If All Else Fails – Blame the Lawyers

On 8/24/17 it was reported in most major newspapers that Harvard University researchers had issued a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Environmental Research Letters which concluded that Exxon Mobil had spent the last 40 years misleading the public concerning its own concerns about man-made global warming.

The researchers are not climate scientists. Rather, they are experts in researching scientific history. They reviewed 187 climate change public communications issued by Exxon Mobil between 1977 and 2014 on the one hand and Exxon Mobil’s internal scientific documents on the other.


They concluded that “Exxon Mobil contributed to advancing climate science – by way of its scientists’ academic publications – while simultaneously promoting doubt about it in its advertorials.” “Given this discrepancy, we conclude that Exxon Mobile misled the public.”


In other words, Exxon Mobil knew and used the scientific facts for its own internal business purposes such as strategic planning, but lied to the public to protect itself from federal and state regulators, investors and public opinion.

It is also important to remember that Exxon Mobil is involved now in a very serious investigation in New York focused on whether it misled its investors (stockholders) about the risks of climate change.

The researchers found that 83% of its peer-reviewed scientific papers and 80% of its internal documents acknowledge climate change is real and human caused, but that 81% of its advertorials, i.e., corporate statements of opinion intended for public consumption, expressed doubt over the issue.


Exxon Mobil responded by saying: “The study was paid for, written and published by activists… It is inaccurate and preposterous. Rather than proposing solutions to address the risk of climate changes, these activists, along with trial lawyers, have acknowledged a goal of extracting money from our shareholders and attacking the company’s reputation.”



Doesn’t this remind you of the tobacco companies denying the link between smoking tobacco and cancer?

You know a company is in real trouble when their best defense is to blame it on those doggone “activists” and their greedy trial lawyers. It is a strategy that reminds me of what a wise old lawyer once said to a young lawyer: “If you have the facts on your side, beat on the facts. If you have the law on your side; beat on the law. If you don’t have the facts or the law on your side, just beat on the table.”

Exxon Mobil is beating on the table.

Photo credit: John Englart (Takver) via Foter.com / CC BY-SA