In a move that astonished even die-hard global warming proponents, the climate-change denying Koch brothers in late July funded, and released, a study showing that global warming is real, is at the upper end of a dangerous trajectory, and is essentially all due to carbon pollution; i.e., anthropogenic (manmade) warming.
The release was accompanied by the sounds of about a million jaws dropping, most of them environmentalists who expected this about as much as they anticipated Hades icing up. After all, these are the very same Koch brothers, each worth $21.5 billion, who recently helped fund Mitt Romney’s campaign from the Hamptons (location, location, location) with a request that attendees donate $50,000 per person (or a bargain at $75,000 per couple)!
The name Koch, correctly pronounced, rhymes with Coke. Not everyone uses that protocol, however, and in less-than-polite society, or among environmentalists, the name rhymes with dock. This is especially true of those who agree with Brave New Films reviewer Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who points out that the Koch brothers are “poster boys for the 1 percent…a symbol of something corrosive and dangerous (to the ideal of democracy).
The Kochs have been accused of involvement in such diverse chicanery as: attempting to dismantle Social Security, the last stopgap between non-pensioned retirees and starvation; trying to force a voter ID initiative reminiscent of Hitler’s tattooing the Jews, which has the reverse effect of preventing the poor and minorities from voting; closing public schools; disbanding all unions (and funding the campaign of notorious Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker); opposing the regulation of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and preventing a moratorium on fossil-fuel burning via its Americans for Prosperity(AFP) PAC (political action committee).
In fact, according to whistleblower site Sourcewatch, AFP is a group fronting for David Koch’s special interests, which (in addition to the above) oppose health care reform, stimulus spending and cap-and-trade legislation intended to make industry pay for its emissions. The AFP, and the Koch’s, have clearly defined Libertarian leanings, and oppose stop smoking bans and tobacco taxes on the premise that smoking is “property right.” As a result, many Americans who are truly sick and tired of government’s hand in their pockets and eyes in their bedroom tend to join the AFP or support its agenda without realizing that the AFP, like too many PACs and think tanks, is self-serving. Or, to put it better, AFP serves its own interests first; interests which may sometimes mesh with the interests of Americans who prefer government at arm’s length. Or not.
To highlight what an enormous departure the Koch-funded study represents from what used to be the Koch norm in terms of global warming and carbon dioxide, I am borrowing the following superbly written paragraph directly from Sourcewatch – I simply could not do better:
“In early January 2011, House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton coauthored a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, about new EPA regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They wrote that the EPA "presumes that carbon is a problem in need of regulation. We are not convinced." They also said the carbon regulation rules are "an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs." Koch Industries was among Upton's top contributors in the 2010 election cycle, along with several other energy companies.”
As Kevin Grandia, former editor of DeSmogBlog noted, the AFP is the recipient of the third largest donation from the Koch brothers and Koch Industries in 2003, the first two being the Cato Institute and the George Mason University Foundation. AFP, whose 2003 budget was $18,460,912, received 82 percent of that amount from the Koch Family Foundation.
In fact, the AFP has so many fingers in so many pies, baked by so many individuals who share its principles, that it may be impossible to plumb the exact depth of involvement of anyone. Still, it seems that the Koch brothers are gradually coming out of the anonymity granted them as a result of their business and political operations, the first half of which operate in the private sector, thus providing a degree of privacy for the second half.
It’s hard to say if this gradual transition to transparency is welcome or not, but Peter Fenn, a public affairs media maven who wrote an op ed in U.S. News last February, seems to hint that Koch & Koch are still less than happy sharing (and $42 billion buys a lot of opacity). To demonstrate his point, Fenn writes about the January conference in Palm Springs, hosted by the Kochs and featuring a private security force worthy of a small nation. Not to mention enough paid media, politicos, pollsters and lawyers to keep the waters good and murky. Fortunately, the Kochs stopped short of the kinds of intimidation (truncheons, guns and incarceration) used during Bloody Sunday.
In all charity, I would like to think that the two have actually had a change of heart, or head. I hope so. We are going to need all the help we can get reversing the effects not only of greenhouse gases but of the pollutants (i.e. particulates) that foul earth’s air, water and soil. The first, greenhouse gases and global warming, is still not 100-percent proven. The second, pollution, is unmistakably the result of mankind’s habitation of the planet.