ExxonMobil: The oil company had accurate global warming predictions 40 years ago
As far back as the 1980s, oil company ExxonMobil had remarkably accurate global warming predictions made by its own scientists, which turned out to be correct several decades later, a new study published Thursday, January 12, confirms.
Which causes trouble for the American oil company. According to a study published in the prestigious journal Science, ExxonMobil was fully aware of global warming thanks to research conducted by its own scientists. Despite this, the company has publicly questioned the state of the art in this area for years.
ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil companies, “modeled and forecast global warming with uncanny accuracy, only to end up spending decades denying the same climate science,” Geoffrey told AFP Supran, co-author of that paper.
A double talk?
In fact, for years ExxonMobil has been accused of leading a dual discourse on climate change caused by the immense amounts of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere by humanity, particularly by burning coal or oil for energy.
In the USA, several legal proceedings have even been initiated against the company, some of which are still ongoing. Hearings were held in the European Parliament and the US Congress. But for the first time, the projections of the scientists in the group were systematically analyzed and compared with those of other researchers at the time and with the warming actually observed later.
This investigation is based on documents, public records and scientific publications uncovered in 2015 by journalists from Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, showing that the company has long known that climate change is real and caused by human activity.
A first scientific study, conducted in 2017 by the same researchers as those published on Thursday, had expanded this journalistic investigation by closely analyzing the language used by the company, first in these documents and then publicly. “But even though we’d focused on the language and rhetoric in those documents in the past, we suddenly realized there were… all these graphs and tables that nobody knows about.” “was never bent,” he explained to Geoffrey Supran.
“This question has come up a number of times in recent years,” a company spokesman told AFP. “Each time, our answer is the same: Those who emphasize what ‘Exxon knew’ are wrong in their conclusions.” However, ExxonMobil has never disputed the authenticity of the documents in question.
In total, the researchers analyzed 32 internal documents created by ExxonMobil scientists between 1977 and 2002, as well as 72 scientific publications they co-authored between 1982 and 2014. These documents contain 16 temperature forecasts. “Ten of them agree with the observations” made later, the study notes.
Of the other six, two predicted even more warming. On average, they predicted warming of about 0.2°C per decade, which is actually the current rate. And the predictions of other researchers back then were more or less similar.
ExxonMobil “didn’t have a vague knowledge of climate change decades ago,” said Geoffrey Supran, a current professor at the University of Miami but who did the work at Harvard. “They knew as much as independent and government scientists and probably enough to take action and alarm the public.”
However, the group’s leaders have done exactly the opposite, the study points out, citing the words of former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond in 2000. “We don’t have enough scientific understanding of climate change to make any reasonable predictions.
In 2013, then-CEO Rex Tillerson said there were “uncertainties” about the “key drivers of climate change.” However, some of the researchers employed by the company have testified before the US Congress. One of them, Martin Hoffert, who was questioned in 2019 by Democrat-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who emphasized how accurate his predictions were, had simply replied at the time: “We were excellent scientists.