LA Times is Now on the “Exxon Knew” Story

October 9, 2015


UPDATE: NYTimes has an OP-Ed by Naomi Oreskes on this story, see below the fold.

A Completely separate, independent journalistic team is now reporting this story in one of America’s largest newspapers.

Among those interviewed was Ken Croasdale, senior ice researcher for Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary, who was looking into the well known physics of climate change, to determine what impacts there might be on Exxon’s exploratory efforts in the far north.


Between 1986 and 1992, Croasdale’s team looked at both the positive and negative effects that a warming Arctic would have on oil operations, reporting its findings to Exxon headquarters in Houston and New Jersey.


Hashtag #exxonknew

The good news for Exxon, he told an audience of academics and government researchers in 1992, was that “potential global warming can only help lower exploration and development costs” in the Beaufort Sea.

As Croasdale’s team was closely studying the impact of climate change on the company’s operations, Exxon and its worldwide affiliates were crafting a public policy position that sought to downplay the certainty of global warming.

The gulf between Exxon’s internal and external approach to climate change from the 1980s through the early 2000s was evident in a review of hundreds of internal documents, decades of peer-reviewed published material and dozens of interviews conducted by Columbia University’s Energy & Environmental Reporting Project and the Los Angeles Times.

Documents were obtained from the Imperial Oil collection at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum and the Exxon Mobil Historical Collection at the University of Texas at Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History.

I’ve been pointing out he eerie media silence on Inside Climate’s recently released double-atomic bombshell story on what Exxon knew, and when they knew it, about climate change.

Developing big-time.

More below:

More evidence the story is now taking off –

Naomi Oreskes in the NYTimes:

For people close to the issue, it was never credible that Exxon — a company that employs thousands of scientists and engineers and whose core business depends on their expertise — could be that confused about the science. We now know that they not only understood the science, but contributed to it.

As early as 1977, one of Exxon’s senior scientists warned a gathering of oilmen of a “general scientific agreement” that the burning of fossil fuels was influencing the climate. A year later, he had updated his assessment, warning that “present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

In the 1980s, Exxon scientists collaborated with academic and government researchers to build climate models and understand their implications. When one researcher expressed the opinion that the impacts would be “well short of catastrophic,” the director of the Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Laboratory at Exxon Research responded in a memo, “I think that this statement may be too reassuring.” He said it was “distinctly possible” that the projected warming trend after 2030 “will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population),” a conclusion that most climate scientists now hold, assuming we continue business as usual.

What did Exxon executives do with this information? Until 1989, they circulated reports summarizing it inside the company. They allowed their scientists to attend academic meetings, to participate in panels, and to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals — in short, to behave as scientists. And they did acknowledge the “potentially catastrophic events that must be considered.”

Then corporate executives turned about face. As the scientific community began to speak out more strongly, first about the risks of unmitigated climate change and then about the fact that it was underway, Exxon executives and organizations funded by them embarked on a campaign designed to prevent governments from taking meaningful action. These activities continue today.


21 Responses to “LA Times is Now on the “Exxon Knew” Story”

  1. […] LA Times is Now on the “Exxon Knew” Story | Climate … […]

  2. The well known physics of climate change? Apparently not so well known.

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