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Who’s to Blame: 12 Politicians and Execs Blocking Progress on Global Warming

Rupert Murdoch, Sarah Palin and the other power brokers putting our future at risk

News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

Rupert Murdoch, Sarah Palin and the other powerful people putting our future at risk.

By Jeff Goodell

This list appears in the February 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue will appear on newsstands and in the online archive January 21.

John Chiasson/Liaison (Charles), FredThompson via Flickr (David)

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Charles and David Koch<br><em>CEO and Executive VP, Koch Industries</em>

With a combined worth of $43 billion, these two aging, archconservative brothers are America's leading funders of the climate-disinformation machine. By perpetuating the use of fossil fuels, they in turn fuel their sprawling empire of oil refineries and pipelines — the second-largest private corporation in the country. The Kochs have contributed $5 million to Americans for Prosperity, the driving force behind the Tea Party. They also gave nearly $25 million to conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, two of the leading players in the climate-denial racket. And to help kill climate legislation in Congress, Koch spent $38 million on lobbying — more than any energy company except ExxonMobil and Chevron. Last year, besides underwriting a host of conservative candidates in the midterm elections, the Koch brothers backed Proposition 23, the unsuccessful effort to end California's crackdown on climate pollution, and funded attacks against the EPA's right to regulate carbon emissions. In David Koch's twisted view, global warming is actually good for us. "The Earth will be able to support enormously more people," he says, "because a far greater land area will be available to produce food."

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

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Rupert Murdoch<br><em>CEO, News Corporation</em>

No one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than Murdoch. In a year of rec­ord heat waves in Africa, freak snowstorms in America and epic flooding in Pakistan, the Fox network continued to dismiss climate change as nothing but a conspiracy by liberal scientists and Big Government. Glenn Beck told viewers the Earth experienced no warming in the past decade — the hottest on record. Sean Hannity declared that "global warming doesn't exist" and speculated about "the true agenda of global-warming hysterics." Even Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the chatty Fox & Friends, laughed off the threat of climate change, joking that the real problem was "too many polar bears."

Murdoch's entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny. The Wall Street Journal routinely dismisses climate change as "an apocalyptic scare," and Fox News helped gin up a fake controversy by relentlessly hyping the "climategate" scandal — even though independent investigations showed that nothing in the e-mails stolen from British climate researchers undercut scientific conclusions about global warming.

Murdoch knows better. In 2007, he warned that climate change "poses clear, catastrophic threats" and promised to turn News Corp. into a model of carbon neutrality. But at his media outlets, manufacturing doubt about global warming remains official policy. During the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, the Washington editor of Fox News ordered the network's journalists to never mention global warming "without immediately pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question." Murdoch may be striving to go green in his ­office buildings, but on air, the only thing he's recycling are the lies of Big Coal and Big Oil.

As the World Burns: How Big Oil and Big Coal mounted one of the most agressive lobbying campaigns in history to block progress on global warming

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