Monday, January 08, 2007

Exxon and the Petrolheads

Reading in today's Guardian that people are sunbathing in Maryland, I've been thinking, as too often, about global warming. I am, when not writing or fretting, the spokesperson for the Edinburgh branch of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s. As a result, I've received a fair amount of abuse and silliness from the extremist libertarian Clarksonistas: you know the type, men with small dicks and big cars who resent any attempt to curtail or discourage behaviour that destroys the planet; men who regard pedestrians and cyclists as subhuman obstacles to their achievement of high speeds; men who cling doggedly to any amount of pseudo-science that pretends to doubt man-made climate change

Well, a few days ago I received an email from the Campaign Against Climate Change
( inviting its supporters to join a mass demonstration outside the headquarters of Esso (Exxon) in April. Exxon is the world leader on climate negationism: preferring its staggering profits to saving the planet. The assortment of bullies, inadequates and Pistonheads who repeat Exxon's denial of reality ought to know where their 'ideas' are coming from. I have taken the following material from Campaign CC's email:

Exxon is the ultimate Global Warming Villain

Exxon is the world's largest oil company, making $ 1,000+ a second, and the highest annual profits for a company ever, in 2005 ($ 36 billion);

Exxon has used its vast wealth to back the Bush administration in the US. It has used the influence that that buys it to ensure that the US continues to block progress towards an international emissions reduction treaty – the only realistic way to bring down the global total of greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate;

Exxon funds a variety of right wing, neo-liberal, think tanks like the "Competitive Enterprise Institute" which lobby against action to fight climate change, and are influential in shaping Republican party policy;

Exxon is the company most closely associated with the climate and energy policies of the Bush administration in the US, which are identical to those recommended by Exxon;

Exxon has run a cynical campaign of disinformation on climate change, funding a professional "denial industry" that has, in all probability, delayed effective global action on climate change by years. Some elements of that "industry" are identical to those previously funded by the Tobacco industry to undermine the science that proved the health damage done by smoking;

Exxon has a deliberate policy to confuse the science of climate change, exaggerate uncertainties and undermine the scientific consensus. It funds the tiny minority of oddball scientists who question global warming so that they get hugely disproportionate media exposure and appear to represent a substantial body of respectable scientific opinion;

Exxon was even condemned, in September 2006, by the Royal Society for funding bogus science;

Exxon asked the Whitehouse (in a letter published in the New York Times) to remove Bob Watson (whose views they didn't like) from chairmanship of the IPCC (the UN panel of climate scientists) and the Whitehouse did just that;

Exxon recommended that Harlan Watson be appointed as the US chief negotiator at the UN Climate Talks and the Whitehouse did just that. Watson has been wrecking the negotiations ever since;

Exxon marginally softened its anti-environmental stance after the retirement of Lee Raymond as CEO (now employed by Bush to produce a report giving advice on future energy policy !) but continues to fund climate disinformation and remains the mainstay of the lobbying machine against action on climate – not only in the USA but also Europe – see, eg, this article from the Independent from December 2006 at It funds the "International Policy Network" to argue against action on climate in the UK.

It maddens me that we should still be at the stage of refuting the bullshit of vested interests. The evidence that the world is warming is overwhelming. Whether you live in Ontario or Oklahoma, Oslo or Oxford, all you have to do is stick your neck out the window this 'winter'.

Most staggering of all is the insistence of climate negationists that they are an oppressed minority. This is like the Third Reich complaining of anti-German feeling in 1939 Sudetenland. The truth is that vast amounts of money are being spent to confuse people and further weaken the resolve of governments to act. Most activist groups, by contrast, operate on little or no funds. The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s runs on less money than it costs to buy one third of a new Range Rover! And yet somehow we are the evil elite intent on... what? Encouraging sustainable behaviour.

If you would like to join the demonstration on Good Friday, please click here:


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