You may have seen mention of a piece in yesterday’s New York Times that distorts ExxonMobil’s decades of scientific research on issues related to climate change. It was written by Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran, authors of a study that purports to analyze our research and contrast it with our public statements on climate.
Reprinted below is the Letter to the Editor we submitted to The Times in response.
To the editor:
In an opinion piece describing a biased and inaccurate study on ExxonMobil’s history of climate research (“What ExxonMobil Didn’t Say About Climate Change,” August 23, 2017), Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran allege that ExxonMobil executives conspired to mislead the public.
The authors know a thing or two about misleading readers – both about the nature of our communications and by failing to disclose their own conflicts of interest. Ms. Oreskes has helped orchestrate a concerted, five-year effort by a group of activists to attack the company’s reputation, and Mr. Supran has a long involvement in the anti-fossil fuel movement.
Don’t take our word for it. The New York Times exposed the anti-Exxon effort in several articles last year that outlined agenda items for this group’s meetings, including “establish[ing] in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm,” and discussing ways “to delegitimize [ExxonMobil] as a political actor.”
The study – and the campaign against our company – has been paid for by the Rockefeller Family Fund, whose president, David Kaiser, acknowledged in an NPR interview that he wants the company to pay billions in reparations.
Let me be clear. Our statements about the risk of climate change have always been consistent with our understanding of climate science. Period.
In their study, Ms. Oreskes and Mr. Supran actually acknowledge that earlier allegations that ExxonMobil hid its climate science research were wrong. So they’ve now shifted to a new thesis by admitting that our research was accurate and even contributed to climate science, but erroneously alleging other statements were misleading.
I’ll leave it to your readers to figure out the twisted logic of an allegation that we misled on climate change while advancing climate science at the same time.
Perhaps Ms. Oreskes and Mr. Supran don’t believe your readers are sophisticated enough to pick up on that contradiction. After all, their own study argued our scientific data are “highly technical, intellectually inaccessible for laypersons, and of little interest to the general public or policymakers.”
Meanwhile, ExxonMobil will continue to focus our efforts on providing the energy the world needs, while simultaneously addressing the risk of climate change by reducing our emissions, helping consumers reduce theirs, and advancing research to find new low-emissions technologies for the future.
Suzanne M. McCarron
Exxon Mobil Corporation