‘Cherry-Picking Of Experts’: Biden’s Landmark Climate Report Authored By Eco-Activists Linked To Liberal Dark Money

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Nearly two dozen authors and contributors to the Biden administration’s landmark climate report work for left-wing environmental groups, some of which receive money from a liberal dark money network.

The Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5), published in November, projects dire climate change scenarios and emphasizes the need for large-scale economic mobilization to prevent its worst effects. Over two dozen of the report’s hundreds of listed authors and technical contributors work for environmentalist or left-of-center policy advocacy organizations, like the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Nature Conservancy.

The report is the product of about four years of work, and it is intended to “[provide] the scientific foundation to support informed decision-making across the United States” on matters of climate change and policymaking.

Some of the report’s analytical methods, including the use of billion-dollar damage events as a de facto proxy for climate change’s intensity, have drawn criticism for being misleading. The NCA5 also relied upon “indigenous knowledge” to arrive at some of its findings, and the report’s text is littered with mentions of the importance of centering social justice concepts like “equity” and “environmental justice” in the government’s response to climate change.

While the report’s top-line findings about the potential catastrophe that awaits the country if serious action is not taken quickly garnered significant media attention, the fact that many of the report’s authors work for environmentalist groups and other potentially-conflicted organizations did not.

Several of the organizations named in the report’s credits receive funding from groups managed by Arabella Advisors, a for-profit company that oversees several nonprofits that variously support left-wing causes and Democratic candidates. (RELATED: Biden’s Energy Secretary Says ‘We Can All Learn From China’ On Climate Policy)

President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a climate event at the White House complex November 14, 2023 in Washington, D.C. Biden spoke on his administration’s efforts to address the global climate crisis and the Fifth National Climate Assessment. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“Although conflicts of interest are impossible to avoid entirely, the NCA5 did a terrible job in managing them. The NCA5 was written by the US climate industry power elite,” Professor Jessica Weinkle, program coordinator for the master of coastal and ocean policy at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Of course, we have a nation of wonderful researchers. A core problem, however, is that the production of climate change research is more tied to business and political interests than is commonly recognized.”

Omanjana Goswami, Melissa Finucane and Kristina Dahl all are credited in the report and work for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a left-wing nonprofit that opposes fossil fuels and supports a de facto international “climate reparations” program, according to its website.

Goswami, an interdisciplinary scientist for UCS, was the review editor for the NCA5’s chapter on “agriculture, food systems and rural communities.” Finucane, the organization’s vice president, is credited as an author in the “Northeast” chapter. Dahl, a senior climate scientist for UCS, is listed as a technical contributor to the “transportation” chapter.

Andrew Rosenberg, the review editor for the report’s “ocean ecosystems and marine resources chapter,” worked for the UCS as a scientist and as the director of the group’s Center for Science and Democracy for about a decade before leaving in August 2022.

Carolyn Kousky, an author for the report’s chapter pertaining to the economics of climate change, is EDF’s associate vice president for economics and policy. EDF is a leading national environmentalist organization that explicitly pushes for a global green energy transition “as fast as possible” and routinely engages in well-funded legal challenges to hinder fossil fuels.

In 2022, EDF took about $3.4 million from the Windward Fund, a nonprofit organization managed by Arabella Advisors, according to Windward Fund’s tax filings.

EDF also has a political action committee (PAC) that endorses Democratic candidates and causes. EDF’s PAC launched a six-figure ad campaign to boost President Joe Biden’s climate agenda in 2022, and EDF’s political arms spent $3.2 million to defeat former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race. EDF’s PAC also routinely promotes Biden’s massive green energy spending.

The Nature Conservancy, which took more than $1.5 million in 2022 from the New Venture Fund and Windward Fund, has five employees listed in NCA5’s credits as chapter authors or technical contributors.

Katharine Hayhoe is an author for the “climate trends” chapter, Richard Bell helped to write the “ocean ecosystems and marine resources” chapter, Marissa Ahlering authored the “northern Great Plains” section and Joseph Fargione authored the chapter on “mitigation,” while Alison Long is a technical contributor for the “northern Great Plains” chapter.

Hayhoe’s author credit, however, did not disclose her Nature Conservancy affiliation, instead noting her as an affiliate of Texas Tech University.

The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia office received more than $798,000 from the New Venture Fund in 2022, and the Windward Fund also granted its New Jersey office more than $793,000 last year, according to the nonprofits’ 2022 tax filings.

The Nature Conservancy aims to preserve huge swaths of land and water worldwide in order to decrease carbon emissions, and it advocates for an “equitable” global transition to green energy generation to replace fossil fuels.

The Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) received nearly $280,000 combined from the same two Arabella-managed funds in 2022. Three CPI employees are credited as technical contributors to NCA5. The organization aims to finance green energy in the developing world and pursue “industrial decarbonization.”

Overlooking influence in climate science “is like pretending medical research is of no interest to pharmaceutical corporations and the health care lobby,” Weinkle, who also writes on conflicts of interests in climate science, told the DCNF. “The process of developing the NCA is directly tied to the White House and this weighs heavily on the cherry-picking of experts.”

The NCA5 also credits three Ocean Conservancy employees. The group works to advance “ocean justice” and confront climate change, according to its website. Henry Huntington, the group’s Arctic science director, is the NCA5’s lead author for the “Alaska” chapter, while Sarah Cooley, the organization’s director of climate science, is an author for the report’s “ocean ecosystems and marine resources” chapter and a technical contributor to the section on “focus on blue carbon.”

Patricia Chambers, the organization’s Arctic digital manager, is credited as a technical contributor in the “Alaska” chapter. Notably, Sandra Whitehouse, the wife of Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, works for the Ocean Conservancy.

Also credited as an author of the “Alaska” chapter is Darcy Peter, who works for the Alaska Conservation Foundation. Her organization opposes key fossil fuel and mining development efforts in Alaska, one of the most resource-rich states in the country. The Alaska Conservation Foundation opposed the Pebble Mine and oil and gas drilling activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, both of which the Biden administration has moved decisively to prevent. (RELATED: Scientist Admits Omitting ‘Full Truth’ From Climate Study To Get It Published)

Kate Marvel, a senior climate scientist for Project Drawdown, is credited as the lead author for the chapter on “climate trends.” Marvel is also listed as an author for the NCA5’s “overview” chapter. Project Drawdown is a nonprofit that aims to “help the world stop climate change—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible,” advocating for global cooperation and planning to deploy “solutions that also reduce poverty, conserve biodiversity, cleanse water and air, and advance justice.”

Other groups represented in the report’s credits include the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Soros family-funded Open Society Foundations, both of which are explicitly left-of-center in their advocacy. John Podesta, a Democratic insider working for Biden in the White House and distributing green energy subsidies, established the Center for American Progress in 2003. In 2022, the organization received $280,000 combined from the Arabella-managed Sixteen Thirty Fund and Hopewell Fund, according to their tax filings.

The CAP’s Mark Haggerty is credited for authoring the report’s chapter on the “northern Great Plains.” Miriam Goldstein, an author of the chapter on “ocean ecosystems and marine resources,” worked at CAP from 2019 to February 2023, before taking a job with the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Daniel Rizza, director of the program on sea level rise for Climate Central, is credited as a technical contributor for the NCA5’s chapter on “adaptation.” Climate Central collaborates with local news outlets to provide “data, science and data reporting, editing and guidance to joint features coverage informed by new climate data,” according to its website. Climate Central also has a “Climate Matters” campaign, which helps “a nationwide media network connect global climate change to local audiences in ways that matter.”

For example, Climate Central has partnered with local news outlets to write stories with headlines like “the view from above: climate change poses threats to Nebraska’s birds — and people” and “climate change makes allergy season longer.” On television, Climate Central’s work featured in more than 5,000 segments in 2021, and more than 4,000 outlets around the world covered its visual depictions of contrasting outcomes under different pollution scenarios that same year, according to its website.

Climate Central had more than 1,000 television reporters participating in its data visualization service as of 2020, according to its website. In 2022, the group partnered with The Weather Company to spread its content to The Weather Company’s hundreds of clients.

“We’re a non-advocacy and non-partisan organization communicating scientific research and analysis, so we’re fully supportive of staff contributions to the National Climate Assessment,” a spokesperson for Climate Central told the DCNF.

Notably, Climate Central got its start in 2008 with funding from the Flora Family Foundation and the 11th Hour Project, two left-of-center grantmaking organizations that focus on climate advocacy. (RELATED: ‘Embarrassing’: Climate Expert Explains What’s Wrong With The White House’s New Climate Report)

Bee Moorhead, the executive director of the Texas Impact Foundation, is a credited author in the NCA5’s chapter on the “southern Great Plains.” Texas Impact Foundation describes its mission as equipping religious leaders with the tools to encourage civic engagement, and two of its key campaigns focus on achieving “climate justice” and “economic justice,” according to its website.

Also present in the credits is the founder of Introducing Youth to American Infrastructure (IYAI)— an organization that aims to develop an “equity-centered” infrastructure workforce— and a NCA5 chapter lead from Groundwork USA, a group that received $50,000 from the Windward Fund in 2022 while partnering with the Bezos Earth Fund, the Barr Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. Another group found in the report’s credits, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), is supported financially by left-of-center organizations including the Kresge Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, according to its 2022 annual report.

Groundwork USA’s affiliate “joined Groundwork USA in June 2023, and, as required, his affiliation with Groundwork USA was immediately disclosed” and his “substantive contributions to this process occurred while he was affiliated with the Science Museum of Virginia,” a spokesperson for the organization told the DCNF. “His participation was subject to a rigorous conflict of interest and scientific integrity policy.”

The NCA5’s credits also feature individuals working for corporations that may stand to benefit from a global transition away from fossil fuels.

For instance, Stacy Swann, the CEO of Climate Finance Advisors, is a technical contributor to the report’s section on adaptation. Climate Finance Advisors is a company that provides financing options specifically for green investments, and is a member of WSP, a climate-focused consulting firm.

Emily Wasley, who is listed as the chapter lead for the “adaptation” chapter, was the corporate climate risk and resilience leader for WSP until January of this year before taking a job as the “head of resilience and biodiversity” with Meta. Another WSP employee was a technical contributor for the same chapter.

Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist who works for digital payment processor Stripe as the climate research lead, helped to author the “climate trends” chapter. Stripe has “invested millions in carbon removal technologies,” according to CNBC; in its first chapter, the NCA5 highlights natural and industrial carbon removal solutions as essential for reaching “net-zero” carbon emissions in the coming decades, an outcome which the report asserts is necessary if the worst projected impacts of climate change are to be avoided.

Ian Bolliger, a vice president for BlackRock, is listed as a technical contributor to the report’s “economics” chapter. Bolliger works for the company’s Aladdin Sustainability Lab, which generates data for investors to analyze the exposure of certain financial products to climate change.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has been a leading proponent of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing, an investment strategy which has drawn scrutiny from Republicans for injecting politicized considerations into investments that critics say should be ideologically neutral. BlackRock’s CEO and Chairman, Larry Fink, has defended ESG investing and its underlying “stakeholder capitalism” model.

“Climate risk is investment risk,” Fink wrote to other CEOs in his 2020 annual letter. In his 2022 letter to investors, Fink commended the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Biden’s signature climate bill, for “creating significant opportunities for investors to allocate capital to the energy transition” and “attracting investment into existing and emerging technologies like carbon capture and green hydrogen.”

The White House, the Nature Conservancy, the Ocean Conservancy, the Center for American Progress, the EDF, UCS, USDN, IYAI, Open Society Foundations, Climate Policy Institute, WSP, Alaska Conservation Foundation, Institute for Climate and Peace, Climate Finance Advisors, Stripe, Project Drawdown, Stripe and BlackRock did not respond to requests for comment. The Texas Impact Foundation could not be reached for comment.

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