Exxon Mobil’s experts were extraordinarily accurate in their forecasts about global warming, even while the company issued public remarks that contradicted its own scientists’ conclusions, new research reveals.
The study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, examined Exxon-funded research that employed more than a dozen distinct computer models to anticipate the impending warming with accuracy on par with or better than that of government and academia experts.
At the same time, the oil tycoon publicly questioned whether global warming existed and questioned the veracity of climate models.
Exxon said that its understanding of climate change has changed over time and that those who disagree with it are misinterpreting its prior findings.
Several years ago, although openly expressing doubt, scientists, governments, activists, and news organizations—among them Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times—reported that “Exxon knew” about the science of climate change since around 1977.
The latest paper describes the precision of the Exxon-funded research.
The majority of those estimates, which ranged in accuracy from 63% to 83%, correctly anticipated that the world would warm by about.36 degrees (.2 degrees Celsius) every decade.
The Exxon-funded research’s precision and accuracy were “really amazing,” according to study co-author and Harvard science history professor Naomi Oreskes.
She continued, however, that there was also “hypocrisy because so much of the Exxon Mobil misinformation for so many years was the argument that climate models weren’t accurate.
Geoffrey Supran, the study’s primary author, who began the research at Harvard and is currently a professor of environmental science at the University of Miami, noted that this is distinct from what had previously been discovered in records about the oil firm.
“We looked into the data and language and rhetoric in these documents. And in that regard, I believe our study puts the clincher on the claim that Exxon knew,” Supran said.
Giving “airtight evidence that Exxon Mobil accurately forecast global warming years previously, then turned around and attacked the science supporting it,” the report claims.
Future climate “projections are based on utterly unproven climate models, or more often, simple guesswork,” according to Lee Raymond, then-CEO of Exxon, in 1999, according to the study, while his successor in 2013 called models “not competent.”
According to corporate spokesman Todd Spitler, Exxon’s grasp of climate science evolved alongside that of the larger scientific community.
Its four decades of study in the field produced more than 150 papers, including 50 peer-reviewed publications.
In a response sent via email, Spitler stated, “This subject has come up multiple times in recent years, and, in each case, our position is the same: those who talk about how ‘Exxon Knew’ are mistaken in their findings.”
By portraying well-intentioned internal policy disputes as an attempt by the firm to spread false information, some have endeavored to distort the truth and Exxon Mobil’s position on climate science and its support for practical policy solutions.