On Monday, Alex Kotch at the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) published the latest count of climate disinfo funding, tallying up over $50 million in “donations” to climate denial groups, straight from industry profits, billionaire ideologues fortunes, and everything in between.
Between 2014 and 2022, there was $54,298,510 that went to just eight organizations that, per Kotch, “represents key groups primarily focused on energy and the environment that consistently mislead the public about the climate crisis.”
While bearing in mind that this is just the verifiable drop in an otherwise much larger and murkier bucket of fossil fuel funding for climate disinfo, which when including advertising and PR budgets is likely in the hundreds of millions, not tens of millions, it is still quite a sizable figure, and one that is hardly coming from grassroots supporters.
In fact, it’s mostly coming from a couple dozen billionaires, conservative dark money pass-throughs, and industry sources. “A dozen of the largest nonprofits donated $47.8 million to the leading climate denial organizations, accounting for 88% of the funds CMD was able to track down using FY 2014-20 federal tax returns.”
The Koch Foundations of course makes the list at number eight, right behind the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. Donors Trust/Donors Capitol Fund, the right’s “dark-money ATM,” tops the list, of course, followed by the Searle, Scaife, Mercer, Dunn and Bradley foundations, all more or less just tax write-off vehicles for rightwing billionaires trying to simply buy the reality they want.
Jennie King of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue told Kotch that “bad actors are using a tried and tested playbook to weaken public mandates and create confusion [about] viable solutions going forward. This includes weaponizing climate response within a broader ‘culture wars’ frame and conflating it with any supposed controversy, from Covid-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates to critical race theory, trans rights, or geopolitics.”
Similarly, the tobacco-defending climate deniers at Heartland lost over half their donations between 2019 and 2020, and that overall the recipients' totals have dwindled from their 2016 peak.
This may be an indication that even as the fossil fuel industry begrudgingly begins to co-opt climate change and clean energy, they’ve done so well at integrating it into the Republican party that generally conservative funders could be keeping the charade going, even after it served its purpose of buying the industry a few decades of unchecked, climate-changing profits.
The little climate disinfo troll is all grown up now, and finding fun new pursuits attacking Trans people, defending racism, and, of course, spreading anti-covid/mask/vaccine propaganda.
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