1981 – Exxon Internal Documents Hint at “Catastrophic” Climate Changes
September 22, 2015
More astounding documents dumped as part of Inside Climate News’ incredible investigation of Exxon’s internal climate science program.
Above, current Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson acknowledges the reality of climate in 2012. We didn’t know the half of it.
By all means go to the link and read. Here’s a taste.
“When I arrived there, I was quite surprised to discover that people in the research lab were very aware of the increase in the growth rate of carbon dioxide measurements in Hawaii [at the Mauna Loa observatory],” Morrel H. Cohen, a senior scientist at Exxon Research from 1981 to 1996, said in a recent interview. “They were very aware of the greenhouse effect.”
As the researchers alerted Exxon’s upper management about the CO2 problem, the scientists worked to provide better estimates of when the warming trend would create noticeable damage, and how large the impacts might be.
One scientist, Werner Glass, wrote an analysis in 1981 for a senior vice president that said the rise in global temperatures would begin to be noticed in a few decades. But Glass hedged his bet, saying the magnitude of the change would be “well short of catastrophic” in the early years.
Exxon manager Roger Cohen saw things differently.
“I think that this statement may be too reassuring,” Cohen, director of the Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Laboratory at Exxon Research, wrote in an August 18, 1981 memo to Glass.
He called it “distinctly possible” that the projected warming trend after 2030 “will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population).”
Cohen continued: “This is because the global ecosystem in 2030 might still be in a transient, headed for much significant effects after time lags perhaps of the order of decades.”
Cohen demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the climate system. He recognized that even if the impacts were modest in 2030, the world would have locked in enough CO2 emissions to ensure more severe consequences in subsequent decades. By 2030, he warned, the damage could be irreversible.
“Over the past several years a clear scientific consensus has emerged regarding the expected climatic effects of increased atmospheric CO2,” Cohen wrote to A.M. Natkin of Exxon Corporation’s Science and Technology Office in 1982. “The consensus is that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from its pre-industrial revolution value would result in an average global temperature rise of (3.0 ± 1.5)°C.” (Equal to 5.4 ± 2.7°F).
“There is unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth’s climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere.”
Exxon’s own modeling research confirmed this and the company’s results were later published in at least three peer-reviewed science articles. Two of them were co-authoredby Hoffert, and a third was written entirely by Flannery.
Anyone who eats food, drinks water, or has children, should be reeling from this story – and yet I find almost no mention of this in the mainstream media as yet. Anyone that has seen anything on this, let me know.