Exxon: The Road Not Taken

Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer, Exxon: The Road Not Taken. InsideClimate News, 16 September 2015. “After eight months of investigation, InsideClimate News presents this multi-part history of Exxon’s engagement with the emerging science of climate change. The story spans four decades, and is based on primary sources including internal company files dating back to the late 1970s, interviews with former company employees, and other evidence, much of which is being published here for the first time. It describes how Exxon conducted cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of climate denial, manufacturing doubt about the scientific consensus that its own scientists had confirmed.”

Update #1: Katherine Bagley, Environmental and Civil Rights Groups Urge Federal Probe of Exxon. “Nearly 50 diverse organizations, ranging from green groups to indigenous people’s networks, call for an inquiry into what Exxon knew about climate change.” Inside Climate News, 30 October 2015. “A coalition of nearly 50 environmental, civil rights and indigenous people’s groups sent a letter Friday to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her to launch a federal investigation into whether ExxonMobil purposefully misled the American people on climate change. The organizations cite reporting by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times that shows Exxon ‘knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts at climate denial and systematically misled the public,’ the letter said. ‘Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change—particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet—and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension.'”

Update #2: Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss, Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General. The New York Times, 5 November 2015. “The New York attorney general has begun a sweeping investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.”

Update #3: Neela Banerjee, Exxon’s Oil Industry Peers Knew About Climate Dangers in the 1970s, Too. InsideClimate News, 22 December 2015. “The American Petroleum Institute together with the nation’s largest oil companies ran a task force to monitor and share climate research between 1979 and 1983, indicating that the oil industry, not just Exxon alone, was aware of its possible impact on the world’s climate far earlier than previously known.

The group’s members included senior scientists and engineers from nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company, including Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, Sunoco, Sohio as well as Standard Oil of California and Gulf Oil, the predecessors to Chevron, according to internal documents obtained by InsideClimate News and interviews with the task force’s former director.

An InsideClimate News investigative series has shown that Exxon launched its own cutting-edge CO2 sampling program in 1978 in order to understand a phenomenon it suspected could harm its business. About a decade later, Exxon spearheaded campaigns to cast doubt on climate science and stall regulation of greenhouse gases. The previously unpublished papers about the climate task force indicate that API, the industry’s most powerful lobbying group, followed a similar arc to Exxon’s in confronting the threat of climate change.”

See also:

Bill McKibben, What Exxon Knew About Climate Change. The New Yorker, 18 September 2015.

Naomi Oreskes, Exxon’s Climate Concealment. The New York Times, 9 October 2015. “Millions of Americans once wanted to smoke. Then they came to understand how deadly tobacco products were. Tragically, that understanding was long delayed because the tobacco industry worked for decades to hide the truth, promoting a message of scientific uncertainty instead. The same thing has happened with climate change, as Inside Climate News, a nonprofit news organization, has been reporting in a series of articles based on internal documents from Exxon Mobil dating from the 1970s and interviews with former company scientists and employees. Had Exxon been upfront at the time about the dangers of the greenhouse gases we were spewing into the atmosphere, we might have begun decades ago to develop a less carbon-intensive energy path to avert the worst impacts of a changing climate. Amazingly, politicians are still debating the reality of this threat, thanks in no small part to industry disinformation….”

Sara Jerving, Katie Jennings, Masako Melissa Hirsch and Susanne Rust, Global Warming and Big Oil: What Exxon knew about the Earth’s melting Arctic. Los Angeles Times, 9 October 2015.

Kate Jennings, Dino Grandoni and Susanne Rust, Exxon’s Sudden Shift: How Exxon went from leader to skeptic on climate change research. Los Angeles Times, 23 October 2015.

Neela Banerjee, How We Got the Exxon Story: The story behind what led us to investigate what ExxonMobil knew about climate change science and when.” InsideClimate News, 10 November 2015.

Democracy Now!, Exxon’s Climate Cover-Up Just Got Bigger: Docs Suggest All Major Oil Giants Have Lied Since 1970s. 31 December 2015. “2015, the hottest on record, was also the year ExxonMobil was caught in a more than three-decade lie. Internal documents revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming in the 1970s, but hid that information from the public. Now it turns out that Exxon isn’t alone. A new exposé from InsideClimate News reveals nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company was likely aware of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change at the same time as Exxon. We are joined by Neela Banerjee, the InsideClimate News reporter who broke this story.”

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The new free-trade heel: Nike’s profits jump on the backs of Asian workers

Jeffrey Ballinger, The new free-trade heel: Nike’s profits jump on the backs of Asian workers. Harper’s Magazine, August 1992. “Her only name is Sadisah, and it’s safe to say that she’s never heard of Michael Jordan. Nor is she spending her evenings watching him and his Olympic teammates gliding and dunking in prime time from Barcelona [1992]. But she has heard of the shoe company he endorses–Nike, whose logo can be seen on the shoes and uniforms of many American Olympic athletes this summer. Like Jordan, Sadisah works on behalf of Nike. You won’t see her, however, in the flashy TV images of freedom and individuality that smugly command us to JUST DO IT!–just spend upward of $130 for a pair of basketball shoes. Yet Sadisah is, in fact, one of the people who is doing it–making the actual shoes…

Update: Max Nisen, How Nike Solved Its Sweatshop Problem. Business Insider, 9 May 2013. “It wasn’t that long ago that Nike was being shamed in public for its labor practices to the point where it badly tarnished the company’s image and hurt sales. The recent factory collapse in Bangladesh was a reminder that even though Nike managed to turn around its image, large parts of the industry still haven’t changed much at all. Nike was an early target for the very reason it’s been so successful. Its business model was based on outsourcing its manufacturing, using the money it saved on aggressive marketing campaigns. Nike has managed to turn its image around. Nike hasn’t been completely successful in bringing factories into line, but there’s no denying that the company has executed one of the greatest image turnarounds in recent decades.”

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