New reporting by Inside Climate News shows that petroleum giant Exxon knew, more than thirty years ago, that burning too much fossil fuel would cause catastrophic climate change. Comparing Exxon's subsequent emphasis on profits over planetary health to the efforts of Big Tobacco hiding the dangers of cigarettes, PZ Myers writes "the future is going to look back on rabid capitalism as one of the damning pathologies of our history." Now that the wider public is accepting the fact that anthropogenic global warming will transform and could destroy our way of life, Exxon is very much on the hook. Greg Laden, conducting data analysis to prove the accuracy of Exxon's early research, asks "How surprised should we be that a major corporation would both look into and ignore, possibly even repress, the science associated with their primary activity?" While a conspiracy comes to mind, William M. Connolley is a bit more circumspect on Stoat, noting that Exxon's research, building on well-known science, appeared in the peer-reviewed literature. Connolley writes, "confirming publically available information with other publically information available is hardly the stuff of deep dark secrets." But with the public face of Exxon obfuscating the truth since 1989, it's hard not to look at them as evildoers. See also: Exxon speaks.
I think that we can be fairly certain that Exxon is well protected by a phalanx of expensive lawyers against our moral outrage. They should be able to easily fend off any torch and pitchfork attack that we want to wage against them. In the big picture they certainly do look like planet wrecking villains, but they did, after all give us things we wanted and needed,and I am sure that may be part of their defense. Have you walked to the store to buy groceries lately? Put up a couple cords of firewood for the winter? Hauled water from the stream? If you are ready to give up every minute of your free time to devote to fossil fuel free survival, then you should feel completely free to take the moral high ground against Exxon Mobil. Or if you have converted to completely fossil free energy already, kudos to you.
In the mean time, I think it would probably be very helpful to the plight of our species and our planet if we could somehow get some more leverage on Fossil Fuel Incorporated to force them to more openly and very publicly admit that yes, we have a climate problem that they (and we ) are the cause. They have supposedly admitted to this in the open literature. They say as much on their website. But it is still being said at such a low volume that the denialsphere is not hearing it or responding to it.
I think that Exxon Mobil had better work to shut down the denialsphere that they have created, that is today's problem. As it stands now, the CEO of Exxon can publicly mock sustainable energy with impunity, and he doesn't have to do anything to put out the fires of denialism that his company ignited decades ago. That, to me is the real moral outrage. The chief Exxon planet wrecking eco-terrorist can claim innocence, even though his sleeper cells of terrorist climate wrecking thugs are free to poison the minds of the public. He can giggle all the way to the bank because climate science is tied up by his pea brained proxy army of web parasites. And here they come now....Look out.