Putting a Face to Climate Denial

Many people have a general idea that corporations have increasingly greater influence on American politics. We know that rich people have money, and they use it for things like promoting special interests. But to what extent is this actually happening?

It is hard to quantify how many billions of dollars are being pushed around Washington these days. But here’s just one example of how individuals, privileged with money from a vast inheritance and a profitable corporation, can have a disproportionate influence on politics:

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Introducing David and Charles Koch, two brothers who own Koch Industries. You may or may not have heard of them, but you’ve definitely heard of Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups, perhaps even Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra. They have oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, in addition to controlling some 4,000 miles of pipeline. Koch Industries’ annual revenues are estimated to be 100 billion dollars; the two brothers’ combined net worth is estimated at 35 billion dollars.

And what do they do with all this money? Fund climate denial, since environmental regulation is not in a corporation’s best interests. According to a Greenpeace report, they have even out-donated ExxonMobil in funding climate-denying foundations, think tanks, and political front groups, which in turn kick-start grassroots movements. By doing so, the two brothers are changing politics in two fundamental ways: by altering the institutions that formulate policy ideas, and by warping the concept of “grassroots”.

At the end of the day, money cannot be equal to having a voice. Although Citizens United v. FEC still gives corporations the rights of individuals, it may do us well to remember that the better way to win a nation is not through underhanded funding, but through honesty, transparency, and authenticity.

For more information on the Koch brothers, read this article!

Angie

Angie is a 3rd year Cal student majoring in Microbial Biology. She has been a Greenpeace Semester student activist, and is now primarily concerned with environmental advocacy, healthcare, and methods of effective communication for environmental activism.

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