Tag Archives: Climate change denial

They Knew, They Lied: ExxonMobil and Climate Change

Repost from TruthOut

They Knew, They Lied: ExxonMobil and Climate Change

By William Rivers Pitt, 16 July 2015 00:00
(Photo: Los Angeles Smog via Shutterstock)
Los Angeles Smog – Shutterstock

Between 1956 and 1964, Bell Laboratories produced a number of television specials titled “The Bell Laboratories Science Series.” The topics ranged from an examination of the Sun, to human blood, deep space, the mind, the nature of time and life itself. The programs were produced by Frank Capra, whose films include It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, so the production value of the series was notably superior. Even 30 years later, schools all across the US were still showing these Bell Labs films to students.

In 1958, a chapter in this series titled “The Unchained Goddess” was broadcast. The topic was the weather, and it starred Richard Carlson and a USC professor named Dr. Frank C. Baxter. At one point in the program, Carlson asked Dr. Baxter, “What would happen if we could change the course of the Gulf Stream, or the other great ocean currents, or warm up Hudson Bay with atomic furnaces?” The “atomic furnaces” bit is a quaint throwback to the atom-crazy 1950s, but the response given by Dr. Baxter is what makes this particular film notable.

“Extremely dangerous questions,” replied Dr. Baxter, “because with our present knowledge we have no idea what would happen. Even now, Man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the waste products of his civilization. Due to our release, through factories and automobiles every year, of more than 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide – which helps air absorb heat from the Sun – our atmosphere seems to be getting warmer. It’s been calculated that a few degrees rise in the Earth’s temperature would melt the polar ice caps, and if this happens, an inland sea would fill a good portion of the Mississippi Valley. Tourists in glass-bottomed boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami through 150 feet of tropical water.”

Again, this was broadcast in 1958. The fact that climate concerns were being voiced almost 60 years ago is likely surprising to many, but the history and beginnings of the environmental movement in the US date even earlier. Ten years before, in 1948, the first piece of federal legislation to regulate water quality – the Federal Water Pollution Control Act – was passed. President Eisenhower spoke to the issue of air pollution, which had killed nearly 300 people in New York City two years earlier, in his 1955 State of the Union Address. That same year, the Air Pollution Control Act was passed.

Continue reading They Knew, They Lied: ExxonMobil and Climate Change

Guy Cooper of Martinez: Denying for dollars

Repost from The Martinez Gazette
[Editor: Friend of Benicia and Martinez Gazette columnist Guy Cooper has written a 2-part series on global warming and the deniers.  Well done!  – RS]

Martinez Environmental Group: Denying for dollars (part 1)

By Guy Cooper, October 21, 2014

Just finished reading “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. An exhaustively researched and compelling read. I’m trying to get my head around the whole global warming and greenhouse gas (GHG) production issue as prompted by, amongst other things, consideration of Shell’s proposed “greenhouse gas reduction project” here in Martinez. (…continued)

Martinez Environmental Group: Denying for dollars (part 2)

By Guy Cooper, November 16, 2014

I left off last time (Oct. 21) illuminating a pattern of deliberate denial that has pervaded public discourse on a number of health and environmental issues over the years.

The authors of “Merchants of Doubt” identify Ben Santer, a renowned atmospheric scientist working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory investigating and modeling global warming, as first recognizing the pattern of denial that victimized himself and others.

The cause of global warming has been the subject of much scientific debate. Fossil fuel contributions to global warming have been suggested since the ‘60s, and understanding refined by the mid-‘90s as computer atmospheric modeling prowess evolved. What about “natural variability”? Volcanic activity? Scientists peer reviewed, debated, vetted each others hypothesis’, as scientists are wont to do, and clarified the science corroborating the human activity cause. But non-scientists or politically and ideologically motivated scientists without climate expertise deliberately barraged the public with deflections, denials and personal attacks aimed at undermining the credibility of the climate scientists and their science.(…continued)

 

Exxon: Destroying Planet Necessary to Relieve Global Poverty

Repost from EcoWatch

Exxon: Destroying Planet Necessary to Relieve Global Poverty

Michael Brune | October 21, 2014
exxonmobil600
An ExxonMobil chemical plant along Cancer Alley in Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana.

The fossil-fuel divestment movement has been on a roll lately to the tune of $50 billion, but one of its biggest successes happened last month: The world’s most profitable oil company squirmed. ExxonMobil’s vice president of public and government affairs published a critique of divestment that concluded by saying that destroying our planet’s climate by recklessly extracting and burning fossil fuel reserves is necessary to relieve global poverty.

This sudden concern is interesting from a company that holds the record for the highest corporate profits ever posted in the U.S. and whose CEO made more than $100,000 a day in 2012 (including Sundays). ExxonMobil hasn’t earned those kinds of profits by worrying overmuch about the poor of the world. As the Sierra Student Coalition‘s Anastasia Schemkes put it: “This is the oil industry saying ‘please don’t be mean to me’ after bullying vulnerable communities around the globe for decades.”

The real message of ExxonMobil’s blog post was unintentional. The fossil fuel divestment movement, which started on college campuses but has since spread to foundation boardrooms and beyond, is achieving its principal goal, which is to raise awareness of how morally indefensible the actions of companies like ExxonMobil really are. I’m not just talking about its core business of extracting as much oil as it can, wherever it can, while it can. This is a company that pretends to care about climate disruption (with lots of talk about “mitigation,” which is code for “do whatever it takes to keep burning fossil fuels”), while simultaneously funding the climate-denial industry and lavishing its largesse on obstructionist legislators.

How can we begin to get companies like this to change? It’s tough to beat such a Goliath through financial pressure alone. Even the most wildly successful divestment campaign is unlikely to dent this mega-corporation’s profits in the near term. But let’s not forget that even the hugest corporation is made up of real people. And real people start to get uncomfortable when it’s clear that not only is what they are doing terribly wrong—but that other people are taking note.

That’s when they start to get defensive—and we can see that divestment really is making a difference.