Exxon under Attack for Exercising Prudence

Published November 6, 2015

Climate Change Weekly #191

At the behest of radical environmentalists, Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee are pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department to investigate ExxonMobil for its views on climate change. Exxon’s crime? During the 20 years the company has employed scientists to analyze the science and potential risks of climate change, some of those scientists concluded humans were causing potentially dangerous warming while others concluded humans were not causing a global warming crisis. Tolerating disagreement and making tough business decisions is not lying, but rather prudence. As Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James Taylor, my colleague, so eloquently put it:

Exxon’s top management received differing opinions on global warming. No matter which way they decided the issue, they would be agreeing with some of their consulting scientists and disagreeing with others. To say that Exxon management covered up or lied about global warming because some of their scientists agreed with them and others disagreed is like saying the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is covering up and lying about global warming because some of IPCC’s own scientists disagree with the assertion of IPCC’s top brass that humans are causing a global warming crisis.

At every turn, climate alarmists have been wrong and climate skeptics proven right. Exxon’s conclusion during the 1980s has subsequently been validated by real-world climate observations. Climate models say temperatures should climb right along with the rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, yet emissions rose from the 1940s through the 1970s while temperatures fell. For the past two decades CO2 emissions have continued to rise, yet temperatures have been in a holding pattern for 18 years.

Models say we should see more intense hurricanes, yet for nearly a decade the U.S. has experienced far below the average number of hurricanes making landfall, and they have been no more powerful than previously experienced. Sea level rise has slowed, polar bear numbers have increased, the Antarctic ice sheet has set new records month over month, the Arctic is back to average ice levels for the decade, and crop production continues to set records year over year. Each of these points contradict the predictions made by IPCC and other climate alarmists.

As Taylor notes, this evidence means “Exxon made a judgment call that ‘skeptics’ had a better handle on climate science than alarmists, and Mother Nature has proven Exxon correct.”

Every year, environmental lobbying groups introduce shareholder resolutions to force Exxon’s management to embrace the Obama administration’s renewable energy crusade and cease producing and selling oil and gas products. The resolutions consistently fail, garnering less than 10 percent of the shareholders’ approval. Unable to get shareholders to voluntarily embrace their alarmist views, green lobbyists are now turning to their political shills in an attempt to punish Exxon for its recalcitrance, through the courts or regulatory agencies.

When asked by a shareholder in March of this year, shortly before another round of shareholder resolutions concerning climate change went down to defeat, why Exxon had not increased its investments in renewable energy, ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson responded, “We choose not to lose money on purpose.”

Climate change is natural and fighting it would be both costly and ultimately futile. Exxon hid nothing, it simply made a prudent business decision, and automobile drivers and the company’s shareholders are better off for it.

— H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Wall Street Journal; Forbes; and The Hill


Russian President Putin, ‘global warming a fraud’Antarctica gaining ice massIndonesia’s wildfires contribute more carbon dioxide than Brazil’s annual emissionsWind, solar aren’t climate saviorsHeartland goes to U.N. climate conference, subject to funding!


A significant hurdle confronting negotiators trying to develop a strong climate agreement in Paris in December comes from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said “there is no global warming, that this is a fraud to restrain the industrial development of several countries including Russia,” as described by Stanislav Belkovsky, a Russian political analyst.

Russia’s pledged carbon dioxide reductions ahead of the Paris talks reflect Putin’s skepticism. They actually amount to an increase in emissions. Russia has said its emissions will be “70 to 75 percent” of 1990 levels by 2030 – which amounts to an increase in emissions from 2012 levels since Russian emissions are currently far below the levels produced in the Soviet era.

Putin’s skepticism dates from the early 2000s, when, according to Andrey Illarionov, Putin’s senior economic advisor at the time, his staff “did very, very extensive work trying to understand all sides of the climate debate. We found that, while climate change does exist, it is cyclical, and the anthropogenic role is very limited. It became clear that the climate is a complicated system and that, so far, the evidence presented for the need to ‘fight’ global warming was rather unfounded.”

SOURCE: New York Times/Reuters


A new NASA study published in the Journal of Glaciology shows snow in Antarctica began a long-term accumulation 10,000 years ago and is adding much more ice to the continent each year than it is losing as some glaciers melt. The thinning of some glaciers has been shown to be due largely to geologic (volcanic) activity below the ice mass. According to NASA’s analysis, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001, slowing to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.

Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the lead author of the study, stated, “The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away.” The persistent ice mass accumulation in Antarctica confounds climate model predictions. As NASA’s analysis shows, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which said Antarctica was overall losing land ice, is just dead wrong. Both on land and at sea, ice growth continues.



Fires, most intentionally set by farmers practicing age-old slash and burn agriculture, are raging across Indonesia. According to the World Resources Institute, these fires have emitted 1.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide – twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as have been emitted from the rest of country’s economy combined, pushing Indonesia from the sixth biggest emitting country to the fourth in just six weeks.

Though the government has made it illegal to use fire to clear land for farming or palm oil production, the ban is largely unenforced. To date, 2015 has seen the second highest number of fires on record, with 117,878 fires currently burning. Emitting 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases, the Indonesian fires alone are equal the total emissions Brazil produces in a year from energy, agriculture, and land use combined.

SOURCE: Carbon Brief


Björn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist among other books on climate and economics, highlights the inherent limits of wind and solar power in a recent article. Over the next 25 years, the impact of solar and wind power for limiting climate change will be nearly non-existent, while the cost will be enormous. The main reason why wind and solar power cannot significantly impact climate change stems from the almost insurmountable obstacle that people need power when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. Recognizing this, the International Energy Agency reports only 0.4% of global energy now comes from solar and wind. Even in 2040, the agency reports, if all governments actually keep their stated commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, solar and wind will make up just 2.2% of global energy.

Since wind and solar power sources can’t prevent climate change and are not competitive with other electric energy generating sources, why are companies building those facilities? Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has an answer: “[W]e get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

SOURCE: Project Syndicate


One of the most important battles in the history of the global warming debate will be fought this December at a United Nations climate conference in Paris. It’s called COP-21 – the twenty-first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Heartland Institute is working with other leading think tanks and advocacy groups to make sure our voice – the voice of sound science and economics, of energy consumers and taxpayers in America – is heard. Please consider donating to this effort today; every dollar helps!

SOURCE: Indiegogo

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