Corporate funding influenced the public to be more sceptical of climate change, a computer analysis of 20 years of texts on climate change has found.
The study, written by Justin Farrell, assistant professor of sociology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on Monday.
The contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust.
Farrell’s study used computer analytics to systematically analyse 40,785 texts from the media, think tanks and lobbying firms, and more than 4,500 individuals with ties to 164 organisations sceptical of climate change.
The study analysed the papers, printed over a 20-year timescale, separating those which had received corporate funding from the others.
Farrell said the results found an “ecosystem of influence”, as corporate money “created a united network within which the contrarian messages could be strategically created”.
This counter-movement produced messages aimed, at the very least, at creating ideological polarisation through politicised tactics, and at the very most, at overtly refuting current scientific consensus with scientific findings of their own.
The study did not examine the impact of funding on the messages of climate change activism groups, as Farrell determined that there were differences between charitable interests and corporate interests.