Way back in 1977, Laura Shaw, a 12 year-old, won her class science fair, in Cranford, N. J, with an experiment about the so-called “greenhouse effect”. She filled two identical vessels with water and a thermometer. Then, Ms. Shaw covered one with plastic wrap, and turned a lamp on them.
After a period of time, the vessel with the plastic wrap registered a higher temperature than the uncovered one. She surmised that the plastic wrap created the same effect as carbon dioxide, which traps reflected heat from the Sun, thus warming the Earth.
You or I might have thought that our children were young geniuses to have found that relationship, between a plastic cover and global warming; however, Ms. Shaw had some expert assistance. As it turns out, her father is Henry Shaw, and at that time, he was one of the Exxon scientists who were specifically researching the effects of global warming—more specifically, that which was caused by carbon dioxide, created by man-made emissions.
Exxon (now ExxonMobil) was aware of climate change as early as 1977, eleven years before the problem became known by the general public. In fact, besides formulating various climate models, the oil company also outfitted a tanker to study how much CO2 was absorbed by the oceans. And, in July of 1977, Exxon’s senior scientist, James Black, delivered a sobering message on the topic.
Mr. Black advised Exxon’s executive management committee that: “… there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.” One year later, he warned the same group that there was general scientific agreement that the “…doubling of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would influence global warming by two or three degrees.” Black than suggested—now in 1978, mind you—that mankind had a five to ten year window in which to make hard decisions, since energy strategies might become critical. Exxon needed to act!
Rather than make the hard decisions—developing cleaner-burning fuels, teaming with the coal industry to follow suit, and considering renewable energy–Exxon, Chevron, Mobil, Shell, BP, and Peabody Coal, just stuck their collective heads in the sand. They formed a the American Petroleum Institute, a non-profit organization to manage the disinformation of declaring that “Climate Change is a Hoax”. In fact, they hired the same public relations firm that Big Tobacco had hired to deny tobacco’s link to lung cancer, some years before.
To use the old cliche about Nero fiddling while Rome burned would be a very serious understatement. Considering that five of those energy companies were in the Standard and Poor’s 500, money was of little consequence, especially when it comes to fighting for the Industry’s very survival.
Energy lobbyists convinced Washington not to sign the Kyoto Protocol, from the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (as of 1990 emission levels). As one of world’s two biggest polluters, along with China, it is imperative that the U. S. ratify the Protocol, set meaningful CO2 reduction goals—and stick to them! Will there be more success this week—now 25 years later?
Currently, both Houses of the U. S. Congress, have appointed loyal climate change deniers, from oil-dependent states, to head the various committees that are supposed to oversee science and the environment:
- Senator James M. Imhofe (R-OK) is Chairman of the House Committee on the Environment. Last February, Senator Inhofe brought a snowball into the Senate Chamber under the false assumption that that proved that “Climate Change is a Hoax!” (Remember the API Mission Statement?) On the contrary, however, the snowball merely demonstrated the opposite, as described in a prior blog post: https://thetruthoncommonsense.com/2015/05/16/if-there-is-global-warming-why-do-we-have-harsher-winters/.
- Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and also a GOP candidate for President, heads the Sub-Committee on Space, Science and Competition. Cruz’ sub-committee delayed the updated NASA satellites, which provide vital weather information worldwide. Smart move, huh?
- And, Congressman Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) is Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. When faced with broad testimony by earth scientists that man is definitely accelerating global warming, Smith began investigating the scientists, and thus taking them away from their important research. Attacking the messengers, in other words.
Oddly enough, when those who deny Climate Change wish to provide their own “expert” scientific testimony, they have turned to Wei-Hock Soon. Although Dr. Soon is a respected scientist, he is currently employed by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Over the past decade, Dr. Soon’s research and his funding ($1.2 million) have come largely from fossil fuel interests. Some of that funding has allegedly been linked to Southern Company (a large utility) and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. (Mr. Koch is a co-owner of Koch Industries, a very large privately-owned energy company.)
Aside from all of the claims and counter-claims, on both sides of the Climate Change issue, there is basic evidence all around us: melting glaciers; rising tides; wildfires and droughts worldwide; erratic weather patterns; etc. And the idea that Big Energy interests would seek “expert” opinion from an astrophysicist, on matters pertaining to earth sciences, is simply ludicrous. So, if the probable cause behind climate change was so obvious to 12 year-old Laura Shaw, way back in 1977, why can’t many in the U. S. Congress, Big Energy and other climate change deniers still realize that today?
NOTE: For readers who wish more detailed information on Exxon, its Energy Industry co-conspirators and Climate Change, the attached report, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, should prove quite informative: