Why They Hate Exxon

Rachelle Peterson

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Standard online on March 14, 2016 as well as in the print edition.

In January the Los Angeles Times reported that California attorney general Kamala Harris is investigating ExxonMobil for securities fraud and violation of environmental law. Harris hasn’t confirmed this, but leaks from her office say they are building a case on the premise that Exxon (back in the 1980s before its merger with Mobil) downplayed the risks of global warming. The idea is that Exxon knew global warming to be real but hid its knowledge, propping up share prices by giving investors false confidence and blocking profit-hobbling regulations. Harris follows in the footsteps of New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who subpoenaed Exxon in November on a similar quest.

The investigations are based on the observation that Exxon took some steps, such as raising the level of its off-shore drilling platforms, consistent with the possibility that global warming might cause sea levels to rise. But Exxon has billions of dollars tied up in its oil exploration and extraction. The mere fact that the company may have taken precautions against a remote danger doesn't mean the company believed the risk to be likely, let alone certain (any more than buying life insurance means one expects to die soon).

And how, one might also ask, could Exxon have had knowledge of a catastrophic rise in ocean levels when that catastrophe hasn't even happened? Scientists who invested heavily in predictions of steeply rising sea levels have been scrambling of late to explain why the oceans have only crept up at the rate of 2.2 millimeters a year (a pace far below what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change once confidently said would come to pass).

Continue reading >

  • Share

Most Commented

January 9, 2023


NAS Celebrates the Nomination of Reform-Minded Trustees to the New College of Florida Board

The National Association of Scholars is delighted with Governor Ron DeSantis’ nomination of six education reformers to the Board of Trustees of the New College of Florida....

December 7, 2022


New Study Tracks Rise of DEI in STEM Departments, Associations, Grants, and Literature

A new study published today by the National Association of Scholars, Ideological Intensification, offers an in-depth quantitative analysis of just how far DEI has advanced into STEM fields....

January 5, 2023


NAS Condemns the Attacks against Jordan Peterson

The National Association of Scholars condemns the unrelenting illiberal attacks being levied against Dr. Peterson and against anyone who dares push back against the enemies of intellectual f......

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

September 19, 2022


How Many Confucius Institutes Are in the United States?

UPDATED: We're keeping track of all Confucius Institutes in the United States, including those that remain open, those that closed, and those that have announced their closing....