Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Climate
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

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. struck down the Trump administration's proposed changes to the SNAP benefits program. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. late Sunday struck down the Trump administration's proposed changes to the SNAP benefits program, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of people from losing badly needed federal food assistance.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Demonstrators hold signs at an anti-tar sands march in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2015. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Andrea Germanos

A group of Indigenous women and their allies on Monday urged the heads of major global financial institutions to stop propping up the tar sands industry and sever all ties with the sector's "climate-wrecking pipelines, as well as the massively destructive extraction projects that feed them."

Read More Show Less

Trending

Poor eating habits, lack of exercise, genetics, and a bunch of other things are known to be behind excessive weight gain. But, did you know that how much sleep you get each night can also determine how much weight you gain or lose?

Read More Show Less
A flying squirrel in Florida. Despite their name, flying squirrels do not actually fly, but rather glide between trees. Danita Delimont / Gallo Images / Getty Images Plus

In January of 2019, a concerned citizen in Marion County, Florida noticed something strange: Someone was trapping flying squirrels.

Read More Show Less
New research finds baby bottles may release millions of microplastic particles with each feeding. Beeki / Needpix

The process of preparing and mixing a baby bottle formula seems innocuous, but new research finds this common occurrence is actually releasing millions of microplastic particles from the bottle's lining, Wired reported.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch