Enough now? Desinformation from the international oil lobby for over 30 years.

Sven Ake Bjorke, 18 Aug 2021

As early as the 1970s, world politicians knew about man-made global warming. They knew that the climate was changing far faster than ever in the history of our planet. The world’s leading scientists said in clear terms that most animal and plant species would not be able to adapt to such rapid global warming. Natural global warming has happened before, but then over thousands of years, not in less than 100 years. We would have dramatic heat waves and much stronger storms. Glaciers and polar ice would melt.

We would have a relentlessly rising sea level. Millions of climate refugees would overload all systems. The extreme would become the normal. The world would be confronted with intense droughts replaced by torrential rains, floods and hurricanes. All well-informed politicians knew this 50 years ago. They knew that it was due to the use of fossil energy, and that we had to discontinue the use to avoid dangerous global warming. What happened?

Science threatens profits

The coal and oil companies saw their revenues threatened and began to finance “think tanks” and PR agencies to insert doubts about research and factual information.

The Global Climate Coalition, GCC, was established in 1989, the year after the UN Climate Panel. The task of the GCC was to oppose the Climate Panel and measures that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For a time, the GCC became the largest company-funded organization in the world, active in climate policy and present in all international climate negotiations. Behind GCC were “Big Oil” such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Philips Conoco and Aramco. In addition, American car manufacturers and the coal industry contributed. Millions of dollars were spent on misinformation. The main message was: Sow doubt and paralysis of action! GCC and its successors participated diligently in the Climate Panel’s conferences to influence the scientific process and attract researchers for good pay.

A global network of “doubters” was built. At the major climate conferences, the negotiations between the researchers on what should be included in the IPCC reports could sometimes appear as a tug-of-war between serious, independent researchers on the one hand and representatives from the coal and oil companies on the other. The fossil side tried to incorporate ambiguous or diluted formulations into the scientific texts.

Global network

Eventually, confidence in the Global Climate Coalition waned, and most of the major players withdrew. The GCC was closed down. In 2001, the American Heartland Institute and a dozen similar propaganda factories took over the GCC’s role in continuing the production of disinformation. These institutes are funded and directed by the world’s richest men, such as the owners of the Koch groups in the USA, “Big oil” and “Big tobacco”. The main task was and is to remove state and international rules that set limits and requirements for multinational companies. The leaders of these institutes have close ties to right-wing extremist groups in the United States. They are collaborating with oil and gas oligarchs in Russia, with the royal family in Saudi Arabia, and together form a global network of lobbyists for continued subsidization and use of fossil energy. It was therefore natural for the US ex-president to make his first foreign visits to Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The world uses about 100 million barrels of oil every day of the year. One barrel of oil is equivalent to 159 liters, about a full bath. In total, this corresponds to about 15 billion liters of oil – every day. We burn a similar amount of coal and gas daily. If we add up our consumption of coal, oil and gas – and the felling of rainforests – we end up with well over 30 billion liters of daily oil equivalents. Figuratively speaking, this means that we burn an Olympic-sized pool filled with oil, or 300,000 liters, per second. This represents far more greenhouse gases than are emitted in total from all volcanoes in the world. To think that this does not affect the world’s environment is not only incredibly naive, it is life threatening.

Mighty money interests

Crude oil is sold daily for over $ 7 billion. The value of the daily turnover of refined products is astronomical. Who is in control of all this money? We know that quite a lot goes to tyrants in the Middle East, who could not care less about ethics, the environment or future generations. Around one hundred companies are responsible for 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The major oil companies already knew in the late 1950s that emissions from the combustion of coal and oil would lead to global warming, affect the world’s climate, cause more extreme weather and rising seas. Exxon’s own researchers told them so. But the companies continue to manipulate the mass media and have a global network of echo chambers with conspiracy theorists repeating misinformation produced at the Heartland Institute and in Putin’s “troll farms.”

Most politicians have long known about this cynical game. Reports such as the “Limits to Growth” in 1972, the “Brundtland report” to the UN in 1987 and the great summit in Rio in 1992 removed all rational doubt. The Climate Panel’s reports, which summarize peer-reviewed research published in almost 30,000 recognized scientific journals every five years, leave no room for doubt. Man-made global warming is real and extremely dramatic for climate, biodiversity, agriculture, access to clean water, the refugee situation, extreme drought, violent forest fires, floods and the economy. Life in the world’s oceans is also very negatively affected. But the world’s oil companies and oil tyrants have power. It seems that huge but short-term profits for a handful of billionaires are more important than life itself. Political gross negligence, illusion-making, cynical demagoguery and quasi-research may in the near future lead us to pass irreversible tipping points in nature. In that case, it will be the greatest betrayal in the history of mankind.

References

IPCC (2021) AR6 Climate Change 2021

The Guardian – Climate

Exxon’s climate lie: ‘No corporation has ever done anything this big or bad’

Global Climate Coalition (Desmogblog)

GlobalClimate Coalition (Wikipedia)

Climates have always changed

Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change (New York Times)

America misled. How the fossil fuel industry deliberately misled Americans about climate change (2019)

How vested interests tried to turn the world against climate science  (2019)

The greatest scam in history: Why science failed to to stop climate change (2019)

‘Beyond Putin’s wildest dreams’: Kremlin’s backing of Trump had goal to ‘alter mass consciousness in certain groups’ (2021)

Names and Locations of the Top 100 People Killing the Planet

Exxon Goes on Trial for Lying About the Climate Crisis (2019)

NASA Climate

A greener future

About svenaake

University Teacher.
This entry was posted in Denialism, Fossil fuels. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Enough now? Desinformation from the international oil lobby for over 30 years.

  1. Dear svenaake,

    I concur with you about the disinformation strategies of the oil industry.

    In my featured post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity“, which you can easily locate at the Home page of my blog, I wrote as follows:

    The central strategies of numerous front organizations, including groups and institutions protecting the interests and promoting the agendas of government agencies, intelligence services, private corporations, fossil fuel industries, climate change denialists, conservative thinktanks, contrarian scientists, corrupt consultants, religious fundamentalists, junk food companies, pyramid schemes, conspiracists, criminal gangs, and highly dogmatic, autocratic or unethical sectors, are often culled from the tobacco industry playbook (also called tobacco strategy or disinformation playbook), which exemplifies and epitomizes the devious execution or calculating application of deliberate obfuscations, publicity stunts, public relations subterfuges, deflection manoeuvres and distraction tactics. Front organizations typically rely on these strategies to rebrand their image or identity, muddy the waters, deny culpability, provoke controversy, induce social turmoil, incite civil disorder, foment political instability, use lobbying and campaign contributions, deploy false flags, astroturfing, fearmongering, smear campaigns, media manipulation and even psychological warfare, terrorism or strategy of tension, and above all, to create and propagate abundant doubt and copious confusion in the public mind about well-established empirical evidence of and scientific consensus on harm inflicted by their ideas, claims, products or activities so as to maintain their profits and status, to resist criticisms and regulatory efforts, to delay obsolescence, social change and paradigm shift that threaten their dominance, influence and existence, or to discredit the validity and credibility of (counter)claims and (counter)movements spearheaded by ethicists, activists, whistleblowers, fact-checkers, debunkers and reformers.

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Like

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