Hydrates – Extended Interview Extracts With Natalia Shakhova //
Published on Jul 29, 2013
are excerpts from Nick Breeze’s interview with Natalia Shakhova at
the European Geophysical Union in Vienna, 2012 We
have been thrown knowingly under the abrupt climate change bus by the
people whose job it is to ensure we have a liveable planet.
Change (PBS News; 23rd August 2017)
Misled the Public on Climate Change, Study Says
Exxon Mobil responded to news reports in 2015 that said that the
company had spread doubt about the risks of climate change despite
its own extensive research in the field, it urged the public to “read
the documents” for themselves.
two Harvard researchers have done just that, reviewing nearly 200
documents representing Exxon’s research and its public statements
and concluding that the company “misled the public” about climate
change even as its own scientists were recognizing greenhouse gas
emissions as a risk to the planet.
Harvard researchers — Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of
science whose work has focused on the energy and tobacco industries,
and Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow — published their
peer-reviewed paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters on
Wednesday. They also published their findings in an Opinion article
in Wednesday’s New York Times.
found that Exxon’s climate change studies, published from 1977 to
2014, were in line with the scientific thinking of the time. Some 80
percent of the company’s research and internal communications
acknowledged that climate change was real and was caused by humans.
80 percent of Exxon’s statements to the broader public, which
reached a much larger audience, expressed doubt about climate change.
stress that the question is not whether Exxon Mobil ‘suppressed
climate change research,’ but rather how they communicated about
it,” Dr. Oreskes and Dr. Supran wrote. “Exxon Mobil contributed
quietly to the science and loudly to raising doubts about it.”
spokesman for Exxon Mobil, Scott Silvestri, dismissed the new study
as part of a long activist campaign against the company, calling the
paper “inaccurate and preposterous.” He said the study
represented a shift in activists’ strategy, away from alleging that
the company had suppressed science and toward “extracting money
from our shareholders and attacking the company’s reputation.”
cited two examples of so-called advertorial essays that Exxon had
placed in newspapers stating that climate change “may pose”
legitimate, long-term risks.
Supran said that Mr. Silvestri’s examples were included in the
study. To assess Exxon’s public statements, the researchers focused
on advertorials the company ran in major newspapers, including The
New York Times.
authors used tools of social science, primarily textual content
analysis, to analyze the documents. Content analysis has been used in
the past to quantify the degree of consensus in the scientific
literature on climate change.
authors acknowledged that “textual analysis is inherently
subjective: Words have meaning in context.” But they said the
overall trends were clear, and provided 121 pages of supplemental
material to allow others to audit their work.
Oreskes has long been critical of the fossil fuel industry, and has
been a target of Exxon’s criticism in the past. In an interview,
she acknowledged that, given the past work by journalists to uncover
the company’s internal documents, the new conclusions are “not
exactly shocking news.”
found that they were really good scientists,” Dr. Oreskes said,
referring to Exxon’s researchers. “That finding then makes the
contrast with the advertorials that much more notable.”
current controversy over Exxon Mobil’s research began in 2015 with
articles published by InsideClimate News and The Los Angeles Times
that highlighted the company’s archived papers. The articles
pointed out that the company had incorporated its research into its
planning while publicly questioning the science of climate change and
funding groups that denied serious climate risks. After those
articles appeared, activists branded the company with the hashtag
number of state attorneys general, beginning with Eric T.
Schneiderman of New York, began investigating the company over
whether it misled shareholders and consumers about the risks of
climate change and the effects on its business. The Securities and
Exchange Commission started an investigation of its own, and Exxon
Mobil shareholders have filed lawsuits claiming that the company
misled them about its accounting for risk in light of what it knew
about global warming.
the new paper will have any impact on these cases is unclear, said
Michael B. Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change
Law at Columbia University’s law school. “The key legal question
is whether Exxon had information that was not available to the public
that could have changed investor decisions had they known it,” he
said. “This may have more political significance than legal
Mobil has acknowledged climate change is real since the mid-2000s.
“We support the Paris climate agreement and are members of the
Climate Leadership Council, which advocates for a revenue-neutral
carbon tax,” Mr. Silvestri said.
company stopped funding groups that vigorously pushed climate denial
in the mid-2000s, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute and
the Heartland Institute, claiming that their fiery rhetoric had
become a “distraction” from the issues. But Exxon Mobil has taken
fire over its continued support for groups that oppose taking action
on climate change, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the
American Legislative Exchange Council.
new research was partly financed by the Rockefeller Family Fund,
which has been active in environmental causes and education. Exxon
Mobil has accused the Rockefellers of being part of a conspiracy
against the company. Lee Wasserman, director of the organization,
dismissed those claims.
America, civil society organizations coming together to solve major
problems is considered a virtue, not a conspiracy,” he said.