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Responding to Robert Brulle’s Misleading Study

This article is cross-posted from Climate Dollars

In a September 5 article in the Washington Post, investigative journalist Robert O’Harrow uses data from the most famous study by sociologist Robert Brulle to cast nonprofits skeptical of global warming theory in a negative light. As Capital Research Center has demonstrated in our project Climate Dollars, however, Brulle uses limited data to create a false narrative about which groups are funding climate change research.

While the Washington Post chose not to run the letter to the editor I submitted in response to O’Harrow’s piece, we have published it here.

To the Editor:

In his September 5 article, “A two-decade crusade by conservative charities fueled Trump’s exit from Paris climate accord,” Robert O’Harrow maligns the work of think tanks in the Cooler Heads Coalition. He paints an insidious picture of nonprofits skeptical of global warming and cites sociologist Robert Brulle’s famous claims about “hundreds of millions” going to skeptics.

As we’ve documented at ClimateDollars.org, Brulle is grossly misleading in two ways. First, he counts all revenues the groups receive, rather than the far smaller amounts they actually spend on anything related to climate. Worse, he ignores the much larger amounts received by nonprofits on the other side of global warming: in 2014, we calculate, their revenues were more than 2.5 times those of skeptics.

O’Harrow similarly ignores the other side’s nonprofits, or the fact that think tanks in Cooler Heads are hardly the first to weigh in on public policy. That distinction belongs to the century-old Brookings Institution, a center-left group. Neither O’Harrow nor Brulle are the neutral observers they pretend to be.

For our senior researcher’s summary of our Brulle study in the Wall Street Journal, visit http://www.climatedollars.org/app/uploads/2017/04/170427_CRC_WSJ_ClimateHystericFakeEnemiesListv2.pdf

For the study’s executive summary, visit http://www.climatedollars.org/full-study/executive-summary/

Scott Walter is president of the Capital Research Center, a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition

Scott Walter

Walter served in the George W. Bush administration as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and was vice president for publications and research at the Philanthropy Roundtable. There…
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