This week’s release of a report by the extremist environmental group Greenpeace on Wichita-based Koch Industries contains claims that exaggerate the nature of the information contained in the report. These over-hyped “findings” are used to advance Greenpeace’s global warming alarmist agenda, but should give us cause to examine Greenpeace and its agenda.
The title of the report — “Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” is the first exhibit. The peculiar use of the term “climate denial” — used in the report’s title and repeated many times in the report — makes it look as though the organizations named in the report deny the existence of climate itself, which is, of course, nonsense. Even the term “climate science denial,” which is also used, is misleading. We’ve seen in recent years the shaky foundation on which modern climate science rests — at least the science cited by environmental extremists and global warming alarmists like Greenpeace.
The accusatory language used in the report and its accompanying promotional materials — “secretly funding,” “quietly funneled,” “expose the connections,” — is misleading in two ways. First, it accuses Koch Industries and Koch Family Foundations of attempting to hide connections to the organizations named in the report. But these connections are not hidden. Instead, they are widely known.
For example, David Koch’s biography on the Koch Industries website notes that he serves on the board of directors of the Cato Institute, and that he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The role of Charles Koch in the founding of the Cato Institute is widely known as a matter of history and is mentioned in documents on Cato’s website.
Second — and here’s where Greenpeace really exaggerates — the information the Greenpeace report characterizes as “uncovered” can be found by reading IRS form 990 documents. These are freely available at several locations such as Guidestar. They show how charitable foundations spend money, including contributions made to the organizations named in the Greenpeace report.
It’s not just the Greenpeace report itself that is way over-the-top in its sensationalism. Personal attacks are used too, as when a Greenpeace blog writes about the Kochs: “They are the dons of a massive climate crime family.” This type of demonization doesn’t help advance debate.
Then there’s the report’s accusation that a conservative “echo chamber” exists to spread misinformation about climate change — as though such things don’t exist among left-wing organizations like Greenpeace itself.
We must first recognize that the claims made in the Greenpeace report about climate science are far from settled, and that many scientists disagree with Greenpeace’s views. Many would say the report itself is full of misinformation about the state of climate science. For example, Greenpeace claims that the “ClimateGate” emails from last November casts no doubt on the scientific consensus regarding climate change.
As to charges of an echo chamber, the accompanying material to the report encourages the very type of “echoing” that the report denounces. It suggests a hashtag (a method of categorizing or tagging communications) to use on Twitter, for example. And it encourages linking the word “Koch” to the report: “Put up as many links as you can, everywhere and anywhere you can put up links. Help us make sure that when someone Googles ‘Koch,’ the top search result will be our report.”
This blatant push by Greenpeace to create the appearance of interest in the report is ironic when we realize the report accuses groups like Americans for Prosperity of “Astroturfing” — the alleged effort to create a false impression of grass roots interest in an issue or cause.
We have to wonder what Greenpeace is trying to accomplish with this report. The exaggerated claims of uncovering previously “hidden” information, the insistence that only Greenpeace’s radical global warming agenda is correct and everyone else is wrong, the character assassination of Charles and David Koch — all this should lead us to seriously question the credibility of Greenpeace.