FAIL: Wealthy organizations sunk $150 million to sway U.S. climate opinion

Despite more than $150 million being invested in messaging, polls show that the push has failed to register climate change as a top-tier policy concern for Americans.

A recent study detailing how and where environmental philanthropic grants are allocated shows a lack of “intellectual diversity on the climate issue,” according leading political scientist, Roger Pielke, Jr.

The study, authored by Matthew Nisbet, Professor of Communication Studies and Affiliate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, analyzed $556.7 million in “behind-the-scenes” grants distributed by 19 major environmental foundations from 2011-2015 in the immediate aftermath of the failure to pass cap-and-trade legislation in 2010.

Nisbet found that more than 80 percent of those funds were devoted to promoting renewable energy, communicating about climate change and opposing fossil fuels, while only two percent, or $10.5 million, was invested in technologies that would lower carbon emissions like carbon capture storage or nuclear energy. The donations themselves were also very concentrated; more than half of the money disbursed by the philanthropies was directed to 20 organizations in total.

Some of the more prominent recipients and grant totals cited by Nisbet include the Sierra Club receiving at least $48.9 million, National Resources Defense Council’s $14.1 million, and Environmental Defense Fund’s $13.4 million.

“One of the conclusions that I think is probably the most important from the Nisbet study is that there’s not a lot of support for intellectual diversity on the climate issue, which is a shame because what the world’s doing isn’t working,” Pielke, a professor at the University of Colorado Center for Science & Technology Policy Research, told Western Wire. “So you’d think that there’d be at least some resources going into looking at new approaches, alternatives, even if they’re contingency plans.”

But according to Nisbet’s research, that is not where the vast majority of environmental grants are being applied. Funding for non-profit journalism, communications plans, and political campaigns dwarfs that of developing new technologies for carbon abatement. And yet, despite more than $150 million being invested in messaging, polls show that the push has failed to register climate change as a top-tier policy concern for Americans.

In fact, a recent study found that millennials born between 1981 and 2000 are no more likely than previous generations to “do something” about climate change. According to Pielke, that shows a need to change the way foundations, activists and policy experts approach to the issue, which consistently ranks near the bottom of the top 20 issues surveyed.

In the years preceding the Nisbet study timeframe, major foundations like the Hewlett Foundation, Energy Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund signed on to the “Design to Win” strategy that resulted in the collective pooling of resources rather than scattered, individualized disbursements. While Pielke says creating and pursing a shared climate agenda may make sense, “That also probably helped contribute to some of the monoculture that Nisbet documents in his latest work.”

“If we’re worried about the accumulating amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, then for all the politics, for all the noise, for all the heat, it is ultimately a technology problem,” said Pielke. “To stabilize the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere the global economy has to go from being about 15 percent powered by carbon-free sources today, to well over 90 percent by the end of the century. That’s a big ask. I’ve long argued that the only way that happens is not by making fossil fuel energy so expensive, we have to go to alternatives. It’s by making alternatives so cheap that we’ll prefer them instead of fossil energy.”

The key in doing so will be to shift the characterization of climate change from that of a political football to a question of innovation, according to Pielke.

“If we’re going to make progress, we’re going to need things we don’t have now.  We’re going to need modular nuclear reactors, we’re going to need big batteries, we’re going to need the ability to capture carbon directly from the air at a reasonable price. And the only way we get those sorts of technologies is we set out to do it,” said Pielke. He noted that achieving the emissions targets delineated in the Paris Agreement is dependent on technologies that don’t yet exist.

One of the major reasons for the stagnation in climate progress can be attributed to the extreme polarization of the issue over the past few decades. Nisbet notes in his study that environmental causes began partnering with other grassroots organizations seeking “social justice-oriented solutions to climate change” and employed an “intersectional” strategy which connected the issue to other causes more aligned with the liberal ideology in order to build a larger movement.  Nisbet says this strategy “likely contributed to deepening political polarization, serving as potent symbols for Republican donors and activists to rally around.”

In an absence of legislative action and failure to cultivate broad, bipartisan support for long term solutions, policy has been relegated to executive action, which can be reversed once another administration enters the White House.

Full story here

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72 thoughts on “FAIL: Wealthy organizations sunk $150 million to sway U.S. climate opinion

  1. And not a dime spent on the actual science. I guess their mindset was something like ‘who needs to determine the scientific truth when you have money to coerce people into believing lies’.

    • I logged in to say that, or rather, what has opinion got to do with the facts.

      The real issue is what is the actual change and rate of change, not the guessed range, and what is the best way to adapt to it, if any? The rate of change is in fact something that is indiscernible in a lifetime on on a global scale, although regional variation my be l noticeable, there are compensating effects elsewhere. If people knew the hard facts what the actual level of change was,compared to the natural change and its rate through the current ice age cycle, and how it has changed in fact since recording began, not a lot in either case, they would wonder why all the money was being wasted on solutions that in fact can’t work, when there clearly is no runaway crisis except in the minds ofcomputer modellers, apid to prove there is a problem, which they have failed rather comprehensively to do, because nature does not match the PR, as Mr Feynman pointed out, this is a basic requirement of science..Things, can only get better, or worser, V E R Y slowly. WE will have time to respond when we are sure which way things are going. NO NEED FOR URGENT ACTION OR SUBSIDIES ON CURRENT F DATA>. And by protecting or moving, not messing with the climate we clearly don’t understand well enough. Most of our major cities have risn in 200 years, and we will have a thousand or two to respond.etc.

      • Absolutely, Brian. Back in the 1990’s I do recall commentators saying that we (and “the planet” generally) probably could cope, comfortably, with predicted changes. But not if they happened too rapidly.

        Of course once it became obvious that the changes, if any, were not happening too rapidly, the commentators dropped the idea that we would easily be able to cope. After all, what’s the point of having a good “disaster” if nobody notices it?

  2. wait, what? no Koch brother conspiracy to manufacture doubt, tobacco industry-like ?
    That cannot be true, can it?

  3. “One of the major reasons for the stagnation in climate progress…”

    Don’t disagree with the reasons cited, but the most obvious ones were not listed, such as: 1. Knowing the Gov’t continually lies to the public and also knowing it is pushing the agenda. 2. Anyone who went out of their way to explore the Global Warming issue (employ critical thinking) – example would have been to read the ClimateGate files (Harry_Read_Me). 3. Anyone with an ounce of Common Sense when the mantra went from ‘Global Warming’ to ‘Climate Change’.

  4. That .6% of the spending by fossil fuel interests has such an amazing effect. The green blob will procede further down the renewables by regulation rabbit hole and ignore the consequences.

  5. How much cash was directed towards studying the natual elements of climate change? Just sayin,,,, there’s a Dire Straits song there somewhere…..

  6. Might it be that there is no “there” there?
    After 50 years of Global Warming, everything is just peachy!

    • “There’s nothing so unimportant that you can’t spend other people’s money on it.”

  7. …Despite more than $150 million being invested in messaging, polls show that the push has failed to register climate change as a top-tier policy concern for Americans….

    That’s only because they haven’t spent enough. 150m is really chicken-feed.

    Give me a billion or so, and I guarantee* to get climate change on the top of everyone’s list…

    *money not refundable – Panamanian bank drafts only.

    • Who politically spent the $150 million is the first indicator why the message was rejected.

      It only ever did well in the closed shop (leftist) circles of academia and media with the usual political suspects attached. Once it’s acknowledged as a political movement not a science proposition, the correct conclusion from it’s 60’s Earthday carbon rationing academic foundation, all the money in the world isn’t going to sell the device. That’s not say massive green crony interests and that abstract populist hatred of carbon related economy is nullified totally. It’s worth remembering the oil embargo social politics of the 70’s are what triggered this up to level to begin with.

      • Allow me to add cwon14, Oil embargo manifested as gas lines in conjunction with Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” which hit the top of all the Pseudo-intellectual and Political reading lists. Population control needed to become a top priority of Centralized Government or it was going to happen by natural selection and most of us “Baby Boomers” were all suppose to be dead by now because all the food and natural resources had run out. It is kind of a shame it didn’t pan out. At least the survivors wouldn’t have to listen to all this end of days, Global warm…ahhhh Climate Change masked as science, mumbo jumbo.

    • Invested? No, an investment will net you a return. This money was just completely wasted. Imagine what could have been done with that money if it had been spend on something useful.

  8. They must either be really ‘slow learners’… or functionally insane. They keep sending their money to the same organizations that have proven ineffectual at generating public concern for their fictional man made ‘Climate Change’.

  9. So what they’re saying is that no matter how bad their science is, their communication skills are even worse.
    All that money going to waste is truly criminal.

    Maybe they need to focus their minds and their money on conclusions drawn from real science and real data rather than beliefs based on bad science and Mann-made data.

    In the words of Einstein “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be”

    • “So what they’re saying is that no matter how bad their science is, their communication skills are even worse.”

      It (their communication skills) truly is worse than we thought 😉

  10. It just proves this is a political/religious movement, not and environmental one. If they truly thought it was a planetary emergency, they could have taken that money and actually did something to lower emissions, like donate home insulation and windows to low income families, or *gasp* install rooftop solar panels. But no, they just want to blather on and feel smug about it.

    • Insulation in a lot of cases make sense, solar panel are a waste of energy. You will recover the energy it took make and install them the entire green energy movement is a con.

    • Lack of intellectual diversity is a situation where everybody thinks the same, has the same values, etc.

    • SJW tend to not only lack intellectual diversity (IE diversity of ideas) but are proud of that fact.

      • Reminds me of the hippies of old. Proclaiming the virtue of being yourself and doing your own thing.
        Everyone of them dressed in tie-die shirts, torn jeans and sandals, with long and usually unwashed hair.

  11. One of the major reasons for the stagnation in climate progress can be attributed to the extreme polarization of the issue over the past few decades. Nisbet notes in his study that environmental causes began partnering with other grassroots organizations seeking “social justice-oriented solutions to climate change” and employed an “intersectional” strategy which connected the issue to other causes more aligned with the liberal ideology in order to build a larger movement. Nisbet says this strategy “likely contributed to deepening political polarization, serving as potent symbols for Republican donors and activists to rally around.”

    I don’t agree. The reason that “climate progress” has stagnated is that on this issue, the leftists forgot their most important lesson… politics is downstream of culture. On Climate Change, the left tried to use science as a weapon to convince politicians to change laws to encourage people to change their culture. Their entire approach was backwards from the start. This also confirms another suspicion that I have, that humans as a species will live or die on the (mostly reproductive/economic) decisions of the whole, regardless of how well informed those decisions are. Science is probably our best tool for describing our own mistakes after we’ve made them, not a weapon to try to change human culture.

    Take good notes, the aliens who find our civilizational remains will need them to learn from us.

  12. “Funding for non-profit journalism, communications plans, and political campaigns dwarfs that of developing new technologies for carbon abatement. And yet, despite more than $150 million being invested in messaging, polls show that the push has failed to register climate change as a top-tier policy concern for Americans.”

    Kelly McParland had the answer when he wrote in the National Post about the Progressive Conservative win in Ontario last night.

    “If we learned nothing else from the campaign, we learned this: people like me can scribble all we want, but voters will reach their own conclusions.”

  13. It’s hard to drum of enthusiasm for fighting global warming among a population that has just suffered through yet another bitterly cold winter

  14. “It’s by making alternatives so cheap that we’ll prefer them instead of fossil energy.”

    Ah, there’s the crux of the problem to my mind.
    Think electricity so cheap and always available they don’t have to meter it, a harken back to the 1950’s claims for nuclear power.

    The reality is inexpensive, abundant energy enables freedom and liberty for the individual. If you are a neo-Marxist that is antithetical to controlling the masses. It means people are free to tell government to get lost, it means political power remains in the hands of Free People.

    The Socialists come-Marxists are all about accumulating power.
    Power is the End.
    Power is the Goal.
    And all means to secure it are justified.

    “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

  15. At different points in history both Spain and England controlled over a 25% of the worlds money. If it were as simple as that they would still rule the world and popular thought at the same time.

    Greens might spend a trillion on thought control in the future but they peaked long ago as a matter of substance. CO2 and climate has never had an empirical proof so it’s very weak supposition as science all along. As it grew on a populist academic basis with all the rent seeking associated and political ID attached it can’t sustain itself as “science”. This is why the mad rush of “crisis” was so critical as the true political motives of the belief system are more broadly understood the climate craze wanes.

    They’re be one more near term swing of the bat come 2020 with “democratic socialism” in the US but there are already signs that has peaked with Millennial voters. There is even signs greens are bone weary of “climate” and want to move on to other dogma. Once the stealth agenda is exposed to at least a reasonable core of voters the movement fails, money can’t fix that. Of course in my lifetime I’ve never seen the Democratic Party move right other then stealthy frauds such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton trying to define a moderate but make-believe “center” or a coded mantra “hope and change” trying to avoid direct Marxist identification in the process. “Climate” will remain an enclave but something more repackaged will likely emerge in green fringe academics.

  16. Hi,

    A bit of topic but I found this news story from the uks daily mail about women who who refuse to have children because they fear they are going to destroy the planet..methinks the madness has clouded thier minds. As usual it contains the same old bollocks!!!

    For the record I love CO2 since I am made of it and breathe it out all the time for the plants to enjoy 🙂

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5819361/Women-refuse-babies-save-planet.html

    Thanks.

    Leon from the uk.

    • I have no problem with people like that deciding on their own, not to have kids. Improves the gene pool.

  17. The author fails to mention that 97% of the money spent on climate change/global warming has been wasted since mankind can do nothing to affect our climate except the odd cloud seeding. The 3% that has been usefully spent are the studies that actually use real data to understand more about climate than we did before and the research into solar to provide individual solar use. The BIG mistake we made was to think that we could scale up the solar to replace fossil fuels.

  18. As for the in-effectiveness of the $150 million on changing attitudes, it comes down to the simple psychology behind gaslighting and how to counter it.

    From Wikipedia:
    Gaslighting:
    “It is necessary to understand the warning signs of gaslighting in order to fully start the healing process. Signs of gaslighting include: 1) Withholding information from victim; 2) Countering information to fit the abuser’s perspective; 3) Discounting information; 4) Verbal abuse, usually in the form of jokes; 5) Blocking and diverting the victim’s attention from outside sources; 6) Trivializing the victim’s worth; and, 7) Undermining victim by gradually weakening them and their thought process.

    In describing the prevalence of the technique in US politics of the past few decades, Bryant Welch states in his book State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind:
    Gaslighting comes directly from blending modern communications, marketing, and advertising techniques with long-standing methods of propaganda.

    Which political philosophy dominates today’s modern media communications?

    The problem for the Left is with all their money spent, it takes just one Fox News, or one article in the Wall Street Journal describing the intellectual bankruptcy of the Climate Change movement, to totally destroy $billions of dollars of propaganda “gaslighting” messaging.

    • or as the anointed-one’s mentor and role model wrote:
      Saul Alinski Rules for Radicals

      1 “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”
      2 “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
      3 “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
      4 “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
      5 “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
      6 “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
      7 “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
      8 “Keep the pressure on.”
      9 “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
      10 “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”
      11 “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside”
      12 “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
      13 “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

  19. Anthony, I see a large empty box frame immediately following Fig. 1. Is there supposed to be something in it?

    • I examined it with graphics software from the Positano Behavioural and Cognitive Research Unit and found there’s a dead cat in the box.

  20. Notwithstanding the shameless propaganda of public broadcasters such as the CBC using taxpayers’ monies…

  21. In regards to the alarmists wasting $150B.
    There’s an old quote, I don’t remember who said it
    “When your opponent is making a mistake, don’t interrupt him.”

  22. So let me get this straight. They started 30 years ago, spent millions and repeated the same message over and over again expecting the result to be different each time. That seems to be the definition of “profoundly stupid”.

  23. There is a decided lack of “diversity” in the whole construct and ethnik make-up of the CAGW ‘science’ putsch. It is a шнутемаи’s neocolonial set-up promoted by Eurocentric marxbrothers. Prominent exception, Judith Curry paid dearly for criticizing her colleagues and was squeezed out. Only in very recent few years, young (шнуте) women have belatedly entered climate graduate schools.

    How have they put this over on the much maligned and abused 3rd W ethnicities who surely have noticed this? Simple. Knuckle down and accept perrenial poverty in exchange for their ruling elites being showered with cash. Anyone else noticed this?

  24. Let’s look at the state of California. Just the climate portion of the fuel costs is likely at least $25/month or $300 per year. Electricity prices are probably inflated by a similar amount. So climate hysteria is costing each household at least $50 per month or $600 per year. Since there are more than 10 million households in the Golden State the cost of climate mitigation for increased energy costs alone is likely $6 billion per year. I’m sure this would be much worse if hydraulic fracturing had not made natural gas so cheap as its used to generate 60% of the state’s electricity and if they did not have access to a lot of hydroelectric from the Columbia and Colorado rivers.
    On the one hand, $15 million dollars spent (10% US population) to generate $6 Billion in increased costs (of which at least $2 billion in revenue for the state) is not that bad. On the other hand, the state has the highest poverty in the nation due to the cost of living and when given the chance to recall a state senator over his vote on a $0.10/gal transportation tax, it did so by a 12% margin. Going forward, many people are already being subjected to the high cost of climate mitigation legislation and this is a cost that hits the poor and working class the hardest. I wouldn’t be surprised that the “deplorables” who elected Donald Trump were more motivated by this one issue as it hit so many working class so hard. Perhaps we should have bumper stickers made for the liberal foundations that reads, “I spent $150 million on climate education and all I got was Donald Trump”.

  25. Remember the funding organizations are all not-for-profit, aka tax exempt. They are giving a large portion of their money to more not-for-profits. In criminal organization it would be money laundering. Two of the organization are nothing more that groups of attorneys that would otherwise have to compete in the real world. They are basically funding an industry.

    We have seen a lot of reports here where they are trying to figure out better ways to “adjust” their propaganda machines to change our minds on AGW. A lot of the selected polling and focus group data is aimed at doing just that. Sadly some of the latest has to do with indoctrination of our children.

    If they really cared about AGW they would not have allied themselves with far left social justice (aka anti-capitalist) organizations. No, the name of their game has little to do with climate change and a lot to do with bringing about a new world order that eliminates free market capitalism. If they really cared they would be demanding far better and honest science as well as looking at all potential solutions. Note they don’t really care if all this is a blunder. The idea is to screw up the system. It is analogous to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) their ultimate goal is another step towards socialism. ACA was never intended to work.

  26. Sometimes zeitgeists shift and Overton windows slew. All the money in the World isn’t going to stop it anymore than it can stop the climate doing what it does. These people are going to discover this facet of reality the hard way.

  27. Soros and the elite and vast wads of cash are currently being thrown at thwarting Brexit.

    Their campaign group is ironically called ‘Best For Britain’.

  28. You can look at this way , over the last two years there has been a series of elections across many countries including the USA and the UK. And climate change or ‘doom’ has been a none-issue on all of them . Given that the first rule of politics is get elected and the second stay elected , if the you voters had really been that concerned about this issue that would be the case ?

  29. Smart people noticed a long time ago the total lack of interest in developing clean safe nuclear power on the part of the “anti-CO2” movement. That hypocrisy makes it obvious that the “climate change” agenda is a political one, all virtue signaling, SJW and control, not a serious attempt to limit our emissions.

    Whether or not you believe that lower CO2 would save the planet, the fact that the single greatest opportunity to supply abundant, reliable, non-fossil energy is off the table renders these folks non-credible. Granted, there are a few on the CAGW side that argue for nuclear, but the fact that they are shouted down is just more evidence of what a swamp the left is when it comes to climate change.

  30. It’s concerning how these organizations have come together to coordinate hundreds of millions of dollars of media messaging that is essentially nothing more than a propaganda campaign. That is the definition of a conspiracy, is it not?
    “Climate progress” is a new buzzword here.

  31. “So you’d think that there’d be at least some resources going into looking at new approaches, alternatives, even if they’re contingency plans.” They know there is no other approach (unless this CO2 to fuel idea pans out) so all they got is scare tactics. Besides these “scientists” are all about keeping an endless supply of grant money coming in. They are all about jetting around the world, staying in lavish hotels and warning us how bad it is going to get.

  32. This sounds a lot like collusion to me. I think we need to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether this was an attempt to steal the election.

    Voters’ minds need to be clear of any persuasion or they’ll be led astray and vote for the non-elite candidate (not approved by the global elite).

  33. “… we’re going to need big batteries”

    We’re going to need big capacitors. Chemistry is doomed as a storage technology. Except wood maybe. Once gigajoule ceramic capacitors at pennies, batteries are over. They may even save PV panels.

  34. Why is there a 1×1 transparent GIF blown up to A4 size in the middle of this report?

  35. yeah, but the oil companies get tax breaks…..!!! or somesuch. Crazy how much money has been spent on propaganda and correct-think… and it’s failed. ( except for University faculty/Admin & students ).

    Kinda gives one faith in human nature.

  36. $150m for communications? Seems to me Kristi, sceance principea and the rest are WAY overpaid!

  37. “Promote” is the lexicon used in Marketing, but in political conflict and agenda setting Propaganda, Eco-Propaganda, one of the pillars of {social} warfare.

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