Talk:Breakthrough Institute

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The Breakthrough Institute (TBI), which describes itself as a "a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors", is a think tank established by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. On its website it states that it is "committed to creating a new progressive politics, one that is large, aspirational, and asset-based. We believe that any effective politics must speak to core needs and values, not issues and interests, and we thus situate ourselves at the intersection of politics, policy, philosophy, and the social sciences."[1]

TBI "believes that we can create a better world by advancing an aspirational vision grounded in America's founding values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." [4]

But in practice, this has translated to advocating "green energy" research but opposing any policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through putting a price on carbon (a.k.a. pricing the externality).

TBI is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; it operates under the umbrella of nonprofit Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, so it files no IRS Form 990s documenting revenues, programs or expenditures.


"The Breakthrough people and their allies, among whom one must include Lomborg and Pielke Jr. at this point..., are not asking for the technologically impossible. They are asking merely for the technologically possible at an economically impossible cheap price."[2] "This disinformation campaign is almost entirely driven by fossil fuel companies and conservative media, politicians and think tanks. It is also advanced by the Breakthrough Institute and its president, Michael Shellenberger. His central myth -- a science fiction fantasy, really -- is that it would be possible to sharply reduce emissions without raising the cost of carbon pollution."[3]


The Science of Security

TBI has run a program called The Science of Security since 2009 - "dedicated to bringing evidence to ongoing arguments about national security and counterterrorism policy."[4].



Senior Fellows

As of March 2011:[5]





Advisory Board

As of March 2011:[7]




At the close of 2011 TBI's website said the organization now has seven foundation funders,[8] which are:[9]

  • The Comer Foundation
  • The Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Nau Partners for Change
  • The Lotus Foundation
  • The Open Society Institute
  • The Bellwether Foundation
  • The Arkay Foundation

In early 2011, Ted Nordhaus said "Virtually all of our funding comes from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, trustees of the ...Sara Lee pound cake fortune, and the Lotus Foundation, funded by members of the Pritzker family."[10]

Contact Details

The Breakthrough Institute, 436 14th Street, Suite 820 Oakland, California 94612

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Articles and resources


  1. "Our Mission", The Breakthrough Institute website, accessed May 2009.
  2. Michael Tobis (2010-09-13). The Breakthrough Idea. Only In It For The Gold. Retrieved on 2011-03-27. “We already have the technology. All the Breakthrough people are trying to do is negotiate with Nature over price. But Nature doesn't haggle. ... Breakthrough thinking basically amounts to an idea that if we delay action on climate forcing, the price will go down. [but] It's clear that at some point, if we delay too long, the price will start to go up. The argument is only whether we have passed that point.”
  3. Joseph Romm (2009-04-22). Don't believe the fossil-fuel lies. Salon. Retrieved on 2011-04-13. “.... the Breakthrough Institute doesn't just oppose a carbon price -- it opposes EPA regulations. Shellenberger [the presidentof The Breakthrough Institute] quotes Institute fellow Roger Pielke Jr. that "Republicans must be drooling over the possibility that EPA will take extensive regulatory action on climate change" because Obama and the Democrats will be blamed for any "actual or perceived downsides."”
  4. [1], accessed 2012-01-06
  5. No byline (Undated). Experts. The Breakthrough Institute. Retrieved on 2011-03-27.
  6. [2], accessed 2011-04-14
  7. No byline (Undated). Advisory Board. The Breakthrough Institute. Retrieved on 2011-03-27.
  8. {{cite web |url= |publisher=The Breakthrough Institute |title=Top Ten Breakthrough Moments of 2011 |quote="Founded in 2003 and first funded in 2007, Breakthrough today has 11 full-time staff, 25 Senior Fellows, 41 Breakthrough Generation Fellows, and seven foundation funders." |accessdate=2012-01-06 |pubdate=2011-12-30
  9. [3]
  10. Ted Nordhaus (2010-01-11). Comment on Daily Breakthrough: Avatar, Eco-Paranoia, and Technology. The Breakthrough Institute. Retrieved on 2011-03-27.

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