"... As recently as February 2015, a New York Times exposé revealed that a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who routinely casts doubt on widely accepted climate science had 'accepted more than $1.2 million' in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. ..."
"Pope Francis blasts global warming deniers,” the Washington Post wrote last month. The Pope’s climate encyclical focused on the immorality of climate inaction — which makes the immorality of knowingly spreading disinformation for the purpose of delaying action all the more base.
Now the Union of Concerned Scientists has disclosed an email revealing that Exxon understood the scientific reality of climate change as far back as 1981.
Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia. This is an immense reserve of natural gas, but it is 70% CO2. That CO2 would have to be separated to make the natural gas usable.
And yet despite a growing understanding of the scientific reality of climate change in the 1980s and 1990s, Exxon became one of the biggest funders of scientists and think tanks and others who do little but deny and cast doubt on the scientific understanding of human-caused global warming.
As recently as February 2015, a New York Times exposé revealed that a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who routinely casts doubt on widely accepted climate science had
In the book and film
The Times documented back in 2009 that the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an anti-action lobbying group backed by fossil fuel industries, ignored its own climate scientists during the 1990s while spreading disinformation about global warming. An internal report stating that the human causes of global warming “cannot be denied” was ignored by GCC leaders. The GCC led an “aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.” Yet the final draft of a 1995 “Primer on Climate Change Science” written by the GGC’s own scientific experts revealed that those experts “were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.”
Those experts explained:
The Times reported that the GCC
The tobacco industry knew of the dangers of smoking and the addictive nature of nicotine for decades, but its CEOs and representatives publicly denied those facts. In the same way, many of those denying the reality of human-caused climate change have long known the actual science.
Over the years, fossil fuel company executives have funneled tens of millions of dollars into this disinformation campaign. The top funder was ExxonMobil for a long time. But the company was overtaken years ago by Koch Industries, run by billionaires Charles and David Koch, who spent more than $48.5 million from 1997 to 2010 to fund disinformation. From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs outspent Exxon-Mobil well over 2-to-1 in funding the climate denial machine.
In February, the New York Times revealed that over the previous ten years, Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon had accepted more than a million dollars from fossil fuel interests, including Exxon-Mobil and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, “while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers.” During this period, Soon advanced a repeatedly debunked theory arguing that humans are not the primary cause of global warming. The Times explained:
Though he has little formal training in climatology, Dr. Soon has for years published papers trying to show that variations in the sun’s energy can explain most recent global warming. His thesis is that human activity has played a relatively small role in causing climate change.
The New York Times then explains that
In October 2014, the Smithsonian itself put out a climate statement, which makes clear that such a view is simply anti-scientific. The Smithsonian explains,
Yet the fossil fuel industry has known for two decades that the solar variability explanation for recent climate change is untrue. As far back as 1995, the scientific and technical advisers to the Global Climate Coalition wrote in their draft primer:
[The] hypothesis about the role of solar variability and [Pat] Michaels’ questions about the temperature record are not convincing arguments against any conclusion that we are currently experiencing warming as the result of greenhouse gas emissions. However, neither solar variability nor anomalies in the temperature record offer a mechanism for off-setting the much larger rise in temperature which might occur if the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases were to double or quadruple.
So the fossil fuel industry has known for a long, long time that human-caused climate change was a very real threat based on well-documented science. It has callously disregarded that reality to spread falsehoods and thwart action.
The Pope ends his encyclical calling on God to
If indifference to the dangers of climate inaction by the rich and powerful is a sin, what would the Pope say about a company that’s fostering lies in order to spread indifference among the public, the media, and policy-makers?