Quantcast

Danger, Will Robinson: Oil Industry Knew CO2-Climate Link in ‘68

Decades-old documents unearthed by the Center of International Environmental Law (CIEL) show that executives in the oil industry knew fossil fuels posed a risk to the environment as early as 1968, and in the next decades, carried out a campaign to cloud public perception of these risks.

In 1946, a consortium of oil companies, including Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron's predecessors, created the “Smoke and Fumes Committee." Its purpose was to commission research on smog and air pollution resulting from fossil fuels, which the oil industry would use to shape public opinion on these issues. Out of this committee grew the Stanford Research Institute, which was set up to provide an academic shroud for the industry to fight accusations that its product caused pollution. (The tobacco industry employed a similar strategy in its efforts to hide evidence that smoking causes cancer).

The Smoke and Fumes Committee was folded into the American Petroleum Institute (API) a few years later, and API remains one of the industry’s biggest lobbies. In 1968, in what began as research on air pollution, the Stanford Research Institute produced its first-ever study on climate change. Known as the Robinson Report, this paper showed that fossil fuels are the most likely cause of rising global CO2 levels and emphasized the need to reduce emissions to prevent climate change.

Investigative reporting by John Cushman Jr. at New York Times revealed in 1998 that API was assembling a $2 million campaign to lobby Congress, manipulate the media and convince the public that climate change wasn't a threat. The documents discovered by CIEL show that three decades before their expensive misinformation campaign, API’s own scientists had confirmed that climate change is a serious threat caused by fossil fuels.

John Cushman Jr. is now reporting this ongoing story for InsideClimate News, and that’s bad news for the fossil fuel industry.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Consensus on Consensus: 97% of the World’s Climate Scientists Say Humans Are Causing Climate Change

Coal Companies’ Secret Funding of Climate Science Denial Exposed

Greenland’s Ice Melt Breaks Record, Starting Nearly Two Months Early

Largest Coral Atoll in the World Lost 80 Percent of Its Coral to Bleaching

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Offutt Air Force Base after flooding on March 17. U.S. Air Force / TSgt. Rachelle Blake

The historic flooding that devastated Nebraska last week has also submerged one third of an Air Force base, offering a further illustration of the threat posed to national security by climate change.

Read More Show Less
A regenerating stand of rainforest in northern Costa Rica. Matthew Fagan / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Fagan, Leighton Reid and Margaret Buck Holland

Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.

At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Compassion Over Killing

By Cheryl Leahy

Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.

Read More Show Less

By Jeremy Deaton

A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.

Read More Show Less
d3sign / Moment / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Common sense should not be taken for granted when people are discussing nutrition.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A fire erupted Sunday at a petrochemical plant in Deer Park, Texas. NowThis News / YouTube screenshot

By Andrea Germanos

A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.

The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."

"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.

Read More Show Less
Poppy superbloom in Lake Elsinore, Calfornia on March 13. cultivar413 / CC BY 2.0

The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.

The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
The Humane Society of the United States uncovered a one-year pesticide test on 36 beagles contracted by Dow AgroSciences at a Michigan lab. The Humane Society of the United States / YouTube screenshot

A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.

"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.

Read More Show Less