ExxonMobil saw climate change coming - Dispatch Weekly

January 13, 2023 - Reading time: 4 minutes

​According to academics, one of the biggest oil firms in the world correctly predicted how climate change would raise the global temperature as early as the 1970s.

They claim that ExxonMobil’s internal studies foresaw how using fossil fuels would warm the world, but the company rejects this assessment.

The academics examined data in internal company documents.

ExxonMobil has refuted the charges.

The subject has come up multiple times in recent years and each time the business’s response has been the same: those who assert that “Exxon Knew” is false in its assertions, the company maintains.

Selling fossil fuels that emit gases that scientists, governments, and the UN agree cause global warming has brought in billions for companies like ExxonMobil.

The results imply that ExxonMobil’s projections were frequently more precise than those of even top-tier NASA scientists.

Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard University, says that it “really underscores the stark hypocrisy of ExxonMobil leadership, who knew that their own scientists were doing this very high quality modelling work and had access to that privileged information while telling the rest of us that climate models were bunk.”

Geoffrey Supran, co-author and an associate professor of environmental science and policy at the University of Miami, claims that the findings represent “smoking gun” evidence.

For the first time, according to our work, we can put a number on what Exxon already knew: burning its fossil fuel products will cause the earth to warm by around 0.2C every ten years.

He claims that the scientific data in the ExxonMobil documents has never before been quantified by researchers.

ExxonMobil responded by citing a 2019 US court decision that stated, in part: “ExxonMobil executives and personnel were uniformly devoted to meticulously fulfilling their duties in the most thorough and diligent manner feasible.”

A spokeswoman stated: “ExxonMobil is committed to being a part of the solution to climate change and the challenges it entails.

ExxonMobil’s climate modelling was at least on par with one of the most well-known and prominent climate scientists in modern history, according to Prof. Supran, who contrasted the company’s work with that of NASA’s James Hansen, who raised the alarm about global warming in 1988.

The findings, according to Prof. Oreskes, demonstrate that ExxonMobil “knowingly misled” the public and governments. She stated: “They had access to all of this material, yet they said very, very different things in public.

Exxon documents discovered during earlier probes seem to indicate the business intended to cast doubt on the research. The “Exxon position” to “emphasise the uncertainty in scientific conclusions” on the greenhouse effect was outlined in one internal report.

ExxonMobil may have made accurate predictions about how emissions would need to be decreased in order to avert the worst effects of climate change in a future warmed by 2C or more, according to research published in the scholarly journal Science.

At a time when other scientists were still discussing the possibility, their scientists also rightly dismissed the hypothesis that an ice age was on the horizon.

Prof. Oreskes and Prof. Supran conducted the study in response to evidence that ExxonMobil knew about climate change that journalists unearthed in 2015; however, ExxonMobil accused the journalists of “cherry-picking” the truth.

To determine their forecasts of a rise in the global temperature, they plotted scientific data from more than 100 publications from Exxon and Exxon Mobil between 1977 and 2014.

When the corporation publicly referred to the models as “speculative” or “poor science,” Prof. Oreskes contends that this demonstrated the company’s internal use of climate science.

The discoveries heighten the company’s continuing scrutiny of what it knew about climate change. Campaigners are suing the company in several US courts on the grounds that it disseminated false information in order to advance its commercial interests in fossil fuels.

A Massachusetts judge ruled in May that ExxonMobil must go to trial for allegedly lying about climate change.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.