Guest essay by Eric Worrall
You have to wade through 5 paragraphs of “Harvard Research” before seeing “Naomi Oreskes”. Other outlets didn’t mention her name at all. I wonder why news outlets seem so shy about leading with her name?
Exxon Mobil’s Messaging Shifted Blame for Warming to Consumers
An analysis of the fossil fuel company’s documents also found it tried to downplay the dangers of climate change
Exxon Mobil Corp. has used language to systematically shift blame for climate change from fossil fuel companies onto consumers, according to a new paper by Harvard University researchers.
The paper, published yesterday in the journal One Earth, could bolster efforts to hold the oil giant accountable in court for its alleged deception about global warming.
“This is the first computational assessment of how Exxon Mobil has used language in subtle yet systematic ways to shape the way the public talks about and thinks about climate change,” Geoffrey Supran, a research fellow at Harvard and co-author of the paper, said in an interview with E&E News.
“One of our overall findings is that Exxon Mobil has used rhetoric mimicking the tobacco industry to downplay the reality and seriousness of climate change and to shift responsibility for climate change away from itself and onto consumers,” he added.
A spokesperson for Exxon Mobil disputed the paper, calling it part of a coordinated legal campaign against the company.
Supran and co-author Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard (and Scientific American columnist), conducted a computational analysis of 180 Exxon Mobil documents from 1972 to 2019, including peer-reviewed publications, advertorials in The New York Times and internal memos.
Seriously, are Scientific American and other outlets worried people wouldn’t read past the headline, if they saw Oreskes name?
I suspect the problem is Oreskes hasn’t said anything new in a long time, always banging the same drum. And she isn’t actually offering a solution.
The core problem, there is no serious alternative to fossil fuel. EVs are too expensive, and most of the world’s fossil fuel powered grids would buckle if more people decided to go electric.
There is no hope renewables will significantly replace fossil fuel infrastructure, they are simply too unreliable. Either people accept the misery of unreliable energy, or they pay for two sets of infrastructure – the virtue signalling renewable system, and the “backup” system, which has to be kept on hot rolling standby, in case a cloud covers the sun.
Nuclear power could replace fossil fuel – but as Willis’ superb analysis demonstrates, it would take decades of massive investment to replace fossil fuel infrastructure with nuclear power stations. The money going full nuclear would cost, that is an awful lot of schools and hospitals which would not be built.
I’m no fan of breathing in exhaust smoke, as a severe asthma sufferer I’d love if there was an easy solution to eliminating fossil fuel pollution. But no such solution currently exists.
Naomi Oreskes, if you want people to start paying attention again, make an effort. Say something new. You don’t need to hide your name in the sixth paragraph, all you need to do is say something interesting. Come up with an idea for eliminating fossil fuel which does not require massive government intervention or exorbitant costs, or slamming fossil fuel companies with new burdens, the cost of which would inevitably be passed on to consumers in some form.