Climate Denial Crock of the Week features the latest revelation from Inside Climate News. It features former federal chief scientist for global warming research, Michael MacCracken, and physicist and climate scientist Gilbert Plass. Also featured is an open 2002 letter Michael MacCracken wrote to Exxon-Mobil CEO Raymond, stating in part
In that the report neither recommended any policies nor specifically concerned the Kyoto Protocol that was being discussed by the Presidential candidates, it is not at all obvious how the document was a case of “the administration [seeking] to gain support for its own policies, which could damage the economy and employment …” As a reading of the report would have made evident, the whole intent of the report was to provide information to facilitate adaptation to the emerging and projected changes so as to reduce potential damages and limit damage to the economy. [I should add that, as for others, it will be important for ExxonMobil to be taking account of the changing climate to ensure early preparation and effective adaptation to avoid the most severe consequences.]
As a general conclusion, the ExxonMobil advertisement advocated more research while saying it would be too expensive to deal with the problem. The National Assessment did indeed recommend more research, but at the same time indicated that there is sufficient knowledge to justify consideration of steps to adapt to the changes in climate now underway and that are inevitable as a result of the world’s present commitment to use of fossil fuels for energy. In my earlier experience, arguing for study of adaptation had been a position of industry , but now when this was attempted, ExxonMobil argued this was premature. Roughly, this is equivalent to turning your back on the future and putting your head in the sand—with this position, it is no wonder ExxonMobil is the target of environmental and shareholder critics.
While my departure may be satisfying to ExxonMobil, I can assure you that this will not make the scientific challenge of climate change and its impacts go away. That 150 countries unanimously agree about the science of this issue is not because of some “green” conspiracy, but because of the solid scientific underpinning for this issue. Certainly, there are uncertainties, but decisions are made under uncertainty all the time–that is what executives are well paid to do. In this case, ExxonMobil is on the wrong side of the international scientific community, the wrong side of the findings of all the world’s leading academies of science, and the wrong side of virtually all of the world’s countries as expressed, without dissent, in the IPCC reports. As well, ExxonMobil may well find itself having to comply with the Kyoto Protocol in its international operations even if it has discouraged movement on the issue here in the US. To call ExxonMobil’s position out of the mainstream is thus a gross understatement. There can be all kinds of perspectives about what one might or might not do to start to limit the extent of the change, but to be in opposition to the key scientific findings is rather appalling for such an established and scientific organization.
I offer this advice to you in remembrance of my great grandfather, Samuel Calvin Tate Dodd, who a century ago was legal counsel to John D. Rockefeller (notably, he took no stock to ensure his opinions would not be tainted by the economic implications of his advice). What I rather imagine he would say is that you are on the wrong side of history, and you need to find a way to change your position. The Bishops of the Catholic Church have put out a very thoughtful statement that I commend to your attention (copy included) about what the basis for your consideration should be. I would be pleased to help arrange suitable speakers if ExxonMobil changes its mind and looks forward responsibly into the future and the impacts likely to affect not only ExxonMobil and society, but your children and grandchildren.
I added the emphasis regarding the Catholic Church and Dr MacCracken’s generous offer.
This is from 1956:
Update, 5th November 2015
New York Times news alert …
The New York attorney general has begun a sweeping investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.
According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.