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Smoke on the Water, Fire in the Sky:
Exxon Scorched Earth

By July 19, 2021February 22nd, 2024General

It’s no act of God that one billion mussels fried to death inside their shells last month in Northern California, where temperatures reached 115°F. It was a freak show caused by the sun’s excessive heat, impossible without man’s interference.

On July 2, a leak in an underwater gas pipeline torched an inferno that swirled for hours in the Gulf of Mexico—an apocalyptic scene from Mount Doom, the volcanic hellscape in The Lord of the Rings.

Our planet has never been hotter, ask nearly everybody. The five warmest years recorded since 1880 have all hit since 2015. This June was the warmest June, with two record-breaking waves back-to-back. Millions of Americans bore some of the most scorching temperatures ever felt in North America. Such a double heat wave has never happened and can’t be charted.

The fluke may be as rare as a one-in-1,000-year event. Or it may reflect a tipping point in global climate change, signaling that earth’s climate system has crossed a line; fractions of rising overall temperatures may now cause a faster incidence of mercury swings than ever seen before.

Snowball in Hell

Exxon (as of 1999 ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company) knew as early as 1977 that CO2 gases would trigger global warming, and that its repercussions could ultimately doom us all. The company’s management committee was warned in 1981 by its own top scientist, James Black, whose stark “heads-up” predicted worldwide warming could increase by 1.4°F in a near decades failing swift, radical action. We’re at 1.28°F.

Put this into context. Between 1880 and 1980, global temperatures rose by about 2°F. During the last 40 years, the rate has more than doubled. Exxon acted all right, with conduct sinister and murderous.

Campaigns of Confusion

In 1980 Exxon realized that its power and trillions in profits would be jeopardized if the milk spilled, never mind impending human and eco-genocide. So, the leader of Big Oil, a name once synonymous with friendly neighborhood gas stations where smiling jumpsuits washed your windshield and pumped your gas, orchestrated a doomsday lie.

Skip ahead to June 1988 when NASA alerted Congress the planet was “too-swiftly” warming. Exxon responded by publicly announcing it remained skeptical: climate science was questionable.

Borrowing from Big Tobacco’s psycho playbook—the script denying for decades that smoking can cause cancer—Exxon launched massive counter-campaigns, hiring award-winning scientists, journalists, and publicists to cast suspicion among the masses. At the same time, it continued heavily investing in scientific research, studies so valuable to climate preservation that the findings only muddled underlying intent.

“ExxonMobil contributed quietly to the science and loudly to raising doubts about it.”

Inside Climate News, 2017

Over the years, ExxonMobil spent over $37 million on think tanks and researchers to promote climate denial, according to Greenpeace. Indoctrinated with propaganda and distortion, climate change turned political. Exxon influenced the U.S. not to sign international treaties aimed at reducing greenhouse gases; its tactics convinced countries like China and India to bow out, too.

By 2017, two Harvard researchers found Exxon misled the public about climate change, confirming what Pulitzer prize-winning journalists at Inside Climate News reported in 2015. “Exxon conducted cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then pivoted to work at the forefront of climate denial, manufacturing doubt about the scientific consensus that its own scientists had confirmed.” –ICN, “Exxon: The Road Not Taken,” September 16, 2015

Little Engine

A climate activist investor group, Engine No. 1, shocked the oil and gas industry in May when Exxon shareholders, fed up with weak profits and climate indifference, elected three unlikely directors to Exxon’s board, backed by Engine No. 1’s humble investment of $12.5 million. Extraordinary, when compared to ExxonMobil’s estimated value of $265 billion.

Engine No. 1’s victory against Exxon’s invincible status quo may signal the beginning of a novel lock step between long-term activist issues like environment and corporate balance sheets.

“[This] stunning result turned the sleepy world of boardroom elections into front-page news as climate activists declared a major triumph, and a blindsided Exxon was left to ponder its defeat.”

New York Times, June 9, 2021

David thwacked Goliath. Hell yeah!

Looking to find ways to get involved and help the environment? Here’s a few starters from Northwestern University:

Avoid products with a lot of packaging
You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you reduce your garbage by 10 percent.

Adjust your thermostat
Moving your thermostat down just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Plant a tree
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

Turn off electronic devices
Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer, when you’re not using them, will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

But more importantly VOTE!

Get out there and vote for those who will make the climate a priority! Our world is literally on fire and saving it shouldn’t be a political issue, but it is. Vote to put those in office who will implement environmental protections and hold oil and gas companies responsible for the damage they have caused.