Dark Money Dominates Climate Change Denial Discourse

January 8, 2014

Much of the public discourse denying the science of climate change and the need to take action to slow it seems to be funded by shadowy oil companies and conservative billionaires funneling hundreds of millions of dollars secretly through dummy organizations, according to a new report.

Some 75% of the money backing climate-denial efforts is untraceable, the peer-reviewed study by Drexel University's Robert J. Brulle finds. It was published December 21, 2013, in the journal Climatic Change.

The size of the "climate change counter-movement" (Brulle's label for an amalgam of advocacy organizations, think tanks, and trade associations) is impressive: he looks at 91 organizations with combined annual income of just over $900 million.

But the sources of this income are increasingly hidden. A January 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited billions on political propaganda, and to keep their spending secret. The big fossil-fuel industry funders who had previously funded the climate denial media blitz — for example ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers — seem to be shifting from disclosed contributions to deniable dark money.