ExxonMobil’s internal climate science research, which began as soon as the 1970s, accurately and regularly predicted the pace and severity of global warming, even as executives publicly said the data wasn’t accurate or relevant enough to change the course of further oil and gas development, a new study finds. The study published Thursday in the journal Science found that over the next decades, Exxon’s scientists made projections that proved even more accurate than those of independent academic and government models, including from NASA.
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data and the historical commentary of Big Oil executives have already been leveraged for environmental campaigns in recent years, such as #ExxonKnew. But where Thursday’s report differs is its look at how thorough and accurate the internal data and modeling proved to be when compared to the actual changes in Earth’s temperature. The new research, dismissed in part by the oil concern’s representatives as fueling the #ExxonKnew claims, may play a role in legal action against the company for allegedly misleading investors and the public about the dangers of global warming. The study examined 32 internal documents containing scientific research produced by in-house Exxon scientists between 1977 and 2002, and 72 peer-reviewed studies from company scientists between 1982 and 2014. The findings were pursued by researchers at Harvard University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “What they understood about climate model …