An extensive study into the financial networks that support groups denying the science behind climate change and opposing political action has found a vast, secretive web of think tanks and industry associations, bankrolled by conservative billionaires.
"I call it the climate-change counter movement," study author Robert Brulle, who published his resultsin the journal Climatic Change, told the Guardian. "It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this. This is a large-scale political effort."
His work, which is focused on the United States, shows how a network of 91 think tanks and industry groups are primarily responsible for conservative opposition to climate policy. Almost 80 percent of these groups are registered as charitable organizations for tax purposes and collectively received more than seven billion dollars between 2003 and 2010.
Among those named as key nodes of the network were the American Enterprise Institute, which claims to have no institutional position on climate change, and the Heritage Foundation, which campaigns on a number of issues.
However, Brulle admitted that tracing the funding back to its original sources was difficult, as around three-quarters of the money has been routed through trusts that assure anonymity to their donors.
While it was not always possible to separate funds designated strictly for climate-change work from overall budgets, Brulle said: "This is how wealthy individuals or corporations translate their economic power into political and cultural power."
He added: "They have their profits and they hire people to write books that say climate change is not real. They hire people to go on TV and say climate change is not real. It ends up that people without economic power don't have the same size voice as the people who have economic power, and so it ends up distorting democracy."
This story originally appeared on Wired UKhttp://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-12/21/denial.