s efforts to move away from coal have spurred the closing of more than 50% of the United States’ coal plants since 2011.

Bloomberg is pissing into the wind so far as the coal industry worldwide is concerned. The developing world is going to have coal-fired electric power whether Bloomberg and GetUp like it or not. Hundreds of new coal-fired power stations are under construction and if they don’t get coal from Adani they will go somewhere else. Stopping Adani will harm Australia but it will not stop the progress of coal-fired power where it is most needed.

Marc Morano’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change (2018) has a mass of up to date information on grants to greens and the hypocrisy of the Hollywood set. Another essential reference is Rupert Darwall’s Green Tyranny (2017). Jo Nova has been on this trail as well, with reference to the trillions of dollars that will be in play for merchant bankers and big investors in subsidized and state-protected Green Power.

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15 Responses to Cleaning up the climate debate (5). Follow the money. Merchants of doubt vs merchants of alarm

  1. Herodotus

    The masses will continue to be misled by the mostly leftist media. Today they seem to be salivating at the prospect of a week of high temperatures, including some on January 7th that were the worst since 1939.
    Yep, 1939. Perhaps anthropogenic climate change was well on the way then.

  2. egg_

    God’s work, Rafe, keep grinding away!
    CAGW is now toxic with Joe Public anyway – the boy who cried wolf?

  3. egg_

    a week of high temperatures, including some on January 7th that were the worst since 1939.

    In outer Bumfvck?

  4. egg_

    Merchants of doubt vs merchants of alarm

    Pie merchants are going out of business due to high electricity prices – what’s Pie Man’s solution?

  5. I think Jo Nova posted the amount of money that has gone towards anything associated with ‘climate research’ (government as well as private funding), and the amount was somewhere in the order of US$1 trillion to date. And these individuals and organisations still keep demanding more in the name of climate research.

  6. Rafe Champion

    Adding to bemused, Lomborg did a cost-benefit analysis that found 1 to 2 trillion per annum going into the war on CO2 for next to no gain. Summary of his analysis in the book Climate Change: The Facts 2017.

  7. Nob

    Oil and coal are competing energy sources.

    Anti fossil fuel fanatics never seem to comprehend that.

  8. stackja

    Duke once was evil tobacco. And once Rockefeller was evil oil. And HP made climate destroying PCs. Now they are ‘good’ climate ‘protectors’

  9. Mark M

    I followed the money to Al Gore, “himself an investor in renewable energy”, who said, “Every night on the evening news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”

    At first I laughed and said, “Yeah, I like plague of locust night, every Thursday after late night shopping.”

    … and then … it happened …

    Mecca’s Grand Mosque plagued by swarm of locusts

    How much more renewable energy must be built before we prevent our first plague of locusts?

  10. GoWest

    All the piggies in the trough – just cant help themselves..
    Just like the govt/native title, etc etc whenever there is a new mine found … new product developed…. Insert wealth producing thing here..

  11. Squirrel

    The costs of dealing with this (entirely predictable, yet conveniently ignored) problem will, of course, be socialised one way or another, and will be “managed” by yet more federal, State/Territory and local government bureaucracy and regulation – i.e. more overpaid nuisance jobs for the ever-swelling army of public teat suckers in Straya, along with their “private sector” fellow travellers in the related advisory and consultancy etc. rackets –

  12. NuThink

    Why does so much money go into research of a so called settled science?

  13. classical_hero

    Just look at Germany and see what all that money has done for the environment. They’ve spent hundreds of billions of Euros and it has had no effect of ‘carbon emissions’ and yet they’re paying a massive price for no action. France has lower emissions because they rely on nuclear power, not renewable energy. It shows the complete and utter rubbish renewable energy is at getting the results the alarmists say they want. Just showing that they are full of hot air.

  14. old bloke

    #2906082, posted on January 13, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Today they seem to be salivating at the prospect of a week of high temperatures, including some on January 7th that were the worst since 1939.

    Don’t worry about those 1939 records Herodotus, they will be “homogenised” out of existence soon.

  15. Ubique

    Hundreds of new coal-fired power stations are under construction and if they don’t get coal from Adani they will go somewhere else.

    Precisely. What must be hammered home is that when our customers go elsewhere not only do our economy and jobs suffer, but so does the global environment and human health and safety. Environment and health and safety suffer because our mines are operated to the world’s highest environmental and safety standards. Going elsewhere necessarily leads to higher levels of environmental degradation and pollution; and large scale mine site injuries and deaths.

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