Talk:Atlas Economic Research Foundation

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The Atlas Economic Research Foundation is a neo-liberal think tank founded by Antony Fisher in 1981. Atlas supports new think tanks and "intellectual entrepreneurs" world wide and plays a major role in the globalising process by spreading the neoliberal free market message worldwide through their network of think tanks. They have, for many years, been funded by people and organizations in opposition to the Climate Change movement. Atlas has received funds from large corporations, such as Exxon Mobil who share similar agendas and regularly fund research of leading ‘climate change denialists’ such as Dr Fred Singer. Atlas’s neoliberal free market based ideology is the main reason for their controversial views on climate change. Atlas contributes to the expanding exploitive nature of capitalist globalisation the key aspects being the exploitation brought with a free market ideology which has fuelled climate change in recent decades.


The Atlas Economic Research Foundation was founded in 1981 by Antony Fisher. It aims to create a "society of free and responsible individuals"[1], Atlas also assists the formation of free market think tanks around the world to spread the ideas of personal liberty, private property rights and limited government. Atlas was formed to institutionalise Fishers ideas and spread the free market based ideology, through think tanks, worldwide. Atlas does this by providing grants to individuals or groups of "Intellectual Entrepreneurs"[2] who want to create a think tank in their home country. Atlas supports new think tanks with grants of a maximum $5.000 per year for up to five years, as well as monitoring progress along with training, resources and connections which enable them to bring in their own independent funds. These small grants help the institute to establish itself as a "legitimate organization in the eyes of prospective sponsors".[3] In Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s review of activities in 2003, they boasted that they worked with “70 new think-tank entrepreneurs from 37 foreign countries and several states of the U.S”, these foreign countries also included Lithuania, Greece, Mongolia, Ghana, the Philippines, Brazil and Argentina. Illustrating how Atlas has followed Fishers ideas and is now therefore a "multicultural" institution which works worldwide to implement neoliberal ideologies into the institutions home country.[4]

Ideology and aims

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF) is a right-wing liberal organisation that attains free economy principles. Atlas persues its agenda through finding and assisting intellectual entrepreneurs who are able to create effective institutions and programs that will improve the climate of ideas over time via research, education and advocacy. These entrepeneurs realize that they will only be successfull if they can coerce working relationships through various constituencies as well as the fact that they need to be aware of "their country's political, cultural and religious traditions"[5] They have many fellows and lobbyists within academic institutions. Atlas provides tools, training, resources and connections for their intellectual entrepreneurs, and present prizes and speaking opportunities in order to gain recognition and encourage interest in their agenda. Such entrepreneurs are part of a 'think tank'network. [6] Atlas seeks to offer support to groups as well as individuals whom wish to initiate local think tanks. For Atlas, their ideal intellectual entrepreneur is “someone who communicates effectively with businessmen, academicians and the general public”. [7]. According to John Blundell, who was the president from 1987 to 1990, the main aim of Atlas “is to litter the world with free-market think-tanks” [8]. Atlas' vision is "to achieve a society of free and responsible individuals, based upon private property rights, limited government under the rule of law and the market order " [9]. One way Atlas promotes their aims is by gaining web-presence through social media. As the title of video 2 proclaims, Atlas view themselves as a 'Champion of Freedom':[10] Atlas claim to have a global initiative, the key ideas being free trade, peace, and prosperity. They believe they offer a 'human-rights-based alternative' to the current methods of State initiatives - obtainable through individual liberty [11]

Ultimately, Atlas want to expand trade possibilities to developing nations, in the process converting such nations to liberal free-trade ideologies. By diluting the responsibilities and power of the State, liberalization enables expanding and profitable market opportunities. Freedom of trade, however, can in some cases mean freedom to exploit too as there is less regulation and universal standards. Large corporations use their wealth and connections to monopolise the market, leaving small businesses struggling or going out of business as they are enable to compete fairly.[12]


Sir Antony Fisher

Fisher founded the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in 1981 to "institutionalize this process of helping start up new think tanks."[13] He started out as an entrepreneur creating Britain’s first factory style chicken farm. Being against Socialism and the Labor party's goal of the government having central control over industry Fisher said that after reading a copy of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom it "inspired him to enter politics to defend individual liberty against creeping socialism".[14]

In 1955 Fisher formed the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which he thought was the most effective way to change the political ideas of that time. This paved the way for Fishers to launch nummerous think tanks to enable a new way of market–based thinking that would have the interest of business at its core and that could be transferred into politics. The IEA created the groundwork for what later became the Thatcher Revolution.[15] It is said that Britain recovered from the "Winter of Miscontent" due to Fishers new policies and the help of the IEA. Thatcher saluted the founders of the IEA by saying: "They were the few, but they were right, and they saved Britain."[16]

Fisher died in 1988, just weeks after being honored with knighthood by Queen Elizabeth. British MP, Oliver Letwin commented on Fisher's life: "Without Fisher, no IEA; without the IEA and its clones, no Thatcher and quite possibly no Reagan; without Reagan, no Star Wars; without Star Wars, no economic collapse of the Soviet Union. Quite a chain of consequences for a chicken farmer!"[17]

Video 1 gives an account of the origins and founding of Atlas from members and affiliates of the organisation.


Mont Pelerin Society | Institute of Economic Affairs | Manhattan Institute

Family Connections

Linda Whetstone-Daughter | Francis Whetstone-Son-in-Law | Rachel Whetstone -Grand Daughter


Alejandro Chafuen joined Atlas in 1985 where he worked alongside it's founder, Antony Fisher and was president and CEO from 1991 to 2009 and was then elected to the board in 2009. He has published various articles in newspapers, as well as being an author of Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of Late Scholastics(2003) which was published in several languages and in different editions throughout various countries (Spain, Poland and Italy).Alejandro A. Chaufen graduated from Grove City College and the Argentine Catholic University in Buenos Aires. He also obtained a Ph.D. in economics from the International College in California. Alejandro Chafuen is a member of the Mont Pélerin Society (since 1980) as well as a member of the advisory board of the Social Affairs Unit. [18]


John Templeton Foundation | Prague Security Studies Institute - member of the executive committee | The CEDICE foundation-(US-Venezuela) trustee | Mont Pelèrin Society (since 1980) | Fraser Institute - Vancouver, BC, trustee | Hispanic American Center for Economic Research - founder and president | Instituto de Estudios Económicos y de Etica Social - Buenos Aires, founding member | [19]

Leonardo Liggio executive Vice President of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and is on the boards of a number of libertarian think-tanks once supported by Atlas Economic Research Foundation.


Mont Pelerin Society, President | Competitive Enterprise Institute - Director | Institute for Economic Studies (Europe), Board Member | Freedom Project -(John Templeton Foundation), Executive Director | Cato Journal - editorial board | Hayek Society - honorary member [20]

Paul Driessen is one of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation's key policy advisors, as well as an advisor for Congress of Racial Equality. He is also a senior fellow with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. He is a graduate of Lawrence University with a Bachelors degree in geology and field ecology. Driessen has been prolific with his stance on matters of climate and environment, coining the term 'eco-imperialism' in which Western environmental policies cause destruction to developing countries forced to adhere. In 2003, he published 'Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death' in which he argued that it was economically beneficial to the interests of the Western civilisations to keep the developing countries of the Third World destitute via a cover of environmentalism. Driessen takes the stance that environmentalists put the environment before humanity itself at the expense of predominantly non-Caucasian countries [21] . The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise in which Driessen is a senior fellow has been at the centre of the counter movement against the environmental movement. In 2007, Driessen appeared in the documentary 'The Great Global Swindle', discussing the one sided argument used for issues around global warming, saying that a balanced view is rarely given for the positives as well as the negatives.

Driessen has related the environmentalist movement as creating a “climate McCarthyism” [22] whereby those who ask for double-blind studies similar to the ones posed by the FDA use when testing new drugs for safety. His 2007 article “Climate McCarthyism and eco-Inquisitions” attacks the concept that the media attempts to quieten any dissent against the notion that global warming is exaggerated. In contrast to Deroy Murdock’s stance, Driessen says that the planet has warmed somewhat – but asserts that the scale of it has been blown out of proportion in order to propagate the environmentalist cause. He acknowledges the need for change but argues that we also have time to allow and it need not be as drastic as the media currently pushes.

Driessen also acknowledges that Exxon heavily fund research into climate change [23] , but argues that critics such as the Royal Society do not mention their own personal donations – for example, a private donation made of $250,000 to a scientist to say that humanity is the cause of climate change and global warming. Like Murdock, he uses the example of the African continent, saying that 95% of Africans – just under 2 billion people – do not have electricity and cites lung disease, along with malaria, as being one of the key killers in Africa today. By opposing fossil fuel power plants being built in poor nations, Driessen argues that the Western world is killing more humans in the name of protecting the planet. He claims that the Kyoto Protocol would only leave a budget of $75bn for clean drinking water, sanitation and basic health care for every human on the planet, despite its $450 billion - $1 trillion annual costs. Furthermore Driessen states that complying completely by the guide outlined by Kyoto would only result in the planet’s temperature dropping by 0.2% F in the next 40 years.

However Driessen is also a senior fellow with the Centre for the Defence of Free Enterprise, an organisation founded by its current president, Alan Merril Gottlieb. Gottlieb's publishing company, Merril Publishing, published Driessen's 'Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death' in 2003. Gottlieb was convicted in 1984 of tax fraud, 8 years after CDFE's conception. Gottlieb and the CDFE are closely affiliated with the National Rifle Association.

He is also a senior policy advisor to the Congress of Racial Equality, who have accused Greenpeace of 'ecomanslaughter' in their pursuit of more environmentally friendly solutions to the spread of malaria.

An article published on the (connected to the former UK Prime Minister) [24] criticised the UN's reversal on support of DDT use. This reflects upon the Colin Powell during the Bush administration refusing to call for a ban of DDT use in the developing world. A Times article published in 2004 states that "where the US led, the world followed", [25] leading to a lack of funding into DDT.

Senior Fellows

Deroy Murdock is a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. He identifies with the libertarian political movement, having been involved with both of Ronald Reagan's presidental campaigns (in 1980 and 1984 respectively). He is anti-socialist, pro-capitalist and pro-free trade. As well as his work with Atlas, he is an outspoken columnist for many major American political websites and magazines. He is also a media fellow with the conservative/libertarian Hoover Institution of Stanford University, which also boasts Condoleeza Rice and Spencer Abraham amongst its fellowship.

Along with Paul Dreissen, he is one of the most outspoken individuals associated with Atlas on the topic of climate change and environmentalism. Two of his articles, "Lefty Its Cold Outside" and "DDT Key to Third World's War on Malaria" have generated a great deal of discussion from both conservatives and liberals.

"Lefty Its Cold Outside" [26], publised in the National Review in 2009, attacked the Al Gore-led 'hysteria' around global warmig, citing worldwide examples of countries experiencing temperature drops. One example listed is the UAE - snow is so rare in the Jebel Jais region that there is no word in the dialect for 'snowfall'. He cites meteorlogist Martin Hertzberg's report on in saying that the atmosphere of Earth has declined in the past decade. To dissuade from accusations of possible neo-liberal bias, Murdock also points out that Hertzberg is a Democrat.

In 2001's "DDT's key to Third World's War on Malaria" [27] he discusses the banning of DDT and its impact on mortality levels in Third World countries. Banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1972 over its toxicity to avian and marine life, environmentalists have long pressurised poorer nations to ban the use of DDT. However Murdock points out that the chemical, whilst affecting the fertility of some wildlife, is only required to be sprayed on the inside of houses once or twice a year. His article argues that it is one of the most effective chemicals at repelling/killing mosquitoes as well as being one of the cheapest. Whilst richer countries such as the US can afford more eco-friendly repellants, for many African countries this is not particularly feasible. Murdock points out that African suspectibility to malaria as a result has a direct impact on economies within the continient. Malaria often leaves sufferers with long recuperation periods should they survive, creating further poverty and less ability to progress in the global market. Murdock argues that "malaria contributes to Africa's economic devastation" due to the fiscal costs of the disease's mortality rates and medically-related unemployment. This is seen as a form of environmental imperialism, forcing poorer countries to adhere to Western ideals of environmental concern. The article applauds the decision by Colin Powell and the Bush administration to not enforce an outright ban on DDT, saying that there is a "dire humanitarian need" for the chemical and its ability to control life threatening disease. He argues that many environmentalists put the planet before human interests, quoting the former Environmental Defence Fund's chief scientist Dr Charles Wurster as saying, "People are the cause of all the problems. We need to get rid of some of them and this is as good a way as any."

Going further than this, in 2006 Murdock then published the article "Eco-Misanthropes Want Better Living Through Mass Death" [28]. He gives the example of Eric Pianka's 2006 speech to the Texas Academy of Science where he compared the human race to bacteria, a "scourge" and discussed the possibility of an airborne Ebola virus that could cause 90% of human mortality - going so far as to say that "the world would be better when there's only 10 or 20% of us (humans) left". Pianka was later named the Distinguished Texas Scientist of 2006. The article then goes on to mention the terrorism overtones of many animal rights campaigners/anti-vivisectors, including Jerry Vlasak of the North American Animal Liberation Front who espouses the group's acceptance of assassinations of vivisectioning. He compares the threat from eco-terrorists as on par with the threat of terrorism from Islamic fundamentalists, arguing that if both groups are so content to see mass death and destruction of human society, a fast-acting airborne disease (such as a variant of Ebola) is usful to both groups' agendas.

In 2007, Murdock also came under severe criticism for his article "Three Cheers for Waterboarding" [29]. The article, in which he praised the CIA's use of the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding, received a backlash from indviduals on both left and ring sides of the camp. One of the most notable critics was Vietnam survivor and staunch Republican conservative John McCain. However, with relation to his 2006 'Eco-Misanthropes' article, Murdock does discuss the threat of terrorism as not solely based in religious fundamentalism. Along with Paul Dreissen, Murdock sees the 'eco-warrior' movement as having far more sinister undertones than seen on the surface.

Murdock published an article in the National Review in 2004 called "Generation Reagan" [30] in which he credits the Reagan administrations with influencing American culture even in the current day. Given that the Cold War was still very much a part of Anglo-American life at the time of Reagan's inaugaration, his push for neoliberalism in the face of communism impacted heavily on US-UK culture. Murdock's article credits Reagan with bringing free trade to poorer Latin American countries, but does not mention the capitalist movement that would then lead to the North American Free Trade Agreement in the succeeding 1988 Bush administration. Around the same period, the European Union also began its own free trade agreement. To date, only 4 Scandinvian countries are still part of the agreement.

Thatcher's term as Prime Minister saw the British Government copying many of Reagan's small government policies and dedication towards capitalism and free trade. In subsequent years, Britain's politicians have been heavily influenced by the current administrations in America. Usually referred to as the 'special relationship', it reflects the power of American policy upon the Western world.

Murdock, like many in Atlas, purports to be a libertarian, which loans more from Reagan policies than current Republican values. He is a media fellow for the Hoover Institute, which has Margaret Thatcher as an honourary member, and is privately funded. However Exxon, as well as several pharmaceutical companies, have also donated to its funding. It purports Reaganist values i.e. small government, the right to free enterprise as an American right.

Views Relating to Climate Change:

  • Not global warming but global cooling? [31]
  • "The globe has not warmed for more than a decade, and it actually has been cooling for the past few years." [32]
  • Democrats' greenback greed is obscene: an article on why the Kindle is a university's answer to "tree-killing textbooks". [33]
  • Denies the existence of global warming [34]

Atlas's "family" of think tanks

Think Tanks

Think Tanks are organisations that deal with societal issues through research and discussion and develop possible solutions. Much of this process engages in education and advocacy to stimulate public interest and involvement in issues of concern. Think tanks are internationally active and are prominent components in debates from the environment, to poverty, law, foreign policy, economics, education, and military issues, and are used by some of the largest corporations throughout the globe, and contributed to by some of the leading academics [35]. Atlas have compiled a listing of over 500 free market focused 'think tanks' around the world. The network spans 5 continents and more than 15 languages. Think tanks have become one of the first institutions opinion leaders and policy makers go when they are looking for market-based solutions to difficult social, economic or environmental problems [36]. They have become a rudimentary tool in the political forum, more specifically in the right-wing conservative stance on the debate on climate change.

According to Alejandro A. Chafuen, in relation to the health of Atlas Economic Research Foundation, his assessment is that their family of institutes are “very healthy and deserves your trust”. His happiness within his professional career is “meeting with donors and institute staff that devote their lives to defend liberty in an honest manner”. However, he further goes on to stress that in an era of distrust, there is a need to continuously “raise the bar of performance”. [37]

Think Tank Affiliations

Adam Smith Institute | Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies | Civitas: Institute for Study of Civil Society | E.G. West Centre | Freedom Alliance [38] | Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) | International Policy Network | Policy Exchange| Stockholm Network | The Taxpayers' Alliance [39] | Venezie Institute | The Freedom Institute: A neo-liberal think tank in Ireland [40] | Science and Environmental Policy Project | Heritage Foundation| Cato Institute | Competitive Enterprise Institute | Heartland Institute | John Locke Foundation | Manhattan Institute

Atlas Programs

Atlas run series of programs to "advance its vision of a society of free and responsible individuals." [41] These programs are to emphasis the work individuals do to spread the neoliberal ideology in the home country of the think tank. Atlas gives support to these new institutions by organising conferences that provide opportunities to network with and learn from successful think tanks. These events feature prominent intellectual and policy leaders. Some of these conferences are organized by Atlas itself and others are hosted by other institutions or people in the Atlas network. A fundamental part of the programs is to promote the self sustainability of the think tank. In order for the think tanks to operate they need to have their own funding for this to be successful Atlas maintains a toolkit [42] of resources on its website that encourage think tanks to protect their independence by avoiding biased affiliations that fund their think tank to their own gains.

Initiatives Run by Atlas:

Frederic Bastiat's Legacy | Econ Journal Watch | Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders (FSSO) | Think Tanks for a Secure Free Society (SFS) | Sound Money Project | Teach Freedom Initiative | Tearing Down The Walls | Transform Americas | Freedom to Trade

Awards and grants

Accompanying the initiatives Atlas have an award scheme, these are awarded throughout the year to innovative and outstanding achievements by think tanks worldwide. [43] These awards and grants play an essential role in enabling think tanks and "Intellectual Entrepreneurs" to further their research into promoting the neoliberal ideology of free market policies and global expansion of free trade. The four awards and grants are:

  • The Templeton Freedom Awards:
This is awarded to the most innovative work annually. It has awarded more than $2 million in prizes and other grants awards within the program. Every Year there are two winners nominated in each of these categories with $10,000 prizes. This Celebrates their achievements within its Liberty Forum. This is held every year in November. "[44].
  • Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards:
This has been running since 1990 and awards $10,000 to the think tank that produces a book or publication that improves the public understanding of the free society.
  • Freda Utley Prize for Advancing Liberty:
This is awarded to think tanks in challenging parts of the world that are most effective at "disseminating the ideas of freedom"[45]. The prize is $10,000 which is awarded to an individual that reaches a wide audience with the libertarian message.
  • Fisher Venture Grants:
This grant is awarded to some of the up and coming think tanks in its network. They are structured over 3 years and part of the grant is a matching funds challenge which gives think tanks incentives to link up with other think tanks to form a local network in oder to effectively promorte the ideological ideals of the think tank.


Atlas is a non-government funded charitable organisation that relies on Donations. The Atlas website shows 3 hierarchy’s of ‘membership':

  • Atlas Club (highest)
  • Entrepreneur club (middle)
  • Hayek Club (lowest)

You can also be part of the ‘Vigilance society’ which allows for a lower monthly donation. There does not appear to be a one-off donation policy. [46]

As Atlas does not receive government funding, it relies on donations from like-minded liberal companies and individuals, and other organisations with related or intersecting agenda's. One such company that has funded Atlas is Exxon Mobil - “The world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, providing energy that helps underpin growing economies and improve living standards around the world" [47] - a company publicly criticised for their environmental impact. Their range of environmental programme's shows the extent of impact the oil industry has on the environment [48] Exxon mobil has also regularly funded another company called the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) - ,who share office space with Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Washington DC. SEPP was founded in 1989 by Fred Singer [49] – one of the worlds leading and most quoted climate skeptics. Singer appeared at a one day conference organised by ATLAS in Hong Kong - science and myth in Global Warming and ozone depletion. In March 2001, Ross Gelspan, the author of the Heat is On wrote that “The most widely quoted sceptic, S. Fred Singer, denied receiving oil industry money in a February letter to The Washington Post. But in 1998 ExxonMobil gave $10,000 to Singer's institute who share office space with Atlas, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, and $65,000 to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. On the matter of Mr Singer Atlas' website says, "For those who believe public policy should be based on sound science, Dr. Singer offers a wealth of information, credibility and encouragement [50]. It is possible that Atlas and SEPP - who share office space - are more closely tied but those claims are yet unfounded. Atlas has also gained financial support from the philanthropist Sir John Templeton. The Templeton Foundation had previously contributed $2 million to Atlas in 2003 in order to establish the Templeton Freedom Prizes for Excellence in Promoting Liberty. There is now a Templeton Freedom award [51] In 2002 the Earhart foundation gave $193,500 to Atlas, the Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $100,000, and the Carthage Foundation gave $50,000 in funding. The Earhart foundation had assets amounting to $54 million as of 2007, and gave Atlas $2,551,435 between 1995-1997 – its highest grant recipient [52]. In 1995 Atlas also received $475,000 from tobacco giant Philip Morris (now Altria Group) [53] For Atlas, the key to their success has been due to the protection of the investments donated to them. They spend almost 90% of their funds on research, special projects, conferences and advisory services such as the ones outlined in Atlas Initiatives. [54]


ExxonMobil has pumped more than $8 million into more than 40 think tanks; media outlets; and consumer, religious, and even civil rights groups that preach scepticism about the oncoming climate catastrophe. [55] Atlas Economic Research Foundation has received $1,082,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998. [56] An article in the Independent, "Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers", shows how ExxonMobil funded Atlas Economic Research Foundation which supports 30 other foreign think-tanks that espouse climate change scepticism, and co-sponsored a meeting of the world's leading climate sceptics in New York last March. Called "Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?", it was organised by the Heartland Institute – a group that described the event as "the world's largest-ever gathering of global warming sceptics". The Heartland Institute is another right-wing think-tank to have benefited from funding given by ExxonMobil in recent years. [57]

Bob Ward, the policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said: "A lot of the climate sceptic arguments are being made by people with demonstrable right-wing ideology which is based on opposition to any environmental regulation of the market, and they are clearly being given money that allows them to disseminate their views more widely than would be the case if they didn't have oil company funding." [58]

Globalisation and Neoliberalism

Globalisation is a term used to “encapsulate the contemporary transformation of economic, social and political relations across the globe arising from the increased intensity, frequency and speed of interconnections between people and places via flows of money, goods, services, people and ideas.” [59]

The neoliberal free market enables people, money, ideas, goods and services to move freely throughout the world. The ability to move around freely is, however, not an equal opportunity for everyone due to the restrictions throughout the world. This inequality is not the only negative element of globalisation, the increased movement of corporations over such a vast area can remove their responsibility to the place where they are located[60] as they are able to move anywhere the law is most lenient to their needs. The Neoliberal think tanks that Atlas set up are crucial to this development of world wide free trade as they influence governmental policy which allows this to continue the world over. Without this increased interconnectedness Alas Economic Research Foundation would not be able to do the work it does. Atlas's many think tanks worldwide are paramount to the global of neoliberal thought. By having a think tanks in many different countries it enables the intellectual entrepreneurs to work locally to become a successful think thank, this is shown in a letter Alejando Chaufen wrote in relation to a question put to him on how Atlas are able to have such a diverse organisation. in reply Chaufen said "they will only succeed if they can develop a local base of support, foster working relationships among different constituencies, and be concious of their country's political, cultural and religious traditions"[61]. This reflects Sir Antony Fisher's original reason for forming think tanks to influence the climate of ideas and policy indirectly as it is the best way to have the ideas of market based ideas at its core and be easily transferred into government. This idea is then recreated for each individual think tank globally in relation to the climate of ideas of that particular country.

According to Nicolas Kirk neoliberalism is a political project which attempts “to induce increased economic prosperity as well as to entrench individual rights.” [62]. Therefore their attitude towards climate change will focus on free-market solutions that will not restrict individual rights by turning them into law. By doing this they focus on the individual and voluntary use of the eco-consumerism by collective action [63]. By leaving the decision up to the individual is limits the ability of the government to intervene in such issues. This allows the neoliberal ideology to permeate through society as shown in Kirks article [64]. By allowing the idea of Climate Change and the protection of the environment to be optional to the individual it can then be used as Doyle and Docherty (2008) for whatever purpose: “can be either a symbol for liberation or repression; emancipation or conditionality. It can be used to support democracy or, alternatively, to support authoritarianism; it can be used to attack neoliberalism and corporate-controlled globalisation, and it can be used to support it; it can be used to lionise concepts of ‘the local’, and it can be utilised to denigrate local systems of meaning in a neocolonial fashion.” [65]. Due to the nature of climate change being transboundary it becomes impossible to stop the managing of control to the one place. There in allowing Neo-liberal ideas to become the hegemonic ideas within society. Leading to what The Free Association says is “the fundamental cry of neo liberalism: There is no alternative” [66] . It can be argued that if this goal of stopping global climate change has brought together many people from around the world then it has done the same with bringing together a counter movement of climate change sceptics, as shown within the Atlas family of think tanks and their funders. Under Neoliberalism climate change doubly affects the majority of the world economically in two ways: one people won’t be able to afford to change our lifestyle or home; secondly will suffer from the solutions, or non-solutions to the problem[67].

In relation to campaigns against neoliberal policies that came into effect in order to combat climate change was the “Block G8” campaign[68]. This campaign came about in the aftermath of the policies decided by the G8, WTO and World Bank who were implementing them worldwide. The G8’s reaction to the campaign was to change its focus. However many of the “solutions” that they implemented will primarily shift the economic gains onto the corporations. The Free Associations perspective on Neoliberalism is that it gets the job done with no thought of the consequences [69] as the G8 summit proved by changing the focus of the climate summit to suit their requirements.

Views and activities relating to climate change

Right-wing think tanks are renowned for producing climate change denial reports funded by 'Big Carbon'. Such funding is filtered through certain foundations that make oil and coal money harder to trace – viewed by some as laundering. Atlas is one of the most prominent of such foundations. [70] The obvious issue with being funded by Big Carbon companies is the direct effect that the industry has on the environment and in turn Climate Change. Also, the attempt at rebutting climate change could have serious consequences on the steps taken to minimize damage to the environment if such views become widely held. There has been an on-going debate for decades between climate change environmentalists and sceptics. There is cycle of Environmentally un-friendly businesses funding research groups that produce reports which support anti-climate change notions.Right-wing Think Tanks comprising of scientists and politicians will vouch towards the opinion that climate change is a natural rather than man-made phenomenon. A dossier by the European Foundation enclose ideas which include: [71]

  • “Throughout the Earth’s history, temperatures have often been warmer than now and CO2 levels have often been higher – more than ten times as high”
  • “The 0.7C increase in the average global temperature over the last hundred years is entirely consistent with well-established, * long-term, natural climate trends”
  • “A large body of scientific research suggests that the sun is responsible for the greater share of climate change during the past hundred years”

A detailed account of the impression of the conservative think tank movement can be read in McCright and Dunlap's “Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement's Impact on U.S. Climate Change” (2003) [72] The study looks at how the powerful conservative counter-movement effectively challenged the environmental community's definition of global warming as a social problem, and has blocked the passage of any significant climate change policy since the Republican congress takeover in 1994 [73].

Atlas has cosponsored events run by the Heartland Institute, an organisation that is dedicated to the concept of Climate change not being a crisis, and are supporters of the John Locke Foundation – a group against efforts on climate solutions, namely against the Alliance for Climate Strategies. [74] Atlas oppose ideas of climate change by supporting and presenting climate scepticism at their conferences – such as the ideas of SEPP founder Fred Singer, known for criticisms on climate and ozone debates. However, Dr Singer has been uanble to have his work published under peer review[75] and has since had to rely on using the web as a platform for his work. This discredits the importance Singer's view in comparison to those who have managed to pass the peer review process.[76] Atlas were present at the State Energy and Climate Policy Summit. The link provides their power point presentations and reference materials: “Energy and Climate Policy Summit Powerpoint[77].

After giving Atlas Economic Research Foundation large quantities of money since 1998, according to a front-page story in the Times of London, ExxonMobil have given $1.5 million to climate deniers as well as industries who are known for creating doubt when it comes to global warming. ExxonMobil issued a stated commitment that it would stop funding climate deniers. However, they still seek to pollute the media with climate sceptic’s views which are purposefully created to cripple international action on Climate Change. Since 1998 ExxonMobil have spent $25 million to fund climate denier groups, according to Greenpeace’s Exxon Secrets[78]. These groups created a media frenzy over the “Climategate” ”non-scandal and other efforts to derail progress towards an international agreement to fight climate change” this was at the COP-15 talks in Copenhagen in 2009. [79]

In November 2009 'Climategate' was an event which showed some of the world’s top climate scientists acting in bad faith to promote the message that manmade greenhouse gases were destroying the planet. This initiated with a leak of e-mails and other documents which were illegally released from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. It is due to Climategate that there has been a change in the newest policy work on climate change. Scott Denning who is a climate scientist announced that he believed that there was indeed a link between carbon dioxide and climate change. [80].

Several Atlas partners presented their latest research which included Fisher Venture Guarantees: Gabriel Calzada of Instituto Juan de Mariana in Spain and Carlo Stagnaro of the Instituto Bruno Leoni in Italy. Both partners discovered a high cost in their respective countries associated with government – subsidized green energy focused mainly on the creation of new jobs and fighting climate change. In Spain, Calzada found a loss of 2.2 private sector jobs for every green job created. However the situation in Italy was bleaker as 4.8 jobs are lost for every green jobs created. “These findings have shaken up the pro-rationing elites in the U.S. including President Obama who liked to cite European nations as models for green energy development, such as Spain. [81].Gabriel Calzada made a study last year(2009) on the European experiment of going ahead with the conservation proposals. In this study, Calzada states that "the Spanish/EU-Style green jobs'agenda noe being promoted in the U.S in fact destroy jobs". These findings were rejected by the environmental left who labelled him as an oil industry dummy.[82] In their research report, Calzada and Stagnaro stated the following:" Green Investments are an ineffective policy for job creation".[83]

According to Todd Wynn, from the Cascade Policy Institute, there is a strong link between economic freedom and energy efficiency and believed that this was the first step for an alternative to government action to reduce greenhouse gases. After gathering data from 165 countries, Wynn came to the conclusion that those countries with higher economic freedom levels use less energy per unit as well as emitting fewer greenhouse gasses. This report is further justified by his documentary, which was highly influential, on Climate Chains in 2009. Here he exposed the misleading fact of using cap and trade legislation to improve the environment saying "The lesson from think tanks is greenhouse gas regulation is a lot of economic pain with no promise of environmental gain." [84].. The appeal for this is the fact that it presents an ability to control the economy and the lifestyles of people who inhabit the world. [85].

Deroy Murdock a senior fellow at Atlas is very vocal about his views on climate change. He believs that it is not global warming but global cooling? [86]

According to Atlas Economic Research Foundation, those who oppose global warming don’t believe in an alternative that is realistic. [87]

Within this context, there are many "superstitions" towards Climate Change. One of these is by US representative John Shimkus - who is a possible future chairman of the congressional comitee that deals with energy and environmental concerns, believed that Climate Change should not concern us since "God promised not to destroy the earth".[88] There is also a campaign which is currently being orchestrated against “climate change science to undermine public acceptance of man-made global warming”. Think tanks such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the International Policy Network have received grants from ExxonMobil. These organizations have organized summits for climate change deniers from all around the world. [89]

Opposing Evidence

Contrary to Climate sceptic claims fueled by reports and campaigns by anti-climate change lobbyists, 98% of scientists agree that the extreme climate change seen in recent decades is directly attributed to by human carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions [90]. The global average surface temperature between 1900 and 2009 rose by approximately 0.7° C, and also the rate at which the temperature was increasing rose. In the last last 50 years however, global temperatures rose at an average rate of about 0.13°C per decade which is almost double the rate previously observed of 0.07°C in the first half of the century. It is predicted that in the next 20 years the global average temperature will rise by around 0.2°C per decade [91].

The Global Climate is heating up, which gives a projection of both atmospheric and oceanic changes in the future, representing scientific proof of global climate change. The Video produced by NOAA titled “State of the Climate in 2009[92] explains the process of the Ocean-Atmospheric temperature rise.

Debate within the wider global context

The Neo-liberal movement claim that opening up the market into countries of extreme poverty will lead to economic prosperity for all, however, it could be argued that the expansion of trade and subsequent industrialisation is directly attributable to the un-sustainable and consequently damaging use of world resources. Industrial economies and the activities associated with them are the leading contributers to the emission of greenhouse gases [93]. A rapid increase in international economic integration and the growth of international institutions such as NAFTA and WTO has shown growing concern that multi-national corporations have begun to turn to the international forum to bypass restrictions from governments and social movements at the national state level [94]. According to Levy and Egan (1998) there are two major international institutions that are recognised, the Enabling - those which provide neo-liberal friendly infrastructure for the world trade and investment regime influenced and supported by multi-national corporations – and the Regulatory – those which conduct negotiation and proclaim social, labour, and environmental policies. Such Regulatory institutions are feared by many large corporations, the emergence of an international environmental regulatory structure being bad for business [95]. The idea that a liberal free-trade international system would bring prosperity for all is unsubstantiated, as economic wealth is still extremely skewed to the elite Transnational capitalist class. The top 3 billionaires obtain more wealth than 600 million people who live in the world's poorest countries [96]. Also the gap between rich and poor in the U.K. has reached its highest level for more than 40 years [97], so if the corporations can't get it right at home then why would it work internationally? It is important to remember the economic, political and cultural dimensions of globalisation. As stated by Sklair (2009) there is a determinant between ‘Generic Globalisation’ and ‘Capitalist Globalisation’, and their impact on the global condition. There are vastly different class polarizations that take place in the ‘Have’ and ‘Have not’ nations around the globe in the current global order. Despite the campaign for the potential benefits of adopting a liberal free market, the fact of the matter is that for the capitalist market to function on the very basic level there needs to be an exploitation of labour. If there was to become a liberal free market then the exploitation of both labour and resources would be exploited to the extremities. This can be concluded because of the right-wing Republican lobbying against the issues of climate change, a campaign that threatens to change the ways of the economic market.

Promotional Means

Within their promotional means Atlas exhibit integration into the realm of ‘Generic Globalisation’, used by Atlas to express an ideology of unity for the whole of man kind, but which falls short under their ‘Capitalist Globalisation’ neoliberal agendas that cause class polarization and ecological unsustainability [98]. Atlas have adapted their promotional means and broadened their scope for potential audience by utilizing on the efficiency of internet promotion. They also use traditional methods of the distribution of books, syndication of articles through the press, teaching seminars, and policy conferences. [99]

Atlas Network
13 International Internet platforms -
French | Portuguese | English/Swahili | Arabic | Persian | Chinese | Kurdish | Azerbaijani | Bahasa Melayu | Russian | Hindi | Urdu | Vietnamese
A major social network site, allows Atlas to form an online interactive networking base that is accessible all around the globe. Atlas post debates, articles, videos, and lobby political agenda's to subscribed members, continuing interest and debate in their organisation.
Twitter allows you to get 'short, timely messages from the Atlas Network' [103] , of which 2306 followers do so. Through Twitter Atlas can project 'cheeky' informal messages against ideological challengers, and give links to promote like-minded ideas.
Flickr allows Atlas to give snapshots of what they want to portray as their 'image', from interns to seminars, prize acceptances, and policy summits to name a few.
Atlas has their own channel on Youtube where you can subscribe to their videos. Here the videos are more manicured than those seen on Vimeo, produced with promotion in mind. Included are videos on agendas, debates on News channels, and cartoon propaganda.
Vimeo allows the Atlas Network to channel informal videos where they take the opportunity to present members of their entrepreneurship panel speaking at conferences.
  • Events:
  • Liberty Forum and Templeton Freedom Awards Ceremony
Mayflower Hotel Washington, D.C.
Next Occurring – November 9-10 2010
  • Freedom Dinner
Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Next Occurring – November 10 2010
  • The Atlas Experience
Hilton Anatole Hotel, Dallas, TX.
Next Occurring – April 27-28 2011
  • Literature
"Global Warming, Apocalypse or Hot Air?"(1994). Morris was also listed on the "Scientific Advisory Board" of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC).[107]
Julian Morris is the Executive director of the International Policy Network (IPN) and during his time at the IEA co-authered this book. The IPN is a freemarket thinktank that is based in the UK and has affiliaitons with Atlas. Their North American Branch recieved £390.000 from ExxonMobil. This book clearly shows Atlas's biased view towards claimate change.


Atlas contact details: [108]

  • Main Offices:

Washington, D.C. 1201 L Street, NWSuite # 200 Washington, D.C. 20005 PHONE: 202.449.8449 FAX: 202.280.1259

  • Donation Opportunities: or call 202.449.8444

  • Event Inquiries:

  • Website Inquiries:

  • Think Tank Inquiries:


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