Exxon Denying Climate Change

Exxon knew about climate change

Exxon replaced the Esso, Enco and Humble oil companies in 1973, but its history goes back to 1859, where Standard Oil of New Jersey was founded. Exxon and later ExxonMobil has since grown to become the largest and most powerful oil company in the world, with a value of 360 billion USD, nearly 20 times that of Mozambique’s GDP. Exxon knew everything about climate change, and denied it.

The Los Angeles Times, in cooperation with the Columbia University School of Journalism and a prize-winning website called Inside Climate News, have after months of thorough investigations reported that as early as 1979, top scientists at Exxon predicted quite accurately how carbon dioxide was accumulating in the atmosphere, and that the main culprit was the products sold by Exxon and the other big oil companies.

Exxon scientists continued their research, and through the 1980s they developed climate models that all showed how the burning of fossil fuels influenced our climate by raising the temperature, which would cause serious climate change. It is now clear that the predictions made by Exxon scientists 40 years ago were very accurate compared to the actual rise in global temperatures since then.

In the mid-1980s, these scientists laid out their predictions before top executives at Exxon; that temperatures on Earth would rise by up to 6 degrees Celsius in the coming century, that the Arctic ice would melt, and that areas with permafrost would soften. They pointed out that the continuing use of fossil fuels at the current rate at the time and their prediction for growing demands in the future could cause devastating changes to our climate and become a serious threat to life on Earth.

Photo Credit: Permafrost Carbon Network
Photo Credit: Permafrost Carbon Network

The biggest and most horrible crime ever committed

Exxon top executives decided to do whatever was needed in order to not let this knowledge reach the public. They decided to use millions of USD to deny that the use of fossil fuels had any influence on our climate. This policy has continued with ever increasing intensity since then. It is horrible to take a decision against life on Earth in order to gain profit, but that was what they did and are still doing.

 

Other scientists made similar predictions and started to publicize them. More and more people around the world started to read about manmade global warming. But the crime committed during the last decades by ExxonMobil and their allies has been one major reason for delaying real actions to fight global warming and a changing climate, which is now causing more and more havoc around the world.

ExxonMobil top executives clearly believed what their scientists told them. It has recently been revealed in documents from ExxonMobil archives that they made business models taking into account the fact that climate change would cause the Arctic ice to melt and areas with permafrost to thaw, as we can read in this quote: “Climate change can only help to lower exploration and development cost in these areas, which will help us to get a higher profit when giving bids for lease rights in the Arctic”.

Contrary to what ExxonMobil discussed internally, publicly they denied global warming and climate change. Lee Raymond, who was president of Exxon from 1987 and Chief Executive Officer from 1994, described global warming as “projections based on completely unproven climate models and often on sheer speculation”.

In a key presentation, held for leading officials from China in 1997, he said that the globe was probably cooling.

Big money can buy opinions

Together with other fossil fuel companies, ExxonMobil started to fund a lot of so-called scientists who would deny or spread confusion and doubts about manmade global warming and climate change. Some of the scientists they paid were veterans of the trade, having helped the big tobacco companies deny that tobacco smoking is harmful to health.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the fight against their reports on climate change and its causes.

In 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed under the United Nations with the aim of collecting information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of the risk of human-induced climate change. Thousands of scientists have since contributed to IPCC’s reports on climate change and its causes.

ExxonMobil has done whatever money can buy to spread denial and confusion on what 99% of climate scientists have proven using scientific methods – that our burning of fossil fuels causes a greenhouse effect that makes global temperatures rise.

In 1989, big businesses such as Exxon, BP, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, Shell Oil and others formed an organization called Global Climate Coalition (GCC) in order to oppose actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GCC got prominent allies in the Bush/Cheney administration when George W. Bush began his presidency in January 2001. GCC succeeded in persuading President Bush to back Congress in refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, which meant that the agreement could not come into force, as it had been agreed that countries representing 55% of global emissions had to ratify it. The Kyoto protocol was to have been a binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions by 5% from 1990 to 2012.

The GCC also influenced the White House in removing leading scientists from the board of the IPCC and replacing them with people who would spread uncertainty and doubt about the impact of fossil fuel burning on the climate, and also to spread doubt about whether climate change was manmade, or real at all.

Until GCC was closed in 2002, the organization led an aggressive lobbying and advertising campaign to spread doubt about the integrity of the IPCC. While 99% of climate scientists agreed on manmade climate change, GCC used the press to spread their lies. In these years, more than 50% of all articles or TV news about global warming took their departure in the few scientists who denied or manufactured serious doubts about manmade climate change.

In 2002 GCC was closed down, because it became obvious that GCC as an organization could harm the public reputation of its members. Nevertheless, each of these members continued spreading their lies in order to keep their profits.

Together with big fossil fuel companies, ExxonMobil continued to pay climate denial groups to write books and articles that were published in the media and in public statements rather than to the scientific community.

In 2013 it was reported that more than 100 organizations and individuals had been paid by fossil fuel companies and individual billionaires via funds called the Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund to undermine the public understanding of the science on climate change. Between 2002 and 2010 it is believed that they were paid 120 million USD.

ExxonMobil and other big companies also continued to pay huge amounts of money to members of the US Congress to influence their decisions on legislation to cut taxes from fossil fuel companies and legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is estimated that such payments to members of Congress amounted to 70 million USD in 2012, which shows that politicians in USA to a large extent are paid to vote as they do by big multinational companies.

In order to keep global temperatures from not rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, 80% of known reserves of fossil fuels have to be kept in the ground. ExxonMobil and all the other fossil fuel companies have sold billions of dollars worth of shares whose values are based on the profits that can be made from extracting, selling and burning each and every drop of oil from known reserves, and even from new reserves that they expect to discover in the future.

In December 2015, the governments of more than 190 nations will gather for the Paris Climate Conference under the UN.

An army of fossil fuel lobbyist will undoubtedly be present to do what they can to avoid any decision that can harm their future profits.

The biggest crime of all time against life on Earth is still being committed in the holy name of profit.

The independent “Insider Washington Monthly” wrote:

“A fossil fuel company (ExxonMobil) intentionally and knowingly obfuscating research into climate change constitutes criminal negligence and malicious intent at best, and a crime against humanity at worst. The Department of Justice has a moral obligation to prosecute Exxon and its co-conspirators accordingly.”

We can surely predict that if a case to prosecute Exxon and its co-conspirators is made, it will take years before a verdict can be delivered, but in any case these criminals should be prosecuted, so people get to understand the real facts of this crime. The good news is that the New York State Attorney General has subpoenaed Exxon, which means that he has demanded that Exxon hands over documents from their archives.

The fossil fuel companies are now trying to talk with one voice in the public sphere and act with a completely different intent in reality.

It is not possible to deny global warming and climate change anymore. Some skeptics may still spread lies about whether it is manmade, but more of the fossil fuel companies are now communicating a green profile on their webpages, where they pretend that they are in the frontline of finding ways to produce carbon neutral energy. Behind this facade they are using millions of dollars searching for new reserves of oil, gas and coal.

Perhaps we will now see that the protests of many people against using fossil fuels are giving results. On Friday, November 6, President Obama announced that his administration had rejected the request of a Canadian oil company to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline was projected to pump 830,000 barrels of crude oil from very dirty tar sands from Canada across USA to Texas every day. In Australia, activists have blocked plans to establish the largest coalmine on Earth. Two leases, planned to be sold to oil companies to allow drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic Sea, have been cancelled.

This is the first time big fossil fuel projects have been rejected or cancelled by heads of states following pressure from people’s protests.

People, not capitalist globalization, can make the change that will save the world.

Many people around the world are organizing to fight the consequences of global warming and put demands on their politicians to take real steps to drastically lower how much CO2 is released into the atmosphere. More and more people are now convinced that the threat is real, not because their leaders say so, but because of a sharp increase in extreme weather events that are causing destruction and death around the world.

Only massive pressure and real actions by collective efforts made by the many people can make the needed changes to save us and future generations from the devastating consequences of manmade global warming and climate change.

Student at Richmond Vale Academy

Exxon Denying Climate Change
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