03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated 5 days ago

Halloween Murder Mystery: Who Is Killing Copenhagen?

With premature obituary notices popping up all over, it's probably time to ask: Who is killing Copenhagen? Who is responsible for the slasher attacks on the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen this December?

The wounds have been oozing for a couple of weeks now, with the most recent and most worrying being revealed by the United Nations itself.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said last week that it is “unrealistic” to expect a binding treaty from Copenhagen. Janos Pasztor, director of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon's Climate Change Support Team, followed up saying there was no time left to seal deals that will commit the world to actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This bit of pessimism caused such a stir that the secretary-general himself jumped out on Wednesday to resuscitate the Copenhagen corpse, saying -- unconvincingly -- that, "we are still keeping ambitious expectations and targets." Then he redefined "success" to include a conference result that did NOT yield a legally binding agreement.


So, what zombie army is responsible for the world coming into a long-anticipated climate conference with no intention of making the long-delayed climate commitments?


Well, one scary picture might feature the face of Christopher Monckton, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and a poster boy for groundless climate change denial.


Lord Chris has no scientific background whatever (he graduated with a diploma in journalism) and yet reaps a fortune in speaker and consulting fees from “think” tanks that really don’t want to think about climate change. His most recent outing, a Halloween horror flick in its own right, was rendered on behalf of the Minnesota Free Market Institute. It’s a textbook example of the energy-industry sponsored climate confusion effort that Richard Littlemore and I have documented in our book Climate Cover-up.


The perpetrators, as in this case, are most often dressed in costume. Everyone knows you can’t believe oil and coal industry executives when they question climate change, so those execs fund front groups and think tanks to masquerade as credible experts. Sometimes they also set up phony front groups, like the one that the Astroturf champions at Bonner & Associates are in so much trouble over.


But the think tanks are around all the time, concealing the source of their funding and offering “independent” advice from behind that mask.


Here’s a few of the most active: [Jason isn't one of them]

American Enterprise Institute. AEI once offered to pay "experts" $10,000 to write papers that countered the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and is a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's annually climate deniers conference. AEI has received close to half a million from ExxonMobil. And former Exxon Chairman Lee Raymond sits on AEI's board of directors.

Cato Institute. Cato is the main front for the most prolific climate denier, Patrick Michaels, a man who featured prominently in the now famous Vampire memo. Cato is the second largest recipient of funding from Koch Industries - the second largest private corporation in the United States whose main business is refining oil.

Americans for Prosperity. AFP has been running the "Hot Air" tour across America, bringing a hot air balloon to cities and small towns for an event at which they try to frighten small children by “exposing” what they say will be the massive costs and job losses that will result from global warming legislation. AFP is run by Tim Philips and is the third largest recipient of funding from Koch Industries.

Heartland Institute. Heartland’s main client seems to be big tobacco. It operates a “Smokers’ Lounge” But apparently that’s not scary enough to Heartland also organizes an annual climate change denial conference in New York City. It is on record as having accepted funding from ExxonMobil, as well as major grants from Koch Industries.

Heritage Foundation. Heritage is a D.C. granddaddy and a frequent funder of Dr. S. Fred Singer, a man who has denied the health risks of smoking, the risk of the ozone hole, the danger of asbestos, the hazards of DDT and, of course, the very existence of climate change. Heritage, with a budget of about $50 million a year, has received funding from from Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries and other fossil fuel companies.

American Petroleum Institute. API is an industry association, rather than a think tank, but it’s still immersed in the world of costumes and fake science. For example, in 1998, it sponsored the Global Climate Science Communication Action Plan, a strategy document outlining how to set up fake grassroots organizations and hire rent-an-expert spokesters like Fred Singer and Pat Michaels to sow confusion about climate science. This year, API ran phony "Energy Citizens" rallies this summer across the U.S., paying energy industry employees to dress up like regular Americans and “trick or treat” for weaker climate legislation.


American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. ACCCE is another more thinly disguised front group (they accidently put the name of their funding source in their actual title), but they are still capable of scary tactics. For example, they spilled $40 million during the last presidential election pretending that coal could be clean – sponsoring TV ad campaigns and paying people to dress up in “clean coal” costumes and try to get their pictures taken with politicians.


It is, of course, traditional for people to wander around on this particular weekend in masks and disguises. There should be a law against letting coal and oil company representatives do it all year around.