“This is a Serious Risk”: Rex Tillerson on Climate Change

January 9, 2017

In his own words, from December 2016.


While Mr. Tillerson’s Exxon has stopped funding several groups that loudly denied climate science, it still funds organizations that pursue a broader agenda of fighting measures to address climate change, including carbon taxes.

Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian, said the positions held by the company and Mr. Tillerson still constitute climate denial, but in a “clever and sophisticated” form. “It is, in my view, what makes it more concerning,” she said, “because many people don’t scratch the surface to see what lies beneath.”

Peter C. Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, characterized Exxon’s stance as, “We agree with the I.P.C.C. on climate science — except where it’s inconvenient.” The Senate hearings on Mr. Tillerson, he said, should be a public trial on Exxon’s history of studying climate science while spreading doubt about the underlying science and the company’s actions.

Some hard-line deniers of the overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change have said they, too, were uncomfortable with Mr. Tillerson’s positions on climate change, fearing he may be too soft.

Marc Morano, publisher of the site Climate Depot, said that at first he had reservations, but that he was now confident Mr. Tillerson would act in accord with Mr. Trump’s stated views on climate change.

“A deeper examination of Tillerson,” he said, “reveals a man who is not going to be a friend of the climate-change movement.”

Below, Tillerson answers a climate question in 2012.

22 Responses to ““This is a Serious Risk”: Rex Tillerson on Climate Change”

  1. Ron Voisin Says:

    Sounds to me to be a reasonable man supporting rational approaches.

    • Actually with the state of the present science, this is not at all reasonable. The warming on earth is human sourced only. Otherwise the earth should be cooling based on orbital forcing. It is better to leap frog where ever possible.

    • patricklinsley Says:

      Well that’s because you’re a moron.

      • webej Says:

        Whether or not you are right, you are doing just as much as he is to change the discourse from one of reason and debate to pure party-formation and name-calling. Personal abuse is always subtraction, not addition.

        • patricklinsley Says:

          You’re right (as much as I wouldn’t like to agree). I can’t go back and re-edit my comment, but in the future I will be try to be more cautious and less caustic in my response.

  2. vierotchka Says:

    Well, for those third-world countries, the obvious solution is solar cookers and photovoltaic panels for electricity – fossil fuels are not necessary. In India, more and more farmers are collecting methane (biogas) from their cattle stalls and their latrines, gas used for cooking.

  3. Ron Voisin Says:

    Just let third-world countries find their own best solutions.

    • vierotchka Says:

      They are doing just that.

      Yoga guru Baba Ramdev holds a five-day yoga camp in Mumbai, where he was seen promoting made in india solar cookers.

      • ubrew12 Says:

        Many countries have started distributing pre-cooked beans to their populations. Why? Because pre-cooked beans require 10% of the cooking fuel to make a meal, than dried beans do. It’s just another small way countries are adjusting to the fact that we need to be careful about our fuel use.

    • vierotchka Says:

      This video shows the remarkable technology transfer that is taking place in Africa as thousands of people are introduced to solar cooking technology, which allows them to cook food and boil water using Africa’s most abundant and free source of energy–the sun.

  4. donvk Says:

    Understanding that there is always a degree of uncertainty in models, is not the same as understanding that the degree of uncertainty is equal. Differences in future projections are based on different scenarios – what quantities of greenhouse gases do we continue to put into our atmosphere? The seriousness of the risk corresponds to that amount. Without continued growth our economical system will collapse. At what point do we, and decision makers like Rex Tillerson, decide that the risk to our planet’s health should take priority over the risk to our economy?

  5. Tom Bates Says:

    India and Africa are mentioned in these posts. Having been in both the real problem in both places is not energy, it is the cultural and mental attitude of the people, rich or poor. It is basically trash everything and steal every public tax dollar not nailed down. When it comes to sharing it is kill the other tribe in Africa and kill the other religion in India. Until those attitudes and culture change all the solar cookers will do is make it possible to breed more people with the same attitudes and cultural baggage.

    I know that is a bleak outlook but considering the past history I think it may be fairly accurate.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      That’s not a bleak outlook, it’s a racist outlook that projects onto others what’s true but unacceptable in one’s self, and completely ignores the fact that gross inequality is what spreads those qualities, not race, country, geography, or “culture” (a code word here for “inferior dark people”). That inequality, in-country and across the map, has been caused mostly by colonialism and the ongoing neocolonialism of people with exactly the attitude you’re expressing. I don’t know whether that attitude is conscious or unconscious, but it’s clearly an attitude that implies that the problem is over there, and not here. It’s wrong in so many ways.

      “basically trash everything and steal every public tax dollar not nailed down” is (as we’re about to have proved to us once again) exactly the attitude of the US Republican party, the corporate duopoly party and many people in the US. We’ve offshored most of the ecological, psychological, political and social destruction caused by it through the mechanisms of neo-colonialism, especially corporate-government ones. This is the attitude Tillerson expresses in the second video, and with it he tries to justify his insane endorsement of “adaptation” without any mention of the radical changes we need to make in the lives of the world’s rich to avoid catastrophe.

      The poorest 6 billion people on Earth emit only about 20% of the greenhouse gases, and most of what they do emit is because the rich decide how and where the poor will live, what work they’ll do what products they’ll make and what services they’ll perform. (For example, corporate agriculture centered on annual commodities and meat has thrown millions off the land in both rich and poor countries even though studies have shown conclusively that the best farms in terms of productivity, equality, economy, climate and other ecological considerations are small, family-owned farms.) The richest 7% emit half the GHGs; that’s where the changes need to be made for civilization to survive.

      The interests of both rich and poor would be best served by doing whatever it takes to leapfrog over the fossil fuel age in developing countries, right into the 21st-century-and-beyond Age of Renewables. But this problem is caused almost entirely by the richest few percent of people. (That includes most people posting here.) The rich already have all the electricity they can use (and more, especially in the US) so the changes needed in our energy system are generally happening in developing countries faster, but we need to catch up, and to do that we need to stop listening to people like Tillerson and make sure they have no power.

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      You have just accurately and unwittingly projected your own mental attitude, and characteristics shared by most right-wing self-servatives.

      “trash everything and steal every public tax dollar not nailed down” – this is what Republicans *do*.

      Unfortunately, breeding people without your attitudes and cultural baggage is illegal.

  6. He’s a smart guy so he knows he’s being intellectually dishonest with respect to the models. He understands probability, I guarantee it, he understands what those probabilities mean in terms of risk, and damage, and human health, and ecosystem health, and long term economic well-being. It does not suit his massive multi-billion dollar business model though, nor his family fortunes, nor his standing within his community of oil and gas people, nor his ability to negotiate deals with them. So he chooses to pretend like the “negative warming” models hold just as much weight as what the entire climate research community has zeroed in on which is somewhere between the 2-5 degree range by next century.

    They say many CEO’s are sociopaths…

  7. We know for certain the world is warming. The points about models is a sleight of hand to avoid citing the data from the atmosphere, sea level rise, glacier retreating, ecological migration, etc. that prove beyond doubt we are warming inexorable. It is an ‘issue’ (is happening) as much as a ‘rick’ (may happen).

  8. Gingerbaker Says:

    Tillerson is one of the people who deserve to be up against the wall when the revolution comes. Funding climate denial is mass murder.

    • webej Says:

      Articulating such sentiments is unlikely to win anybody for your point of view. Even though we regard it as a social evil to buy cheap shirts produced by child labor in India (hand-cuffed to the looms), we do not threaten such customers with death. We do not threaten Americans with death because they are war-mongers cowardly murdering innocent by-standers by drone.
      This type of black/white approach has never brought about peace or prosperity.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Death by hanging has been a just punishment for crimes against humanity. And how else can the surreptitious funding of a decades-long deliberate propaganda campaign against climate science be construed but as mass murder in slow motion?

        I am not saying people who buy Exxon-Mobil gas are guilty of such a thing, so I have no idea what you are arguing about “cheap shirts, etc”.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          “the death penalty could be considered for a defendant convicted of felony murder who was a significant participant in the underlying felony and who acted with reckless indifference to human life.” https://www.justia.com/criminal/offenses/homicide/felony-murder/

          Maybe the way to go is to treat these crimes against humanity and the Earth with the full seriousness of what they are, but consider both practicality and humaneness: offer a way out. In a climate denial Truth and Reconciliation process, people who were involved in deceiving US citizens and government about this clear and present danger could admit everything they know, provide all documents, name all names, and agree to give up all ill-gotten gains (everything they made while engaging in the deception) and never hold any position of responsibility again. In exchange they avoid prison or worse (there may be tens of millions of counts of felony murder involved, in addition to fraud, racketeering, conspiracy and other crimes) while we get a public accounting of everyone who collaborated with this unprecedented, unimaginable, mass murder-suicide attempt and the system that enabled it.

  9. Mike Male Says:

    An endorsement from Morano is an endorsement for lunacy.

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