Oilsmoke and mirrors

According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, oil giant ExxonMobil channelled in excess of $16 million over 7 years to 43 organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is a leading scientific nonprofit; combining independent scientific research and citizen action to lobby on environmental issues and instigate positive social change. This isn’t an organization consisting purely of tree hugging ferals or crackpots, many of their members are leading scientists who are frequently called to testify before government committees.

The 68 page report entitled Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air (PDF) also accuses ExxonMobil of:

– Manufacturing uncertainty by raising doubts in even indisputable scientific evidence.
– Adopted a strategy of information laundering
– Promoted scientists who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings or cherry-pick facts
– Attempted to shift the focus away from meaningful action on global warming
– Used its clout with the Bush administration to block policies and influence communications on global warming.

ExxonMobil has responded by labelling the Union of Concerned Scientists’ paper “deeply offensive and wrong”.

I can hear the lawyers rubbing their hands together.

In an interesting twist, the ExxonMobil seems to be very keen now to acknowledge the issue of global warming, albeit in a generalized way, and to change their image somewhat judging by the launch of their” green” initiatives site; the “Global Climate and Energy project“. Is this simply just damage control, or a real change of heart? I think it’s more a case of Peak Oil reaction if anything, using environmental warm and fuzzies as a front.

No wonder people get confused. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Who are the crackpots? 

At least the issue of global warming is no longer a debated possibility; it’s a fact and finally governments are increasingly admitting it’s one of the biggest problems facing humanity. Kudos to all those people who persistently tried to warn us all about global for so long, only to be heckled and ridiculed.

The very sad thing about all this is that while we can point the fingers at companies such as ExxonMobil, it’s we consumers who have allowed ourselves to blinded by the bluster. I think we’ve all known deep down for a very long time that fossil fuels were bad for the environment. We all know that control of oil resources has also cost countless human lives through war.

We tsk, tsk about it all, but then head for the pump. Look around our homes, there’s evidence of fossil fuels everywhere – in the form of plastics for example; as many plastics are oil based. Even some fertilizers are based on natural gas. Our society has gone so far with the oil and coal addiction that we are quite literally eating fossil fuel.

Let’s just hope that this environmental bon homie is a dawn of a new era and not a fad, or worse still – a case of too little, too late.