Being bullish on Robert Brulle's "Dark Money" Smear of Skeptics

Guest essay by Brandon Schollenberger

You can’t make things like this up. James Hansen, one of the most vocal proponents of global warming, is now part of the global warming denial campaign.

I would never have imagined that until I read an article about a new paper, Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations, by Robert Brulle. It claims to investigate the financial status of the “climate change counter-movement” (CCCM), also referred to as the “denial campaign.” I was flabbergasted when I read this in its introduction:

What is the climate change counter-movement?

Here I argue that an efficacious approach to defining this movement is to view it as a cultural contestation between a social movement advocating restrictions on carbon emissions and a counter-movement opposed to such action.

According to this, it doesn’t matter if you believe in global warming. It doesn’t matter if you think global warming is a serious problem. It doesn’t matter if you demand taxes on fossil fuels to pay for investments in renewable energy and carbon sequestering to attempt to lower carbon dioxide emissions. All that matters is how you feel about “restrictions on carbon emissions.”

And it’s not just bad wording. The Conclusion section of the paper says:

The CCCM efforts focus on maintaining a field frame that justifies unlimited use of fossil fuels by attempting to delegitmate the science that supports the necessity of mandatory limits on carbon emissions.

Mandatory limits/restrictions on carbon emissions are known as cap and trade. Oppose those, and no matter what else you may say or do, you’re part of the “denial campaign.” That means when James Hansen writes things like:

But at the heart of his plan is cap and trade, a market-based approach that has been widely praised but does little to slow global warming or reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. It merely allows polluters and Wall Street traders to fleece the public out of billions of dollars.

It is not too late to trade cap and trade for an approach that actually works.

He’s part of the “denial campaign.”

Why then does Brulle not discuss people like Hansen in his paper? It’s simple. Brulle is playing fast and loose with definitions. Brulle’s Supplementary Material describes how he collected his list of organizations:

a consolidated list of all of the organizations identified in prior studies was created.

With an attached footnote that says:

Criteria and Studies utilized to compile this comprehensive listing of potential CCCM organizations are:

1. Organization represented by a speaker/sponsorship at any of the ICC/Heartland Conference

2. Organization participated in the Global Climate Coalition

3. Organization participated in Alliance for Climate Strategies

4. Organization participated in the Cooler Heads Coalition

5. Organization listed as a climate skeptic organization in Merchants of Doubt (Oreskes and Conway 2010)

6. Organization listed in the Greenpeace study of climate change counter-movement (Greenpeace 2010)

7. Organization listed in the Union of Concerned Scientists study of climate change counter-movement (Union of Concerned Scientists 2007)

8. Organization listed in NCRP study of Conservative Organizations (NCRP 1997: 46-53)

An obvious question is why do the first five bullets not describe “organizations identified in prior studies” as claimed? I don’t know. What I do know is all eight bullets deal with groups on the skeptical side. Brulle argues anyone who opposes cap and trade is a denier by simply pretending people like James Hansen don’t exist.

The problem goes beyond that. Brulle doesn’t exclude all people like James Hansen. He doesn’t exclude all people who oppose cap and trade but support other options. What Brulle does is far worse. He includes some people who want to take action to combat global warming but not others, and he does so arbitrarily. For example, the Global Climate Coalition declared:

the development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse emissions [is] a concept strongly supported by the GCC.

That is a course for combating global warming. People can disagree about how good a course it is, but there is no stated distinction between it and the course James Hansen endorses. Both oppose cap and trade, both endorse alternative approaches, but only one gets called a denier. Why?

Because Brulle didn’t make a list of deniers. He made a list of people he dislikes. Being a “denier” isn’t a matter of fitting his definition of the views of a “denier.” It’s just a matter of being disliked by Brulle and his sources.

In other words, “denier” is defined as, “Anyone I dislike.”


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Jim Hodgen

Another example of rhetorical screed that will soon be cited in many articles as peer-reviewed science. Anyone want to start the betting pool for how long it takes to appear in mainstream media?

Ken in Beaverton

Wall Street traders aren’t fleecing the public, the government is.

I don’t advocate for unlimited use of fossil fuel. I advocate for their use until other fuels are less expensive. On an application by application basis.
So I guess I’m not in the targeted group.
Whew. Dodged another one.


It seems more and more that the alarmists are talking less and less about the science — maybe they think they’ve lost that battles — and are instead choosing to directly attack skeptics in an ad hominem manner. It means that the skeptics are winning.

David L. Hagen

Brulle seeks to force us to bury our resources into projects that have 1:100 worse economic returns than climate adaptation. He further commits the guilt by association logical fallacy. His actions will cause the greatest harm to the world’s 3 billion poor hindering their economic development.
Contrast the Cornwall Alliance Declaration on Global Warming.

I’ve been a denier for quite some time. Since I started hearing about this stuff and realized that carbon-trading, cap and trade or whatever you call it made no sense. When do I start getting my share of the big-oil money? Just curious.


This if the definition that was used:
“Here I argue that an efficacious approach to defining this movement is to view it as a cultural contestation between a social movement advocating restrictions on carbon emissions and a counter-movement opposed to such action.”
There are other methods to limit carbon emissions other than cap and trade such as a carbon tax.
“For example, the Global Climate Coalition declared:
the development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse emissions [is] a concept strongly supported by the GCC.”
I didn’t see anything indicating this group was including in their analysis.


I do support unlimited use of fossil fuel, if the alternative to ‘unlimited’ involves artificial statist control regimes.
That isn’t to say I oppose development of alternatives, or even modest government seed-funding of energy technologies. The problem comes when it leaves the lab and Uncle Sugar is still ponying up to take it to market.


As the measured global temperature continues to deviate from modelled predictions, the odds that these models are incorrect rises exponentially with time. That’s how statistics works.
And the extreme rhetoric of the alarmists seems to be rising exponentially with it. The desperation has definitely ramped up in the last few months, up to and including implementing censorship.


>Mandatory limits/restrictions on carbon emissions are known as cap and trade. Oppose those, and no matter what else you may say or do, you’re part of the “denial campaign.”
Cap and trade is only one scheme for placing limits/restrictions on carbon emissions. Totalitarian whackjobs like Jimmy “Death Train” Hansen don’t like cap and trade, because it uses markets to make the decision that enact the limits. Totalitarian whackjobs don’t cotton to that, as putting themselves in the position to make all of the decisions is why they’re in the game in the first place.
Hansen is against cap and trade in the same sense that Michael Moore is against Obamacare. Moore isn’t against you losing your current private health insurance that you like – he just wants it replaced with communized medicine instead of socialized medicine. Hansen isn’t against limits/restrictions on carbon emissions – he just wants ban and eliminate instead of cap and trade.
What Brulle is actually saying is plenty bad enough, and it can (and should) be ripped to shreds for what it is – political invective created from half truths, innuendo and double standards. There is no need to twist and stretch what he’s saying to make some silly “gotcha” point about Hansen.

Gail Combs

Ken in Beaverton says:
January 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm
Wall Street traders aren’t fleecing the public, the government is.
You forgot the rest of it. And the government politicians are taking the money and given it to their favorite buddies as subsidies for windmills and solar farms. Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law is given $737m of taxpayers’ money to build giant solar power plant
She is the House Minority Leader in the USA.

M Seward

From Brulle’s page at Drexel
BS, Marine Biology, U.S. Coast Guard Academy *
MA, Sociology, New School for Social Research
MS, Natural Resources, University of Michigan
PhD, Sociology, George Washington University, 1995
(* although down the page it says a BS in Marine Engineering )
Research and Teaching Interests
Critical Theory
Social Movements
Social Change
Environmental Sociology
I think the “Research and Teaching Interests ” say it all. Sounds like a man who was not cut out for the real world and scuttled back underground. Must have been tough at the US CG Academy.
And WTF ! He isn’t even a climate scientist!!

Thanks Brandon. I just loved the list of black lists.
Did they say anything about being in more than one black list?


Your post at January 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm says in total

It seems more and more that the alarmists are talking less and less about the science — maybe they think they’ve lost that battles — and are instead choosing to directly attack skeptics in an ad hominem manner. It means that the skeptics are winning.

I beg to differ. The skeptics have won and totalitarians are working to obtain their objectives (in the above case, “mandatory limits on carbon emissions”) by institutionalising them before the AGW-scare fades away.
The AGW-scare was killed at the failed 2009 IPCC Conference in Copenhagen when it was decided that there would not be a successor Treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. I said then that the scare would continue to move as though alive in similar manner to a beheaded chicken running around a farmyard. It continues to provide the movements of life but it is already dead. And its deathly movements provide an especial problem.
Nobody will declare the AGW-scare dead: it will slowly fade away. This is similar to the ‘acid rain’ scare of the 1980s. Few remember that scare unless reminded of it but its effects still have effects; e.g. the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) exists. Importantly, the bureaucracy which the EU established to operate the LCPD still exists. And those bureaucrats justify their jobs by imposing ever more stringent, always more pointless, and extremely expensive emission limits which are causing enforced closure of UK power stations.
Bureaucracies are difficult to eradicate and impossible to nullify.
As the AGW-scare fades away people will attempt to establish rules and bureaucracies to impose those rules which provide immortality to their objectives. Guarding against those attempts now needs to be a serious activity.
As I see it, promotion of “mandatory limits on carbon emissions” by vilifying its opponents is an example of the process which I predicted (on WUWT and elsewhere) in December 2009.

pablo an ex pat

I also don’t see “mandatory limits” as equaling Cap and Trade.

Michael D

Well this explains something. When I have tried to engage some people about climate change, they don’t want to talk about climate change. They just say “don’t you want to save the environment?” Climate change does not matter to them – they are only interested in restricting the use of fossil fuels. They know that climate change is a Platonic lie ( and thus the truth of it is irrelevant.

Bill Illis

All this funding of skeptics has made temperatures go flat for 17 years.
I mean, really, the dark money funding has stopped temperatures rising, that’s how powerful it is. It even made the global warming climate models be off by 75%.

Jim G

Obviously all you deniers have not heard about how CO2 is causing the polar vortex to break down slinging cold weather down here into the temperate zone. Good old global warming is at it again causing it to be colder than normal. When are you people going to wake up to the insidious evils of carbon. Heat your homes with electricity, drive electric cars! Oh, forgot that over 40% of electricity comes from coal. Never mind.

My Real Science comment:
Drudge reports: South Pole warmer than O’Hare…
“Well” the scare mongering eco-nerds will certainly say “there you go, the South Pole is set to become the only inhabitable place on the planet, when the rest of the world freezes over.” Yeah, in the meantime, there’s that little bit about the record levels of Antarctic ice that just doesn’t jive at all with the “scary scenarios” of runaway melting that the “experts” have been coached to make up.
“We have to offer up scary scenarios… each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest.” -Stephen Schneider, lead ipcc author, 1989
“Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.” -Sir John Houghton, ex ipcc chair
“The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe.” -Daniel Botkin, ex Chair of Environmental Studies, UCSB
“Global warming will kill most of us, and turn the rest of us into cannibals.” -Ted Turner
“Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.” -John Davis, Earth First!

Brulle is a abusive epithet of choice
Try his
Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology”
Loo-in-doh-ski wannabee – isn’t it long past time they got the Sokal treatment? This self regarding pompous wing-nuttery is funded from our taxes sheesh ….

Rob Dawg

The word denier was specifically chosen to conjure up associations with the holocaust. The acronym CCCM was carefully crafted to harken back to the days of the CCCP soviet era.


Hmmmm… on the cutter they would pipe ” let loose the hounds” when we pumped the sanitation tanks. Brulle probably left the organization by that route.
Hope against hope that we did not fund his work.


George Orwell observed in “Politics and the English Language,” that “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.'”
We may observe that such a trend occurs with an increasingly large number of words that are understood at once to have a negative connotation by the listener: they come to be applied liberally to anything that someone may wish to delegitimize.
@tomo-I believe the term you are searching for is *moon-battery*.


This (Brandon Schollenberger’s) piece is a cheap strawman based upon his invention that “mandatory limits/restrictions on carbon emissions are known as cap and trade”. It will be burnt to shreds like all strawmen should. The author may feel it “bullish”, I would suggest a small addition would describe it down to a t.
A WUWT own goal.

Jim G

Gail Combs says:
January 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm
Ken in Beaverton says:
January 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm
“Wall Street traders aren’t fleecing the public, the government is.”
Nancy, of the puffed face, is indeed a piece of work but remember that the money our “government” people like her obtain for their campaigns comes in bushels full from Wall Street. Why do you suppose the fed keeps printing money through their “open market operations/quantitative easing”? Most of it ends up on Wall Street and then a good percentage goes right back to our “representatives” and “officials” in DC. Sure as hell is not hitting Main Street.


A LCDR and out at 20. For those who know that is the absolute minimum for an officer. Its the participation prize which allows you to get the pension as they push you out of the door.
His work in the service must have matched this effort.

Keith Sketchley

Well, the CAGW bunch certainly are a “social movement” in the neo-Marxist sense, blaming humans and evading facts..


Proving again there is a crazy and batshit crazy.
Why not focus on the most fundamental disinformation aspect of the “big oil” conspiracy funding claims? Namely, large interests like “big oil” benefit from the AGW politics and in fact all restrictive supply policy of greenshirts. “Supply and Demand”, it’s covered in the Communist Manifesto so you know they are familiar. You restrict something the price rises. AGW mitigation restricts supply driving “big oil” profits higher.
Why would Exxon ever side with skeptics on short-term economic grounds? AGW is an established carbons dream by basically raising the price of existing assets and supply chains and discouraging new supply through restrictions and government intervention.
If you wanted to reduce the grip of expensive oil and gas you would drill in ANWR, build the XL Pipeline and approve a thousand similar North American projects as a start.

Peter Miller

Climate Change Counter Movements?
I wish someone had told me about these movements before, but they are just the product of some sad individual’s over active imagination.
But I guess this sums it all up; if you are capable of imagining these movements exist, then it is obviously not very difficult to take the next step and imagine Thermageddon in the not too distant future. Imagination creates fantasies and that is what far too many of today’s climate scientists do: they just live a life dedicated to creating scary fantasies,which they then peddle to gullible politicians,
The sad thing is we all have to pay for their arrant nonsense.


JJ says:
January 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm
…..No. Cap and trade is only one scheme for placing limits/restrictions on carbon emissions. Totalitarian whackjobs like Jimmy “Death Train” Hansen don’t like cap and trade, because it uses markets to make the decision that enact the limits…..
The markets can do a wonderful job of enacting limits ….. within a state/economy and targeting precisely the industry/pollutant or activity required. Witness the method of control of sulphate emissions from power plants: government issued licenses for a fee, trade-able between power plants. Brilliant. The eventual true cost of control measures was elicited by the falling price of licenses as scrubbers were eventually fitted to all power plants.
To think this concept can be applied to something as complex as so called ‘carbon emissions’ from almost every aspect of human existence is the stuff of dreams. More so if the concept is that this price operates internationally.
The differences in economies, currencies, wages, unemployment, costs of living, industrial development, education, etc means a huge bureaucracy will rise in attempts to iron out the discrepancies. As will a huge class of traders and trading corporations. And existing international corporations will be best situated to deal with and profit from the arrangements.
The only winners will be ballooning government and international bureaucracies, and giant international corporations.

Rob Dawg

Everyone understands that the CCCP $900m+ figure is entirely false? It isn’t the CCCP denial funding. It is the ENTIRE cumulative budgets of the organizations identified as funding denial regardless of how much went to other causes.
By that metric since FedGov funds climate alarmism their budget is $3.2 trillion.

Steve from Rockwood

I need to smarten up because I just don’t get it. Read it twice too.

John Riddell

What is he planning to do with his list?
Perhaps he is going to politely ask people on the list to change their minds.


I have found the psychological term projection to describe virtually all liberal attitudes towards those with which they disagree.
They take money to espouse a line, others must be taking it to disagree.
They are afraid they are not in control of their emotions, others must be disarmed.
They feel that black Americans can’t get by on their own abilities, talents and labor and can only live with the support of a kindly government, others who disagree must be racist.
Across the board.

An Inquisition against those who question the authority of the self acclaimed high priests of Climate Change. But where is their power to hold the trials and punish the “deniers”? If we do not fear them why should we take any notice of their peculiar court?
This will backfire because having deliberated on who they hate and who they want to crucify to their Gods they will be seen to have no power or authority to carry their divine justice further. They will look like feeble fools who live in a irrelevant bubble world of unreality.

HGW xx/7

Apparently in Oceania, ‘facts = counterculture”. Let that settle in for a moment and tell me you have hope for the future. I was going to be sarcastic, as per the norm, but moments like this call for sombre reflection, not a silver tongue.
The greens are dangerous. They are blind parishioners on a crusade who parrot the psalms of Algore and his ilk, spitting on those who disagree or dare question the Sacred Text of their gray literature. In a beautiful streak of irony, they oft scream that the US is becoming a theocracy; how bizarre that they are oblivious to the fact that they are the ones ushering it into power. To make matters worse, they have no concept of the religion they have created. Unless they begin to acknowledge the monster they have created, so long as they inhabit positions of power, we are all doomed.
(And for the record, not that it should matter, but I don’t attend church or hold any religious beliefs. Sad that I feel the need to say such things when dealing with simple facts.)

Pipped Kool

So “They” come up with a total of 7.2 billion dollars to fund “skeptic” science, most of which never ends up going thru peer review, and you ignore that? I looked at the paper for less than one minute and I saw that as a major point, but you are worrying about who is called a skeptic as being someone’s unfriend?
I think when you decide to go on a rant about some minor beef about a paper, it is only fair that you discuss the major claims. Sheesh.


Some think us skeptics did quite well last year; funded or not!
We came in sixth – from the article:
“6. Climate Skeptics
…, the next big winners of 2013 are a loosely organized group of non-state actors. Climate skeptics, those who either disbelieve in what they call AGW (‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’) or oppose efforts for a global climate treaty, had much to celebrate in 2013 as the hopes of climate activists for effective global action continued to fade…”

Hmm…“dark money”…is that like Trenberth’s missing heat also known as “dark heat”?


For a list of 20-some things that aren’t happening but would be happening if Climate Contrarianism were actually well-organized and well-funded, see my WUWT guest-thread, “Notes from Skull Island” at


don,t worry the gooses are digging them selves a bigger hole the quicker they complete we can all go back to being normal

dark heat
dark matter
dark energy
dark money
Is there anything dark can’t do?


This is a well timed publication to go along with the Marxist/Leftest “surge” in the USA’s political scene. Note Obama’s declared & undeclared 2014 agenda for closing coal plants, restricting emissions, closing down oil exploration, attempts at besmirching tracking, etc, etc.
The Left Wing Lunacy never ends.


I don’t get this whole “Big Oil” conspiracy. Why would they send any money to “Denialists”? What do they gain? If they are smart (or crafty), “Big Oil” could simply say “In order to prevent any further Global Warming, we unilaterally will reduce oil production by 50%”. Then watch the world go batcrap crazy and the price of anything petro-chemically derived (just about everything) go through the roof.


I’ll need to dig out my Marxistjargonese decoder ring for this one (and a hew pack).


We can see the obvious line of attack….. demonize us. Call us crazy. Push us to the margins with smear and slander. Lets hope they continue down this road. Eventually they will creep out a majority of the population.
We are here because we value free inquiry. Because we are not afraid to ask “how do you know” They betray their fear with their slimy tactics. And that fear of being discovered is not irrational.

Colorado Wellington

Robert Brulle wants me to choose between his cerebral muck and crude oil muck? I wish everything in life was that easy.


“climate science denial” Or “climate denial”
How can anyone deny there is a climate? Or the science of Climate?
Anyone that does must live in a cave.
Proper terminology should be “CAGW denial” or something to that effect.


And it’s not just bad wording. The Conclusion section of the paper says:

Dr. Bob

We have hundreds of years of coal reserves that can be used for power or fuel production. It is probably best to use coal for power and NG for heating and fuel, but Fischer-Tropsch technology can convert either into clean burning paraffinic hydrocarbon fuel that works in the existing infrastructure. Once minable coal is exhausted, un-mineable reserves can be used via underground coal gasification.
The real energy challenge for the next generation is how to recover methane hydrates which represent perhaps 10X the energy reserves of coal and oil.
Technology exists right now to make all the fuel we need for power, heat and transportation, and, if we desire, to be independent of foreign imports. This is not necessary, but may be desirable to reduce dependence further than we have since the advent of shale gas and oil.
No matter what, as long as the government doesn’t interfere, we have more than sufficient energy reserves to maintain our economy.