• June 14th, 2024
  • Friday, 08:59:17 AM

The Dirty Tricks of the Dirty Energy Industry

Photo: Javier Sierra Youth climate rally at the US Capitol (‘We need a clean energy revolution’).


Javier Sierra


Ever since I became a parent, I have been unable to explain to my daughter what fuels the will of those responsible for the climate crisis. What level of greed and corruption keeps the fossil fuel industry executives from looking their children in the eyes and saying: I am sorry, but you were born a generation too late.


We find ourselves in a planetary struggle to force the dirty energy industry to look itself in the mirror and renounce their greed and corruption that threatens the future of our species.


The stench of such greed and corruption keeps being exposed publicly, the most recent instance being related to oil giant Exxon. A new study published by Science Magazine confirms what we all knew, that since the 1970’s, Exxon was well aware that its products were destroying the planet’s atmosphere. But this new report provides extraordinary details about the astonishing accuracy with which Exxon scientists predicted the climate emergency we all are confronting today.


Its authors declared that Exxon was “extraordinarily good at climate predictions” 45 years ago, adding that 63% to 83% of the climate projections reported by Exxon scientists were accurate in predicting subsequent global warming. Their projections that a warming of +/-.04 degrees Celsius per decade coincided with forecasts issued even in 2007, almost 30 years later. Exxon covered up this knowledge crucial for the future of our species through a richly-funded campaign of deception and lies, attacking and ridiculing independent scientists who eventually reached the same conclusions.


“Exxon did not alert its investors, its consumers, or the general public about its discoveries,” the authors concluded.


Not only Exxon, but the whole industry is seeing their lies and deceptions crumble in real time. An exhaustive investigation that environmental attorney Carroll Muffett initiated in 2008 finally revealed that the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry’s trade group, for decades hid a study it commissioned that also predicted today’s climate emergency with astounding accuracy.


“There seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe,” the authors concluded in their 1968 paper (!). “It is likely that noticeable increases in temperature could occur. The prospect for the future must be of serious concern.”


“Once I actually opened it, it was immediately clear how profoundly important it was,” Muffett recalls, adding that these conclusions meant warmer oceans, melting ice caps, and sea levels that could rise as much as four feet per decade. “The climate science was clear, abundant and the best indications were that the risks were really substantial,” he concluded.


These and other discoveries about the industry’s decades-long disinformation campaign are being used as evidence in a long list of court cases around the world, including Minnesota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Honolulu and up to two dozen other states and cities in the US who demand accountability from the oil industry for its role in climate disasters. Legal experts underline that these court battles are fundamentally based on the fact that the API, Exxon, Shell and the rest of the industry cannot deny the existence of their own studies nor their extraordinary accuracy to predict the climate crisis.


But the industry won’t learn and insists on denying how dangerous its products are. In Ohio, dark money from groups supporting the industry was able to redefine fracked gas as “clean energy.” The head of the United Arab Emirates’ oil company managed to be selected to preside at the UN’s next climate summit COP28. And the oil companies will not renounce their plans to expand their production around the world.


We find ourselves in a planetary struggle to force the dirty energy industry to look itself in the mirror and renounce their greed and corruption that threatens the future of our species.



Javier Sierra writes the monthly bilingual column “Sierra & Tierra.