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How Koch Industries Has Supported Climate Change Denial

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Here’s the must read article of Monday: The New Yorker delves into the web of political funding that has spewed from Koch Industries — nicknamed the “Kochtopus” by political insiders — over the past half a decade, particularly funding that has gone into disavowing the science behind climate change. Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the U.S., operates oil refiners across multiple states, controls thousands of miles of pipelines, and owns Brawny paper towels, dixie cups, and Georgia Pacific Lumber among many other ventures.

The Koch brothers, Charles and David who run the company, have political motivations as well as financial motivations for their support of anti-climate change messaging. Much less oversight of industry and fewer environmental regulations mean more profits for Koch Industries. Here’s some of the more egregious findings of New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer:

  • The University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute has named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States.
  • A Greenpeace report found that the company has been a “kingpin of climate science denial,” and between 2005 to 2008, the Kochs “vastly outdid” ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change.
  • The founder of the Center for Public Integrity, Charles Lewis, told the New Yorker: “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
  • Charles and David Koch have poured more than a hundred million dollars into dozens of seemingly independent organizations. Tax records indicate that in 2008 the three main Koch family foundations gave money to thirty-four political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct. These include the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Mercatus Center, the Citizens for a Sound Economy, & the spinoff group, Citizens for the Environment, and the Americans for Prosperity.
  • A trust called Triad Management spent more than three million dollars on attack ads in twenty-six House races and three Senate races recently, and the New Yorker reports that more than half of the advertising money came from an obscure nonprofit group, the Economic Education Trust. A Senate committee minority report found that “the trust was financed in whole or in part by Charles and David Koch of Wichita, Kansas.” Triad Management’s funds “may have played a decisive role in four of six federal races,” says the New Yorker.
  • David Koch reportedly told New York that he was not convinced that global warming has been caused by human activity, but even if it has been, the heating of the planet he said will be beneficial, resulting in longer growing seasons: “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food.”
  • In the mid-90s, the Justice Department filed two lawsuits against Koch Industries, saying it was responsible for more than three hundred oil spills, which had released an estimated three million gallons of oil into lakes and rivers. Koch Industries settled paying a $30 million civil fine, and agreed to spend $5 million dollars on environmental projects.
  • The Justice Department also levelled a ninety-seven-count indictment against Koch Industries, for covering up the discharge of ninety-one tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Koch Petroleum Group pled guilty to one criminal charge of covering up environmental violations, including the falsification of documents, and paid a $21 million fine.

10 Responses to “How Koch Industries Has Supported Climate Change Denial”

  1. People will have political (or other) motivations for supporting different sides in a scientific debate.

    That goes for all sides of the debate.

    However, just because someone benefits from something being true doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

    Whether or not anthropogenic global warming is occuring (and what harm it is causing, if any) is a separate issue from the issue of who benefits from the belief that it is, or isn’t, happening.

  2. Rockymtnhorseman

    Man alive talk about nuts. Come on people read what the majority of the scientists have been working on for many years on this. Skepticism is good but when you use random data that is irrelevant to the real issue here (major climate change) then the corporations (like Koch) have definitely infiltrated your mind and are using you for their own gain and they are giddy with glee all the way to the bank when their robots are doing the exact thing they had planned on. It’s not your government you should fear partly because you have the power to change government. It’s huge corporations (which you have no control over) like Koch and others who you seriously should be skeptical about and be deeply concerned with.

  3. Bob Wallace

    Rick – it is you. You could have easily found the answer to your question with only a tiny bit of effort. So I’m guessing you really don’t want facts, but to spread disinformation.

    For those who might want to know what the science says…

    “At this time, there is little empirical evidence that Mars is warming. Mars’ climate is primarily driven by dust and albedo, not solar variations, and we know the sun is not heating up all the planets in our solar system because we can accurately measure the sun’s output here on Earth.”

    Here’s a source for those who would like to know more. And the 6% number is discussed there….

  4. Earth: You may be completely correct with your assumptions, but wouldn’t it make sense that the planets/moons closer to the sun (which is the case) would be affected more if there is something with the sun that we do not fully understand. I believe we do have an effect on the climate but is it significant. I have never seen the 6 percent fiqure.

  5. To the previous three commenters: Skepticism is good, but don’t stop questioning just because your POLITICAL mind is satisfied. Question until you’ve arrived at the most plausible truth.

    Just throwing this out there, but I’ve read that only 6% of the planets/moons in the solar system are warming–Earth being one of them. There are scientific reasons for why each of the warming planets/moons are warming, and it has less to do with the Sun’s activity than the individual characteristics of the planets/moons. For example, Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect owing to its incredibly high atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and SO2.

    The Sun, by the way, is just now coming out of a solar MINIMUM. Earth is on track to have the warmest year on record. Think about it.

  6. I thought I was the only one that questioned the surounding planets and thier moons temperature increase.(by about 2 degrees Cel.) It’s nice to know that someone else would like an answer.

  7. GeorgeSorosisthesource

    What a bunch is leftest crap. When george soros and his power hungry cronies expend billions on their left wing mission throughout the free press (Al Gore is the worst!), I am glad to hear that a few common sense individuals can counter with their monies to try and set the record straight.

  8. Rick Salyer

    Here’s a question for you: Why is the temperature rising on Mars, Saturn, Venus and the other planets in the solar system? And could it have something to do with increased sunspot activity over the last few years? Hmmmm….. No, it must be carbon dioxide emissions on those planets. You know there are plenty of cars and factories on Mars and Saturn and the like…

    THIS QUESTION IS NEVER ANSWERED! LET ALONE ASKED IN THE MEDIA. WHY???? I thought science was supposed to be open-minded and objective, not politically correct. Oh well, it must just be me.