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Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson took the stand in the trial against the company on Wednesday — he denied that the company was trying to hedge its disclosures about the company’s real estimates of the costs of future climate regulation, but we also learned that he used a secret email account under the name Wayne Tracker. A few days earlier, former scientists for the oil giant revealed that their science made clear to executives that burning fossil fuels would cause rising temperatures, but once they understood it would harm its business, Exxon Mobil began a public campaign to sow doubt about the reality of global warming.
Why This Matters: This dueling testimony makes patently clear the lack of conscience displayed by Exxon executives for decades. Tillerson expressed no remorse for the climate mess we are in — it was just one of many “risks” the company had to manage. Yeah right. But Tillerson and the other CEOs knew what was happening, and that is why the scientists’ testimony was so damning. Climate change was not just a risk to the company, it is an existential risk to humanity. And they knew it and hid it behind disinformation campaigns. We are all paying the price now, not just Exxon’s investors.
What the Scientists Said
Of Exxon:“[w]hatever its intent—willful ignorance, stymying an effective response to preserve quarterly profits, or simply an incomprehensible refusal to incorporate their own world-class research and results into their business plans,” said Martin Hoffert. “[W]hat they did was wrong. They deliberately created doubt when their internal research confirmed how serious a threat it was.”
In response to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez: “In 1982—seven years before I was even born—Exxon accurately predicted that by this year, 2019, the Earth would hit a carbon dioxide concentration of 415 parts per million and a temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “Dr. Hoffert, is that correct?” “We were excellent scientists,” Hoffert responded.
“When you become CEO you know you have to take a lot of criticism targeted at you. I feel bad for men and women at ExxonMobil Corp., because they are accused of a fraud as well. They are professionals, diligent, operate at high levels of integrity. Sometimes I wish I could step back in time and should not have put a plan in place. Maybe we should have stuck our heads in the sand.”
We wrote earlier this year that climate change was fueling an outbreak of swarming locusts in East Africa, and now the insects have made it to India’s heartland where they have devastated crops and livelihoods in a region already struggling with coronavirus, a heatwave in the capital, a recent cyclone, and 100 million people out […]
A new, nationwide public opinion survey conducted by Yale from April 7–17 found that a record-tying 73% of Americans think global warming is happening and only 10% deny it, but most believe it is happening to others and not to them.
Why This Matters: The pollsters expected they would find that because the public is so concerned about the pandemic that they would not have the ability to maintain their concern about climate change — a theory that social scientists call the “finite pool of worry.” But that was not the case.
Cornell University’s Board of Trustees announced on Friday that the University will make no new investments in fossil fuels, and it is believed that they have been divesting of their previous investments for several years, though the details of their endowment are not public.
Why This Matters: The climate movement has been led by young people and one easy focus of their activism is the universities they attend.
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