(Note: for this article, I may refer to all subsidies, reorganization, mergers, and name changes simply as “Exxon.)
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—and whatever other hurricanes come in the near future—are the inevitable result of the warming waters in the ocean that increase the frequency and ferocity of ocean storms (cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes). It is foolish and misguided to blame one person or one organization for the entirety of global warming. But, because this a website about Trump, I’m going to take this opportunity to blame one person very high in the Trump administration: his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson joined Exxon in 1975 as a production engineer. He worked his way up to being the CEO of Exxon in 2006, and stepped down to join the Trump administration on January 1, 2017. So, starting in 1975, it’s safe to say that when Tillerson had something to say, the other people at Exxon would listen. And in that time, Exxon either kept quiet, actively deceived, or intentionally confused the public at large about global climate change. Or, as I like to call it, “Weather Effects Related to Emissions From Uncontrolled Consumption of Carbon Dioxide,” or “WEREFUCCD.”
Starting way back in the 1970s, according to a 1995 study reported in Inside Climate News, Exxon and every other major oil company, knew about the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. Exxon specifically created a cutting-edge CO2 Constant Volume Sampler (CVS) in 1974 to measure the amount of CO2 particles in the air. A by 1979, it found that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was “rising steadily,” according to report released to the oil lobbying group API. In fact, some members of the API were even willing to research new ways of refining oil in order to lower CO2 emissions.
But, Exxon decided to lead the opposition to any change. In 1979, Exxon published a background paper on the effects of CO2. Raymond J. Campion, a scientist at Exxon Research and Engineering, wrote a memo suggesting changes to that paper, including changing that models predicting the effects of climate changes within 20 years (i.e., the 1980s and 1990s) be instead pushed back to predict changes would be seen after the year 2000, in part because a global warming and cooling cycle was already predicted to happen in the 2000s.
Tillerson took over as CEO in 2006. In 2011, he announced a joint initiative with FuelCell to create a feasible electric car. At the time, Tillerson said, “At ExxonMobil, we share the view that the risks of climate change are serious and warrant thoughtful action.” Exxon estimated that it would be able to cut carbon emissions by 90%. Spoiler alert: It didn’t.
He was singing a different tune just a short time later. In 2015, he said that global temperatures had been flat for a decade (not true, of course), and that climate change models were inconsistent (again, not true). He has been of the opinion that it would be just fine to squeeze out every drop of oil buried in the planet. In 2012, Exxon, along with Imperial Oil, bought oil drilling rights to over a million acres in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska and Canada. The plan is to wait until the ice melts enough for it to be economically feasible to drill for oil in the area.