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COLUMN: Koch brothers stain climate change research at IU


By Tristan Fitzpatrick



Not content with funneling money to the highest levels of our nation’s government, the wealthy and ultra-conservative Koch brothers are now targeting something a little closer to home: research that’s being done at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Charles Koch Foundation gave a $210,000 grant to professor Doug Noonan and two visiting scholars at IUPUI for environmental policy research.

Several graduate students in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, according to the Indianapolis Star, criticized the grant for potentially damaging the school’s reputation for conducting research.

They’re not wrong.

The Koch brothers have a long history of supporting political groups that are skeptical, at best, of the existence of climate change.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, which advocates against misinformation of climate change, reported that foundations linked with the Koch brothers have donated millions of dollars to special interests that argue climate change is not caused by humans and is not a pressing political issue.

A group that routinely supplies false information about climate change, Americans for Prosperity, is one of the numerous organizations the Koch brothers fund in their attempt to influence public opinion on climate change.

Why are the Kochs so determined to throw money into convincing people climate change doesn’t exist?

The answer is because several of their businesses rely on environmentally toxic practices. One of those companies, according to Investopedia, is the Koch Pipeline Company. The company provides transportation for crude oil, natural gas and other resources that produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, a danger to the environment.

It’s bad business for the brothers, then, if the public supports action against climate change, as it could lead to a reduced need for the resources the Koch brothers have made their fortune on.

Even though I’m sharply critical of the Kochs’ record on climate change, I do admire them for donating money to other various charitable 
efforts.

The PBS program “Nova” receives funding from one of their foundations, and one of the brothers even gave $100 million to create a center for medical and cancer research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It’s disappointing to see the brothers are adamant doubters of climate change.

When the bottom line is involved, the environment takes a back seat in their view.

When it comes to environmental policy research, accepting money from these cynics of global warming should be the last place one looks for reliable, scientifically sound sources of funding.

To protect the reputation of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the University in general, a commitment to finding these sources of funding must be made by each and every professor to prevent potential conflicts of interest from 
occurring.

That way the public gets research that is impartial, non-biased. It won’t be politically motivated.

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