12 January 2023   4 comments

Science published a very interesting paper on how the scientists at Exxon/Mobil accurately anticipated climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels as early as 1977. Researchers reviewed “32 internal documents produced in-house by ExxonMobil scientists and managers between 1977 and 2002, and 72 peer-reviewed scientific publications authored or coauthored by ExxonMobil scientists between 1982 and 2014.” The researchers found that Exxon/Mobil scientists were remarkably prescient about the consequences of using fossil fuels:

“In summary, climate projections reported by ExxonMobil scientists between 1977 and 2003 were accurate and skillful in predicting subsequent global warming. Some projections suggested slightly too much warming and others not quite enough, but most (63 to 83%, depending on the metric used) were statistically consistent with subsequently observed temperatures, particularly after accounting for discrepancies between projected and observed changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. ExxonMobil’s projections were also consistent with, and as skillful as, those of academic and government scientists. All told, ExxonMobil was aware of contemporary climate science, contributed to that science, and predicted future global warming correctly. These findings corroborate and add quantitative precision to assertions by scholars, journalists, lawyers, politicians, and others that ExxonMobil accurately foresaw the threat of human-caused global warming, both prior and parallel to orchestrating lobbying and propaganda campaigns to delay climate action, and refute claims by ExxonMobil Corp and its defenders that these assertions are incorrect.”

The scientific conclusions, however, were at variance with the interests of Exxon/Mobil as a profit-seeking enterprise and the researchers analyze the public statements of the company thast either denied or downplayed the conclusions of the science:

“ExxonMobil has often specifically claimed or suggested in public that climate models are ‘unreliable’. In 1999, for example, ExxonMobil Corp’s chief executive officer (CEO) Lee Raymond said future climate ‘projections are based on completely unproven climate models, or, more often, sheer speculation.’ In 2013, his successor, Rex Tillerson, called climate models ‘not competent’. In 2015, he stated: ‘We do not really know what the climate effects of 600 ppm versus 450 ppm will be because the models simply are not that good’. The company’s own modeling contradicts such statements”

The discrepancy between what Exxon/Mobil knew to be true and what it professed to be true is striking. Professor Suban of Harvard points out: “We now have airtight, unimpeachable evidence that ExxonMobil accurately predicted global warming years before it turned around and publicly attacked climate science and scientists. Our findings show that ExxonMobil’s public denial of climate science contradicted its own scientists’ data.” And it is painful to recognize that nearly 50 years of possible alternatives to climate change were lost because of the climate denying strategy, not only by Exxon/Mobil but by virtually every major corporation involved in the selling of coal, oil, and natural gas.

Posted January 12, 2023 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

4 responses to “12 January 2023

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  1. The suffering is already incalculable, and has only just begun. It is difficult not to mourn the loss of 50 years, and the progress that could have been made, and the lives saved, not only human lives but the lives of so many other creatures, both plants and animals. But do you think if Exon had admitted what they knew, we would have corrected our egregious behavior? I can and do blame the oil companies, and of course their behavior was, and continues to be, deplorable, but I am still driving a car and flying in airplanes across the ocean to visit my loved ones.

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    • Changing personal behavior is important, but don’t beat yourself up for being a hostage to the world that the fossil fuel industry created. We just need to support those companies that can offer genuine alternatives.

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  2. Thanks Vinnie. The question now is, “What are these massive oil companies going to do about the mess they created with our atmosphere and our Earth?

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  3. Don’t hold your breath. The fossil fuel industry is too powerful to be controlled. We need another Ida Tarbell!

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