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FedEx, GM, Microsoft, Toyota, Visa, and WalMart support Cato, which is buying expensive global warming denier ads attacking Obama

By Joe Romm on March 31, 2009 at 1:40 pm

"FedEx, GM, Microsoft, Toyota, Visa, and WalMart support Cato, which is buying expensive global warming denier ads attacking Obama"

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Comcast, FedEx, GM, Honda, Microsoft, TimeWarner, Toyota (!), Visa, VW, and WalMart — these are among the brand name companies who support the global warming denial promoted by the Cato Institute (full list below).

Many of you have probably now seen that absurd anti-scientific denier ad Cato is spending big bucks to put in major newspapers. “The New York Times ad alone would have cost over $150,000, based on the newspaper’s published ad rates,” notes one article.

The ad attacks President Obama and the whole notion of strong climate action with studies that don’t even support its basic premise — see New study quoted by Cato deniers concludes “warming over the 21st century may well be larger than that predicted by the current generation of models” and RealClimate’s excellent post (here).

The ad’s premise — “We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated” — has been utterly debunked by the most comprehensive and up-to-date scientific research in the past two years (see “M.I.T. doubles its projection of global warming by 2100 to 5.1°C and “Hadley Center warns of catastrophic 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path” and “Recent observations confirm … the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” — 1000 ppm).”

If we listen to Cato and the ad’s signatories, we are sure to destroy a livable climate for our children and their children and the next fifty generations (see “Intro to impacts: Hell and High Water“).

So I thought as a matter public service, you’d like to see the corporate sponsors of Cato, whose money goes to support its efforts, including this ad and their general disinformation effort (see “The intellectual bankruptcy of the Cato Institute“).

If you want to boycott their products, or write them letters, or anything else — I leave that up to you. Here is the most recent list of corporate sponsors from Cato’s most recent (2007) annual report:

  • Altria Corporate Services Inc.
  • American Petroleum Institute.
  • Amerisure Companies.
  • Comcast Corp.
  • Consumer Electronics Association.
  • FedEx Corp.
  • Freedom Communications Inc.
  • General Motors Corp.
  • Honda North America Inc.
  • Mazda North America Operations.
  • Microsoft Corporation.
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.
  • TimeWarner Inc.
  • Toyota Motor Corp.
  • UST Inc.
  • Visa USA Inc.
  • Volkswagen of America Inc.
  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Personally, I find it unconscionable that so many companies trying to brand themselves as green or mainstream would fund as extreme a group as Cato.

What do you think?

If anyone takes a specific action, please do post it below.

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33 Responses to FedEx, GM, Microsoft, Toyota, Visa, and WalMart support Cato, which is buying expensive global warming denier ads attacking Obama

  1. simp says:

    greenwash. down is the new up.

    so this ad isn’t all useless. now we know whose sponsoring it. thanks for this info!!

  2. Jim Bullis says:

    Joe,

    After reading this a couple of times I realize that the companies listed are not the “signatories” of the ad.

    I have to say that funding for Cato, ill advised though it might be, is not the same as endorsing their statements. These companies can not believe this.

    I think Cato does other things. Maybe they solicit sponsors in a way that this position in particular is not made apparent.

    There has to be some kind of explanation for this that does not leave us so frustrated.

  3. David says:

    “If anyone takes a specific action, please do post it below.”

    I’m going to drive to Walmart in my Honda this evening and pay for the stuff I buy with my Visa. That’s three. Can anyone do better?

  4. Joe says:

    Jim — The ad states it is funded by Cato. These people fund Cato. What else can one say?

  5. ZS says:

    More worryingly, the ad states that it is funded by Cato, these companies fund Cato…and as consumers, we fund most of these companies.

  6. Larry says:

    I just emailed Toyota Motor Co. and told them I will not purchase the 2010 Prius I was planning on buying unless and until they pull their support of the Cato Institute. This sort of bankrupt science does not deserve the support of a company that works to promote its green credentials.

  7. Greg N says:

    The car companies aren’t exactly nimble on their feet, are they? Desperately trying to reverse their gas-guzzling course, but corporate inertia means they all keep financing denier-delayer ads.

    It takes a long time for cultures to change in companies and societies.

    And Toyota and Honda as well, now that’s depressing.

  8. Shame on these companies, and shame on my computer because Microsoft seems involved in cato funding. Joe, let us aware of decisions by these companies to cut their funding to Cato.
    Larry’s boycott is the perfect answer.

  9. Russ says:

    Unfortunately we cannot boycott GM so long as they have our tax dollars to use for their CATO funding – we’re captive benefactors.

    I think of how at the December hearings Carolyn Maloney demanded to know, “If you get taxpayer money, will you use it to keep suing the taxpayers over emissions standards?”

    They were unable to promise No.

  10. Jim Beacon says:

    *sigh* Now that a U.S. President is actually trying to *do something* about the problem for a change, we see even the most advanced-thinking companies in the world balking and saying “But not in my backyard!”

    These companies like to talk a good green game — and take some reserach grant money and tax deductions for their demo projects and even sell a few hybrids to look good — but when it comes to actually paying the real carbon costs of running their businesses, they want someone else to foot the bill.

    If companies like Honda, Toyota and Microsoft are going to support the anti-science, anti-change disinformation policies of an organization like the Cato Institute, it’s going to be pretty hard to actually fix anything.

  11. Of course. CATO spends $150 thousand at the NYTimes in a denialist advertisement…..and now the paper will think twice about biting the hand that feeds it.

    A delicate balance, they must nurture enough controversy such that CATO et al will see the real need to buy more advertising, but not so much as to drive them away with clear statements of science. This is sinful.

    The Microsoft wealth landed at the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation which has over $1 Billion invested in five different energy companies. They are locked into to this stance no matter what the science says. http://www.theboywhodeniedwolf.com/2009/02/why-the-gates-foundation-ignores-global-warming-pt-2.html

    It is Ultimate Hubris to think influencing public opinion will somehow erase or cover up the unfolding warming. Again and again we are reminded how brilliant captains of industry and finance can blunder. What folly. What a pity.

  12. Dana says:

    As a Prius owner, I’m particularly disappointed that Toyota would fund Cato. My next car will not be a Toyota, Honda, or GM model. Hopefully it will be fully electric anyway.

  13. Rick C says:

    I’m shocked! Shocked!! to find that US and foreign run corporations who owe their fortunes to the use of fossil fuels would fund denier ads! (with apologies to Claude Rains.)

  14. Albert says:

    I’m sending this story to my wife, with this intro:

    Darn, I guess my next car will have to be a Tesla Model S.

  15. Nancy says:

    I spent a few minutes talking with Walmart reps at a ‘green’ trade show recently. They showed me their ‘green’ products, gave me a ‘green’ reuseable Walmart bag and explained how ‘green’ their company is. Complete greenwashing.

    I’ve boycotted Exxon for years…..today I’ve discovered a few more companies to avoid.

  16. Will Koroluk says:

    Some of these companies have a pretty long reach. Altria Corporate Services, for example, means Kraft Foods, General Foods, Nabisco, Philip Morris U.S.A., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. (snuff). And they own a 28-per-cent chunk of SABMiller plc, the world’s biggest brewer.

  17. Roland says:

    I’d been thinking of doing the patriotic thing and buying a Chevy Malibu since it is US made AND a good car apparently. This revelation however stops me in my tracks even more than the looming bankruptcy.

  18. DavidCOG says:

    I’ll be writing to each of those companies with a presence in the UK.

    I recognise a few of the usual liars and lunatics on the list (Bellamy(!), D’Aleo, Gray, Michaels, Spencer), but most are new. I picked a couple at random and found this home page for Professor John Brignell (retired): http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/number%20watch.htm (nice clown!) which leads to http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/zealots.htm (nice jackboots!). Brignell seems to be a man in the mould of the loony Lord Monckton – ACC is a global conspiracy by some shadowy Marxist power grab. I wonder if these people were ever sane?

    I’ve knocked up a quick counter to the CATO bull: click here – feel free to use as you want and let me know if I’ve made any errors.

  19. Jon Houghton says:

    Civil disobedience can not just persuade states to end evil laws, but educate citizens and change corporate pro-death policies. We the people implicitly support the smothering of balanced life aboard planet Earth by not holding manipulative destroyers of public truth accountable for their actions. A systematic boycott and sit-in protest movement targeting perhaps just one CATO benefactor will send a strong message to other climate criminals.

  20. MarkB says:

    Let’s not get too carried away. The money Cato receives from corporations is fairly small compared to what they receive from wealthy individual ideologues and foundations. Toyota is also the key sponsor of this event:

    http://www.coolglobes.com/sponsors.php

    I think notifying Toyota (and others) of the Cato propaganda and saying it reflects poorly on their reputation and may influence your purchase decisions going forward is a reasonable course of action but I wouldn’t throw them under the bus entirely.

    One might ask them why they’ve chosen to sponsor Cato.

  21. Jon Houghton says:

    Civil disobedience can not just persuade states to end evil laws, but educate citizens and change climate criminal corporate pro-death policies. We the people implicitly support the smothering of balanced life aboard planet Earth by not holding manipulative destroyers of publicized truth accountable for their actions. A systematic boycott and sit-in protest movement targeting perhaps just one CATO benefactor would send a strong message. Give us truth or US democracy destroys balanced life on God’s green Earth.

  22. Gail says:

    K, this is OT,but check this out:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16864-halo-effect-explains-brightest-patches-of-sky.html

    I know I’m getting to be over-hyped in my near-dotage, but I have felt, recently, that the air and sky seem different. My oldest friend in NJ, who grew up in the far northland of Sweden eating reindeer and sardines and snow, describes our current situation as “hollow”.

    A few others I know have noticed the silence (predicted by Rachel Carson) of spring peepers and birds.

    To me, it seems we are in the midst of a total ecosystem collapse. It is a source of much grief, guilt, fury, and fear. And I am trying to find ways to understand it, and recognize it, and maybe possibly do something to thwart it.

  23. Steve says:

    Can anyone provide a link to an example of this advertising. Want to chase down the Australian branches of these companies.

  24. Steve H says:

    I’ll let you all in on a little secret. If its a publicly held company, they’re probably bad. Not because they want to be, but Wall Street doesn’t reward honesty. I spent enough time in traded company that I was able to realize that profits don’t matter, the only thing that the stock market rewarded was essentially committing fraud on one’s customers. I hate to sound so anti-capitalist, which I am not, but my general feelings toward our economy is that it became dependent upon fraud at every level. So yeah, it kinda stinks that the makers of the better hybrids support Cato, but I’m more bummed by reporters that don’t question what Cato publishes.

  25. russ says:

    Finally figured it out – this is the Fox News equivalent of ‘fair & balanced reporting’ for the greenie whinos.

    I’m outta here – the site wasn’t even worth checking on

  26. Gail says:

    Russ, don’t let the door slam your a** on the way out, but grab a little actual science on the way (see references on the right side of CP home).

  27. stephanie says:

    thanks joe for this post. is there a way to share your posts on facebook? When I really like articles I like to share it with my friends through facebook but I was not able to find a way to share it besides just linking it with a url.

  28. Andy says:

    CO2 levels continue to rise at an alarming rate!

    Is the worlds temperature now rising at a faster rate?
    Has it leveled off?
    Is it getting cooler?

    There seems to be very convincing arguments on both sides of the global warming debate. Does anyone know where the lastest data is? Was 2009 the warmest winter ever recorded? What about the ice in the arctic right now.

  29. Greg N says:

    Andy, yes I’m afraid the world’s average temperature is rising at a faster rate.

    The 2000s decade was nearly 0.2 degrees C warmer than the 1990s. The 1990s were about 0.14 degrees warmer than the 1980s.

    You can look at the data for yourself by googling Nasa GISS or Hadley CRU. For Arctic ice visit
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Follow a few of the links on this blog for yourself and you’ll soon realise that the very convincing arguments are on only one side of this debate. Enjoy your exploration of the science.

  30. David B. Benson says:

    According to a blogger elsewhere:

    “Other donors to The Cato Institute include American Express, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chemical Bank, Citicorp/Citibank, Commonwealth Fund, Prudential Securities and Salomon Brothers, Chevron Companies, Exxon Company, Shell Oil Company and Tenneco Gas, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Foundation, Atlantic Richfield Foundation, Eli Lilly & Company, Merck & Company and Pfizer, Inc.

    Much of Cato’s philanthropic backing has come from the Koch, Lambe and Sarah Scaife foundations.”

    So the energenic can send lambasting e-mails to those companies as well.

  31. Anna says:

    What gas station *should* we be buying from? (I’d thought Shell was ok, but apparently not)

    > funding for Cato, ill advised though it might be, is not the same as endorsing their statements.

    BS, unfortunately. Indirection – aka opinion laundering – is something the PR folks have learned to hide behind.

    > Brignell seems to be a man in the mould of the loony Lord Monckton – ACC is a global conspiracy by some shadowy Marxist power grab.

    I’m coming to think that this sort of argument is deliberate – since it is so loony, it has a “halo” effect to immunize against *all* conspiracy arguments. This has the effect of – at least partially – blinding you to the genuine conspiracies, which abound since what PR _is_, is a conspiracy (if your PR dept contains more than one staffer, and if what you’re producing is ugly enough that deception will benefit you).

    So the smart heuristic, when faced by a loony argument by folks of this ilk, is to turn it around and see how well it fits if applied _to_ them. Use it as a cognitive stepstool, rather than an obstacle.

  32. Alan says:

    I just emailed Toyota Canada and told them our present Toyota will be our last.
    They are hypocrites and have put themselves in the same league as Walmart and TimeWarner.