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'Don't Fund Evil': Google HQ Targeted for Climate Change Protest

Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 2005 | Photo: Steve Rhodes/Flickr/Creative Commons License

In the wake of recent revelations that Google, the Bay Area-based search engine giant, is supporting one of the most stubborn climate change denialists in the Senate, climate activists plan are planning a demonstration Wednesday at Google's headquarters in Mountain View. Their message will be a poke at Google's much-vaunted informal corporate credo: "Don't Fund Evil."

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The search engine and data collection giant, which had been a large investor in renewable energy development, was revealed early in July to be planning to host a fundraiser for Oklahoma's Senator James Imhofe (R-Pleistocene), notorious for his denial of climate change science, as well as his general opposition to progressive sentiments, civil rights, net neutrality, and immigration reform, issues on all of which Google has staked out public positions 180 degrees apart from Imhofe's.

For now, the Imhofe views that have especially raised activist ire are those he holds regarding human-caused climate change. Imhofe has called global warming a "hoax," going so far as to have a book ghostwritten for him with the title "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future." He also compared Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to "Mein Kampf."

For its part, the tech giant claims it funds pols on both sides of the aisle without strict attention to whether those politicians share Google's views. "We regularly host fundraisers for candidates, on both sides of the aisle, but that doesn't mean we endorse all of their positions," an unidentified Google spokesperson told Brian Merchant at Motherboard. "And while we disagree on climate change policy, we share an interest with Senator Inhofe in the employees and data center we have in Oklahoma."

A subsequent article in The Nation pointed out that Imhofe wasn't likely to help Google's data center in Oklahoma, adding:

Google's Inhofe lunch is yet another indicator of the growing entanglement of Silicon Valley with Washington's unsavory underbelly. Contradictions between the tech industry's left-leaning, "progressive" brand and its political activities are perhaps best expressed by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us (supported by Google CEO Eric Schmidt) doing anything it can to influence immigration reform in the industry's favor, including running ads in support of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Despite protests from climate change activists and several Google shareholders, the fundraiser went on as scheduled this month, and Google representatives in D.C. refused to accept thousands of signatures the activists had collected on a petition. Undeterred, those activists are heading to Mountain View Wednesday to try again.

"Google's employees have a unique opportunity to tell their employer that staying true to 'Don't Be Evil' should mean not funding people like James Inhofe, who stands against everything Google stands for," said Brad Johnson, campaign manager for protest backer Forecast the Facts.

Google employees will be greeted by demonstrators Wednesday morning at 9:00, and activists will attempt to deliver more than 50,000 petition signatures one hour later.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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