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Warned of climate catastrophe, Exxon blocks 30 yrs of action


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Thursday, September 17, 2015, 9:54 AM - Warned of an impending climate catastrophe by their own scientists in the late '70s, Exxon executives chose to fund climate change denial and block all action.

Exxon responds to climate warning with years of denial

The year was 1977.

Despite a few studies receiving wide media attention regarding their prediction of an impending ice age, the vast majority of climate science pointed to a global warming crisis looming on the horizon.

According to a new report by InsideClimate News, this vast majority included research conducted by scientists employed by Exxon, one of the biggest oil companies in the world and a major contributor to the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Later recounting the warning he delivered to his superiors, Exxon's chief scientist James Black wrote: "In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels."

"Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical," Black wrote.

Informed of the impending climate catastrophe, and the narrow timeline for making the difficult decisions about taking action, what did the Exxon executives do?

As InsideClimate News relates, for the first 10 years or so after the warning, Exxon spend considerable resources and effort researching the problem, developing some of the most advanced climate models of the time.

However, by the late 1980s, their response turned from study to denial. Rather than taking the opportunity given to them, to become the leading effort in the shift towards clean energy, they put considerable funding into casting doubt on the very science they had just confirmed, and blocking government action on climate change.

WATCH BELOW: FRONTLINE PBS speaks to InsideClimate News report Neela Banergee about the results of their investigation of Exxon.

Climate change deniers have "pre-traumatic stress disorder"

According to psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren, who co-wrote a 2012 report on the psychological effects of global warming on the American public, thoughts of the impending climate change catastrophe are so stressful, they simply cannot deal with it, and instead choose to deny that there is any problem at all.

WATCH BELOW: Dr. Lise Van Susteren talks to Nexus Media about the "pre-traumatic stress disorder" suffered by climate change deniers.

Was Summer 2015 the hottest on record?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases their Global Analysis for August and Summer 2015 later today. Stay tuned to see their results.


Sources: InsideClimate News | ThinkProgress | NOAA 

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