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Written by Willian (Min Gyu) Lee, ECO Secretary

Climate change denial is slowly starting to disappear. Most people believe that climate change is very real, as they should. The evidence is overwhelming and the science impeccable. However, there are some that remain steadfast in their ignorance even after being repeatedly disproven and intellectually discredited.

Many of these individuals are from the United States. Though most developed countries have already reached a consensus on the reality of climate change, the US is still trailing behind. We are home to a disturbingly large population of climate deniers. Why the US has such a scientifically defiant demographic can be known upon examining how the US is structured around big money and where that money is coming from. 

The US has a booming fossil fuel industry. This is to be expected when most areas in the country have poor public transit systems and lacking pedestrian infrastructure, leading citizens to wholly rely on personal vehicles, vehicles that run on gasoline. However, as many citizens become more climate-conscious, they are looking to reduce their carbon footprints and combat big industries that contribute to climate change.

Following from this growing awakening, many fossil fuel companies have tried to muddy the intellectual waters. According to a 2019 Influence Map Report, approximately one-billion dollars were spent on climate denial marketing, research, and lobbying by five of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the US. 

These big companies pass funding to conservative think-tanks that conduct climate denying “research”. The science behind this research is expectedly fraudulent, but the qualifications of some of these researchers are otherwise legitimate. Climate denying think-tanks purposely lure qualified intellectuals to conduct and publish their research, which leads many who trust in the authority of these “scientists” to assent to fake science. In essence, those employed under right-wing, climate non-realist think tanks are almost selling their souls by receiving large capital from fossil fuel companies in exchange for the utilization of their names and qualifications to back up completely false research.

Along with misleading research, many companies also invest in media disinformation. Similar to climate-denying think tanks, there are many media organizations that run on fossil-fuel money. The incredibly popular political personality Ben Shapiro is also backed by big oil. His media outlet The Daily Wire has reportedly received millions from Dan and Farris Wilks, two billionaire petroleum businessmen. Ben Shapiro, though not being an outright denialist, is known to be very hesitant when talking about climate change and is also openly pro-fracking. When such famous personalities are fiscally influenced to spread climate denial or hesitancy, they will convince their followers of such scientific falsities like their lives depend on it. In actuality, when you are receiving millions in funding, your life quite literally does depend on those who are providing your finances.

As fossil fuel companies continue to push for survival and as the planet’s survival increasingly depends on the death of fossil fuel, we are in the midst of a raging war between lies and the truth. It is thus our responsibility to remain vigilant, to be scientifically literate, and to be honest with ourselves, with each other, and with our planet. In this, we can navigate our way through the sea of misinformation and, as a nation, stay on right side of history.

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Author: ECO Executive Board

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