Petrol giant predicted current climate change effects but passed under the radar

Illustrative photo Credit: Pexel

Almost 40 years ago, an internal report for the oil and gas company ExxonMobil predicted an important increase in the rate of CO2 in the air and – as a consequence – an increase in global temperatures. These observations are remarkably in line with the current worrying situation happening at the moment. This report shows that the oil giant’s involvement in the denial of climate science, is purely strategic. The reality of the climate emergency was assimilated shortly after the diffusion of the first official warnings in the 1970s.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have recently increased to more than 415 ppm (part per million) at the emblematic observatory in Manuna Loa.  In fact, every year,a new record is established while elevation rhythms increases

However several decades ago climatologists warned that the atmosphere’s composition would be irreversibly modified if we continued to omit as much greenhouse gas emissions.  This in turn would alter earth’s climate. As a result Human societies and biodiversity could be heavily affected.

Despite this, GHG emissions continued to intensify. The record was reached in 2018 as can be seen on the Global Carbon Project (GCP) website. As a result, the changes projected by the first climate simulations in the 1970s have gradually taken shape in reality. Remember that the average temperature of the globe has already warmed by 1 ° C since the pre-industrial era.

ExxonMobil internal report looking into the threat of climate change

CO2 climat
Graph taken from ExxonMobil report. Growth in global temperaturs right hand axis in funtion with CO2 levels on the left axis.  Credits : Exxon Research and Engineering company.

Similar arguments were being discussed in much smaller circles as well.  At the beginning of the 1980s, the oil giant ExxonMobil asked its researchers for a scientific report outlining the climactic impacts which could take place due to the increase of CO2.  Published in April 1982, this report had to remain confidential.  However investigations by Inside Climate News have managed to reveal to everyone these companies knew about the damage to Earth years ago.

Predictions found in this document form the eighties are surprisingly accurate to currentobservations today.  These observations are similar for carbon dioxide concentrations and the magnitude of global warming. In addition, for a doubling of the CO2 concentration, the expected warming range was from 1.3 ° C to 3.1 ° C. The most pronounced rise afflicting the North Pole – up to 10 ° C.

In general, this argument is very similar to what was being officially broadcast by climatologists at that time. However, in conclusion, this report shows that ExxonMobil was undeniably aware of the environmental emergency facing them. Since then, a growing share of the giant’s spending has been dedicated to misinformation or even funding climate think-tanks like the Heartland Institute which turned out to be a purely strategic maneuver.


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