The oil giant Exxon privately predicted global warming correctly. It then spent decades publicly ridiculing and discrediting such science in order to protect its core business, new research has found.
For decades, the fossil fuel industry tried to convince the public that a causative link between fossil fuel use and climate warming could not be made because the models used to project warming were too uncertain.
That was not true.
One of the world’s largest oil companies accurately forecast how climate change would cause global temperature to rise as long ago as the 1970s.
ExxonMobil had its own internal studies and models that projected warming trajectories consistent with those forecast by independent academic and government models.
A trove of internal documents and research papers had previously shown that Exxon knew of the dangers of global heating from at least the 1970s, with other oil industry bodies knowing of the risk even earlier, from around the 1950s.
A new study published in Science has made it abundantly clear that Exxon’s scientists were uncannily accurate in their projections from the 1970s onwards.
Exxon “predicted global warming correctly and skilfully”.
The oil giant forcefully and successfully mobilized against the science in order to stymie any action that could cause a reduction in fossil fuel use.
The latest study shows that Exxon predicted an upward curve of global temperatures and carbon dioxide emissions that is close to matching what actually occurred as the world heated up at a pace not seen in millions of years.
Exxon scientists predicted there would be global heating of about 0.2C a decade due to the emissions of planet-heating gases from the burning of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels.
The new analysis said that Exxon’s science was highly adept and the “projections were also consistent with, and at least as skillful as, those of independent academic and government models”.
It comes as dozens of cities, counties, and states are suing oil and gas companies for their “longstanding internal scientific knowledge of the causes and consequences of climate change and public deception campaigns.”