Knock Us Over With a Feather
Exxon spent millions fostering climate-change confusion, report says
Echoing recent claims made by Britain’s top science group and others, the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a report slamming ExxonMobil for paying big bucks to mislead the public about climate change. OK, they’re small bucks by mega-profitable Exxon’s standards; still, the “modest but effective” $16 million the company spent from 1998 to 2005 “manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer,” said UCS policy director Alden Meyer. His comparison is intentionally apt: Exxon, it seems, borrowed tactics and even people from Big Tobacco’s 40-year fight to fend off critics. It also, says UCS, used access to the Bush administration to shape official climate communications. Exxon rushed to defend itself, saying many of the conclusions were inaccurate and calling the report “yet another attempt to smear our name and confuse the discussion of [this] serious issue.” Is that what the kids call irony?