They already knew fifty years ago that they were heading towards a profound climate crisis but in public they supported very different theses. ExxonMobil, one of the largest oil companies in the world, had accurate forecasts in 1970 of how hot it was going to get and where it was going to go. if we hadn’t reduced emissions from fossil fuels. This was revealed by the analysis of some academics of the internal documents of the Texan multinational. Which, at the BBCexplained that it is an accusation that has come up in the past and that the answer remains the same: “Those who talk about how ExxonMobil ‘knew’ are wrong in their conclusions.”
The study in question Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projectionsjust posted on Science is signed by two history professors at Harvard University, Geoffrey Supran And Naomi Oreskesand the climatologist Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
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“Our findings show that in private and academic circles from the late 1970s and early 1980s, ExxonMobil predicted global warming correctly,” the research reads. “Using established statistical techniques, we find that between 63 and 83 percent of the climate projections reported by ExxonMobil scientists were accurate (…)”. They then accurately predicted that human-caused global warming would be detectable for the first time in 2000, and reasonably estimated how much CO2 it would push us into a danger zone. Basically Exxon would have known that burning their fossil products would warm the planet by about 0.2 degrees every decade.
According to the three academics, the results would suggest that those ExxonMobil predictions were even more accurate than even those of NASA scientists. “It highlights the crude hypocrisy of the company’s executives,” said Naomi Oreskes. “They knew their scientists had the highest quality analyzes by having access to inside information, while telling the rest of us that climate change predictions were bogus.”
While the oil company reiterates that “it is committed to being part of the solution to climate change and the risks it entails”, in the study published in Science the results of the analyzes of those years are compared with the researches of James Hansen of NASA who sounded the climate alarm in 1988, mounting as they were similar.
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Previous investigations had unearthed other Exxon documents from which it emerges that the company has publicly sought to spread doubts about climate change predictions. An internal document speaks of “emphasizing the uncertainty in scientific conclusions” on the greenhouse effect.
The multinational’s scientists had also correctly rejected the theory that we were facing a new ice age. Professor Oreskes and Professor Supran began their investigation after 2015 press inquiries that first suggested that ExxonMobil knew about climate change. They analyzed scientific data in more than 100 Exxon and ExxonMobil publications between 1977 and 2014 to calculate their predictions for global temperature rise. Now the study adds to allegations of disinformation in order to protect its commercial interests in fossil fuels with a series of subpoenas in several US courts. In May, one of these, in Massachusetts, ruled that the multinational should be tried on charges of lying about climate change. It risks being only the first of a long series.