Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Big Money to Fight Elections against Climate Change Nay-sayers

I remember back in the 1970s when the environmental movement was beginning around here and I realized that it was going to be a long row to hoe to get 1) better water pollution control, 2) air quality emissions standards, 3) recycling and 4) everything else that was necessary to make the world liveable.

The problem was that the eco-guys and gals (not that we/they were called that then) just didn't have the money to get their message across.  The companies that stood to profit from pollution could advertise their spin on things in every media, but we had to slog it out in the trenches.  This meant that even when there was a victory (as in the fight to remove phosphates from detergent) it could be subverted by clever campaigns.  (See my post about this from 2007.)

But maybe some of the big money has wised up.  The New York Times has a very interesting story to day about hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer who has set up a huge fund to fight elections against climate change nay-sayers. 

The NYT reports that he  "is rallying other deep-pocketed donors, seeking to build a war chest that would make his political organization, NextGen Climate Action, among the largest outside groups in the country, similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch.

"In early February, Mr. Steyer gathered two dozen of the country’s leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists to his 1,800-acre ranch in Pescadero, Calif. — which raises prime grass-fed beef — to ask them to join his efforts. People involved in the discussions say Mr. Steyer is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own.

"The money would move through Mr. Steyer’s fast-growing, San Francisco-based political apparatus into select 2014 races."

A good thing, maybe, although the question of how big a role money should play in a democracy looms behind.  Certainly worth following.  And certainly would be interesting to see if any big money in Canada would be interested in following Steyer's example here. 

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