Right-Wing Billionaire David Koch Funding SwiftBoat Campaign Against Global Warming Science

This Think Progress repost is by guest blogger Lee Fang.

Right-wing billionaire David Koch, who along with his brother Charles owns the oil and gas empire Koch Industries, constantly presents himself as a champion of science. Next year, a wing of the Smithsonian will be named after him because of his generous donations. Indeed, in accepting Koch’s donations, the Smithsonian Human Origins Program director Rick Potts attempted to whitewash Koch’s philanthropist history:

POTTS: What we find in David Koch is a person who’s committed to doing things for the American public that has no relationship to politics

Koch apparently relishes this perception that his money buys. In an interview earlier this year, Koch pretended that he opposes organizations which politicize and distort science:

Q: What role do you think politics should play in educating the public about evolution?

KOCH: That’s an interesting question. I think politicians should really stay out of it and allow scientists to present the facts and discoveries. I hate to see it politicized.

In an op-ed in the Boston Globe yesterday, I observed that Koch has manufactured a positive image for himself by giving to laudable causes, while at the same time, quietly “funneling tens of millions of dollars to more subterranean efforts that reflect his conservative politics.” Despite his funding of the Smithsonian, Koch has done more to politicize and and undermine the public’s understanding of science than any other single person. Koch has funded the leading groups dedicated to spreading skepticism of climate change:

– Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing tea party group which Koch founded in 1984 and continues to finance, has just announced that it will send a team of political operatives to Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. AFP intends to hold a press conference to attack any climate change solution the President promises as a mistake that will “kill jobs here” and “infringe on our personal and national freedoms.”

– Koch has funded the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has been the most aggressive conservative front group heralding hacked e-mails as proof that climate change does not exist.

– Koch funds the “Hot Air Tour,” a campaign led by lobbyists stopping in cities across the country to call into question the science underpinning climate change. The tour also features an actual hot air balloon to illustrate their beleif that climate change science is just “hot air.”

The National Academy of Sciences, the US Global Change Research Program, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have all come to the same conclusion: “that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use and the loss of carbon-sink capacity in heavily timbered forests are increasing temperatures and making oceans more acidic.” David Koch’s Koch Industries derives much of its profit from its oil refineries, one of the major emitters of carbon dioxide, and from its George-Pacific timber subsidiary, one of the largest contributors to the loss of carbon-sink capacity. So while it’s clear Koch’s bottom line is in conflict with addressing the world’s climate crisis, it should also be clear that he is no champion of science “” no matter how many halls he buys at the Smithsonian.

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7 Responses to Right-Wing Billionaire David Koch Funding SwiftBoat Campaign Against Global Warming Science

  1. See my Global Warming Denial Machine page at:

    Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has received from the Koch Foundations: $151,321,081 between 1986-2004 (Media Matters Transparency)

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Koch, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Georgia Pacific

    My guess is that few people probably know whether, or when, they are buying products that have come from Koch’s oil and gas activities. But, we are all familiar with Georgia Pacific products. I’ll offer a comment identifying some of those later today, when time allows, and I think we should boycott those products, indeed, anything having to do with Koch.

    I’ll also provide a great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that captures the essence of much of what the original post describes. And, I find it shocking and embarrassing that the Smithsonian will be naming a wing after him. I won’t be going into that wing, and the Smithsonian has just lost a great deal of my respect, unfortunately.

    Be Well,


  3. paulina says:

    James Smithson’s Gift
    “I then bequeath the whole of my property…to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge…”
    James Smithson (1765-1829)

    The Smithsonian should reject the money.

    They will do more toward their mission of increasing and spreading knowledge by publicly rejecting Koch’s money than they ever will by accepting it.

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    I agree with Paulina (Comment 3).

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    Georgia Pacific (owned by Koch) Consumer Products to Boycott:

    Quilted Northern bathroom tissue
    Angel Soft bathroom tissue
    Brawny paper towels
    Vanity Fair serving products
    Dixie cups, plates, and napkins

    If you value the atmosphere, the future, and science, then you should stop buying these Georgia Pacific products, in my view.

    Be Well,


  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    There is a problem, of course, when someone’s chief actions put the climate and oceans at risk, deceive and confuse the public, deny science, and so forth, but then are “seen” (by that person, or perhaps even by some members of the public) to be excused because that same person gives to charity or does other stuff to enhance his image.

    The latter act of “charity” does not in any way excuse or permit the harms. And, often, a gesture of “charity” on the part of such person should be rejected until that person makes changes necessary to cease his broader harms.

    Here, as promised earlier, is a great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, using the language and etc. of his own times:

    “Virtues, are, in the popular estimate, rather the exception than the rule. There is the man AND his virtues. Men do what is called a good action, as some piece of courage or charity, much as they would pay a fine in expiation of daily non-appearance on parade.”

    (from Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance”)

  7. Mark Shapiro says:

    1 – The amazing thing is that this is news — completely unreported in the same MSM that can’t understand a scientist saying “travesty” in an email. People should be reminded of this every time a denier says that climate scientists have a political agenda or are in it for the big money.

    2- boycotts hardly ever work (as I’m sure you know, Jeff), but shame on me if I ever buy a GP product again. GP = death and destruction via AGW.