Exxon scientists predicted climate change already in 1970?s - the company marketing sold a different story

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Perjantai 20.1.2023 klo 13:49 - Mikko Nikinmaa


The high standard of living in Europe and North America is largely based on the use of oil (and coal). The fossil fuel industry has made immense profits during the time of fossil fuel use. It should now be apparent that the use of oil is causing climate change. Yet, even now climate denial is common, and is supported by oil industry lobby groups.

It was predicted already more than a hundred years ago by the Danish physiologist August Krogh that the use of fossil fuels would increase atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Fifty years later all the big oil companies had scientists working on the atmospheric effects of the company’s products. In a recent number of Science (Science 379, eabk0063, January 13, 2023) Supran et al. review what has been reported by the scientists of the oil company starting from the late 1970’s and up to 2000’s.

The main takeaway from the reports and articles is that Exxon scientists informed the company and academic circles about the likely increase of global temperature as a result of the projected oil use. However, the company itself discounted its own scientists’ findings. The first of the lies of the company was that in 1970’s scientist had reached a consensus that the world was headed towards a new ice age, and now these same scientists are predicting that there will be a marked temperature increase. Clearly, such scientists cannot be trusted. There was no scientific consensus about cooling trend, in fact less than 15 % of climate science papers between 1965 and 1977 suggested temperature decrease. Further, the scientists of Exxon had come to the conclusion that temperature decrease is not probable. The second claim of the company has all the time been that the variability of climate data and predictions is so large that one cannot claim that a single anthropogenic cause could make any difference. However, the scientists of the company had, taking into account the variability, shown that even with the large variability, lack of temperature increase was not a possibility. They also estimated already in 1970’s and 1980’s that one would start seeing clear climate effects in early 2000’s, as has been observed. In addition, they estimated the amount of carbon dioxide, which, if exceeded, would cause problematic warming. Thus, the Exxon scientists appear to have done their best to alert the company.

Instead of heeding the scientists’ warning, the company has lied, hidden unpleasant findings and distorted the data. It appears from this behavior that greed has no limits: who cares about future generations if one can make a lot of profits now.

Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels


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