When it comes to climate change, the Koch brothers have one code they demand their beneficiaries live by: deny, deny, deny. Last Wednesday, several of the brothers’ chums attended the House Natural Resources Committee hearing in order to, of course, deny the existence of man-made climate change as well as advocate against reducing carbon use.
At the hearing, Heritage Foundation Senior Statistician and Research Programmer Kevin Dayaratna said, “Under some assumptions, the social cost of carbon is a negative two-thirds of the time.” Dayaratna went on to say that “there are literally no costs [from carbon use], but rather benefits to carbon dioxide emissions, and if taken at face value this would suggest that the government should subsidize, not tax carbon dioxide.” The Koch brothers have donated at least half a million dollars to the Heritage Action Fund, according to Politico.
The Cato Institute, a think tank founded by the Kochs, also attended the Natural Resources hearing. In a completely illogical argument, the Institute’s Center for the Study of Science director Patrick Michaels tried to argue that carbon dioxcide has a “direct fertizilation effect” on agriculture. Michaels said, “Thousands of scientific papers […] demonstrate the direct fertilization effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide on agricultural output. […] It results in a 10 to 15 percent increase in the overall yield. […] Properly including this well-documented information […] can result in a negative social cost of carbon, or a net external benefit from the combustion of carbon dioxide.” For the brothers, pushing this kind of bunk science means protecting their vast investment in carbon and fossil fuels.
It’s in the Kochs’ commercial interest to preserve America’s reliance on carbon-based energy sources. Despite recent diversification, Koch remains a major petrochemical company with refineries in North Pole, Alaska; Corpus Christi, Texas; Rosemount, Minn., and Rotterdam in the Netherlands; an array of chemical plants; a coal subsidiary (the C. Reiss Coal Co.) and 4,000 miles of pipelines.
The Kochs’ rejection of scientific consensus is entirely motivated by their profits. They’ve used their wealth to sign up (read: buy off) politicians to join their crusade against science. Whether its throwing a snowball on the Senate floor or trotting out their trademark ‘not a scientist’ line, last week’s hearing is just the latest show of their cronies’ dedication to the Kochs’ bottom line.