Rockefeller Brothers Fund: Eugenics and Climate Change
By Aly Nielsen
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund claims to pursue “social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.” But its history tells a different story.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) was founded in 1940 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s five sons as “a vehicle by which they could share advice and research on charitable activities and coordinate their philanthropic efforts to better effect,” the RBF website states.
The fund’s “charitable activities” and “philanthropic efforts” since then have included eugenics research, population control, giving to Planned Parenthood and more recently promoting climate change alarmism and attacking fossil fuels. RBF is one of the foundations which has funded anti-ExxonMobil investigative journalism projects.
RBF founding trustee John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, took “particular interest” in Planned Parenthood in the 1940s, and helped the organization launch “special projects in African American communities.” Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who supported state regimented family planning and sterilization — RBF supported similar ideas.
In 1952, he founded the Population Council, which still exists in 2017. The RBF website whitewashes the Council by saying it exists “to address the more controversial fields of human fertility and contraceptive research.” In reality, it was RBF’s direct investment in eugenics and population control.
“When global population passed 2½ billion in the early 1950s (it is now more than 7 billion), John Rockefeller III was among those convinced that catastrophe was on the way,” Philanthropy Roundtable reported.
“He believed his family foundation bore some of the responsibility for rising numbers—because its health programs had reduced death rates in poor countries. So he convened a panel of experts for advice on blunting population growth,” Philanthropy Roundtable continued.
When the Rockefeller Foundation would not adopt overpopulation as one of its projects, John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, used RBF to found the Population Council. He was also the first president of the Population Council. The Ford Foundation also donated $2 million in the 1950s to help create the Council.
The second Council president was Frederick Osborn, a director at the American Eugenics Society. He wrote extensively on both eugenics and the environment, according to his New York Times obituary in 1981.
Today, RBF has purged its eugenicist language. It also no longer gives to Planned Parenthood or the Population Council (but the Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors do).
But it’s essential to recognize that the modern environmental movement grew out of an early 20th century conservationist agenda which involved white supremacy, racism and eugenics.
“It can only help to acknowledge just how many environmentalist priorities and patterns of thought came from an argument among white people, some of them bigots and racial engineers, about the character and future of a country that they were sure was theirs and expected to keep,” The New Yorker wrote in August 2015.
Approximately $6.7 million of that went to Sustainable Development projects, which targeted “Public and Policymaker Awareness of Climate Change,” “Clean Energy Economy,” “Reduced Reliance on Carbon-Intensive Energy” and “International Progress on Climate Change.”
In recent years, RBF’s climate change funding enabled anti–Exxon propaganda, supported groups joining the Earth Day 2017 so-called “March for Science” and liberal, nonprofit journalism outlets like Grist and DeSmog Blog which spread climate alarmism.
The Fund does not solely give to liberal groups directly. It also has ties to other liberal foundations though its leadership. The group is governed by 17 trustees and one advisory trustee. Of those, several have ties to organizations funded by left-wing, billionaire George Soros.
Current RBF president, Stephen Heintz, was also the founding president of Demos, a liberal policy group co-founded by former President Barack Obama. Heintz also sits on the board for The American Prospect, a “progressive” Soros-funded magazine. Demos’ current president Heather McGhee is also an RBF trustee.
Wendy Gordon, a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is also a trustee. Gordon also chairs the editorial board for NRDC’s environmental news magazine. NRDC is funded by RBF, Soros, Tom Steyer and others.
Senior research fellow Daniel Levy of the Soros-funded New America Foundation is another trustee.