by Michelle Stirling @ May 02, 2016
Note: This commentary is based on our reflections alone and does not intend to answer or respond on behalf of any industry or corporation.
On April 26, 2016, the National Observer and DeSmogBlog had a field day with material from the Glenbow Museum archives, boldly claiming that “Imperial Oil described its climate-warming business as ‘anti-social’ “ – when such a statement is not to be found in the referenced paper.
The Exxon internal paper referred to is entitled “Pollution is Everybody’s Business” and was written by H.R. Holland in 1970. The author Holland is talking about pollution, not climate change as we know it in today’s context. DeSmogBlog-Imperial Oil Archive-Pollution-Everyone-Business-1970 (1)
Indeed, the first Climate Conference in Canada was hosted by Stephen Lewis in the fall of 1988 after the June session of the World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere, according to “Climate Alert.” [Note: This link was working until May 4, 2016, or so – fortunately, we have the document in the link below. ]
Like a Greek chorus, the same climate catastrophe cast we’ve seen over the years appear in the 1988 “Climate Alert” document, all saying the same old thing they say today – featured are James Hansen and concluding speaker – Senator Albert Gore Jr. [Net worth – then and now: http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/what-is-al-gores-net-worth.html ]
It is difficult to believe that any oil company in 1970, some 18 years prior to this first Canadian ‘climate’ conference, was referring to ‘climate change’ – a term introduced to the scientific glossary only in 1975, according to NASA and indeed there was only a firm statement on the potential for warming the planet in the Charney Report of 1979.
Consequently, it appears that the National Observer is simply misapplying contemporary understandings of climate to words written 46 years ago to mislead the public and in the process they end up smearing the reputation of a corporation.
Such attacks can drive share prices down and affect social license. For those who are unaware of other geopolitical pressures, there may be an effort to try and force the corporation into some kind of carbon trading? (see below) Indeed, Exxon (the US mother corp) did suffer a hit in its credit rating recently.
Looking at “Pollution is Everybody’s Business” reveals that Exxon/Imperial Oil engineer H.R. Holland was examining the broadest effects of pollution as “the addition of foreign matter to an ecological system in such quantity that the system cannot adjust successfully and suffers and undesirable change.”
Carbon dioxide is not a foreign matter as it is naturally produced by humans exhaling (40,000 ppm per breath) and in huge volume by Mother Nature through out-gassing of oceans, warming soil and decomposing matter. Human industrial contributions are negligible by comparison – though the point the engineer appears to be making is that “pollution is everybody’s business’ and he describes (pg 15) how Imperial invested some$16,000,000 million from 1960 to 1967 to ‘prevent, reduce or eliminate pollution’ and another $28,000,000 in plant improvements that would substantially protect the environment. Sounds like they took their obligations fairly seriously long before a legal requirement to do so.
On page three the author states: “..the total production of pollutants from natural sources dwarfs man’s contributions as shown in Table 1. Fortunately, the concentrations usually are far below the critical level.”
Indeed, the climate sensitivity of carbon dioxide was not known until later in the 1970’s satellite era. Even Svante Arrhenius, who is cited as the grandfather of the ‘hothouse theory’ had amended his much quoted catastrophic view in 1906 in a German paper entitled “The Probable Cause of Climate Fluctuations” and thought warming due to carbon dioxide emissions would not be significant; he also thought it would be beneficial.
Holland insightfully states on page three that “4. The individual is conscious of pollution mainly as it affects his own interests; e.g. a swimmer thinks of pollution in terms of a beach closed because of contamination with sewage; to a naturalist it is the disappearance of a species of bird or flower; to an asthmatic, a choking spell; to a sociologist, slums or juvenile delinquency.”
On page five, talking about “Legal Controls on Pollution” the author states: “A problem of such size, complexity and importance cannot be dealt with on a voluntary basis. The protection of the interests of society as a whole requires the establishment of legal controls on pollution and on other anti-social acts.” This appears to reference the “anti-social acts” outlined in the previous statement 4.
If anything, Holland appears to take an even-handed approach to discussing the challenges and the need to address pollution.
Amusingly, Holland refers to another paper by Mr. A. H. Phelps who points out the problem of well-intentioned citizens running amok with numbers and terms beyond their understanding, then suddenly demanding that new standards be met, resembling the climate hysteria approach to reporting of the National Observer in this story.
Similar climate hysteria is driven by ENGO charities who use fear of catastrophe to drive fund-raising. Behinds the scenes, other vested interests are at work as well.
DeSmogBlog has been funded by Oak Foundation.
Oak Foundation has a statement on its website regarding its mission.
Oak is part of ClimateWorks – a group of philanthropies that in 2007 issued “Design to Win” wherein they laid out their plan for changing the world’s energy economy by funding and employing local environmental groups to demonize fossil fuels. Central to the plan seems to be to push renewable energy, which many philanthropies, pension funds, and institutional investors are heavily invested in today – despite these being described by CalPERS CIO Joseph Dear in 2013 in the Wall Street Journal as… a ‘noble way to lose money.’
One way to try to ‘win’ if you have bet on a loser is to demonize fossil fuels and to label anyone who questions human-caused climate science as a ‘denier.’
That’s what DeSmogBlog did to us many years ago.
We all agree that climate changes. What is in question is the cause, ratio of human vs natural influence, impact, mitigation and cost-benefit of proposed mitigations. Dr. John D. Harper, former director of the Geological Survey of Canada discusses 600 million years of climate change. “Carbon dioxide concentration is a consequence of the earth’s climate, not a cause.”
VIDEO: Dr. John D. Harper, former director of the Geological Survey of Canada discusses 600 million years of climate change. “Carbon dioxide concentration is a consequence of the earth’s climate, not a cause.”
Feel free to comment – moderated.