Global Weirding

A lot of money goes into denying climate change, and yet despite the best efforts of corporations to deny it, Oregon just had its warmest winter on record, according to the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI): “Eugene was 4.6 degrees warmer than average in December, 2.9 degrees warmer in January, and 5.3 degrees in February.”

Eugene had a record high of 68 in January, and February had five days of temperatures in the 60s.  This might feel good for now, but its implications for our seas, plants, animals and water supply are huge, from wolverines who can’t survive in warming wild places to the drought in California and in five Oregon counties.

The Heartland Institute, a major climate change-denial think tank, reported more than $5 million in revenue in 2013 and just under $5 million in 2013. A study in the journal Climactic Change found that 140 foundations sent $558 million to almost 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010.

The study also found that some of the funding has gone dark — Koch-affiliated foundations and the ExxonMobil Foundation were “heavily involved” in funding climate change-denial efforts from 2003 to 2007, according to researcher Robert Brulle. But since 2008, Brulle says Koch donations dramatically declined, and ExxonMobil hasn’t made a publically traceable contribution.

Funding is still going to deny the obvious — humans are changing the climate — but that funding is hidden. Researcher Richard Heede has shown two-thirds of all manmade global warming emissions from 1751 to 2010 can be traced back to 90 companies, and Heede told EW that fossil fuel corporations “invested rather heavily in deceiving the public and misinforming Congress.”

In a recent Register-Guard front page story on Oregon’s record-low snowpack, the only place climate change was mentioned was in the name of a research institute. The Oregonian’s editorial board announced in December that, despite the urging of its readers, it would not address climate change because they think the issue isn’t a state or local one.

How, then, in the face of money and power and a sometimes out-of-touch media, do we battle climate change?

With information. Welcome to EW’s Global Weirding issue, in honor of Earth Day and forthcoming Global Weirding columns in our news section. We use the phrase “global weirding” because, as we humans affect the climate, our climate and our weather gets weirder. We need to cut back on fossil fuels, stop denying and start fixing.

The Changing Tide

Ocean life faces a troubling sea change

Losing Water

Boiling frogs, baseball and climate change