Oil Soaked Morality

Oil Soaked Coveralls

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN By Shannon Hall, October 26, 2015: Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago. A new investigation shows the oil company understood the science before it became a public issue and spent millions to promote misinformation.

"Exxon was aware of climate change, as early as 1977, 11 years before it became a public issue, according to a recent investigation from InsideClimate News. This knowledge did not prevent the company (now ExxonMobil and the world’s largest oil and gas company) from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation—an approach many have likened to the lies spread by the tobacco industry regarding the health risks of smoking. Both industries were conscious that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks, so much so that they used the same consultants to develop strategies on how to communicate with the public.

JAMES BLACK/EXXON MOBIL: My father, James F Black, PhD, started working for Standard Oil (part of which later became Esso and then Exxon) during the second world war. He had a distinguished career over 40 years, garnering dozens of patents through his wide-ranging research.

In 1977, he briefed some of Exxon’s top executives about the risks of burning fossil fuels. A year later, in recapping his presentation in an internal company memo, he wrote: “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

By the end of that 10-year window, however, company executives had started ignoring science, cancelling research projects and investing in “spin”. They poured millions of dollars into advocacy groups and public relations campaigns designed to cast doubt on the scientific realities of climate change. As Exxon entered this period, my father would lament: “A company is in trouble when it falls into the hands of the accountants.”

WIKIPEDIA: "In 1981, Exxon shifted its research focus to climate modelling. In 1982, Exxon's environmental affairs office circulated an internal report to Exxon's management which said that the consequences of climate change could be catastrophic, and that a significant reduction in fossil fuel consumption would be necessary to curtail future climate change. It also said that "there is concern among some scientific groups that once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible."

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