ExxonMobil and Global Warming

A story in the Los Angeles Times on January 12, 2023, “ExxonMobil publicly denied global warming for years but quietly predicted it” shares details on a new story in SCIENCE…

“Emphasize the uncertainty.”

public relations manager in an internal draft memo from August 1988 titled “The Greenhouse Effect”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10154309310222708

In perhaps one of the most cynically ironic twists in the field of climate science, new research suggests ExxonMobil may have had keener insight into the impending dangers of global warming than even NASA scientists but still waged a decades-long campaign to discredit research into climate change and its connection to the burning of fossil fuels. Despite its public denials, the major oil corporation worked behind closed doors to carry out an astonishingly accurate series of global warming projections between 1977 and 2003, according to a study published Thursday in Science.

Los Angeles Times | January 12, 2023

Summary of projections in seven internal company memos and five peer-reviewed publications between 1977 and 2003 (gray lines).
Source: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abk0063

“Exxon didn’t just know some climate science, they actually helped advance it. They didn’t just vaguely know something about global warming decades ago, they knew as much as independent academics and government scientists did. And arguably, they knew all they needed to know.”

Geoffrey Supran, lead author of the study and former researcher in the department of the history of science at Harvard University

Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections
January 13, 2023 (SCIENCE) –
In 2017, for instance, we demonstrated that Exxon’s internal documents, as well as peer-reviewed studies published by Exxon and ExxonMobil Corp scientists, overwhelmingly acknowledged that climate change is real and human-caused. By contrast, the majority of Mobil and ExxonMobil Corp’s public communications promoted doubt on the matter. What exactly did oil and gas companies know, and how accurate did their knowledge prove to be? Here, we address these questions by reporting and analyzing all known global warming projections documented by—and in many cases modeled by—Exxon and ExxonMobil Corp scientists between 1977 and 2003.

Exxon Accurately Predicted Global Warming, Years Before Casting Doubt on Climate Science
January 12, 2023
– New research shows the company’s scientists were as “skillful” as independent experts in predicting how the burning of fossil fuels would warm the planet and bring about climate change. The new research adds a quantitative assessment that could be useful in lawsuits and other efforts to hold the company accountable for its role in delaying action on climate change, said Benjamin Franta, a senior research fellow in climate litigation at the Sustainable Law Program at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. More than two dozen cities, counties, states and other jurisdictions have filed lawsuits against Exxon and other oil companies seeking damages for climate impacts, and similar cases have been brought in other countries.

CO2’s Role in Global Warming Has Been on the Oil Industry’s Radar Since the 1960s
April 13, 2016
– Historical records reveal early industry concern with air pollutants, including smog and CO2, and unwanted regulation. By the 1960s, the CO2 problem was gaining wider scientific recognition, especially as President Lyndon B. Johnson’s science advisers and leading experts brought it to the attention of the White House in 1965. “If CO2 levels continue to rise at present rates, it is likely that noticeable increases in temperature could occur,” SRI scientists Elmer Robinson and R.C. Robbins wrote in their 1968 paper to API. “Changes in temperature on the world-wide scale could cause major changes in the earth’s atmosphere over the next several hundred years including change in the polar ice caps.”

How Exxon went from leader to skeptic on climate change research
October 23, 2015
– Throughout much of the 1980s, Exxon earned a public reputation as a pioneer in climate change research. It sponsored workshops, funded academic research and conducted its own high-tech experiments exploring the science behind global warming. But by 1990, the company, in public, took a different posture. While still funding select research, it poured millions into a campaign that questioned climate change. Over the next 15 years, it took out prominent ads in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, contending climate change science was murky and uncertain. And it argued regulations aimed at curbing global warming were ill-considered and premature.

Exxon Sowed Doubt About Climate Science for Decades by Stressing Uncertainty
October 22, 2015
– Collaborating with the Bush-Cheney White House, Exxon turned ordinary scientific uncertainties into weapons of mass confusion. In the opening days of the oil-friendly Bush-Cheney administration, Exxon’s chief lobbyist had written the new head of the White House environmental council demanding that MacCracken be fired for “political and scientific bias.” Exxon was also attacking other officials in the U.S. government and at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), MacCracken wrote, interfering with their work behind the scenes and distorting it in public.

Coursing Through Gaslands: Exploring Oil & Gas Impacts on Watersheds
Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST


Heavy industrialization by the oil and gas industry can severely damage the rich ecology of watersheds and forests. FracTracker has been conducting extensive fieldwork to unearth these often out-of-sight industry harms in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

​Join us for this special webinar where FracTracker Alliance’s Ted Auch and Matt Kelso will share the takeaways from several projects examining watershed impacts, including their recent project examining Towanda Creek.

​Here are a list of watershed projects the presentation will touch on: