Balance as Exxon sees it: Whatever you're saying publicly, finance the opposite viewpoint secretly.
In the early 2000s I was a talk show host at KTLK AM radio in Los Angeles. Admittedly, it was one of the few liberal talk radio stations in the country. Still, due to my interest that my listeners hear both sides of the issues I would make sure to regularly book conservative guests ... before I tried to drill holes in their argument. Again, I was a liberal talk show host.
One of my guests was a representative of the Heartland Institute. A conservative think tank that has been a long time anti-global warming advocate, their webpage offers a September 2015 updated report, "Global Warming: Not a Crisis":
The important questions from a public policy perspective are: How much of the warming is natural? How sure are we that it will continue? Would continued warming be beneficial or harmful?
The answers, in brief, are: Probably two-thirds of the warming in the 1990s was due to natural causes; the warming trend already has stopped and forecasts of future warming are unreliable; and the benefits of a moderate warming are likely to outweigh the costs.
Global warming, in other words, is not a crisis.
Among other things the Heartland rep brought to light was the fact that most carbon dioxide toxins are coming from China, BUT, luckily for us, he said those toxins seem able to observe China's land boundaries, thereby ignoring natural winds that might spread those toxins into the atmosphere and around the world ... where we happen to live. That in itself makes it quite clear the sense with which they go after their conclusions.
I wondered how such an organization could afford to do such innovative research. He told me that they survive on donations of which he wasn't aware of any of the contributors. Being they have this thing called the Internet my producer searched for that information ... you know, to help him out the next time someone asked him the same question. We discovered was that there were a number of oil companies, one being Exxon Mobil, that funded Heartland. When I shared that information with him, he admitted that could be but any donations from Exxon would be negligible. A 2012 Washington Post article reported that the Exxon corporate donation disclosures show that The Heartland Institute received $736,500 from Exxon Mobil between 1998 and 2006.
Reports state that Exxon was aware as early as 1981 that global warming was, in fact, occurring. While the quarter of a million Exxon was sending to the Heartland Institute may seem like a lot, another investigation found that they spent as much as $30 million spreading misleading information including funding climate deniers like Congressman James Inhofe the Oklahoma Republican who has regularly labeled man-made global warming a hoax. And just so you can feel comfortable that your environment in his good hands, Inhofe is chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Tobacco company CEOs testified in a 1994 congressional hearing that they had no idea that tobacco was addictive, when in fact, they knew what they were saying was wrong. Dead wrong. Of course those executives had a great deal of time behind bars to think about how misleading the public was criminally immoral. Or not.
That Exxon is surreptitiously financing organizations whose work is diametrically opposed to the research the energy company has been doing in house is a serious deception to their shareholders. While similar to the tobacco companies, the Exxon's fraud is not only being achieved at the risk of your health, but also at the risk of your planet.
Steve Young is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" www.greatfailure.com