4. Charles and David Koch

CEO and executive vice president, respectively, of Koch Industries

Charles and David Koch     Photo: Joe Ciardiello

Fund Climate-change denial
The two most powerful people currently influencing the national dialogue on climate change are investing millions of dollars to suggest it doesn’t exist. The Koch brothers—­billionaires many times over due to their father’s fortune and their oil, paper, and petro­chemical businesses—operated under the radar for years. That changed last year when a series of reports—most notably a New Yorker exposé—outed them as the brains and wallet behind Americans for Prosperity, a foundation that has helped fund the Tea Party. Not that they’re dissuaded by the newfound recognition. Last September, Charles Koch, 76, wrote to other business leaders concerning government regulation of industry: “It is up to us to combat what is now the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes.” And the warming of the planet? As David Koch, 71, told New York magazine, “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people, because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.”
By the Numbers $44 billion: combined net worth, according to Forbes magazine; $55.2 million: amount Koch family foundations have given to organizations questioning the science of climate change since 1997; $30 million: fine Koch Industries paid in 1999 to settle a civil suit accusing the company of causing more than 300 oil spills
Second Opinions Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public ­Integ­rity, called Koch Industries “the Standard Oil of our times.” Greenpeace described it as the ­“financial ­kingpin of ­climate-science ­denial.” And Bill McKibben, the author and environmental activist, says of the Koch brothers, “They hold so much sway because they have so much money, and they’re willing to use a small bit of it to make sure they get a whole lot more.”

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