Denial Machine


Who funds climate change denial? Is there an organised group of Denialist’s out there trying to trick the gullible and frightened into questioning Global Warming? Sadly, there is evidence that tens of millions are being poured into deceiving the public about the solid nature of the science. It’s not encouraging skeptical scientific enquiry, but instead appeals to belief in an all powerful, world-wide climate science conspiracy! Climatologists control every physics lab and National Academy of Sciences and peer-reviewed scientific journal on the planet. They’re out to steal your money and freedom. That’s the myth. The reality is this myth is pushed by a very few, very rich fossil fuel companies and CEO’s.

That’s what this page is about. If you want to track down answers to the actual Denialist myths and lies themselves, try my Climate Myths page. But this page is about tracking the money, and establishing the fact that Denialist think-tanks really are sponsored by fossil fuel companies. Check this youtube for starters.

The Koch brothers are the biggest founders and funders of climate change Denial.

The money trail is long and convoluted, but in summary the Koch brothers have given something like $196 million to political think tanks, much of it going directly to climate denial organisations. They’ve donated more to climate denial than Exxon Mobile.

(That’s significant money, because Exxon Mobile themselves have donated $23 million to climate Denial institutes since 1998. Exxon even admitted it, and in August 2008 promised to stop funding 9 main denial groups it has been funding! Can we trust them? See Exxon Secrets for more.)

As the video above explains, the Koch brothers have funded everyone from political think tanks like the Citizens for a Sound Economy (now called Americans for Prosperity), the Tea Party, and have even funded religious Denialist groups like the Action institute for the study of religion and liberty. They’ve got their greedy, anti-science fingers in many pies. They don’t care about your future or your kid’s future or the future of civilisation itself. They care about their short-term profits this year. That’s what they’re in it for: just plain old fashioned profits. Fat bank cheques.

To track down more information on the Koch brothers and other Denialist conspiracies against the truth, please check the indefatigable desmogblog for more.

More Details

  1. Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: White House lied on Global Warming Dec 2007
  2. The Independent (UK) — Wolfowitz ‘tried to censor World Bank on climate change’
  3. Newsweek – “The Truth about Denial”, August 2007
  4. CBC – The Denial Machine, November 2006 (Google video here)
  5. Wikipedia on The Global Warming Controversy
  6. Wikipedia on the “Oregon Petition” (1400 climatologists that supposedly did NOT agree with GW)
  7. The Liepzig Declaration
  8. Fred Singer


1. Study finds White House manipulation on climate science

Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor
The White House has misled the public on climate science, a congressional report says.

At least since 2003, and especially after hurricane Katrina hit, the White House has broadly attempted to control which climate scientists could speak with reporters, as well as editing scientists’ congressional testimony on climate science and key legal opinions, according to a new report by a House committee.

“The Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policy makers and the public about the dangers of global warming,” said the report, which is the result of a 16-month probe by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “The White House exerted unusual control over the public statements of federal scientists on climate change issues.”

To some observers, the House investigation, which drew on 27,000 documents gathered from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the US Department of Commerce, is notable as the most comprehensive assessment so far of alleged manipulation of climate science by this White House. It includes previously unknown elements – such as a 2003 incident in which it says top presidential environment adviser James Connaughton personally helped edit the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft legal opinion that denied the agency had authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. (That EPA position was reversed by the US Supreme Court in a ruling this spring.)
(12 December 2007)

2. The Independent (UK) — Wolfowitz ‘tried to censor World Bank on climate change’ — 14 August 2007

The Bush administration has consistently thwarted efforts by the World Bank to include global warming in its calculations when considering whether to approve major investments in industry and infrastructure, according to documents made public through a watchdog yesterday.

On one occasion, the White House’s pointman at the bank, the now disgraced Paul Wolfowitz, personally intervened to remove the words “climate change” from the title of a bank progress report and ordered changes to the text of the report to shift the focus away from global warming.

3. Newsweek – “The Truth about Denial” — 13 August 2007

“But outside Hollywood, Manhattan and other habitats of the chattering classes, the denial machine is running at full throttle—and continuing to shape both government policy and public opinion….

Every effort to pass climate legislation during the George W. Bush years was stopped in its tracks … Tim Profeta, now director of an environmental-policy institute at Duke University “I was hearing the basic argument of the skeptics—a brilliant strategy to go after the science. And it was working” …

Killing bills in Congress was only one prong of the denial machine’s campaign. It also had to keep public opinion from demanding action on greenhouse emissions, and that meant careful management of what federal scientists and officials wrote and said. “If they presented the science honestly, it would have brought public pressure for action,” says Rick Piltz, who joined the federal Climate Science Program in 1995 …

By appointing former coal and oil lobbyists to key jobs overseeing climate policy, he found, the administration made sure that didn’t happen. Following the playbook laid out at the 1998 meeting at the American Petroleum Institute, officials made sure that every report and speech cast climate science as dodgy, uncertain, controversial—and therefore no basis for making policy …

Ex-oil lobbyist Philip Cooney, working for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, edited a 2002 report on climate science by sprinkling it with phrases such as “lack of understanding” and “considerable uncertainty.” A short section on climate in another report was cut entirely. The White House “directed us to remove all mentions of it,” says Piltz, who resigned in protest. An oil lobbyist faxed Cooney, “You are doing a great job.”
From Newsweek — “The Truth about Denial”

4. CBC Documentary “The Denial Machine”

CBC site
Google video
Shows some of the key Deniers are funded by the fossil fuel giants. Indeed, half of these guys were given airtime in “The Great Global Warming Swindle” — so that alone should cause us to question the “Swindle”. A good summary of the misinformation and sheer power of Big Oil. If you go to this Newsweek interactive graphic and click on the dot for 1990, you’ll see them target Fred Singer who features as the ex-tobacco defender, now defending Exxon Mobile… for a fee of course. He naturally features in “Denial Machine”.

5. Wikipedia on Global Warming Controversy

6. Wikipedia on The Oregon Petition

“Scientific American took a sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition – one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.”

See also the August 2008 WA Today piece:

Another regular piece of evidence in the denial lobby’s PR campaign is the “Oregon Petition”. This urges the US Government to reject the Kyoto Protocol and claims there is “no convincing scientific evidence” for global warming. It is said to be signed by 31,000 graduates, most of whom appear to have nothing to do with climate science.

The petition originated in 1998 with a scientist, Dr Frederick Seitz, who had been president of the US National Academy of Science in the 1960s (and a tobacco consultant in the 1970s). The petition was accompanied by a purported review of the science that was co-published by the George C. Marshall Institute. This institute received at least $715,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998.

8. The Liepzig declaration

“The Leipzig Declaration emerged from a November 1995 conference, “The Greenhouse Controversy,” cosponsored by S. Fred Singer’s Science and Environmental Policy Project and the European Academy for Environmental Affairs in Leipzig, Germany. It has been widely cited by conservative voices in the “sound science” movement and is regarded in some circles as the gold standard of scientific expertise on the issue. It has been cited by Singer himself in editorial columns appearing in hundreds of conservative websites and major publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Detroit News, Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Memphis Commercial-Appeal, Seattle Times, and Orange County Register. Jeff Jacoby, a columnist with the Boston Globe, describes the signers of the Leipzig Declaration as “prominent scholars.” The Heritage Foundation calls them “noted scientists,” as do conservative think tanks such as Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Heartland Institute, and Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs. Both the Leipzig Declaration and Frederick Seitz’s Oregon Petition have been quoted as authoritative sources during deliberations in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

“When journalist David Olinger of the St. Petersburg Times investigated the Leipzig Declaration, however, he discovered that most of its signers have not dealt with climate issues at all and none of them is an acknowledged leading expert. Twenty-five of the signers were TV weathermen – a profession that requires no in-depth knowledge of climate research. Some did not even have a college degree, such as Dick Groeber of Dick’s Weather Service in Springfield, Ohio. Did Groeber regard himself as a scientist? “I sort of consider myself so,” he said when asked. “I had two or three years of college training in the scientific area, and 30 or 40 years of self-study.” Other signers included a dentist, a medical laboratory researcher, a civil engineer, and an amateur meteorologist. Some were not even found to reside at the addresses they had given.

“A journalist with the Danish Broadcasting Company attempted to contact the declaration’s 33 European signers and found that four of them could not be located, 12 denied ever having signed, and some had not even heard of the Leipzig Declaration. Those who did admit signing included a medical doctor, a nuclear scientist, and an expert on flying insects. After discounting the signers whose credentials were inflated, irrelevant, false, or unverifiable, it turned out that only 20 of the names on the list had any scientific connection with the study of climate change, and some of those names were known to have obtained grants from the oil and fuel industry, including the German coal industry and the government of Kuwait (a major oil exporter).”

9. Fred Singer (starring in “Great Global Warming Swindle”)

Tobacco Industry Contractor
In 1994, Singer was Chief Reviewer of the report Science, economics, and environmental policy: a critical examination published by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI). This was all part of an attack on EPA regulation on environmental tobacco smoke funded by the Tobacco Institute. At that time, Mr. Singer was a Senior Fellow with AdTI.

“The report’s principal reviewer, Dr Fred Singer, was involved with the International Center for a Scientific Ecology, a group that was considered important in Philip Morris’ plans to create a group in Europe similar to The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), as discussed by Ong and Glantz. He was also on a tobacco industry list of people who could write op-ed pieces on “junk science,” defending the industry’s views.

In 1995, as President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (a think tank based in Fairfax, Virginia) S. Fred Singer was involved in launching a publicity campaign about “The Top 5 Environmental Myths of 1995,” a list that included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that secondhand tobacco smoke is a human carcinogen. Shandwick, a public relations agency working for British American Tobacco, pitched the “Top 5 Myths” list idea to Singer to minimize the appearance of tobacco industry involvement in orchestrating criticism of the EPA. The “Top 5 Environmental Myths” list packaged EPA’s secondhand smoke ruling with other topics like global warming and radon gas, to help minimize the appearance of tobacco industry involvement in the effort. According to a 1996 BAT memo describing the arrangement, Singer agreed to an “aggressive media interview schedule” organized by Shandwick to help publicize his criticism of EPA’s conclusions.

Oil Industry Contractor

In a September 24, 1993, sworn affidavit, Dr. Singer admitted to doing climate change research on behalf of oil companies, such as Exxon, Texaco, Arco, Shell and the American Gas Association.

However, on February 12, 2001, Singer wrote a letter to The Washington Post “in which he denied receiving any oil company money in the previous 20 years when he had consulted for the oil industry.