Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ayn Rand and the fundy funders

One of the great victories for civil society will be when all the black boxes have been turned to glass. The black boxes of government to the people, the black boxes of corporations to the investors, and the black boxes of the NGOs who lobby the former and spin for the latter.

Take, for example, the climate change deniers. From Information is Beautiful:

I'm surprised to see so many physicists in the petition. What with the second law of thermodynamics and chaos theory and everything, anthropogenic climate change should be a no brainer. Maybe the numbers were polluted by the aerospace mob, which would be like asking a blacksmith to sign a steel subsidy petition. The maths geeks sure ain't having a bar of it.

But the large chunk of signatories are the engineers and general science mobs. Systems control freaks, in other words. New Scientist's Five Laws of Human Nature corroborates this with the Salem hypothesis, which shows a correlation between engineering students and creationism. I wonder if you could include architects in that list?

MoJo looks into who is paying this small but extraordinarily vocal climate denier audience, finding that many NGOs around the world have been polluted by the usual suspects:
Founded in 1981 and named after Ayn Rand's free-market amorality tale, Atlas Shrugged, the Atlas Foundation has spent more than $20 million seeding some 200 libertarian think tanks across the globe as part of its Atlas Network. Much of its money has come from Phillip Morris; foundations tied to the Koch family, oil magnates who are leading funders of denier groups; and the Earhart Foundation, which was created from the profits of the now-defunct White Star Oil Company. Since 1998, ExxonMobil and its foundations have given Atlas nearly $1 million. Between 2002 and 2008, the last year for which tax records are available, Atlas' budget more than tripled, nearly hitting $7 million, with the largest single portion going to grants for "think tanks in different regions of the world."
But wait! There's even a NZ connection:
In 2007, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which has received money from Exxon, granted $135,000 to four skeptic think tanks in Canada and New Zealand, followed by $182,000 to foreign groups in 2008, according to tax filings (it didn't say which groups received the money).
On a whim, I had a look where the money might have ran. Exxon Secrets sez that NZ's Owen McShane and Queensland's Bob Carter have shown support for the Heartland Institute. There's more on Bob at Hot Topic. Good looks at the Meridian Project Hayes windfarm before it was killed. Bob Carter had been pulled across the ditch as an expert witness against climate change.

There's also this from The Listener:
In November, three members of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition – Bryan Leyland, Owen McShane and Vincent Gray – spoke at UN climate talks in Denpasar in support of a US-based conservative group, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).
Oh yeah, MoJo mentions CFACT too. I bet there's a whole Jimmy Carter farm of shell games where the slick can spread.

Desmogblog has a go at it and throws up Muriel Newman's cult:

New Zealand Centre for Political Research
No funding records from ExxonMobil, Scaife, or Koch.

That explains a lot. In the market of ideas, the libertarian right have sold out. Their opinions on climate change count for naught. Anything with a whiff of Rand is hereby tainted. They've shat on their Ayn brand.

I only hope some sunlight could penetrate the funding of not only the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, but those MSM mouthpiece go-to guys Garth McVicar and Bob McCroskie. I reckon the truth is spookier than the Exclusive Brethren.