Thongchai Thailand

EXXON KNEW

Posted on: June 23, 2020

 

LINKS TO THE EXXON KNEW MOVEMENT: [INSIDE-CLIMATE-NEWS] [THE GUARDIAN] [NAOMI ORESKES]   

 

 

 

THE CASE AGAINST EXXON

  1. NAOMI ORESKESBut Exxon was sending a different message, even though its own evidence contradicted its public claim that the science was highly uncertain and no one really knew whether the climate was changing or, if it was changing, what was causing it … Journalists and scientists have identified more than 30 different organizations funded by the company that have worked to undermine the scientific message and prevent policy action to control greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. THE GUARDIAN: EXXON was at the forefront of climate research, warning of the dangers posed by human-caused global warming from the late-1970s to the late-1980s. Exxon has responded to the ICN allegations by pointing out that over the past three decades, the company’s scientists have continued to publish peer-reviewed climate research. Our scientists have contributed climate research and related policy analysis to more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed publications – all out in the open. They’ve participated in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since its inception – in 1988 – and were involved in the National Academy of Sciences review of the third U.S. National Climate Assessment Report.Finally, I’ll note that we have long – and publicly – supported a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the most effective, transparent, and efficient way for governments to send a signal to consumers and the economy to reduce the use of carbon-based fuels. While the ICN investigation focused on Exxon’s internal reports, Exxon’s spokesman pointed to the peer-reviewed scientific research published by the company’s scientists between 1983 and 2014 – 53 papers in all. Exxon scientists’ 100% global warming consensus. A review of research papers published by Exxon scientists showed that all 53 of the papers are high-quality scientific research. Most of them implicitly or explicitly endorsed the expert consensus on human-caused global warming; none minimized or rejected it. This means that there is a 100% consensus on human-caused global warming among Exxon’s peer-reviewed climate science research – even higher than the 97% consensus in the rest of the peer-reviewed literature. Of the 53 papers, 45 were co-authored by Haroon Kheshgi. I spoke to several climate scientists who worked with him and all agree, Kheshgi is a top-notch climate scientist, for example having constructively contributed to the first IPCC reports that identified a human influence on global warming. Katharine Hayhoe did a summer internship with Kheshgi at one of Exxon’s facilities as part of her masters’ thesis research, and subsequently co-authored a number of papers with him. According to Hayhoe, “Haroon himself is an outstanding scientist – careful, detailed, methodical, and committed to doing good science, just as we all are. In my experience with Exxon and with Haroon, I never met a scientist who expressed any opinions counter to those prevalent in the academic community”. Much of Exxon’s early research in the 1980s dealt with climate modeling, for example projecting that the planet’s surface temperatures would warm 3–6°C above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. Their research has often discussed the dangers associated with this degree of global warming, and many studies published by Exxon scientists investigated the possibility of mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon in the deep ocean. The peer-reviewed research published by Exxon’s climate scientists was entirely in line with the expert consensus that humans are causing potentially dangerous global warming, and that we need to explore ways to mitigate the associated risks. Yet, Exxon funded climate denial misinformation campaign. While Exxon’s own scientists and research were 100% aligned with the expert consensus on human-caused global warming, the company simultaneously funded a campaign to manufacture doubt about that scientific consensus. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science found that groups with funding from corporations like Exxon have been particularly effective at polarizing and misinforming the public on climate change. Since 1998, Exxon has given over $31 million to organizations and individuals blocking solutions to climate change and spreading misinformation to the public. Exxon’s funding of the climate misinformation campaign may even have extended further, as a former company executive told the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS): “The company paid out as much as $10 million annually on what insiders called “black ops” from 1998 through 2005. After pledging to stop funding these climate denial groups in 2007, Exxon continued to give more than $2.3 million to the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) and to members of Congress who denied the expert climate consensus and acted to obstruct climate policies. Exxon also funded outside scientists who published some of the 2–3% of shoddy research that disputed the global warming consensus. For example, Exxon and other fossil fuel companies together gave contrarian scientist Willie Soon over $1 million in funding.In short, Exxon has two faces. Its own scientists have been publishing top-notch research on the dangers of human-caused global warming for 35 years, but for the past several decades, the company simultaneously engaged in a multi-pronged campaign to cast doubt on the expert consensus of which its own scientists were part. Exxon funded outside scientists to publish shoddy research contradicting that of its own scientists, funded think tanks and other organizations to use that research to manufacture doubt about the consensus, and donated money to politicians and Alec to obstruct efforts to pass critically important climate legislation. There is a sharp contrast between what Exxon knew and what Exxon did. As Bill McKibben imagined, just think of how the world would be different if Exxon had told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on climate change. Exxon is under investigation. While Exxon has supported climate science and policy in public, the company has engaged in a shadowy misinformation campaign behind the scenes. As a result, there have been increasing calls by climate scientists for a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) investigation into Exxon’s behavior in a petition with 350,000 signatures. Senators Whitehouse (D-RI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Warren (D-MA), and Markey (D-MA) have also sent Exxon an inquiry letter asking whether it has funded Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund, which funnels money to climate denial organizations while concealing the identity of its donors. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also subpoenaed Exxon for documents spanning four decades of research findings and communications about climate change. House Democrats have announced plans for a broader probe into the fossil fuel industry to determine whether other companies behaved in the same manner as Exxon, funding a denial misinformation campaign after knowing the causes and risks associated with climate change. It appears that the only difference between the behavior of Exxon and the tobacco industry is that cigarette companies didn’t publish their research linking smoking and adverse health effects. Exxon’s scientists have published research in scientific journals on the human causes and dangers of global warming. However, in both cases, the industries funded an extensive multi-pronged campaign to misinform the public about the expert scientific consensus and the dangers associated with their products. It remains to be seen whether the investigations into the actions of Exxon and the rest of the fossil fuel industry will yield the same results as the investigations into the tobacco industry racketeering.
  3. INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS: Exxon Confirmed Global Warming Consensus in 1982 with In-House Climate Models. The company chairman would later mock climate models as unreliable while he campaigned to stop global action to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Exxon Believed Deep Dive Into Climate Research Would Protect Its Business. Outfitting its biggest supertanker to measure the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide was a crown jewel in Exxon’s research program. Exxon’s Business Ambition Collided with Climate Change. Throughout the 1980s, the company struggled to solve the carbon problem of one of the biggest gas fields in the world out of concern for climate impacts. In the 1980s, Exxon lobbied to replace scarce oil with synthetic fossil fuels, but it glossed over the high carbon footprint associated with synfuels. Exxon Sowed Doubt About Climate Science for Decades by Stressing Uncertainty Collaborating with the Bush-Cheney White House, Exxon turned ordinary scientific uncertainties into weapons of mass confusion.Exxon Made Deep Cuts in Climate Research Budget in the 1980s. The cuts ushered in a five-year hiatus in peer-reviewed publication by its scientists and the era when the company first embraced disinformation. More Exxon Documents Show How Much It Knew About Climate 35 Years Ago. Documents reveal Exxon’s early CO2 position, its global warming forecast from the 1980s, and its involvement with the issue at the highest echelons. Exxon’s Oil Industry Peers Knew About Climate Dangers in the 1970s, Too. Members of an American Petroleum Institute task force on CO2 included scientists from nearly every major oil company, including Exxon, Texaco and Shell.

 

 

CRITICAL COMMENTARY ON THE CASE AGAINST EXXON

  1. That “Exxon Knew” was an evil thing has more than one interpretation in the case against Exxon presented above. The first is the secrecy interpretation found in the allegations that emphasize how early Exxon had known. The year of this earliness is cited variously as the 1970s and the 1980s. Here the case against Exxon appears to be that they knew about the dangers of fossil fuels but did not divulge this secret so that they could continued to produce their destructive product. This line of reasoning is inconsistent with the climate change literature in which we find climate change papers published and in the public domain as early 1938 by Guy Callendar and in 1957 by Revelle followed by two mainline papers by high profile climate activist James Hansen in 1981 and 1988, and public domain publications of Exxon itself. Thus it does not appear that the anthropogenic global warming and climate change theory (AGW) was a secret. What’s more, Exxon’s climate research was not secretive but published in peer reviewed journals and in the public domain. Therefore, that Exxon had come upon secret information about the coming AGW catastrophe and then kept it a secret for profit’s sake, is not credible. Everything that Exxon knew was in the public domain and nothing that Exxon knew was a secret. RESPONSE:  That Exxon had indeed looked into that matter in depth and spent significant resources investigating the fossil fueled global warming issue means that their decision was an informed decision made in the open with all research findings made public. These details of Exxon’s research into AGW do not cast them as evil but as rational. 
  2. A second argument implied in the case against Exxon is that Exxon’s climate scientists knew about the link between fossil fuels and AGW and the catastrophic consequences if AGW runs its course in the absence of the climate action in the form of reducing and eventually eliminating the combustion of fossil fuels but Exxon managers did not heed their warming and continued to produce and market fossil fuels. In other words, Exxon managers hired climate experts to do the research and advise managers but the managers did not heed the warming Yet, this is exactly how business works. The managers are the decision makers accountable to shareholders. They hire experts to provide them with information they need to make their decision but in the end the managers make the decision. The important information here is that the managers DID hire experts to investigate this matter and then only after receiving their reports and findings did the managers do their job and make a decision on the basis of  those findings. There is nothing odd or suspicious or evil in this matter as reported in the documents cited above. 
  3. On January 11, 1964, Luther L. Terry, M.D., Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, released the first report of the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. On the basis of more than 7,000 articles relating to smoking and disease already available at that time in the biomedical literature, the Advisory Committee concluded that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men, a probable cause of lung cancer in women, and the most important cause of chronic bronchitis. The release of the report was the first in a series of steps, still being taken more than 40 years later, to diminish the impact of tobacco use on the health of the American people. For several days, the report furnished newspaper headlines across the country and lead stories on television newscasts. Later it was ranked among the top news stories of 1964. During the more than 40 years that have elapsed since that report, individual citizens, private organizations, public agencies, and elected officials have pursued the Advisory Committee’s call for “appropriate remedial action.” Early on, the U.S. Congress adopted the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 and the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969. These laws required a health warning on cigarette packages, banned cigarette advertising in the broadcasting media, and called for an annual report on the health consequences of smoking. In September 1965, the Public Health Service established a small unit called the National Clearinghouse for Smoking and Health.  Through the years, the Clearinghouse and its successor organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health, have been responsible for 29 reports on the health consequences of smoking. In close cooperation with voluntary health organizations, the Public Health Service has supported successful state and community programs to reduce tobacco use, disseminated research findings related to tobacco use, ensured the continued public visibility of anti-smoking messages
    Within this evolving social milieu, the population has given up smoking in increasing numbers. Nearly half of all living adults who ever smoked have quit. The anti-smoking campaign is a major public health success with few parallels in the history of public health. It is being accomplished despite the addictive nature of tobacco and the powerful economic forces promoting its use. However, more than 45 million American adults still smoke, more than 8 million are living with a serious illness caused by smoking, and about 438,000 Americans die prematurely each year as a result of tobacco use. Efforts to implement proven interventions must be continued and expanded.  RESPONSE:  It has become standard practice for climate activists to insert the tobacco story into the Exxon knew allegations but the relevance of this argument is obscure with no rational argument from the accusers of its relevance to AGW climate change. The only possible argument here is that tobacco is proof that corporations profit from bad stuff, the oil industry profits from fossil fuel, so therefore fossil fuels must be bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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