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Exxon: Global warming? Rubbish!
July 4, 2005 3:29 AM   Subscribe

Openly and unapologetically, the world's No. 1 oil company disputes the notion that fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming. Exxon opposes the very idea of capping global-warming emissions - From the article Exxon Chief Makes A Cold Calculation On Global Warming. A interesting read, whatever your opinion on the oil industry is...
posted by SharQ (30 comments total)

 
very interesting, thanks

has pledged $100 million over a decade for research at Stanford University into what it calls breakthrough "mega-technologies." Among them: capturing carbon dioxide after it's emitted and burying it deep underground.

it sounds like a thing HG Wells would dream up -- anybody here knows more about it?
posted by matteo at 3:45 AM on July 4, 2005


Haaa, cold calculation. I get joke!
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:49 AM on July 4, 2005


Matteo - i just finished a book called End of Oil, where it said that such a program was already ongoing off the coast of Norway. I don't have the book to hand here but will dig it out later.
The process itself is called carbon sequestration or ocean sequestration, and a quick google throws up plenty of good links.
posted by kev23f at 4:38 AM on July 4, 2005


BP and the UK government are looking at a Carbon Sequestration scheme
posted by brettski at 4:53 AM on July 4, 2005




thanks!
posted by matteo at 5:43 AM on July 4, 2005




Oh, yeah. Right.

Think about it: this statement

...the world's No. 1 oil company disputes the notion that fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming

contradict this one

...it has pledged $100 million over a decade for research at Stanford University into...capturing carbon dioxide after it's emitted and burying it deep underground.


I mean, if you really disputed the scientific validity of global warming, why would you give a damn about carbon sequestration?

No, either they're spending the 100 mil as part of their PR budget--in other words, as a deception--or they really do believe the science, and just don't give a damn because of their "cold calculation". I haveta go with the latter, but either way they are a fine example of corporate sociopathy. Lying greedy bastards.
___
posted by mondo dentro at 6:39 AM on July 4, 2005


This is such perfect sphere in which to create doubt and forestall policy changes. The science is complex and the average person is not viewing the raw data, performing the calculations etc. They have to rely on the scientist's judgements. You might think with nearly universal agreement among climate scientists that global warming is real that creating doubt would present difficulties to Exxon and its ilk. However, those scientists are also almost exclusively university professors or university associated researchers. A broad swath of the conservative public has already come to believe that universities are hotbeds of political correctness and liberal thought so these people are easily able to dismiss them out of hand as biased. Hire a few competing scientists to come up with conflicting results and viola, doubt.
posted by caddis at 6:41 AM on July 4, 2005


mondo: There is a third option. They are expecting governments to start legislating to drive internalisation of current environmental externalities relating to fossil fuels. The oil companies may regard sequestration as a cheaper option regardless of their own belief in climate change.
Personally I am of the opinion that the fossil fuel lobby is simply denying it as admission would damage their position and perhaps imply liability, much as with the historic position of the tobacco industry with regard to addiction/cancer. This also appears to be the position of the USA, though their are reports that this may be about to change.
posted by biffa at 6:49 AM on July 4, 2005


ssssssnnnnnnoooooooorrrrrrreeeeeeee
posted by mk1gti at 6:59 AM on July 4, 2005


Meanwhile, the leaders of the G8 work toward an emissions-reduction deal in Scotland, and the President of the United States takes to the British airwaves to spread the Good Word:
PRESIDENT BUSH: America is the largest investor in the technologies necessary to be able to say to people, 'You can grow your economy so people's standard of living can improve, and at the same time be good stewards of the environment'.

TONIGHT: But pollution in this country has increased amazingly since 1992.

PRESIDENT BUSH: That is a totally inaccurate statement.

TONIGHT: It's a UN figure.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I just beg to differ with every figure you've got. The environment has - the quality of the environment has improved, in spite of the fact that we've grown our economy.


Finally, a single sentiment along the lines of Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you" to sum up the Bush admin's legacy: I just beg to differ with every figure you've got. Inspiring.
posted by gompa at 8:29 AM on July 4, 2005


to sum up the Bush admin's legacy: LEEEERRROYYYYY JEEENKINNNNS!
posted by Balisong at 8:37 AM on July 4, 2005


This sounds very like all those tobacco companies who assured the public for decades that there was no link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer. The difference is that individuals could take responsibility for their own health and decide whether to smoke or not. You're not going to make much of a difference to global warming by decisions you make on a personal level.

If fossil fuels do contribute significantly global warming, we can't rely on the oil companies to do the right thing. On the contrary, they have a vested interest not to. We have to rely on politicians to introduce and enforce effective laws. However, when these same politicians are in the oil companies' back-pockets, the public interest is not well served.
posted by PurpleJack at 8:41 AM on July 4, 2005


PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I just beg to differ with every figure you've got.

*farts*
posted by mr.marx at 8:47 AM on July 4, 2005


I always wonder if sequestering carbon dioxide underground will result in fizzy groundwater and if this could be a boost for the mineral water industry.
posted by rhymer at 9:35 AM on July 4, 2005


PRESIDENT BUSH: That is a totally inaccurate statement.

TONIGHT: It's a UN figure.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I just beg to differ with every figure you've got. The environment has - the quality of the environment has improved, in spite of the fact that we've grown our economy.


You know, I actually think he believes what he said. Really. It sounds a lot like what I get from babysitting my 5 year old cousins when I accidentally contradict something their parents have told them. "Nuh uh, my mommy said so... so its true." People feed Bush this shit and he believes it. If he didn't, he'd have to admit huge amounts of errors.
posted by odinsdream at 10:06 AM on July 4, 2005


So what if this Exxon guy DID believe deep in his heart that his product was causing global warning, what's he supposed to do? Slash his wrists? The damage is done. There are no "alternative fuels" (as he points out). And taking out oil of the economy would plunge the developed world into the stone age. Meanwhile, note that David Geffen and the other wealthy liberals are not selling their beachfront property. No one is willing to bet their own farm that global warming is a reality. Just the oil companies' farms. Meanwhile, someone do the math on how much petroleum we could save if states simply lowered their speed limit on ALL highways to 40 mph? That would give us another 100 years or so to fight about this. And it would require ZERO new technology or new costs. Of course, no one ever listens to me.
posted by Faze at 10:17 AM on July 4, 2005


An oil company stating that it refuses to accept its own role in climate change? Wow, I'm shocked! How incredible! Next thing you know Charles Manson will deny he had anything to do with Sharon Tate's gruesome murder, OJ will claim he didn't kill Nicole, Robert Blake will deny shooting his wife... oh, never mind.
posted by clevershark at 10:52 AM on July 4, 2005


Meanwhile, the leaders of the G8 work toward an emissions-reduction deal in Scotland, and the President of the United States takes to the British airwaves to spread the Good Word...

When pressed on the subject Bush started craning his neck from side to side, waving his finger, and saying increasingly loud "uhh-uhh, oh no you din't!".

Does anyone actually listen to Bush by now? I mean, it's not like he has much credibility left outside the red states, let alone outside the country.
posted by clevershark at 10:55 AM on July 4, 2005


Of course, no one ever listens to me.

Which is quite a shame, by the look of it. I, for one, am simply amazed at your breadth of knowledge and depth of insight on the issues. Why, if the fact-deficient, quasi-commonsensical arguments you posted here are any indication, Faze, you should send your resume along to Bush's energy-policy advisors post-haste.
posted by gompa at 11:21 AM on July 4, 2005


The article quotes Andrew Logan of Ceres constructing a straw-man: "There are two possible scenarios. One is that all the scientists in the world are wrong, in which case there's no climate change...". Disingenuous BS. As much of the remainder of the article makes clear, the oil companies are not disputing a global rise in temperature, they are questioning the magnitude of the role of fossil fuels in that rise. As the oil companies hired lackeys rightly point out, fluctuating climate is normal in earth's history and it may be that other factors are weighing more heavily in the current rise. Their argument is that neither the cause nor the putative benefits are clear, but the cost of the proposed remedy is huge.

Of course, carbon dioxide could turn out to be a significant contributor to the current rise in global temperature, in which case we might be able to do something about it. The only questions then are whether we should, and how much we are willing to pay. (After all, the earth could have a "normal" global warming period scheduled to begin a couple decades from now, anyway, for all we know).

One mid-term solution to carbon dioxide emission is to start moving toward closed-carbon-cycle energy such as biomass ethanol, where the carbon emitted is recaptured by the new biomass that is used for fuel ethanol production. It is claimed that production costs for biomass (cellulosic, not corn-sugar-fermentation-based) ethanol can be between $.55 and $.77 per gallon within a decade.
posted by gregor-e at 12:09 PM on July 4, 2005


"I just beg to differ with every figure you've got"


Of course, no one ever listens to me.

Faze for President. seriously. he can't be worse than Bush
posted by matteo at 12:46 PM on July 4, 2005


"Well, I just beg to differ with every figure you've got."

This instantly reminded me of the Bush story where he stated that Sweden has no army.
posted by catachresoid at 1:32 PM on July 4, 2005


catachresoid writes "This instantly reminded me of the Bush story where he stated that Sweden has no army."

Sweden, Switzerland... they both begin with "sw". Obviously the two countries were invented by commies who wanted to trip him up.
posted by clevershark at 2:08 PM on July 4, 2005


hmmm, Swedish cheese...
posted by matteo at 2:22 PM on July 4, 2005


There are no "alternative fuels" (as he points out).
...
Of course, no one ever listens to me.


Do you include yourself in 'no one' ? Have you even heard of biodiesel? It can be made from completely renewable sources. It has no petroleum content. Read more. Talk less.
posted by odinsdream at 2:30 PM on July 4, 2005


Odinsdream, sorry, keep reading, keep dreaming. Biodiesel is not the panacea you are loooking for, there's not enough cropland in the world to grow the oil we need (let alone the fact that arable land is used for useful things like food production).

Not knocking biodiesel, it's one of the solutions in the mix, but it'll only ever be a very small part of the solution.
posted by wilful at 7:37 PM on July 4, 2005


hmmm, Swedish cheese...

hey, don't mock Västerbotten, it's a damn fine cheese
:)
posted by mr.marx at 7:26 AM on July 5, 2005


wilful: Your deciding that there are "no alternative fuels" is different than deciding that biodiesel is not capable of completely replacing petroleum in our economy. Nobody claimed it could do such a thing, I certainly didn't.

I assert that the statement "there are no alternative fuels" is false, since biodiesel does exist, can be used as a replacement for diesel in at least part of our fuel economy, and isn't the only such replacement available.

Besides, asserting that biodiesel production will only ever be equal to its current level is naive. Biodiesel can be made from oils extracted from algae. What does it take to grow algae? Not much. Technology can help in this regard, and we don't have to devote all of our land to doing it.
posted by odinsdream at 12:26 PM on July 5, 2005


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