Skip to main content

Obstructing action: foundation funding and US climate change counter-movement organizations

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. 1.

    The final dataset contained several isolated gaps in donations and organizational expenses. In such cases, the missing quantities were linearly interpolated from the preceding and following years.

  2. 2.

    We used the implementation of LDA in the Structural Topic Model (STM) package for R (Roberts et al. 2019). STM extends LDA by including document-level covariates that can affect the prevalence and content of topics. However, due to the size of the corpus and constraints on time and computing power, we did not include any document covariates in the estimation, in which case STM becomes identical to LDA. We have provided an explanation of LDA in the Supplemental Material.

  3. 3.

    On average, 8.3% of documents per year from organizations in the top quintile related to climate and energy, compared to 17% of documents from organizations in the middle quintile.


  1. Barley S (2010) Building an institutional field to corral a government: a case to set an agenda for organization studies. Organ Stud 31(6):777–805

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Blei DM, Ng AY, Jordan MI (2003) Latent Dirichlet allocation. The Journal of Machine Learning Research 3:993–1022

    Google Scholar 

  3. Brulle RJ (2014) Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of US climate change counter-movement organizations. Clim Chang 122(4):681–694

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brulle RJ (2020). Denialism: organized opposition to climate change action in the United States. In Handbook of US Environmental Policy. Edward Elgar Publishing

  5. Covington S (1997). Moving a public policy agenda: the strategic philanthropy of conservative foundations. National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

  6. Farrell J (2015) Network structure and influence of the climate change counter-movement. Nat Clim Chang 6(4):370–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Farrell J (2016) Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci 113(1):92–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Farrell J (2019) The growth of climate change misinformation in US philanthropy: evidence from natural language processing. Environ Res Lett 14(3):034013.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hertel-Fernandez A, Skocpol T, Sclar J (2018) When political mega-donors join forces: how the Koch network and the democracy alliance influence organized U.S. politics on the right and left. Studies in American Political Development 32(2):127–165

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Jenkins JC (1983) Resource mobilization theory and the study of social movements. Annu Rev Sociol 9:527–553

  11. McCright AM, Dunlap RE (2000) Challenging global warming as a social problem: an analysis of the conservative movement’s counter-claims. Soc Probl 47(4):499–522

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. McKie, R.E. (2018). Rebranding the climate change counter movement through a criminological and political economic lens. PhD dissertation available at

  13. Miller J (2005) A gift of freedom. Encounter Books, San Francisco CA

    Google Scholar 

  14. National Research Council (NRC) (2011) America’s climate choices. National Academies Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  15. Roberts ME, Stewart BM, Tingley D (2019) Stm: an R package for structural topic models. J Stat Softw 91(1):1–40

    Google Scholar 

  16. SDC (Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis) (2019). Dark money and barriers to climate action. Washington DC

Download references

Availability of data and material

Available upon request from the author for scholarly research.

Code availability

Not applicable.


This research was funded in part by a grant from the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown University, Providence RI.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert J. Brulle.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information


(DOCX 331 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Brulle, R.J., Hall, G., Loy, L. et al. Obstructing action: foundation funding and US climate change counter-movement organizations. Climatic Change 166, 17 (2021).

Download citation