The oil multinational has been aware of the catastrophic impact of large-scale fossil-fuel burning on the planet since the late 1970s.
Lee Raymond’s assertion that predictions about man-made climate change are based on “completely unproven climate models, or more often, sheer speculation” seems utterly cynical — and, in fact, it is just that. Raymond, who is now 86 years old, was CEO of the oil multinational Exxon Mobil around the turn of the millennium, and he always dismissed the topic of climate change. According to him, the company did not have enough knowledge to make robust predictions and justify the implementation of specific measures.
Those were blatant lies. His company has been aware of the catastrophic impact of large-scale fossil-fuel burning on the planet’s temperature since the late 1970s. It is well known that Big Oil played dumb in relation to climate change. But what was not known was how accurate Exxon’s internal research was. This research explicitly ruled out the possibility that man-made climate change does not exist — yet that was the message that was preached publicly.
This approach is strongly reminiscent of the ploys used by the U.S. tobacco industry, which also denied the harm caused by its products for decades despite knowing better. However, from the 1990s onward, tobacco companies have fought a losing battle involving regulation and massive claims for damages. Those oil companies that used deliberately misleading statements to justify actions that damage the climate should now face similar threats.
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