NC Budget Director Art Pope is a leading funder of climate science denial.
NC Budget Director Art Pope is a leading funder of climate science denial.

Art Pope still funding climate disinformation

As North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's budget director, Art Pope will help make important fiscal decisions for a state facing serious threats due to climate disruption, from destructive storms and more intense hurricanes to unusually fast-rising seas.

But he will carry out that work in a political context that's been shaped by disinformation about climate science -- thanks to efforts Pope himself has generously funded.

According to a Facing South analysis of the latest annual tax filing from the John William Pope Foundation, Pope's family fund gave almost $5.7 million from July 2011 through June 2012 to conservative think tanks and advocacy groups that work to deny the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and driven at least in part by human activities like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. That represents 61 percent of total giving for the year by the Pope Foundation, which draws its wealth from the Pope family's discount-retail chain, Variety Wholesalers. (Click on chart for a larger version.)


Pope has long been a big contributor to efforts to challenge climate science and block any action to address global warming. Our previous analysis of tax return data showed that the Pope Foundation donated generously to many of the groups that make up what Greenpeace has dubbed the "climate denial machine," a network of industry-supported think tanks that works to sow doubt about global warming -- over $24 million from 1997 to 2008.

Figuring the Pope Foundation gave an average of just over $2.6 million per year to climate science denial groups during that nine-year period, its 2011-2012 total represents an increase in giving to the groups engaged in climate science denial.

Some highlights of the Pope Foundation's anti-science philanthropy in 2011-2012:

* The biggest recipient at over $2.6 million is the John Locke Foundation, which promotes the idea that global warming is a "hoax." A conservative Raleigh, N.C.-based think tank that was founded by Pope and gets most of its support from his foundation, JLF has been one of the most outspoken voices of climate denial in North Carolina, claiming that global warming is a "pseudoscientific fraud." It has worked closely with other prominent denier groups and individuals to cast doubt on the science of global warming; Paul Chesser, a former JLF editor who is prominent in climate denial circles, accused Christians concerned about climate of suffering from “Biblical illiteracy” and cited the Book of Revelation to warn them that “God has some serious global warming of His own planned.” JLF is currently advocating repeal of North Carolina's renewable energy law.

* The second-biggest grantee at over $1.3 million is the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, which claims there is no scientific consensus on climate change. This Raleigh-based think tank founded and largely funded by Pope bills itself as "North Carolina's conservative voice." The group keeps up a steady drumbeat of doubt about the science of global warming and dismisses concerns as coming from "radical environmentalists" and "alarmists" suffering from "Green Fever." Another Pope-founded organization that received money from his family foundation in 2011-2012 -- a total of $542,800 -- was the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, which also promotes the idea that global warming science is a fraud.

* The Pope Foundation contributed $455,000 to the Institute for Humane Studies, a think tank affiliated with prominent climate science deniers. Mother Jones magazine has described IHS, located at George Mason University in Virginia, as a "haven for climate change deniers." Among its current guest lecturers are Paul Driessen with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a free-market policy organization that says the case for global warming is "dwindling," and several staff members of the Cato Institute, which has played a leading role in the climate denial movement. Art Pope serves on the IHS board, which is chaired by Charles Koch, head of the Koch Industries oil and chemical conglomerate and a leading funder of climate science denial. Pope is a close associate of Charles Koch and his brother David, and they contribute to many of the same climate denial groups.

* It gave $150,000 to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Americans for Prosperity, a tea party group that’s been a leader in the effort to cast doubt on global warming.  AFP was founded by David Koch, and the Koch and Pope family foundations have been its top funders. Art Pope sat on AFP’s national board until his appointment as North Carolina budget director, and Gov. McCrory spent a year touring the state with AFP, becoming what his hometown newspaper called the group’s “de facto spokesman.” AFP sponsored what it billed as a "Hot Air Tour" to challenge what it calls “global warming alarmism,” and its North Carolina chapter has called global warming a “scam.”

* The Pope Foundation contributed $95,000 to Donors Trust, a secretive funding organization with close ties to the climate denial movement. Located in Virginia and affiliated with the Donors Capital Fund, Donors Trust is a nonprofit fund that allows donors to contribute to organizations without disclosing their identities. A recent exposé of Donors Trust by the British newspaper The Independent showed that the group is a major operator in what the paper calls the climate "counter movement" and gets generous funding from the Koch brothers. Among the climate science denial groups that have received significant contributions from Donors Trust are the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Heartland Institute and State Policy Network; all three also received grants from the Pope Foundation in 2011-2012.

* The Pope Foundation gave $25,000 to the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, which is targeting state renewable energy laws like North Carolina's. The foundation is the sister group of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative advocacy group led by Grover Norquist, who worked as a lobbyist for fossil-fuel interests including BP America and the Edison Electric Institute. ATR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, which says it is devoted to "dispelling the myths of global warming." Cooler Heads is closely tied to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which also got $10,000 from Pope in 2011-2012; CEI is being sued for defamation by prominent climate scientist Michael Mann for accusing him of fraud and comparing him to a child molester. ATR is also working to overturn state renewable energy laws and has singled out North Carolina as a state where the "iron is hottest to strike."

At the same time he's helped fund the effort to spread misinformation about climate science, Pope has also contributed generously to the campaigns of North Carolina lawmakers that are hostile to environmental regulation. In fact, lawmakers backed by Pope and his immediate family members have received particularly low scores for their voting records from an environmental advocacy group.

It's a one-two punch of political giving by Pope that will make it more difficult for North Carolina to secure a sustainable future.

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NC Budget Director Art Pope is a leading funder of climate science denial.
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Thank you!

Thanks to Sue Sturgis and the Institute for Southern Studies for this helpful article!

The assumption being made

The assumption being made here is that climate denial money is somehow considered dirty and evil, while climate alarmism money is considered clean and good. Lol!!

Good story

Very good research on this story, Sue. I will pass it along to my thousands of facebook friends. It makes so much sense. They are using all the same methods as tobacco companies did for years to deny any connection between cigarettes and cancer. Only this time the whole human race is at stake.

Also, how is it that there are 4 comments against your article already and I just received it in my mailbox? Could it be the same righty-troll posing as different people? Not that many people could be that stupid and also, we know the effiency folks would not want to pay that many, either. It has to be just one. Maybe someone on Art Pope's team? What losers.

What warming?

More desperate rantings from the irrational left.

New McCarthyism

The hypothesis (it is only a hypothesis based on scientific protocol because there is no ability to prove its accuracy since there has been no warming in almost 17years even by the IPCC own numbers) is the modern age McCarthyism.

If you choose to disagree with the hypothesis you are tared and feathered in the media and called names like denier, etc...

This is no different than the tactics used by Joe McCarthy in his hunt for Communists in the U.S.. Funny how liberals like Sue will claimn to detest the McCarthy era, and yet adopt old Joe's tactics to push their agenda.

Ah the same ol' story

Uh, you do realize that global warming doesn't exist right? That massive amount of evidence has shown that A. the global temperature has not risen in 20 years despite the world being more industrialized now than ever before, B. the science behind it is incredible flawed and not accurate, and C. even the scientists who wrote the UN climate report e-mail's revealed they fudged the data and made up results to fit their claims. Apparently, you like to jump aboard the progressive propaganda bandwagon just like the rest of the media so we can keep forcing regulations upon hundreds of business that stymie growth, spend millions of taxpayer money on losing industries that have yet to prove they affect the environment in any significant way, and cause energy prices to skyrocket - forcing the American people who have been steamrolled by the economy that you and your progressive-minded folk allowed to fail by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 to pay even more out of pocket. You've done such a great job so far. Enjoy your time in the sun, when the counter-culture kicks in and the American people wake up, you'll find your coffer to be quite empty.

Funding accusation implies what, exactly?

In case you haven't noticed, these kinds of accusations about corrupt funding is no more than guilt-by-association about sums of money that end up looking like starvation wages when they are spread out among all the people in the organizations receiving the money, over extended periods of time. Do the math on it all, it's that simple. And if any promoter of man-caused global warming is not first able to establish that the money was NOT donated because the organization sources were simply in agreement with what skeptics say, then the leap to the accusation that such money bought fabricated false science assessments does not follow without the combination of specific evidence of those exchanges for specific results, and those results being demonstratively wrong. On top of all that, skeptic climate scientists do not "deny" climate change, they assert that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has not conclusively made its case that human activity is the main driver of global warming.

What this all burns down to in other words, is that without proof to back up the insinuation that skeptics are paid to lie about the issue ….. You. Have. NOTHING.

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