Posted by James Delingpole @ Brietbart.com
This column is sponsored by my
kind friends at ExxonMobil: the Gaia-raping, children-of-the-future-murderers
you can trust!
No, of course it isn’t really and that’s my only serious
beef with ExxonMobil. It ought to support its media defenders but it
So what if it’s a big oil company? Big oil companies make the
world go round. So what if its annual revenues, if expressed in GDP, would make
it one of the world’s 30 largest countries? That’s capitalism.
there’s one thing about ExxonMobil I find hard to excuse. And that’s the way
that instead of trying to defend the values of industrial civilization which
have made it so rich and powerful, it has instead all too often squandered its
PR, CSR and research budgets not rewarding its friends but giving succour to its
Sure for a period it supported the Competitive Enterprise
Institute to the modest tune of around $300,000 a year. (Not a lot when your
annual profits can be as much as $40 billion). But the money it has given to
liberal causes vastly outweighs anything it has given to free market ones: for
example the $100 million (yes that’s million, not thousand) it donated to
Stanford in 2002 to help launch its Global Climate and Energy
Some might call this ‘investment in the future’. I’d call it
greenwashing. Or, worse than that, Danegeld.
It’s a form of protection
money paid to the green Mafia to ensure they go easy on your main business.
Except they don’t. Just like the Vikings, just like the mobsters, when you bribe
them to stay away they only keep coming back for more.
This is the
background context against we should judge the outrageous and iniquitous
proposals by various green activists that ExxonMobil should face prosecution on
RICO charges for having knowingly concealed “the truth” about climate
Their claims are based on two articles which appeared in the
liberal media and which – at least in the authors’ perfervid imaginations –
showed Exxon ignoring its scientists in the 70s, 80s and 90s and setting out
deliberately to conceal “the truth” about global warming.
Well I’ve read
the articles – one at the Inside Climate News website, the other at the LA Times
– and both are a classic case of what you might call “tell not
That is, it is clear from their accusatory tone (“What Exxon knew
about Earth’s melting Arctic”; “top executives were warned of possible
catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions”) that
the authors believe Exxon was guilty of something seriously amiss.
vain do you search the body of the text for any damning evidence that might
justify all this righteous rage. In fact if anything, Exxon emerges from this
non-scandal rather well: socially responsible; mindful of due diligence;
properly concerned about the security and future of its core business and of the
needs of its shareholders; keen to keep abreast of the latest
The story goes like this: from the late 70s to the mid 80s,
Exxon dedicated a chunk of its then-annual $300 million research budget looking
into the effects of CO2 and the possible risks of man-made global
“Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to
ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy
strategies might become critical,” said one of its technical experts in
“There are some potentially catastrophic events that must be
considered” an in house corporate primer said in 1982. “Once the effects are
measurable, they might not be reversible.”
“Models are controversial,” as
their head of theoretical sciences was honest enough to put it in a May 1980
status report on Exxon’s climate modelling programme. “Therefore, there are
research opportunities for us.”
All this is no more than you would have
expected scientists in that field to say in that particular era, as
man-made-global-warming theory was becoming increasingly fashionable. By raising
these issues, they were simply doing their job. Note, however, the caution of
their phrasing. “Present thinking holds”; “might”; “potentially”; “might not
be.” The science wasn’t certain and neither were the scientists: they were
merely raising Exxon’s awareness of possible future scenarios.
more, even though this fashionable new theory was detrimental to Exxon’s
business model, Exxon still – to its enormous moral credit – chose to publish
its research anyway in a series of papers and monographs.
Then in the
mid-Eighties, Exxon began changing its tune. Its discretionary budget had been
hit by the collapsing oil price and it had, perhaps, begun to recognise that the
science on global warming was being manipulated by hucksters like NASA’s James
Hansen and climate activist Senator Tim Wirth and that fossil fuel producers
were now their public enemy number one – for reasons more to do with green
ideology than science.
In 1997, Exxon’s chairman and CEO Lee Raymond was
among business leaders who argued successfully against America’s adoption of the
Kyoto Protocol. He said:
“Let’s agree there’s a lot we really don’t
know about how climate will change in the 21st century and beyond. We need to
understand the issue better and fortunately, we have time. It is highly unlikely
that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be significantly
affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now.”
of that statement strike you as crackpot or extreme or
Rather, I’d suggest, it accords much more closely with what
we now know about climate change than anything Exxon’s scientists were saying in
the early 80s. Indeed, if Exxon had chosen to act on some of the more extreme
scenarios painted by the in-house experts, they would not only now be looking
very silly but they’d also be out of business.
Exxon, let it be stressed,
were quite right to be cautious on catastrophic man-made global warming theory.
This was never a cover up. This was a company responding sensibly and
proportionately to the evidence available at the time – and taking a stance
which has subsequently been vindicated by observed reality.