No Surprise: ExxonMobil Knew About Climate Change Decades Ago & Mislead Public! “ExxonMobil’s advertorials in the NYT overwhelmingly emphasized only the uncertainties, promoting a narrative inconsistent with the views of most climate scientists…” And then the last sentence is “we are not in a position to judge whether they violated any laws.” So concludes the Harvard University Research Scientists writing in Environmental Research Letters, The researchers analyzed “187 climate change communications from ExxonMobil, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications, internal company documents, and paid, editorial-style advertisements (‘advertorials’) in The New York Times” over that time period.
Here is their conclusion from the paper entitled:
Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977–2014)
Written by: Geoffrey Supran1 and Naomi Oreskes
Available documents show a discrepancy between what ExxonMobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change privately and in academic circles and what it presented to the general public. The company’s peer-reviewed, non-peer-reviewed, and internal communications consistently tracked evolving climate science: broadly acknowledging that AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable while identifying reasonable uncertainties that most climate scientists readily acknowledged at that time. In contrast, ExxonMobil’s advertorials in the NYT overwhelmingly emphasized only the uncertainties, promoting a narrative inconsistent with the views of most climate scientists, including ExxonMobil’s own. This is characteristic of what Freudenberg et alterm the Scientific Certainty Argumentation Method (SCAM)—a tactic for undermining public understanding of scientific knowledge [57, 58]. Likewise, the company’s peer-reviewed, non-peer-reviewed, and internal documents acknowledge the risks of stranded assets, whereas their advertorials do not. In light of these findings, we judge that ExxonMobil’s AGW communications were misleading; we are not in a position to judge whether they violated any laws.