Exxon Scientists Accurately Predicted Climate Damage While Company Pushed Misinformation

Protestors against ExxonMobil hold a sign saying 'Exxon Knew' outside the New York State Supreme Court building
A protest against ExxonMobil outside the New York State Supreme Court building in New York, NY on Oct. 22, 2019. Eduardo MunozAlvarez / VIEWpress
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ExxonMobil climate scientists predicted the climatic damage their product would cause with remarkable accuracy, all while the company spent huge sums of money denying and obfuscating the science of climate change, a study published Thursday in Science reveals.

That “Exxon knew” its product was dangerously increasing global temperatures has been known for years, but the precision and accuracy of its predictions were “actually astonishing,” Harvard science history and co-author of the study Naomi Oreskes told the AP.

“ExxonMobil accurately foresaw the threat of human-caused global warming, both prior and parallel to orchestrating lobbying and propaganda campaigns to delay climate action,” the study’s authors wrote.

Researchers “dug into not just to the language, the rhetoric in these documents, but also the data. And I’d say in that sense, our analysis really seals the deal on ‘Exxon knew,'” Geoffrey Supan, an environmental science professor at the University of Miami and lead author of the study, told the AP. It “gives us airtight evidence that Exxon Mobil accurately predicted global warming years before, then turned around and attacked the science underlying it.”

Multiple states and municipalities have filed lawsuits seeking to hold Exxon accountable, along with numerous other oil and gas firms and trade associations, for defrauding consumers about the damaging impacts of their products.

As reported by The Associated Press:

University of Illinois atmospheric scientist professor emeritus Donald Wuebbles told The Associated Press that in the 1980s he worked with Exxon-funded scientists and wasn’t surprised by what the company knew or the models. It’s what science and people who examined the issue knew.

“It was clear that Exxon Mobil knew what was going on,” Wuebbles said. “The problem is at the same time they were paying people to put out misinformation. That’s the big issue.”

For a deeper dive:

AP, Inside Climate News, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Politico, Bloomberg, Axios, Gizmodo, Grist, CNN, The Hill, The Guardian, CNBC, Exxon Knews

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