Tonight, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is screening the documentary (Astro)Turf Wars. Following the screening, the ThinkProgress Wonk Room will host a panel with director Taki Oldham, Americans for Prosperity’s Phil Kerpen, and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. The panel will be streamed live here.
The pollution-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) claims not to question the science of global warming, arguing that its massive Astroturfing campaign against climate policy hinges purely on economic arguments. However, footage from the new documentary (Astro)Turf Wars reveals that AFP officials in fact are radical climate science deniers, promoting untenable conspiracy theories to challenge the overwhelming scientific consensus that fossil fuel pollution is dangerously warming the planet.
“We’re not arguing the science of climate change,” Steve Lonegan, AFP-New Jersey state director told Taki Oldham, (Astro)Turf Wars’ filmmaker, last year, at an AFP “Hot Air Tour” event challenging climate legislation. “What we’re saying is the price tag put on it is so destructive as to be reckless and irresponsible.” However, when Oldham asked Lonegan about the science, the AFP official launched into a denier tirade:
The science is not finished, the debate is not over, as the left who support this legislation would tell you. It is quite far from over. There is some very doubtful science into whether or not manmade global warming is causing significant climate change, or whether that climate change is bad or not.
Oldham also attended AFP’s annual summit in October 2009, where the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell, also funded by Koch, told AFP members that global warming is “phony”:
First I want to talk about global warming for a minute. Here’s the last 30 years. You’ll see for the last ten years we haven’t had any global warming. I think that shows the models are phony.
Ebell spoke at a panel moderated by AFP’s vice president of policy, Phil Kerpen, which also included radical climate conspiracy theorist Phelim McAleer and Koch front-group lifer Daniel Simmons.
When the Wonk Room noted that numerous Republican candidates who question climate science are also signatories of the AFP “No Climate Tax” pledge, AFP argued that “our pledge has nothing to do with science,” complaining, “Why can’t Think Progress approach this issue with intellectual honesty, instead of distorting our sincere efforts to fight government growth as some sort of scientific position?”
“We’ve strived to encourage an intellectually honest debate on the scientific basis for claims of harm from greenhouse gases,” Koch Industries spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia claimed in March, 2010.
Lonegan and Ebell’s denial of climate science is, in fact, the default policy position of AFP and Koch Industries:
— “The scientific establishment has dropped the ball. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” said Peggy Venable, AFP’s State Director for Texas, in 2009. “On the contrary it makes crops and forests grow faster. We exhale carbon dioxide.”
— AFP’s website flatly claims that the fact that global warming could cause an eventual 7-meter sea level rise is a “falsehood.”
— “Endangerment of public health and welfare is not ‘reasonably anticipated,’” AFP argued in an April 15, 2009 letter challenging the EPA’s endangerment finding.
— Koch Industries’ official position on climate policy explicitly questions the science of manmade global warming, arguing it may be “simply part of the earth’s natural cycle” and claiming that “the past 10 years or so of data” indicate “we have emerged from a warming cycle and are now entering a cooling cycle.”
At the CAPAF event, Americans for Prosperity policy director Phil Kerpen claimed his organization doesn’t question climate science, even after having watched the documentary, before pivoting to question climate science: