Guest post by David Middleton
This just keeps getting more hilarious…
Exxon Confirmed Global Warming Consensus in 1982 with In-House Climate Models
The company chairman would later mock climate models as unreliable while he campaigned to stop global action to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
Lisa Song, Neela Banerjee, David Hasemyer
Sep 22, 2015
Steve Knisely was an intern at Exxon Research and Engineering in the summer of 1979 when a vice president asked him to analyze how global warming might affect fuel use.
“I think this guy was looking for validation that the greenhouse effect should spur some investment in alternative energy that’s not bad for the environment,” Knisely, now 58 and a partner in a management consulting company, recalled in a recent interview.
Knisely projected that unless fossil fuel use was constrained, there would be “noticeable temperature changes” and 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air by 2010, up from about 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution.
Through much of the 1980s, Exxon researchers worked alongside university and government scientists to generate objective climate models that yielded papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Their work confirmed the emerging scientific consensus on global warming’s risks.
Yet starting in 1989, Exxon leaders went down a different road. They repeatedly argued that the uncertainty inherent in computer models makes them useless for important policy decisions. Even as the models grew more powerful and reliable, Exxon publicly derided the type of work its own scientists had done. The company continued its involvement with climate research, but its reputation for objectivity began to erode as it campaigned internationally to cast doubt on the science.
Climate ‘Catastrophe’ Foreseen
By 1981, Exxon scientists were no longer questioning whether the buildup of CO2 would cause the world to heat up. Through their own studies and their participation in government-sponsored conferences, company researchers had concluded that rising CO2 levels could create catastrophic impacts within the first half of the 21st century if the burning of oil, gas and coal wasn’t contained.
“Over the past several years a clear scientific consensus has emerged regarding the expected climatic effects of increased atmospheric CO2,” Cohen wrote to A.M. Natkin of Exxon Corporation’s Science and Technology Office in 1982. “The consensus is that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from its pre-industrial revolution value would result in an average global temperature rise of 3.0 ± 1.5°C.” (Equal to 5.4 ± 2.7°F).
“There is unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth’s climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere.”
Exxon’s own modeling research confirmed this and the company’s results were later published in at least three peer-reviewed science articles. Two of them were co-authored by Hoffert, and a third was written entirely by Flannery.
Exxon’s modeling experts also explained away the less-dire predictions of a 1979 study led by Reginald Newell, a prominent atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Newell’s model projected that the effects of climate change would not be as severe as most scientists were predicting.
Specifically, Newell and a co-author from the Air Force named Thomas Dopplick challenged the prevailing view that a doubling of the earth’s CO2 blanket would raise temperatures about 3°C (5°F)– a measure known as climate sensitivity. Instead, they said the earth’s true climate sensitivity was roughly less than 1°C (2°F).
I have yet to find any Exxon models… Much less any that confirmed a “Global Warming Consensus” or “Climate ‘Catastrophe'”. What I have found are reports which cite other people’s models and quite a few “cartoons” derived from them.
It’s notable that Exxon was made aware of the so-called consensus…
“The consensus is that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from its pre-industrial revolution value would result in an average global temperature rise of 3.0 ± 1.5°C.”
And they were also made aware of reality…
“Newell and a co-author from the Air Force named Thomas Dopplick … said the earth’s true climate sensitivity was roughly less than 1°C.”
Inside Climate likes to make a big deal out of this…
Exxon’s former chairman and CEO, Lee Raymond, took an even tougher line against climate science. Speaking before the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing in 1997, Raymond mocked climate models in an effort to stop the imminent adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, an international accord to reduce emissions.
“They are notoriously inaccurate,” Raymond said. “1990’s models were predicting temperature increases of two to five degrees Celsius by the year 2100,” he said, without explaining the source of those numbers. “Last year’s models say one to three degrees. Where to next year?”
Mr. Raymond was correct. The models have been “notoriously inaccurate.” However, they have been very precise in their inaccuracies…