Quantcast
Climate

Interests, Ideology and the Climate Denial Machine

Paul Krugman has an interesting op-ed in Sunday's New York Times entitled "Interests, Ideology & Climate." In this commentary, Krugman argues that the current campaign to deny climate change is steeped more in political ideology than in industry-funded opposition.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

I'm a big fan of Krugman's work, and he makes a number of very good points in this latest commentary. I agree with him that the current campaign to deny the reality and threat of climate change does indeed feed off a very large, ideologically-driven partisan divide that is grounded in anti-regulatory beliefs and libertarian principles.

But I take issue with Krugman's argument that the massive funding of climate change denial by monied interests like the Koch Brothers doesn't play an equal role. The fallacy in Krugman's thesis, in my view, is that the ideological divide that exists with regard to climate change is somehow independent of the massively-funded disinformation campaign. It isn't.

The Kochs, Scaifes and others have used their billions to construct a vast "Potemkin Village" (in the words of science historian Naomi Oreskes) of denialism, by funding groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a whole cadre of other front groups, organizations and hired guns implicated in the campaign to discredit climate science and climate scientists. I should know since, as I describe in my book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, I found myself at the center of that campaign more than a decade ago because of my scientific work establishing the unprecedented nature of recent global warming.

This network of front groups, organizations and paid advocates is sometimes referred to as the "Climate Denial Machine" or just "CDM" (though, to be precise, they aren't denying "climate" per se, but rather, the overwhelming scientific consensus that the climate is changing, and that we're the cause).

The CDM has, in my view, played a far more critical role than Krugman's piece might seem to imply. It is this well-organized and well-funded apparatus that supports and nurtures the larger conservative echo chamber of climate change denialism. A favored mode of attack by the CDM involves firing up the conservative "base" through dog whistles and red meat-loaded attacks on climate scientists via conservative media outlets. These attacks frequently seek to create the notion that climate scientists are part of an evil cabal seeking to take away your freedom in support of creating a socialist world government. The "one world government" conspiracy theory is a staple of the Koch and Scaife-funded attack machine.

The partisan divide on climate change didn't arise in a vacuum. Despite the substantial differences in political ideology between affiliates of the two major parties that existed during the Clinton years, there was relatively little difference in their level of acceptance of the science of climate change. But the schism has increased steadily over time ever since as the funding and extent of the CDM disinformation campaign has ramped up.

The fact that there is such strong ideological opposition now among self-identified conservatives to acting on climate change is a direct result of this massively funded and well-organized disinformation campaign. So, yes, the current opposition on the right to acting on climate change is largely ideologically-driven. But that ideological divide was created and continues to be nurtured by a very deliberate disinformation campaign, funded by the Koch Brothers and other conservative interests who are arguably driven as much by financial self-interest (think Koch & Keystone) as by ideology. To argue otherwise is, with all due respect, to let these bad faith actors off the hook.

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

New Video Turns Up the Heat on GOP Climate Change Deniers

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Praises Obama’s Carbon Rules, Blasts Koch Brothers on ‘The Ed Show’

Why Obama ‘Absolutely’ Wants to Go Off on Climate Deniers

——–

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
Pexels

5 Ingredients for Health: Starting with Food

On Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, Dr. Robert Graham—board-certified physician and founder of FRESHMed NYC—combines mainstream medical practices with therapies inspired by ancient wisdom: an integrative model of medicine. "My dad was a biochemist, so I grew up in this integrative model. One of the things that really stood out is my mom was distrustful about the conventional Western model. She still thinks she's the only doctor in the house, because food is such a powerful medicine, especially from her culture," said Graham.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

When Profit Drives Us, Community Suffers

By David Korten

As I was reading the current series of YES! articles on the mental health crisis, I received an email from Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at University of Notre Dame. She was sending me articles being prepared for an anthology she is co-editing with the working title Sustainable Vision.The articles present lessons from indigenous culture that underscore why community is the solution to so much of what currently ails humanity.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Revelator

Interactive Map: Air Pollution in 2100

By Dipika Kadaba

Having a little trouble breathing lately? That's no surprise. Air pollution is already bad in many parts of the country, and climate change is only going to make it worse. Even though many industries are reducing their emissions, a warming climate could actually offset these reductions by intensifying the rates of chemical reactions and accumulation of pollutants in the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!