The rich are different from you and me, as the saying goes. They have money. The super-rich have even more.

Some of the wealthiest people on the planet are driving and funding the climate change political agenda for more electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels, and eradication of nuclear energy and fossil fuels. Their message is clear: America and the world must reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources and adapt in order to save the planet. That means higher costs, less energy consumption and reduced living standards.

The problem with such people advocating these climate policies, with all their negative ramifications, is that none of them are leading by example, which calls into question their own sincerity and the validity of their cause.

One example among many is Michael Bloomberg, the successful former three-term mayor of New York City and spectacularly unsuccessful presidential candidate.  Mr. Bloomberg is worth about $55 billion. His climate agenda includes elimination of the coal industry in the United States, which remains the linchpin employer for many working class communities.

The larger fossil fuel industry in America comprises nearly five million jobs, including many union jobs, which face major contraction if climate policies take effect.

Jeff Bezos, the head of the Amazon Corporation, also embraces the climate change dogma and has committed $10 billion of his own money to address it, somehow.  This is serious cash, yet he will have plenty left over since he just became the first human to reach the $200 billion threshold of personal wealth; this, after his record-shattering recent divorce settlement with the former Mrs. Bezos.  Most of the world’s countries have a gross domestic product less than Mr. Bezos’ proverbial bank account, which relatively speaking may someday surpass the oil Titan himself, John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Former oil investor and also failed presidential candidate, Tom Steyer, is another multi-million dollar donor to climate change causes and supplicant politicians.  Though a billionaire, he is a relative pauper compared to Messrs. Bloomberg and Bezos, each of whom owns more homes than most people have pairs of shoes.

Let’s not overlook the British House of Windsor, specifically, Prince Charles and sort-of Prince Harry, recently Duke of Beverly Hills and now Santa Barbara’s newest resident.  Both of them often virtue-signal how concerned they are about the urgency of climate change while they live like, well … royalty.  About the only time royals “go green” is when one of them marries or is coronated.

Final mention has to be the global warming alarmist-in-chief, Al Gore.  The former vice president turned centi-millionaire has a three-decade history of vapid pronouncements and snake-oil climate predictions gone bust that should have sent him into hiding long ago.  Rather than exile, he shamelessly screeches on, accumulates his fortune, and remains impervious as ever to his ice-melting avalanche of hypocrisy and fabrication.

The list of wealthy individuals who are funding global warming causes and politicians, and urging enactment of climate policies, is a long one, including lesser known millionaires and billionaires from Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood.  No doubt many, if not all, such people really believe something is occurring with Earth’s climate such that reduced carbon emissions would alter it.

This begs the question: how strongly do any of these high-consumption climate adherents actually believe in the planet’s doomsday from carbon emissions?  For example, has Mike Bloomberg or Jeff Bezos contemplated razing one or more of their mega-mansions into open space or mothballing their private jets?  It would be akin the average person losing a 20-dollar bill in a shopping mall.  Instead, they have piled up real estate castles with all the fossil fuel energy and excavation needed to sustain them, while doubling down on their commitment to “fighting” climate change.  Their opulence betrays them.

I don’t begrudge any of these people amassing fortunes.  America remains a mostly free country, and freedom includes the right to build wealth as large as your talents, initiative, labor and luck will take you. It is nonetheless distasteful in the extreme for highly affluent people to fund a dubious agenda that threatens the livelihoods of middle income, working class, and poor people, especially in the developing world, who are heavily dependent on affordable, reliable energy.

High-profile, preening rich people can easily be noticed. It would be newsworthy and impactful if some of them announced they were eschewing their carbon-tonnage lifestyles to fight climate change, and demanded the same from their fellow travelers.  In a bygone era, steel mogul Andrew Carnegie donated about 90 percent of his enormous wealth.  His present-day peers should follow suit.

Don’t bet the ranch or shoe collection that any such thing will occur.  The pervasive pattern of climate tycoons is akin to billionaire investor Warren Buffett supporting tax increases while fighting the IRS over prior-year unpaid taxes.

Virtue signaling from the wealthy and corporate chieftains by supporting tax hikes and climate change policies is cheap and easy.  It costs them a pittance, and they sacrifice nothing.  Not so for everyone else.


  • Peter Murphy

    Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: