The bosses at Exxon have known since the 1980s that climate change is real but they chose to lie to us. Today is no different.
6 minutes
Ben Torres for The New York Times.

For Exxon and the petroleum industry, potential enhancement of the greenhouse effect and the possibility of adverse climate are of particular and fundamental concern.

—From an Exxon internal compendium, 1990s.

We must hold Exxon accountable to the most consequential crime against humanity. Since 1980 the bosses there have known that our planet is chocking on CO2. Since then they have been acutely aware of the catastrophic temperature rise that awaits us. They employed good scientist and poured big money into studying the effects of burning fossil fuels. So much so that the US Energy Department praised Exxon for its noble dedication to the health of our planet and for being a corporate role model. The company even accounted for climate change when thinking about its vast infrastructure. Least a higher sea and turbulent waves damage offshore rigs. Least the thawing permafrost make the soil under pipelines and buildings buckle.

But my friends, after a decade of pursuing climate science and being somehow honest with the public about it, Exxon quit on its nobility. The flirtation with helping humanity ended. So did Exxon’s reputation and with it the opportunity to be the resourceful pioneer that could’ve been of great help to divert us from fossil fuels. Instead, the oil kingpins embarked on a nefarious campaign against us all—an assault against humanity that hurts us even today. An assault to whom we gave Exxon our social license to exist as an open project in spite of its obvious evil nature.

We know that since 1977 to 2014 80% of all internal documents at Exxon acknowledge climate change as human-made and very real. Yet in 81% of advertorials Exxon emphasized the uncertainty of an established climate science to make the public have doubts about climate change. But above this propaganda, in doing so Exxon exposed its attitude toward American people: We don’t give a damn fuck about you.

And that’s only one example of a blatant lie Exxon promoted. I’m skipping its generous funding (until 2005) of 39 shady organizations that have been promoting climate change denial. But it’s a crime to lie to the public, especially at a time when it was still uninformed on climate change and vulnerable to propaganda. We’ve only begun to realize the damage of burning oil in the 70s, after all. And of course, I’m skipping Exxon’s bribing (campaign contributions) of the Republican Party—an exceptional fraternity of climate change deniers—to curry favor with them and postpone meaningful legislation against CO2. I’m skipping Exxon’s powerful lobby in Congress on which the company spent over $11 million just tin 2018.

But let’s get back to the media and leave the big oil aside for a while. Talking about its gross complicity, I remember how shocking it was to learn that of all 50 most important newspapers in America, only 22 wrote about the 2018 IPCC report. This is madness my friends. This United Nations report is the most authoritative source that tells us the state of our climate. 195 countries came together to review 6000 studies and this fails to be news. It’s shocking because it seems the corporate media cares little that we have 11 years to cut the CO2 by 45% to keep the warming between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. And the corporate media is making a huge favor to the big oil magnates. These frolic when the public stays stupid—a sick frolicking that is, while our planet is in flames.

But not everybody reads the newspaper in America; the elites do. It’s the TV networks that ought to talk about climate change. They dwarf other outlets and own the real power to arouse the public. Yet, over a year and a half, TV and print outlets gave 40 times more coverage to the Kardashians than to the acidification of the oceans.

We need support for a Green New Deal to save ourselves from doom and create jobs. And that means a radical overhaul of our economy—one that keeps the oil underground. But the media must undergo a similar radical transformation, my friends. If we fail to do it, Exxon and its coterie of oil kingpins will continue to frolic.

But to our misfortune, they are in luck. Newsrooms are forced to engage in unprecedented layoffs due to lack of money. That’s in the richest country, my friends. Anyways, if we miss to do something about journalism, we’ll ease Exxon’s goal to double its 2017 profits by 2025 while the oilmen continue to force-feed us a false narrative. (And journalists will find fruitful coverage in the continuing conflict between big oil and activists.) Let me explain.

It’s only in 2006 that Exxon acknowledged in public that climate change is real. LOL. But even if the company did so, its tycoons concocted another deceitful narrative. Today they tell us oil is critical to alleviate poverty. They tell us we cannot forget about the poor. They tell us the oil must flow. The nobility of the yesteryear seems to have awakened at Exxon once again. Bullshit, my friends. It’s not only disrespectful for the poorest among us to exist in such a narrative, but this is an attempt to trick us into feeling guilty, heartless human beings. And as if that’s not enough, these oil kingpins tell their own shareholders the same lie. (Search for climate change in Exxon’s 2015 shareholder meeting transcript and read it for yourself.) They insist we lack the technology to replace oil. Needless to say, this is another blatant lie.

We must not believe when Exxon tells us the solution to climate change. The oilmen tell us we must wait for technological breakthroughs or engineering gimmicks to save us from climate catastrophe. But those breakthroughs are already here and we have nothing to wait for. It’s good that Exxon invests in biofuels and ways to capture carbon, but these are mere bandaids to an overwhelming problem. Solar is cheap enough and then we have the wind turbines. Waiting for Exxon or any other oil company to pull a rabbit out of the hat is to welcome the doomsday with sheer naïveté. So this technological breakthrough crap is another way to distract us from real change.

And when shareholders want to know about profit losses because of climate change and related regulation, Exxon’s overconfidence is worrying. The company tells their shareholders governments will fail to reduce demand for oil. But this not only is another lie—and I lost count already—such claim betrays the lack of even one drop of concern for your wellbeing and mine. Exxon is afraid to tell its shareholders the truth, but new regulation like the Green New Deal is critical if we are to survive.

Yes my friends, this is Exxon—your oil company. All the vile lies it has been telling us ought to prompt us to action against the big oil. We must accept that the oil industry has no future; the sooner we get this the better. We must get over it like we get over an ex.

I’m sorry for the so many workers in the oil industry. You need the paycheck to feed your children. But climate change is about the survival of all our children and their posterity. And there’s as many jobs awaiting in the transition toward a green economy. What we need is courage and empathy from you. Tell your politicians you want out of the oil industry. Demand they build green jobs for you instead.

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