Good Day World!
A nonprofit’s new report documents what oil and coal firms knew about the reality of global warming, when they knew it—and how they have misled the public.
More than half of the carbon dioxide ever created by humans has been released into the atmosphere since 1988.
That was the year NASA climate scientist James Hansen told Congress that global warming was already under way and burning fossil fuels was the primary cause. Hansen’s testimony catapulted climate change from a low-key scientific specialty and the subject of obscure Capitol Hill committee hearings onto the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.
The oil, gas, and coal industries knew Hansen and his peers had the facts straight, but they responded with years of efforts to undercut carbon-cutting regulations—mostly by creating doubts about climate science, especially the link between burning fossil fuels and rising global temperatures.
1. At least one major oil company knew the risks of climate change three decades ago but denied them in public.
2. Years after acknowledging privately that the links between human activities and climate change were proven, major oil firms including Exxon and Mobil (premerger), Chevron, Shell, and BP continued to argue that there was “unsettled science” about this connection.
3. Despite the increasing severity of climate change impacts in the U.S. and around the world, industry campaigns to distort the realities around global warming and fossil fuels have not stopped.
How we know: A 2014 presentation by the Western States Petroleum Association, a powerful oil industry trade group, describes more than a dozen astroturf groups “activated” to challenge climate action policies in Western states.
With names such as Californians for Energy Independence, Fed Up at the Pump, and Kern Citizens for Energy, these groups sounded like grassroots efforts. “At least two of the front groups set up by WSPA…launched aggressive public relations campaigns in 2014, including radio ads and billboards,” reported the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Time for me to walk on down the road…