Tell it like it is

87 responses to “Tell it like it is

  1. Somebody tell me who that actor is? He looks and sounds very familiar.

  2. John Waters shaved his mustache.

  3. Ah, I have it. Dunno if it’s really Linus Roache, but it sure looks like him
    (and yeah, Linus Roache does bear a certain resemblance to Colm Feore)

  4. If they could make huge profits AND do something for your children, they would. But they can’t and so they don’t.

    Everyone working at Exxon is part of this. How do these people sleep at night? I mean, we’re all responsible, but there are gradations.

  5. Tamino, I’ve learned a lot from your blog and I respect your work; but I think you damage your credibility by posting this video here.

    [Response: We’ll agree to disagree.]

  6. Reposted and commented.

    But in one small respect, they slipped up. They referred to “this summer’s drought.”

    Fact is, it’s still ongoing, with over half the country in D1 or worse. (OK, this is a stats blog, so 62.37% of the lower 48, 52.23% of all US territory.)

    As so often lately, it’s worse than even ‘alarmists’ thought.

  7. ExxonMobil is people. They went to the same schools and have the same backgrounds as everybody else. They do not go out and recruit evil people.

    I’m curious as to what people expect them to do.

    My personal viewpoint is that Exxon has not been able to much influence public opinion about AGW. I think La Nina has far far more influence in making people skeptical. In the face of El Nino, Exxon is virtually powerless.

    [Response: I think you’re deluding yourself.

    ExxonMobil leadership is people who don’t care about anything but their own personal profit. They make obscene amounts of money by selling fossil fuels. But fossil fuel consumption has consequences for everybody — bad consequences. ExxonMobil doesn’t care. Their only motive is their own profit, and they’re willing — in fact eager — to do anything, including destroy the future, to make that profit.

    They have even invested considerable sums of money funding organizations which spread propaganda denying man-made global warming. Those efforts have been far more effective sabotaging the public will to do something about global warming, than the ubiquitous temporary coolings caused by la Nina.

    ExxonMobil (and others) are no different from tobacco companies. Not only is their product destructive, they are willing to mislead people about its consequences in order to perpetuate their own financial gain.

    In my opinion, they are morally obligated to do several things. First and foremost, admit the truth that global warming is real, is dangerous, is man-made, and is chiefly due to the burning of fossil fuels. I certainly don’t expect that to happen.]

    • by the fires of convenience we set the wheels in motion
      by the fires of convenience we set the winds in motion
      by the fires of convenience we set the waters in motion
      by the fires of convenience we set the lands in motion

      for the fires of convenience we set our doubts in motion—
      can by our fires of convenience we stop the wheel of Fate?

    • Can’t agree. I wouldn’t hear so much recycled FUD if Exxon and the rest got nothing for their PR dollar.

    • “They do not go out and recruit evil people.” Are they willfully misleading the public as to the implications of climate change and its impact on global welfare? That would be evil wouldn’t it? How about these recruits on the Exxon-Mobil payroll: The Heartland Institute, The Marshall Institute (who in turn funds people like Willie Soon), The Competitive Enterprise Institute. You have seen their presentations or their likes obliterated in this blog on a more or less regular basis. Are they scientists or are they obfuscating for their patrons? Would you consider the latter evil?

      From the link below:

      “ExxonMobil is the biggest funder of global-warming denialism, spending nearly $16 million on more than forty organizations over the period 1998–2005.” (James Lawrence Powell, The Inquisition of Climate Science)

      • I realise that I’m sounding like an apologist for Exxon and that is not my intent but their website says “In 2002, ExxonMobil made a long-term research commitment by becoming a founding sponsor of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford University in California. We have since contributed more than half of our $100 million commitment to the program. This pioneering research program is focused on identifying breakthrough energy technologies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and that could be developed on a large scale within a 10- to 50-year time frame. GCEP has sponsored more than 66 research programs at 27 institutions in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the United States.”

        That sounds like a lot more than the $16m spent on over 40 organizations that are AGW deniers. Does anyone know what the $50m GCEP received so far was spent on?

      • Louise,

        PR campaigns to spread disinformation about science are a lot cheaper than doing actual science, and the are so effective that no Republican who wanted a chance to be elected was willing to admit they thought AGW might be real.

        $100 million since 2002 represents just 1/4 of one percent of their net income for last year. A cynic would see that as a small price to pay to try to balance the negative PR associated with also funding the very organisations that have been so effective at stifling political will to actually do something about climate change.

      • Louise said :

        Does anyone know what the $50m GCEP received so far was spent on?

        Thanks for that question. I’ve also wondered where the $ 50 million went that Exxon claimed they contributed to GCEP.
        The numbers don’t seem to add up. Here we go :

        GCEP reports :

        As part of its strategy to build a diverse portfolio of innovative technologies, GCEP provides up to $100,000 in funding for research activities of an exploratory nature that test the feasibility and application of potential step-out ideas. During a one-year performance period, these activities focus on novel approaches and innovative concepts associated with technologies that lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale. To date, GCEP has funded 35 exploratory efforts. Based on initial results, close to a third of these have successfully gone on to be funded as three-year GCEP research programs, including some that set out to develop new transparent electrodes for photovoltaics, produce hydrogen from glucose in a cell-free manner and integrate coal energy conversion with aquifer-based carbon sequestration.

        Now, for one, 35 research activities of $ 100,000/year is $ 3.5 M. They report that “a third of these have successfully gone on to be funded as three-year GCEP research programs” which suggests some 12 research activities were extended another 2 years, which would add another $ 2.3 M to the research funding.

        But that gets us only to a total of $ 6 M (since 2003).
        Where did the other $ 44 M go ?

        Or is this whole GCEP thing yet another one of Exxon’s PR tricks ?

      • Sorry, here is the link to that GCEP statement :

        Which suggests that Exxon has not spend more than $ 6 million on GCEP research programs since 2003.

        You quoted “GCEP has sponsored more than 66 research programs at 27 institutions in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the United States”.
        Do you have a bit more information on which research programs at exactly which institutions Exxon funded ?

      • Rob and Louise, here is a link to the research projects conducted by GCEP since 2003.

        The supporters of this project want to make sure they gain control of any new technologies developed for post fossil fuel use. It is far far cheaper for them to give small amounts of money to Universities than it is to conduct the research in their own facilities (or contract it out to where total costs have to be paid). Plus they can cast their nets over a much larger number of projects than they actually fund since researchers who are not funded by these lucrative contracts will assimilate the results of other research into this project.

        I have looked at the legal agreements and it does seem to favour the corporations over the universities in who owns and can use and license technology. It is a sad reflection of University funding that many of them have succumbed to the lure of corporate dollars and corporate control of the results. It is especially bad in the areas of energy, bio-pharmaceuticals and agricultural research.

  8. I’m not sure how it works in the USA but in the UK the largest shareholders in the biggest companies are pension funds and similar. I am a member of my employer’s pension scheme because it’s easier that way and I don’t know how to manage my own pension fund – I’m pretty risk averse and I’d rather leave it to the experts.

    I don’t expect I’m a minority in this way and although I try to bank ethically (I use the Co-Op in the UK), I don’t know how to influence the guys that manage the pension. I work for a large multinational and am an insignificant speck in the grand scheme of the pension fund.

    I don’t ‘know’ that my pension fund is invested in companies like Exxon but I suspect it is. There should be an easy mechanism for people like me to make my views known to the pension fund managers but currently there isn’t any ‘opt-out’ mechanism for ethical investment. It’s all or nothing and the nothing severely disadvantages me as my employer’s contributions to my pension(10% of salary per year) are only for the recognised scheme.

    • Louise.

      I don’t know how it is for other instituions or other countries but in Australia the university superannuation fund offers employees a quite varied selection of different investment types intowhich they can distribute their contributions. These range from conservative to risky, and ‘conventional’ to ethical. If any fund anywhere doesn’t offer a service like this to new clients, then I’d be very concerned that the fund in question is not at the coal face of investment management. Check to see if yours does; if not, shop around.

      Having said that I can’t help but agree with John Michael Greer, who notes in “The Wealth of Nature: Economics As If Survival Mattered” that anyone with more than 20 years of work left in them is likely not to be getting anything from their funds by the time they ‘retire’…

    • Louise.

      I don’t know how it is for other instituitons or other countries but in Australia the university superannuation fund offers employees a quite varied selection of different investment types into which they can distribute their contributions. These range from conservative to risky, and ‘conventional’ to ethical. If any fund anywhere doesn’t offer a service like this to new clients, then I’d be very concerned that the fund in question is not at the coal face of investment management. Check to see if yours does; if not, shop around.

      Having said that I can’t help but agree with John Michael Greer, who notes in “The Wealth of Nature: Economics As If Survival Mattered” that anyone with more than 20 years of work left in them is likely not to be getting anything from their funds by the time they ‘retire’…

    • In the US Bill McKibben of has launched While its main focus is getting universities to divest from fossil fuel companies, it also extends to pension fund investments.

  9. Philippe Chantreau

    I can’t totally disagree with the underlying message but I think oil should not be singled out, or even bear the bulk of the burden. Coal is the biggest problem; there is far more of it than oil, and the release of all the economically recoverable carbon stored as coal would be far more damaging than of that stored as oil. In addition, coal burning releases more toxics, like mercury and many others. The reason why one can’t catch a fish anywhere without abnormal levels of mercury today, even in the middle of the Pacific, is coal burning. The snow on the mountains where I live show by- products of the coal burning in China, all the way across the Pacific.

    However, it is true that real problem is the moral vacuum in corporations. It is simply not acceptable that a corporation, or a group of corporations be driven to misinform the public in this way. It tells a lot on the moral make up of the people heading these corporations. It goes as far back as the lead paint wars, when crude tactics were inaugurated that later the tobacco industry refined. The normal response would be “OK, it seems that there is indeed a problem with some effects of stuff we sell, let’s see how we can solve this.” It may entail a radical transformation of the whole industry into something new, which I’m sure the public could assist. Instead we see the same thing over and over since the lead paint: denial, pseudo-science, fear mongering (“it will cost trillions and ruin the economy to phase out CFCs”) and piles of bullshit so high they’d qualify for mountain top removal.

    • You are right, the big problem is with the moral vaccum of corporations. I believe that corporations want to be treated like people. So should it be possible to lock up a corporation?

      • Horatio Algeranon

        “Corporeal Emissions”
        — by Horatio Algeranon

        Corporations are person’s too
        They gotta grow bigger
        They really do
        They’ll simply die,
        And suffer too,
        If they cease
        Emitting CO2.

  10. Tamino, you say “In my opinion, they are morally obligated to do several things. First and foremost, admit the truth that global warming is real, is dangerous, is man-made, and is chiefly due to the burning of fossil fuels. I certainly don’t expect that to happen.”

    The Exxonmobile website says “Our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is focused on increasing energy efficiency in the short term, implementing proven emission-reducing technologies in the near and medium term, and developing breakthrough, game-changing technologies for the long term. ”

    I don’t see that they are not ‘admitting that global warming is real, etc’. You might think it all words and no action but it reads well.

    They also say “The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) provides an update of scientific understanding regarding GHG emissions, global warming and the risks of climate change, and the way changes could unfold in the future. Emissions scenarios and results from climate models (see Figure 1) estimate that, without policy intervention, temperatures could increase 1 to 5 º C by 2100.”

    • Yeah, but judge actions, not words.

    • Exactly as John Brookes said:
      What Exxon does is greenwashing. They pretend to care about the environment and as we can see, it works obviously very well (at least with you).

      But behind the scenes they do exactly the opposite: They spend huge amounts on lobbying that Global Warming is either not real, that is not caused by us or will not be so bad or even good (“CO2 is plant food”) etc…. in order to bring politicians in Washington and elsewhere to either stop or at least delay any legislation that would try to bring down carbon emissions, because they make money by selling stuff that makes those emissions.

      Besides politicians they also target the general public and they pay people to spread the same misinformation (Global Warming is not real, it’s not us, it’s not bad, etc) to create doubt. It’s the same strategy as the tobacco industry did with smoking and lung cancer. By spreading doubt they try to persuade the people that no action is necessary and thereby reducing the pressure that those people will otherwise put on their legislators (see before) to make something about that.

      I strongly suggest you watch or read Naomi Oreskes excellent “Merchants of Doubt”:

  11. The Exx-Mob is taking a classic page from past successful anti-science campaigns. They don’t explicitly deny the science when it can be traced directly to them. Rather, they let their surrogates–Heartland, CEI, Cato… do the dirty work. It doesn’t take much. People don’t want to believe the truth. Nobody wants to believe they are consigning their progeny to a life of hardship if not worse.

    I’m sure they tell themselves comforting fairy tales at night–that it won’t be as bad as they say, that someone will come up with a magical scientific solution and all the worry will have been for naught. Then they go to sleep on beds of money and dream sweet dreams of flowing oil.

    That they know the science their internal documents leave no doubt. Their own scientists have been advising them to drop the science denial for over a decade. People are always surprised by the banality of evil–almost disappointed when they see its bland face. And then it slams the oven door on them. Evil is not some outside force. It lurks within us–and it takes us over unless we actively resist it within us as well as outside.

  12. Horatio Algeranon

    “We’ll adapt”

    — Horatio Algeranon’s adaptation of Exxon-Mobil CEO T-Rex Tillerson)

    Global warming?
    We’ll adapt…
    CAT 5’s forming?
    We’ll adapt…
    Searing hot-spells?
    We’ll adapt…
    Drying water-wells?
    We’ll adapt…
    Greater flooding?
    We’ll adapt…
    Cropland gutting?
    We’ll adapt…
    Harvest ruin?
    We’ll adapt…
    Order ungluin?
    We’ll adapt…
    Climate warring?
    We’ll adapt…
    Reality ignoring?
    We’ll adapt…
    Global burnings
    We’ll adapt…
    Increased earnings
    We’ll adapt…
    AGW denial…
    We’ll adapt…
    PR guile
    We’ll adapt…

  13. Corporations are not evil. They are not good. They are profit-maximizing machines, specifically designed for that, very good at doing what they do. They are amoral. If they can make the most profit doing good works, they’ll do that. If they can make the most profit manufacturing Zyklon-B to exterminate Jews for the Reich, they’ll do that. That’s why tight social control of corporations is so very important. Let the corporations do what they do best–make money. Just make sure they can’t do it by exploiting workers (I do not mean “exploiting” in the Marxist sense) or by damaging property or hurting people or killing people.

    • Coporations are not necessarily designed to do that. A corporation can be organized for any number of reasons and pursue any goals it wishes so long as they are legal. Despite all the rhetoric of “maximizing shareholder value”, there is absolutely no requirement that this is actually what a corporation is supposed to do. This sentiment wasn’t in vogue until the Chicago school and neolibs promoted it in the 70s.

      It’s inherently contradictory anyway – which shareholders in which time frame? It’s been implemented as if quarterly profits are all that matter, even at the expense of long term viability

      • Horatio Algeranon

        “Shareholder Values”
        — by Horatio Algeranon

        “Maximize shareholder value”
        Is really all we do
        But let me simply tell you
        We’re caring and ethical too.

        Our shareholders care about cash
        Have business ethics to prove it
        They’re not about to slash
        The profits to re-move soot.

    • It helps me to think of corporations as robots, to anthropomorphize them in that way. They are not people, they are “legal entities” obligated by law to maximize profit for their investors. To blame the corporation is like blaming a robot. The blame should go to the people who invented this soulless world – destroying “entity” called a corporation. I don’t know who wrote the first laws establishing their existence, creating the operating guidelines and parameters under which they function, but a good part of the blame for this mess should be put on their shoulders. Like a computer program, a corporation is an artificial thing; it functions under the rules laid out for it. The only people who are allowed to work for Exxon, or any corporation, are the ones who are able to follow the operating instructions of the corporation. Like a bad CPU chip, a CEO who tried to maximize the good of the planet at the cost of profits would be kicked to the curb by the board of directors.
      The moral imperative in the short term is to refuse to work for corporations that are actively causing harm. In the long term, I think we must kill the robot, that is we must rethink and re-write the entire enabling legislation that governs the existence of corporations- to reprogram the robot, if you will.

      • Excellent points, Wendy: It’s but one reason we *must* rid ourselves of the execrable Citizens United, before it does the rest of the robots’ job.

      • As I said before, there is no legal obligation to maximize profits. Leaders of corporations just use that as an excuse to justify their behavior….

        “Well, sure, I’d love to be environmentally conscious and pay all my workers a living wage, it’s just that pesky law, it won’t let me”

    • Horatio Algeranon

      “Mind your business”
      — by Horatio Algeranon

      The corporation is a mask
      Which people hide behind
      They do the dirty task
      And no one seems to mind.

    • That reductionist idea of what a corporation is and what its duties are has a recent vintage.

      • I think you have to distinguish between a corporation and the publicly traded corporation. The character of the former depends on the leadership. The character of the latter is determined by the greed and short-term focus of the shareholders. The latter can punish the hell out of a company that doesn’t maximize short-term profit.

    • Exxon is obsessive about worker safety. They are about as good at it as it gets. Refineries are dangerous places. Learned from their mistake: the Valdez.

      Worker safety erases profit.

      Once there was an oil company that ran ads about their green investments. They were the darlings of the green media. Any time I hear a boom on refinery road, I assume that company has killed yet another person(s). And I am amazed how many times my assumption is right.

      Sorry guys, but HadCrut3 has done far more than Exxon to derail action on AGW. Exxon couldn’t have had a better thing fall into their laps than having the gold standard GMT series go flat at just about the perfect time.

      [Response: First of all, HadCRUT3 is not the “gold standard.” Both NCDC and NASA GISS are, in my opinion, superior, and even from HadCRU the T3 series has been superseded by the newer HadCRUT4 series.

      Furthermore, what you call “go flat” is nothing but entirely natural variation due to el Nino, solar variation, and random fluctuation. This is a ubiquitous property of time series. The only impact on public perception has been the misleading, utterly dishonest “spin” of it by fake skeptics and vested interests.

      Those vested interests include fossil fuel industries like Exxon, who have helped fund a campaign of lies.

      If Exxon has an exemplary record on worker safety, that’s a good thing. I suspect their motive for that is financial rather than ethical, because worker safety does not erase profit, the lack of it does.]

  14. The shorter our sewer pipe emptying into the future, the better we’ll behave.

  15. Lest you think Exxon’s activities have been entirely passive donations to denier think-tanks, let’s not forget their 2002 memo to Bush asking for Watson to be replaced as head of the IPCC:

    Or the 1998 “Action Plan”:

  16. The other thing to remember about many of these people is that they are hopeless technutopians. Some people sincerely believe in some version or other of “The Jetsons” as being both desirable and achievable within their own or their children’s lifetimes.

    I was in a discussion the other day with someone proposing that 5C temp increase, within a century, would be perfectly OK …. because ….
    1)GMO grains produced in a robotically operated agricultural system could overcome the drought, flood, pest problems to feed us,
    and 2) most of the world’s population *will* be housed in storm proof high rise accommodation.
    When I raised the issue of the UN estimate of 2 billion people living in slums, favelas and shanty towns by 2030, this was blithely dismissed as doable. Needing to build a new Paris every year for a hundred years – just for these people alone – without counting any of the costs or effort of relocating or rebuilding all the sea level affected populations =will= with no shadow of any doubt be achieved by virtue of buildings put together by 3D ‘printing’ of complete walls, and on and on and on.

    I’m pretty sure there are people within these corporations with similarly unrealistic notions. (Even though these same people claim it’s impossible to modify or change the course of industry or society in any other way, because money, or because freedom. Or any other excuse.) It may be incoherent, but it’s comforting to them.

    • I am heartened to see that, in the half century since Kurosawa filmed “Tengoku to jigoku,” humanity has used the various technology gained to erase the poverty, inequality, and crime he depicted.

  17. John Archington

    Probably Exxon is not working for the good of humanity, but for money. Yet we should remember that all indicators of human development are positively correlated with the consumption of fossil fuels, and that the countries burning the least oil are also the poorest in the world. I don’t think it’s true with tobacco …

    • All? I really don’t think so–or maybe I’m conflating “development” and “well-being,” which is probably a mistake.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        “Hum(mer)an Development”
        — by Horatio Algeranon

        From womb to grave
        Development’s slave
        To fossil fuel
        Which Exxon gave

    • You’re making the error of failing to identify correctly the root cause of that development.

      It’s not fossil fuels that help out development, it’s access to affordable sources of energy.

      Once you make that distinction between “fossil fuels” and “energy”, it’s easy to see how human development can be improved in the long term, because burning fossil fuels is going to cause some pretty severe disruption to human development in the future…

  18. John Archington

    “I was in a discussion the other day with someone proposing that 5C temp increase, within a century, would be perfectly OK …. because ….
    1)GMO grains produced in a robotically operated agricultural system could overcome the drought, flood, pest problems to feed us,
    and 2) most of the world’s population *will* be housed in storm proof high rise accommodation.
    When I raised the issue of the UN estimate of 2 billion people living in slums, favelas and shanty towns by 2030, this was blithely dismissed as doable. ”

    Do the same scenarios predict a 5C increase and 2 billion poor people in 2100 ? I don’t think so, because the fossil intensive scenarios require a lot of fossil fuels to be burnt, and an even bigger increase of the world wealth. If you look at the detailed scenarios in SRES, you will find that the wealth will have globally increased by a factor 5 to 10, and much more for the poorest (30 or more). The poorest countries in 2100 will be 3 times as rich as the richest now. In the scenarios, there is almost no non-commercial use of wood (indicating the virtual disappearance of poverty). Although the use of cropland has significantly decreased due to increase of agricultural yields. Note although that in these scenarios, the oil and gas production will be several times the current one in 2100, although conventional reserves would be totally exhausted. You may not believe in these figures (I don’t) , but they are necessary to get a high concentration of CO2, all this carbon must be burnt by real people !

    [Response: In my opinion, you are seriously deluded.

    Repeated, scorching drought in the American breadbasket will not be overcome by increased agricultural efforts. Food prices will rise dramatically. People will starve. No amount of petrodollars will make potable water where glaciers disappear and rivers run dry. Nations will go to war over dwindling resources. The toll in human suffering will be beyond imagination.

    Your portrait of money as a panacea is a sad, sick excuse for the “have”s to justify actions which condemn not only the “have-not”s, but their own posterity, to misery.]

  19. John Archington, One of the most amazing and stupid abilities of the human species is our ability to impose a linear extrapolation on present conditions while ignoring constraints to the problem.

    I have no doubt that the carbon will be burnt–every last gram of it. There is absolutely no necessity that this result in higher standards of living for the poor. As we confront greater obstacles and more difficult constraints in wringing a living from our finite planet, our use of energy will become less efficient–it will take more to produce less. Continually rebuilding infrastructure damaged by extreme weather, etc. will not increase affluence.

  20. Horatio Algeranon

    “The Doha side-step”

    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Exxon hates your children
    But Exxon’s not alone.
    Emissions cuts foot-draggers
    Are throwing them a bone.

    More folks who “tell it like it is”
    Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International

    Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists

  21. Lars Karlsson

    Recommended reading: The Corporation by Joel Bakan.

  22. > wealth will have globally increased by a factor 5 to 10
    Can’t afford to have that happen again.
    Look at how the world changed the last time that happened!
    90 percent of the big fish are gone, etc. etc.
    You people who discount the world because it’s not bankable are fools.

  23. Perhaps the “crimes” of Exxon should be put in context. It produces 2.3 million barrels of oil a day which converts to 0.1 GtC per year, or 1% of global carbon emissions. And they aren’t even top of the heap any more.
    So Exxon is not “the problem” but rather part of the problem, as in deed we are all. This is perhaps worth bearing in mind when drawing up the “crime sheet” for Exxon.

    It would be a difficult case to make to argue that Exxon’s operations are directed/driven by 99,000 evil people. In my book it is more realistic to consider that the worldview of those directing/driving Exxon only makes sense if you put yourself in their shoes.
    Exxon makes $41 billion a year profit and tops Wikipedia’s 2011 company revenue chart with $486 billion revenue. (Oil companies occupy 7 of the top 10 places of this revenue chart.)
    I would suggest that converting an organisation like Exxon away from a being a purveyor oil and CO2 emissions into something more “acceptable” is (will be) incredibly difficult. Oil still has eager customers and Exxon has 99,000 employees dedicated to providing them with what they want – oil. And with oil prices so high, all those investments in exploration and infrastructure are now coming good big time. The incentive to stop diminishes with every $-rise per barrel.
    The systemic output of a corporate organisation of this nature will include investment in any new non-conventional oil & gas production (tar sands & fracking – don’t want competitors stealing a march!) and extending the life of oil as a product by fuelling lobbyists with a few quid from petty cash. Even the $600 million on oil from algae is small beer for a company the size of Exxon.

    The problem Exxon has with climate change is that it requires such a change – an evolution from the certainties of a big dirty oil company to the questionable uncertainties of some airy-fairy eco-green future or other. How do you do that without the wheels falling of the corporation? With great difficulty.
    Exxon’s comfort-zone is firmly in the domain of business-as-usual and it will take a very valiant & capable business leader in that situation to make anything more than token changes in anything less than a decade.

    So do put the boot in Exxon. It will add weight to the arguments of those within the company that change to using oil-replacement technologies is long overdue & oil money must play a part in developing it. Because if the likes of Exxon want a long term future, oil money will have to play a very big part in developing it.

    • “It would be a difficult case to make to argue that Exxon’s operations are directed/driven by 99,000 evil people.”

      You know, I got a bit more of an insight into that recently. An employment opportunity was raised, that involved triple (yes, triple!) my current salary. The downside was that it would be working 100% of my time for a coal-seam gas company.

      As strongly as I feel about the dangers of climate change, and that digging up & burning fossil fuels is a fools’ errand, I was sorely tempted. That much money would make life a lot easier, and help me provide the best start in life I could for my daughters. Of course, long term it wouldn’t be helping them at all…

    • Wall Street has derided Exxon for its recent expansion into natural gas (XTO). Jim Cramer referred to them as being a less oily company.

  24. Just to be clear, “Bernard J.” and “Bernard”are two different people.

  25. Hi Tamino-

    I’m wondering two things-
    When can we expect to see something in response to Tisdale on November 28th over at WUWT?

    [Response: It’s absolute nonsense, there’s nothing of substance to respond to. Perhaps it should be ridiculed just for entertainment — but it’s ridiculous enough as it is.]

    Have you read Nate Silver’s chapter on Climate change? [Response: No.] Wondered what you thought of it. I’m seeing a lot of projection here in terms of people reading it to fit their pre-existing stance. The claim that the IPCC got arctic ice right is flat out wrong, and there is in general only the idea that there are some overpredictions, with no mention of under predictions. (Isn’t it also true that the most recent measurements show overall antarctic ice loss now, and not gain in response to loss of arctic ice?) What do you make of neither Graham nor Schmidt being willing to take the other’s bet? (i’ve got my own conclusions)

    [Response: Antarctic sea ice has not declined, but it’s now clear that the land ice in Antarctica is reducing. As for taking bets … ask Graham and Schmidt.]

    • Now do correct me if I’m wrong. Having neither spent years researching the satellite-derived SST data nor written books on the subject like what Bob Tisdale has, I find it hard to believe that somebody who has devoted such a time to the subject could make such a mistake as this.
      To me, the Eastern Pacific would lie to the East of the Western Pacific. Thus it would be defined (perhaps confusingly) as 80W-180W. So far so good as this concurs with Tisdale’s Figure 2 in the screed linked above by Dave123.
      Where it starts to get tricky is that I would assume that on the NOAA NOMADS website (that Tisdale uses to source his data), I would reckon that this Eastern Pacific (80W-180W) would equate to +80 to +180. Yet when I plot this data on the NOAA NOMADS site I don’t get what Tisdale gets. To achieve that, I have to plot -180 to -80.
      So maybe by Eastern Pacific, Mr T. means the bit of the Pacific you reach first when you go East, the bit off the Far East of Asia, what I would call the Western Pacific. But that can’t be right because 80E takes you halfway across the Indian Ocean, way beyond the Pacific.
      So it must be down to whether on these NOAA NOMADS plots that Tisdale has been researching for “years,” whether East is positive or negative longitude. So am I being a silly billy & got my longitudes arse about tit, or has Mr T. made a very seriously embarrassing gaff?

      [Response: By convention, latitudes east of Greenwich are positive and those west of Greenwich are negative.]

  26. Some readers here will be interested in this, I think: I’ll be undertaking periodic revisits of Sandy impacts on my existing Sandy article. Most here will probably be aware of much of the content (and indeed, some of it I first learned about here–for instance, Kumi Naidoo’s comments at Doha.) But I hope it may be a congenial place for them to point folks to, from time to time.

    And also, if anyone has solid relevant information that they’d like to get out there, I’d be pleased to consider incorporating it.

    Thanks in advance, Tamino…

  27. Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves …”

  28. First, mea culpa Armstrong, not Graham. The two names are associated for me for professional reasons. Second, sorry for not being clear I did already know the sea ice/land ice situation for Antarctica (I do read this blog always, even if I don’t frequently comment). And yes, Hank, I had read the SkS article on Nate’s chapter. I was interested in Tamino’s take as a professional statistician.

    But I’ve started pondering another point. We talk a lot about climate sensitivity (CS), and we talk about accuracy of models for Surface temperature increases but what are we really talking about? I don’t see anyting inherent in either subject that provides answers to any of several critical questions: What are the odds of a really large chunk of ice from Greenland or Antarctica sliding into the ocean in the next 20-30 years given that we’ve been wrong about what’s going on up and down there? (How does refining our estimate of Climate Sensitivity help us with this? For that matter is Skinner in Science (24 August) right in suggesting that there may not be one number for cimate sensitivity at any given point in history?). Given the extreme weather we’ve experienced, it’s all well and good to talk about increased frequencies etc, but again do better estimates of climate sensitivites tell us anything more about the security of our agricultural enterprise, here in the US or globally? Are we being diverted by the wrong question? In fact, can too much focus on CS or average Global Temperatures simply play into the hands of forces of denial by keeping things sanitary and abstract?

    As a last musing, I’m wondering if it’s easier to be deceptive and deceived as a Bayesian than as a frequentist. I was disturbed by Armstrong’s casual assumptions of priors as quoted in Siver’s book. With a causual approach to what the priors are and a selective approach to what new data gets incorporated (say, picking which new CS estimates you wish to consider and ignoring others) you can put a Bayesian Gold Star on just about anything, and the statistically semi-literate will be fooled yet again by bad statistics. Does anyone have a feel for how real a problem this is working with large data, or with policy issues?

  29. Dave123,
    First, you have to define what you mean by climate sensitivity–what feedbacks you are including over what timescales. Usually, CS refers to the Charney sensitivity. It is certainly a simplification, but it is still an important number–a higher sensitivity means it will warm faster and that life gets a lot more unpleasant a lot sooner. And of course the warmer it gets, the more we have a chance of something unforeseen and catastrophic occurring. So climate sensitivity is not the “wrong question”. Rather it is one of many questions we need to understand if we are to understand the complex system called climate.

    As to the question of Bayesian vs. Frequentist probability. It is every bit as easy to fool yourself as a Frequentist as it is as a Bayesian. In fact, it is probably easier to detect subterfuge (witting or unwitting) in a Bayesian framework, as much of the subjectivity is confined to the Prior. That is certainly the first thing I look at in a Bayesian analysis. It is also possible to look at a broad range of Priors and see how they affect your conclusions.

    In Frequentist analyses, there is still the question of the models to be used–as beautifully demonstrated by the Matt Asher debacle commented on in the previous thread. And there is still the question of what data you include in the analysis–it’s arguable that since Bayesian methods allow consideration of a broader range of data, they are actually more “honest” and complete than a purely frequentist approach. Ultimately, it is every bit as possible to do a bad frequentist analysis as it is to do a bad Bayesian analysis–and the badness of the analysis may be just as hard or harder to detect!

    Ultimately, though, in many cases, a Bayesian analysis may be more “honest” than a Frequentist analysis for the simple reason that the probabilities we are dealing with are subjective. Climate sensitivity, presumably, has a single value–at least if we define the term with sufficient precision. It isn’t a distribution. The 90% confidence interval of 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling represents our subjective knowledge of that parameter based on the data we have. And global catastrophe will either occur or not–the system evolving due to deterministic physics rather than probability. Most of the probabilities we deal with in science are subjective probabilities, and Bayesian formalism is more natural for dealing with subjective probability.

    Ultimately, our goal has to be development of sufficient sophistication that we can identifiy bad probabilistic analyses, be they Bayesian or Frequentist or Likelihoodist or whatever.

  30. Pardon me, Tamino, but I am just not sure where else to contact you is! It would appear that WTFiUWT that may be misrepresenting this person’s paper, and/or I simply have such a poor understanding of statistics that the researcher may be incorrect. Your thoughts would be appreciated and please, repost this in a more appropriate place, if you wish.

    [Response: I’m studying the paper now.]

    • David B. Benson

      Having taken considerable time in the pst few days to use Google Earth satellite maps to look in some detail at the northern and eastern border of all of Russia, the route of both the Transsiberian and BAM from Krasnoyarsk to the terminii on the Pacific and the areas around both Norilsk and Yatkutsk I have an opinion (but nothing more) about temperatures in ‘Siberia’. First of all, Siberia strictly extends from the Ural Mountians (Yekaterinburg on the Trans-Siberian) past Irkutsk on Lake Baikal to short of Skvorodino; after that is Far Eastern Russia (often mistakenly called Eastern Siberia).

      The climate of Siberia and Far Eastern Russia is continental with what precipitation there is falling mostly in the summer (but not necessarily as rain). The temperatures are dominated by the lack of sunshine and much of the ground north of the inhabited areas along the southern borders is permafrost. Even much of the BAM is laid on permafrost, requiring special engineering.

      So it comes as little surprise that the temperatures in that vast region have yet to demonstrate the significance noticed for those stations dominated by the Gulf Stream. After reading the paper I’m prepared to accept the conclusions based solely on the geography.

    • Thanks: I also let Dr. Franzke know of this (WTFiUWT’s citation) and he said he is, too, preparing a response. I look forward to both his and your interpretation/clarification of this.

  31. My original impression of the Exxon ad was that it was over the top. However, I keep seeing an ad on TV presented by an attractive, apparently intelligent young woman. She talks about how wonderful it is that we now have this new source of very safe, all American energy that is providing a great boost to employment and our economy. This anti-Exxon ad is now needed to point out that there are some negatives to greatly increasing our energy by fracking. One negative relates to green house gases. The second and third negatives are pollution risk and injecting large amounts of our limited water supply deep under ground.

  32. Horatio Algeranon

    “Addicted to Oil”
    — Horatio Algeranon’s parody of “Addicted to Love” (Robert Palmer)

    Your lights are on, but you’re not home
    Your mind is not your own
    Your pipes freeze, your boiler shakes
    Another gallon is what it takes

    You can’t walk, a single mile
    There’s no doubt, you’re in denial
    You can’t reduce, your driving speed
    Another gallon, is all you need

    Whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the spoil, oh yeah
    It’s closer to the truth to say you don’t like to toil
    You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to oil

    You see the signs, but you can’t read
    The sea-ice melts, at greater speed
    The carbon heats, in doubling time
    Another gallon, it is a crime

    One track mind
    You can’t be saved
    Oilblivion is all you crave
    If there’s some left for you
    You don’t mind if you do

    Whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the spoil, oh yeah
    It’s closer to the truth to say you don’t like to toil
    You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to oil

    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to oil
    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to oil
    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to oil
    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to oil
    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to oil
    [repeat until you face it]

  33. Great video clip and love the comments but it does appear to me that individual responsibility seems to be missing from this.
    I know that corporations have responsibility, that governments have a responsibility but so do we. Exxon and other corporations are providing products that we are demanding – whether thats the end product of petrol for our car, or petrochemicals for most things that we consume OR whether its the investment and pension funds decisions we make. Corporations are responding to our decisions.

  34. People of future generations will blame this generation.
    The poor people of this generation blame the rich people of this generation.
    The rich people in Europe blame the oil-guzzling people of North America.
    The oil-guzzling people people of N America blame the corporations who sell them the oil.
    The corporations have a fiduciary duty to maximize returns to their shareholders.

    There’s a pattern here. Everyone is passing the buck. It’s nobody’s fault; it’s that other guy. Somebody should do something.

  35. I would like to see the oil company CEO’s tried for crimes against humanity.

  36. This is why I would like to see everyone who has promoted global warming spend a long time in jail.

    The exact moment the Kyoto Protocol carbon trading scam was created by the oil industry. Namely Enron (Kenneth Lay), BP (Lord Brown), Occidental Petroleum (Al Gore) and unknown other energy companies

    According to internal Enron documents and the recollections of former employees, Chairman Kenneth L. Lay had the ear of top Democrats in the 1980s and ’90s. He and his colleagues used that access to promote the company’s interests with the Clinton administration and key congressional Democrats.

    In a White House meeting in August 1997, for example, Lay urged President Clinton and Vice President Gore to back a “market-based” approach to the problem of global warming — a strategy that a later Enron memo makes clear would be “good for Enron stock.”

    On Aug. 4, 1997, Lay and seven other energy executives met with Clinton, Gore, Rubin and other top officials at the White House to discuss the U.S. position at the upcoming conference on global warming in Kyoto, Japan. Lay, in a memo to Enron employees, said there was broad consensus in favor of an emissions-trading system.

    Enron officials later expressed elation at the results of the Kyoto conference. An internal memo said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would “do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States.