Supporters of climate change legislation gather outside of congress, March 2009.
Searching for a reason major climate change legislation hasn’t passed Congress yet?
You could do worse than start looking around Washington, D.C., with its endless think tanks, lobbying firms and trade groups, many of which have swung into action in the past to block such bills and stand ready to do so in the future.
A recent study published in the journal Climatic Change finds that much of the millions of dollars that funds these groups comes from secret sources, and a good portion of the rest is from publicity-shy conservative foundations and wealthy donors.
The groups, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation, and wealthy individual donors often espouse libertarian views that don’t jibe well with giving the government more power to combat climate change.
That there’s still a debate about whether climate change exists is not an accident. Conservative think tanks over the last two decades have consistently warned about the costs of addressing climate change and raised doubts in the minds of the public about the accuracy of the science behind it.
The study’s author, Robert Brulle, a sociology and environmental science professor at Drexel University, takes a systematic look at what he calls the climate change counter-movement (CCCM), made up of groups that Brulle says have an average annual income of just above $900 million, although much of that money is not even spent on climate change-related activities and is used for other issues.