“Exxon Knew”: A Call to Action

“Exxon did know. Between the years 1977 and 2002 … Exxon’s climate change reports have been more accurate than reports made by NASA researchers about how emissions heat the planet.”

For environmental activists and avid news readers, the phrase ‘Exxon Knew’ has become a somewhat familiar phrase. American-based Exxon multinational oil and gas corporation has certainly had public relations challenges. Most people have overlooked its massive oil spills and dirty underworld of environmental pollution out of convenience; they need Exxon’s products for daily life, so they turn a blind eye to the destruction left sometimes quite literally in its wake.

But the truth is that Exxon has been hiding far more than an oil spill here and there. A search through online media will reveal countless images of men and women standing shoulder to shoulder holding protest signs, reading ‘Exxon Knew’. However, those who haven’t followed the story behind the two-word phrase might wonder, Exxon knew what?

The answer to this takes one into the unspoken morals and ethics governing industry and business, into that place where profit and integrity tussle for dominance. It’s where businesses and large corporations choose profit over integrity, and ‘hide’ what they know to benefit their profit margins.

Evidence now strongly supports the fact that Exxon, now integrated with Mobil as Exxon Mobil, has known about climate change for more than 40 years but still continued its dirty business as usual. In fact, it’s increasingly evident that the corporation has downplayed climate change in recent years so as not to allow the threat of climate change to erode its profits.

A report in the Houston Chronicle this week alleges that special scientists employed by Exxon Mobil ‘decades ago’ were spot on about the dangers posed to the planet’s climate by carbon dioxide. Recently-released findings following extensive investigations confirm the streams of activists who first coined the term “Exxon Knew” around a decade ago have been onto something all along.

According to reports, the team’s findings show that Exxon allegedly did know—and that between the years 1977 and 2002, the corporation’s scientists created climate models which were staggeringly accurate. In fact, Exxon’s climate change reports have been said to be more accurate than reports made by NASA researchers about how emissions have been heating the planet.

Protesters further allege that in spite of this extensive knowledge of the threat and reality of climate change, Exxon officials remained tight-lipped. In fact, not just tight-lipped, according to allegations. The corporation’s management even went as far as to denigrate climate change models and minimize climate change threats, and even feign ignorance about warming caused by humans. For them it has been business as usual.

Considering the legal battles Exxon Mobil now faces, one has to ask how many times when products emerge as unsafe or compromising, or unreliable or faulty, the manufacturers are truly completely unaware of defects in their production lines and potential threats. The sad truth that we see more often than not is that big corporations wield big power. They get by with all they can until we, the people, say “no more.”

And right now, that’s beginning with “Exxon Knew.” The next steps are up to us, and the urgency to take them before it’s too late has never been more imperative.