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Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming in the 1970s

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DENVER — ExxonMobil scientists Global warmingsays the new study, even though the company has issued an official statement that contradicts its own scientists’ conclusions.

Thursday’s study in the journal Science examined research funded by Exxon. The study not only confirmed what climate scientists were saying, but used more than a dozen different computer models that predicted the coming warming with equal or better accuracy than government and academic scientists. .

This was around the same time that the oil giants publicly doubted that warming was real and denied the accuracy of their climate models. Exxon said our understanding of climate change has evolved over the years and that critics have misunderstood previous research.

Scientists, governments, activists, news sites, etc. inside climate news When los angeles times, several years ago, while publicly questioning, reported that “Exxon knew” about the science of climate change from about 1977. A new study details how accurate the Exxon-funded study was. (0.2 degrees Celsius), we generally correctly predict that it will rise.

The Exxon-funded science was “really amazing” in its accuracy and precision, said study co-author Naomi Oresquez, a professor of history of science at Harvard University. But she added, “Much of ExxonMobil’s disinformation was hypocrisy because it claimed that climate models were unreliable.”

Lead author Jeffrey Splan, who started the study at Harvard University and is now a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Miami, said this was different from what was found in previous papers on oil companies.

“We dug into the data as well as the language and rhetoric of these documents. ‘ said Sprang. “It gives us perfect evidence that ExxonMobil accurately predicted global warming years ago and then turned around and attacked the underlying science.”

The paper, published in 1999 by then-Exxon CEO Lee Raymond, said that “predictions are based on fully unproven climate models or, more often, pure speculation” about future climates. citing his successor in 2013 calling the model “not capable”.

Exxon’s understanding of climate science has grown with the broader scientific community, and 40 years of research on climate science has produced more than 150 papers, including 50 peer-reviewed publications, says company spokesperson Todd. Spitler said.

“This issue has come up several times over the years, and in each case our answer is the same. Those who say ‘Exxon knew’ are wrong in their conclusions,” Spitler said. said in an email. “Some people are trying to misrepresent the facts and ExxonMobil’s position on climate science, their support for effective policy solutions. am.”

Many say Exxon, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, misled the public by creating skepticism about climate change, even though it knew about the damage its oil and gas would do to the climate. has been the subject of a lawsuit. In a recent such lawsuit, suspect in new jersey Five oil and gas companies, including Exxon, have spent decades misleading the public about the harmful toll fossil fuels have on the climate.

Similar lawsuits from New York to California allege that Exxon and other oil and gas companies launched public relations campaigns to fuel suspicions about climate change. In it, Maura Healy, then-Massachusetts Attorney General, said that Exxon’s public relations efforts were ” reminiscent of the tobacco industry A long campaign of denial about the dangerous effects of tobacco. ”

During the investigation, Mr. Oreskes admitted that he was a paid consultant to a law firm that sued Mr. Exxon in the past. Mr. Sprang, meanwhile, has a grant from the Rockefeller Family Foundation, which also helps fund groups suing Mr. Exxon. Associated Press Get Foundation Support Maintain complete control over your editorial content from Rockefeller.

Oil giants such as Exxon and Shell have been accused at Congressional hearings in 2021 of: spread misinformation As for the climate, company executives denied the accusations.

Donald Wuebbles, an atmospheric scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, told the Associated Press that he had worked with Exxon-funded scientists in the 1980s and was not surprised by what the company knew or the model. Told. That’s what the scientists and people who investigated the issue knew.

“It was clear that ExxonMobil knew what was going on,” said Wuebbles. “The problem was they were paying people to spread disinformation. That’s the big problem.”

Oreskes described the “hype and spins” that companies use to get users to buy their products, and the “blatant lies” and “misrepresentations of factual information” that politicians use to win votes. , that’s what Exxon did” said there is a difference.

Several outside scientists and activists said what the study showed about Exxon’s behavior was serious.

“The damage caused by Exxon is enormous,” said Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the environment department at the University of Michigan. Yet, despite this understanding, they openly downplay the problem of climate change and the dangers it poses to people and the planet. are choosing.”

Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald said, “How many thousands (or more) lives have been lost or adversely affected by Exxon-Mobil’s deliberate campaign to obscure science? ?” I asked.

Critics say Exxon’s past actions on climate change undermine the company’s claims that it is committed to reducing emissions.

After tracking the lobbying efforts of Exxon and hundreds of other companies on climate change policy, InfluenceMap, a company that analyzes data on how companies are contributing to the climate crisis, found that Exxon is on track for the Paris Agreement. It concluded that it was lobbying against the target as a whole. Today, he is one of the most negative and influential corporate curbs on climate change policy.

“All the research we have done suggests that efforts to stop climate change continue to this day, and that the ‘potentially existing’ threat of climate change is shifting the value of the oil and gas industry. Prefer chains, not the other way around. Manager of InfluenceMap.

“Negative and delayed messages may look different, but the intent is the same.”


Bussewitz reported from New York.


Follow AP’s climate and environmental coverage. https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter. @borenbears and Cathy Bussewitz at @cbussewitz


The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage is supported by several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiatives here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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