ExxonMobil scientists already knew about climate change in detail in the late 1970s

ExxonMobil control room in 1970.Image Fairfax Media via Getty Images

While the group’s top has been informed by its scientists since at least 1977, the administration continued to sow doubts about climate change until a few years ago, according to a study published Thursday night in the Official Gazette. Scientific journal Sciences. It’s long been known that ExxonMobil knew about impending global warming, but this new study highlights how well its climate models are and the early detail the oil company knew about the effects of fossil fuels.

Scientists at ExxonMobil, who use their own models as “state of the art’, for example, accurately predicting when human-induced climate change will become visible (around the year 2000, with a five-year margin of uncertainty). They also rejected a theory of a possible new ice age at an early stage. In addition, they correctly estimated how much carbon dioxide the world could still emit before there is a dangerous rise in temperatures.

“Our findings show that not only did ExxonMobil know ‘something’ about global warming for decades, but they know as much as scientists who worked at universities and government agencies do,” the researchers write in the new study. “But ExxonMobil has tried to deny climate change.”

Results have already been discussed internally

The Science study is based, among other things, on 32 internal documents dating from 1977 to 2002, which have been publicly available for several years. It also looked at 72 exon studies that were also reviewed by independent scientists, the so-called Peer review Research. To examine how well ExxonMobil’s research is, it was found SciencesThe researchers compared the original temperature time series with the observed temperature changes. Overall, ExxonMobil’s forecast closely matches the actual warming. The results were discussed internally already in 1982 and 1984.

While evidence of climate change was mounting, then-CEO Lee Raymond wrote in 2000 that “we do not currently have sufficient scientific understanding of climate change to make reasonable predictions and justify drastic action.” According to Raymond, the science of climate change was simply “too uncertain”, though he was contradicted by his collaborators. In 2013, former CEO and Secretary of State in the Donald Trump administration, Rex Tillerson, reiterated this position.

While companies like Shell have already left the lobby against climate change, Exxon has continued to arouse suspicion for a relatively long time, says Jean-Paul van Soest, a climate consultant and author of the book. flag of suspicion, in which the arguments of the climate deniers are refuted. Why did Exxon raise suspicions for so long? Because every euro you spend on climate denial cancels out, so to speak, 1,000 euros in climate research.

Exxon Mobil denies this

According to Van Soest, money is spent effectively. Although ExxonMobil stopped using this tactic about six years ago, the oil company got away with using it for a long time, he says.

Exxon itself denies. “This issue has come up several times over the years and each time our answer is the same: Those who say ‘Exxon knows’ are wrong,” said a spokesman for the Texas oil company.

Leo Meyer, climate scientist and affiliated guest lecturer at Utrecht University, lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and scientific adviser to fifteen UN climate summits, talks about a comprehensive study. “The conclusions seem solid. Although I can’t calculate numbers, I don’t see anything suspicious.

Meyer believes that the oil sector is now aware of climate change. “If you look at the way they thought in the ’90s and now, you could say they’ve shifted toward net zero emissions.” That turn is very slow and it’s very likely too late to comply with the Paris climate agreement, he says, “but you see the shifts and that’s the progress.”

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