The millions of people who are concerned about global warming and looking for upstanding allies in the business community are feeling awfully let down by Google right now.
That’s because Google – a company that has done as much as any other to advance the causes of clean energy and climate action – is also donating money to some of the world’s most nefarious climate deniers.
Early last month, Google held an all-day summit at the Googleplex in California called “How Green is the Internet”, where Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt focused on how the Internet can help us act to solve global warming – an idea near and dear to Greenpeace’s heart – noting that “You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you’ll be seen as a liar.”
Now, just a month later, The Guardian reports that Google’s Washington, D.C. lobbying office is hosting a fundraiser tomorrow for Jim Inhofe, the biggest political obstacle to addressing global warming in the U.S. Senate (and thus possibly the world). Some of his greatest hits include saying that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated” and that carbon pollution “would be beneficial to our environment and the economy.”
Unfortunately, the Inhofe fundraiser is the second time in the past month that Google has decided to donate to climate deniers – the company was also the largest donor at a Washington fundraising dinner last month for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), an anchor tenant in the climate science denial propaganda machine that’s been funded by the likes of Exxon, the Koch Brothers, and Donors Trust, the dark money ATM for ultra-conservative moneyed interests.
Google wasn’t the only tech company that bought a big table at the CEI fundraiser; Facebook also kicked $25,000 to CEI to join Google’s $50,000. CEI’s track record for denying and creating confusion around the science of global warming over the past ten years includes such as highlights as this ad where CEI coined the catchphrase: “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.”
Google has built a well-earned reputation for acting on global warming by leading on clean energy advocacy, pushing utilities to provide more wind and solar energy in places where they use a lot of electricity like North Carolina and Oklahoma, and investing over $1 billion in clean energy. Earlier this year we ranked Google as tied atop our list of technology companies for their clean energy and climate advocacy.
So why has Google, which has repeatedly backed up Schmidt’s words with real money by investing in clean energy out in the “real world”, decided that in the snakepit of Washington DC, it makes sense to give big money to the “Carbon dioxide is good for us” crowd?
We’re not naïve; we don’t expect that Google, a big company with many business interests, talk only to the politicians that say and do the right things on climate – and we know that all companies try to buy politicians’ votes with money (a problem for a separate blog post). We get that Google needs to lobby Democrats and Republicans alike – even if we think that corporations shouldn’t be able to use their money to grease the wheels.
But the problem isn’t that Inhofe is a Republican – it’s that he’s a “liar” about global warming, to borrow Schmidt’s term. And climate liars are the single biggest obstacle to having even a substantive debate on how to solve the biggest moral crisis of our time.
If Google continues to play this Beltway game in a way where they’re fundraising for clowns like Inhofe and CEI – CEI and Inhofe, two of the most pernicious liars about the effects of global warming the world has known, then the debate in Washington won’t change, the laws won’t change, and we won’t be able to save our planet in time.
If you want Google to stop funding climate deniers and act like the clean energy champion they’ve been in the past, sign the petition at Forecast the Facts and tell them to stop funding Jim Inhofe.