A December 2013 academic article has documented how billionaires made suckers of millions of people, causing them to believe that global warming is a mere hoax, and to think that the oil companies' line on this matter is honest.
This research, by Robert J. Brulle, was published in a leading climatological journal, Climate Change, and it reports that a small number of aristocrats have collectively spent, on average, a billion dollars a year, in order to fool the American public into thinking that climate change isn't happening, and that, even if it is, it's not caused by burning fossil fuels. These aristocrats control fossil fuels corporations, such as Koch Industries, and ExxonMobil, but their money for this mass-deception campaign is laundered through far-right-wing foundations they control, to think-tanks they control, which buy professors to provide "authority" for these distortions and outright lies. That is why the reality (a graphical presentation of which can be seen at places such as this), though acknowledged by virtually all climatologists, is rejected, just disbelieved, by much of the public.
Listed in order, with the largest listed first, the nine foundations that account for half of this total billion-dollar-a-year expenditure, are: Donors Trust, Scaife, Bradley, Koch, Howard, Pope, Searle, Dunn's, and Richardson. Their money is then further laundered, through the following eleven think-tanks, listed here also largest-first, which collectively account for a full two-thirds of this total billion-dollar-a-year propaganda campaign: American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, Manhattan Institute, Cato Institute, Hudson Institute, Atlas Economic Research, Americans for Prosperity, John Locke Foundation, Heartland Institute, and Reason Foundation.
They, in turn, pay professors and journalists to write, both for the "news media," and for professional journals, to debunk or (in the scholarly publications) to raise questions about, global warming or its cause -- questions that are no longer even questions among actual climate scientists.
This study, titled "Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations," reports that all of this money is spent "on maintaining a field frame that justifies unlimited use of fossil fuels by attempting to delegitimate the science that supports the necessity of mandatory limits on carbon emissions. To accomplish this goal in the face of massive scientific evidence of anthropogenic climate change [which is documented in that link] has meant the development of an active campaign to manipulate and mislead the public over the nature of climate science and the threat posed by climate change." Furthermore, "The available data indicates that the Koch and ExxonMobil Foundations have recently pulled back from funding" it. Whereas, "from 2003 to 2007, the Koch Affiliated Foundations and the ExxonMobil Foundation were heavily involved in funding" it, that changed, and, "since 2008, they are no longer making publicly traceable contributions" to this propaganda, because their "funding has shifted to pass-through untraceable sources," especially "Donors Trust," whose reason for existence is to enable extremely wealthy individuals and corporations to fund their propaganda campaigns anonymously and untraceably.
Whereas a billion dollars a year might sound like a lot, the net profits of even just the single petroleum-producer, ExxonMobil, were $44 billion last year; so, this mass-deception campaign is actually a small but enormously productive investment for these aristocrats, to keep their billions coming. They don't care that they are destroying this planet. As the head of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, told his stockholders on May 29th, cajolling the few resisters there to go along with it:
"What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers? ... We do not see a viable pathway with any known technology today to achieve the 350 [parts per billion atmospheric carbon] outcome that is not devastating to economies, societies and peoples' health and well-being around the world. ... You cannot get there. ... So the real question is: Do you want to keep arguing about that and pursuing something that cannot be achieved at costs that will be detrimental? Or do you want to talk about what's the path we should be on and how do we mitigate and prepare for the consequences as they present themselves?"
They have delayed the start of what must be done to "save the planet," so late that probably salvaging the planet (its biosphere) can no longer even be done any longer. And they want to delay it still longer, for as long as they can, so as to keep fossil-fuel sales high -- the planet be damned, as far as they care about it.
Tillerson gets paid more than $40 million per year, but he still doesn't get paid enough to satisfy him. These people, it seems, are insatiable.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.