Posted by: ericgrimsrud | February 29, 2016

ExxonMobile continues to deceive

As explained here in three previous posts (Oct. and Nov., 2015), we now know that the CEO and Board of Directors for Exxon Mobile Corporation had been informed by their own scientists way back in the 1980’s of the global warming expected to result from the continued use of fossil fuels for energy production. Unfortunately, their response to this insight was to discontinue their own research programs on this environmental problem and instead launch a public campaign promoting the uncertainties associated with that scientific discipline – in the hope that fossil fuel use would continue unabated into the future.  In ExxonMobile’s latest response to these revelations, it continues to try to fool the public by promoting a level of scientific uncertainty that is downright fraudulent.  In this post, I will provide a specific example of how they are doing this.  A more detailed explanation of it can be found at http://insideclimatenews.org/carbon-copy/29102015/exxon-overstates-uncertainty-climate-science

This latest example of ExxonMobile’s continued deception revolves around the complex chart shown below – which appeared in an authoritative IPCC report and shows expected temperature rises over the next several decades.

Climate%20chart_0

This figure was recently used (see http://www.exxonmobilperspectives.com/2015/10/15/exxonmobils-commitment-to-climate-science/) by ExxonMobile representative Ken Cohen to convince the public that there is a very high level of uncertainty in the computer models used to predict these temperature increases.  A cursory look at this figure suggests that by 2050 the predicted temperature might be anywhere from about 0.4 to 2.3 degrees C higher than it was in the 1990’s.  So yes indeed, the very high range of predicted outcomes, about 2.0 C, emerging from these predictive models suggests that these models are not very useful in telling us exactly what is going to happen. So why should anyone take these predictions of future temperatures seriously?  This is the low level of understanding that ExxonMobile’s representative, Ken Cohen, provided in his presentation.

Now let’s take just a slightly more careful look at the figure. You will note that the multitude of curves are color coded – in order to indicate various assumptions of CO2 emissions in the coming decade.  The red curves shown represent business-as-usual emission scenarios in which emission cuts are not made in the coming decades.  On the other hand, the dark blue curves represent scenarios in which CO2 emissions are significantly cut in the coming decades.  The light blue and orange curves represent intermediate levels of future emissions.  Now note that the high emission red curves indicate much higher future temperatures than the lower emission dark blue curves.  Need I say more?  The real message in this figure is that our levels of future CO2 emissions clearly matters a great deal. Thus it appears that Cohen’s representation of this figure constitutes an intentional deception played out on a public that ExxonMobile hopes is too mentally incompetent to detect?

What the ExxonMobile representative did in this presentation to the public is combine the very large uncertainty we do have with respect to what mankind will do in the future with the much smaller uncertainty associated with the science involved. The result of this combination, of course, carries large uncertainty due primarily to our uncertainty in what mankind will do.  To use this net result as a reflection of the uncertainty in the science involved is nothing less than fraudulent.  It is a sophomoric trick played on a public that might not be able to see through it.

Yes, ExxonMobile has betrayed its obligations to both their fellow human beings and future generations since the 1980’s and continues to do so today. They and the other fossil fuel companies know very well what they are doing in their pursuit of riches still to be obtained by fossil fuel extraction.  They are not that stupid.  They just hope you are – as evidenced by our discussion of the figure provided here.  These ExxonMobile folks are not good citizens and, in fact, probably belong in jail. The lawsuits presently being prepared by the states of New York and California concerning ExxonMobile’s alleged crimes against humanity are long overdue.


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