"Smoke & Fumes"… The dumbest attack on ExxonMobil evah'

Guest post by David Middleton

This morning’s edition of Real Clear Energy brought to my attention the dumbest attack on ExxonMobil and the oil industry that I have ever seen.


So, I clicked on the link and it took me to an idiotic article in the New York Times


Pressure on Exxon Mobil and the energy industry increased on Wednesday with the release of a new cache of decades-old industry documents aboutclimate change, even as Exxon pushed back against efforts to investigate the company over its climate claims through the years.

The new documents were released by an activist research organization, the Center for International Environmental Law, which published the project on its website.

The documents, according to the environmental law center’s director, Carroll Muffett, suggest that the industry had the underlying knowledge of climate change even 60 years ago.

“From 1957 onward, there is no doubt that Humble Oil, which is now Exxon, was clearly on notice” about rising CO2 in the atmosphere and the prospect that it was likely to cause global warming, he said.



I just had to see what documents were so damning, so I clicked the link to “the project.”



When I began perusing the “documents,” I just about fell off of my chair laughing.  Here are a couple of examples…

The Robinson Report for the API, 1968

This document basically concludes that CO2 might be a greenhouse gas and might have some effect on the climate, or not…


We need to work on curbing pollution.


Antarctica might melt at some point in the future.


Warming or cooling… Who knows?


An Emerging Science, as told by the scientifically illiterate, 1955-1958

This section contains three papers.   The first two, written by Humble Oil Company employees, deal with radiocarbon dating…


With an effective limit of 42,000 years, 14C is of little value in dating hydrocarbon bearing rocks… And has nothing to to with climate change.




The third is a paper published by the International Meteorological Institute.  It was authored by Bert Bolin and Erik Eriksson and sponsored by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and  the Office of Naval Research…  I have yet to figure out the connection to the oil industry with this one.


Let’s measure CO2 in Antarctica and Hawaii!!!


The Smoking Gun?



Even as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations rose and climate science expanded, during the first half of the 20th century, many researchers assumed that most excess CO2 would be absorbed by the ocean, minimizing impacts on atmospheric temperature. In 1957, a landmark paper by Roger Revelle and Hans Suess of the Scripps Institute upturned that conventional wisdom, demonstrating that far more CO2 would remain in the atmosphere than previously assumed, potentially accelerating the impact of global climate change.
Two months after the Revelle and Suess paper was published, Humble Oil (now ExxonMobil) scientists led by H.R. Brannon submitted their own study for publication on the same question. Building on the team’s earlier work on radiocarbon dating, and submitting under the company’s name, the Brannon paper provides the earliest indisputable evidence we have yet found of oil company knowledge of climate science and climate risk. Significantly, the Brannon report acknowledges not only rising levels of atmospheric CO2, but also the evident contribution of fossil fuels to that increase. In acknowledged disagreement with Revelle, however, the Brannon paper suggests that CO2 would be retained in the oceans much longer before returning to the atmosphere, which would delay by decades or centuries the impact of fossil fuel emissions.

We’ll skip the Revelle and Suess paper because ExxonMobil had nothing to do with it and it was published in a manner accessible to the public.  We’ll focus on the *secret* document prepared by H. R. Brannon, the radiocarbon dating guy…


Published by the AGU, an article on the Suess Effect… Argh, Argh, Argh!!!

The idiocy of this report is mind boggling. The rest of the documents deal with oil industry studies of paleo-sea level, an integral part of sedimentary geology, efforts to understand hurricanes, kind of important in offshore drilling and production and the industry’s efforts to ensure that pollution regulations and laws were crafted in a wise, efficient and economically sustainable manner.

79 thoughts on “"Smoke & Fumes"… The dumbest attack on ExxonMobil evah'

  1. Perhaps the study they should embark on is to ascertain how many of the people who say they believe this policy of petrochemical generated AGW have renounced use of petrochemical products their daily and extended lives. In other words Who of the AGW “faithful” really believe petrochemical production for energy, pharmaceutic, and materials manufacturing are not a vast overall benefit to modern man. I suspect there would not be a single one.

    • They may not be able to hear you over the annoying hum in the cabin of the jet engines, but likely will study this at the next taxpayer-funded seaside conference, or ten.

    • No no you have it wrong. Since the indoctrinated have lately realized banning of petrochemicals would threaten any future x-boxes, cell phones, synthetic hiking shorts they have adjusted their collective mantra saying petrochemicals good carbon based fuels bad. The now have a separation but still slink off guilt free to their conferences and carbon trails to exotic lands studying climate in between drinking and chorusing at these locations. Never sacrifice a good party to save mother earth.

  2. And of course, the loonies are essentially claiming that Exxon somehow cracked “global warming” decades ago when all the kings scientists are falling about with endless funding and no empirical results to speak of.
    In that case we should revert to Exxon as they are the experts in atmospheric and oceanic physics

    • David
      This article was the genesis of Callendars paper on carbon dioxide around 1936.
      Interesting in itself, but after the references is an intriguing ‘discussion’ on page 237 by the notables of the time, which pretty much tells us the state of the science in 1936
      Bringing the state of knowledge up to the date of the cited articles, here is a paper written by Giles Slocum of the US weather Bureau from 1955 that critiques Callendars’ paper
      Again it can be seen that the science was not considered proven.
      The Mitchell curves (of global temperatures) were updated around 1961 and it was from these (originally derived from Callendar) that Hansen set about compiling GISS and more clearly tried to tie the temperature rise to the increase in carbon dioxide
      So, although the global warming theory dates back even before Arrhenius, the science was by no means accepted as settled in the 1950’s, indeed with temperatures starting to dip (Lamb, Budyko) the concerns were mostly about cooling at that time and lasted until well into the 1960’s. The concerns over warming began in earnest around the early 1970’s when both Budyko and Lamb had realised that the temperature falls of the previous decades had reversed.
      It is difficult to see how ‘blame’ can be apportioned to an oil company at the time for not being prescient.

      • Blame can be apportioned to Capitallists based on the observable fact that they have money.
        This is not and never was about science or the “Environment” but is about socialism, communism, syndicatism, fascism and general single Party control of every person and asset in the world. Do not attempt to apply logic to a theology.
        Exxon Mobil should simply make the science known to voters and save te political bribe money. A much better return on investment.

      • “It is difficult to see how ‘blame’ can be apportioned to an oil company at the time for not being prescient.”
        The first principle of jurisprudence: Follow the money. Obviously Exxon has a lot of money. These people want the court to give it to them.

  3. Smoke & Mirrors is more like it. Don’t expect most people to dig down to see what the actual documentation says, they will simply read the press release or just the headline. In this day and age, an accusation equals proof.

  4. These documents appear to be from the 1950s and 60s. Wasn’t the Earth actually cooling from the 1940s through the mid 70s? So weren’t CO2 and temperatures going in opposite directions?

    • Oops. Didn’t mean to post the Skeptical Science link above. After I posted it, I realized that SKS is an alarmist website and they try to downplay the cooling from the 1940s to mid 70s. Not a scientist, so I can’t say if their argument regarding the cooling has any validity.

      • FYI: SKS is also part and parcel of the “97% consensus” team. Chief honcho Cook just this week served up another installment “proving” that there now is a 97% consensus that the previous 97% consensus is true…
        Its like homeopathy or astrology: it works for those who believe it does.

      • Go look at the anecdotal evidence from countries around Europe at that time and naval records and such. You find it was very real, NASA have wiped it out, and 1920 is now one of the coldest days in the last 100 years, even though that is not what you see when you research.
        Iceland in the 60s and 70s had a severe cooling too, a tough time. Hansen erased that history, and Schmidt has doubled down on the adjustments lark.
        Quite a few cooling trend raw data sets were turned to warming curves.
        Sks are there to sew doubt and pretend that there is no uncertainty in the climate “science” they rely on.
        They got caught when they foolishly left their front door open and some seedy stuff was revealed.
        Who really cares about the rantings and pseudo science of a self loathing flunked cartoonist who’s been caught lying his pants off

      • CD,
        If even Skeptical Science admits that the earth was cooling 1945-1975, then it really was cooling, with increasing CO2 levels. The “forget” to show the 2000-current flat temperatures (excluding natural variability like the past El Niño) and use aerosols as scapegoat for the cooling. That doesn’t fit for the flat temperatures since 2000, thus probably wasn’t the cause of the cooling in 1945-1975 either… My impression is that both cooling and warming is more a matter of ocean currents (PDO?) and that CO2 has very little influence, maybe just the difference between slight cooling as in 1945-1975 and flat since 2000…

      • Their argument has no validity because they are using a surface temperature chart that does not represent reality.
        Any time you see a NASA/NOAA surface temperature chart that does not show the 1930’s as being hotter than any subsequent year, then you are looking at a chart that is a BIG LIE. You are looking at a chart that has been modified to suit a political agenda. Blatantly modified.
        The 1930’s was hotter than today and we have been in a cooling trend since that time, that’s the truth.
        Alarmists are in the business of downplaying the cooling trend that began in the 1940’s because if they tell the truth, it blows up their global warming theory. So they pretend there is no longterm cooling trend.

  5. What did Ford know about automobile deaths and when did they know it? Why didn’t they portray their contraptions as death traps in their advertising?

  6. This is a scheme for governments to become “partners” in the energy industry and share the profits above and beyond the taxes the industry pays. Effectively the same tactic as used against tobacco, and the astute observer will notice that the result of the tobacco settlement was: smokers can still get cigarettes, albeit at at a substantially higher price, the cigarette companies are doing fine, the health risks of tobacco are still with us.

    • Creating safer smokes should have been the goal. Instead, alternatives were discouraged. It’s only in the last few years that e-cigs became popular, decades after they were first invented.
      Can’t let the common folk enjoy anything too much. Kind of like the Puritans, who banned bear baiting. Not on the grounds that it was cruel to the animal, but on the grounds that the crowds were having too much fun, and fun is sinful.

      • But the current rulers of most US States are moving to ban or tax e-cigs. As above: This is about money and control. Theology, not science or logic.
        Note that the alarmists make fun of Christianity and Christians, They do so because to complete the “Revolution” they must destroy the “Old Religion”, The “opiate of the masses”. Political Theology is the point.
        The sks link still contained some actual observations even as the site dismissed such data that argues against their beliefs.

    • Smoking is so dangerous, it takes 40 or 50 years to kill you.
      According to the NCI (I e-mailed them and asked), they can’t identify one person as having died from Second-Hand Smoke.
      Tekov (former smoker)

      • My brother died of lung cancer. According to the doctor, his lungs were full of tar from smoking.
        He never smoked in his life, but worked in a smoky pub and lived with smokers
        I don’t accept second-hand smoke is not a killer of non-smokers

      • Definitely, working in an enclosed environment full of the stuff is not good. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke. I especially hate the stale, pungent smell it leaves behind and cannot be gotten rid of. I do not want people smoking around me.
        But, I have tried it on occasion, and it does provide a nice, pleasant, and relaxing low level buzz that does not impair cognition or reflex. So why, with all the technology available, could they not provide a relatively safe means of dosing, and make everyone happy?
        I remember several decades ago when one of the tobacco companies came out with a smokeless variety, and they were shamed into withdrawing it from the market. I never understood that. The claim seemed to be that it would make smoking acceptable, and even with the vastly reduced risk, that was somehow not to be tolerated. People simply cannot be allowed to make their own decisions, and engage in anything the high priests deem sinful.
        There seems to be a strain of humanity which just must assert their utter and complete dominance over others. I can’t think of any solution short of inventing a warp drive and getting the rest of us the hell out of here and away from their grasp. It just seems to be a relentless ratchet of control and imposition. I just do not get the mentality of these people, who cannot abide others doing things that they consider anathema, even when it has no impact on them whatsoever.

      • Yes, but smokers might like the “shoot” more than the continuous exposure to the drug.

  7. A very old tactic–the activists assume very few people will actually read the exhibits, just the press release. I had various radical relatives as a child, and got eposed to literature from the John Birch Society and various early conservation groups. Ibid and opcit were apparently oracles if one did not pay attention.

  8. Just look at that picture of that “evil” refinery, refining “evil” gasoline for millions and millions of Americans, benefiting their lives in so many ways. “We” could do without it – bicycle, walk, mass transit, etc. (mass transit powered by magic energy, of course). I actually do need it though because – need to visit child 3 hours away, rideshare person a psycho who, if I’m one minute late, drives off, and – and – and. Others though, should either pay $10 a gallon to help “save the planet” or do without. Walking is good for them. And there’s always cake.

  9. Back in the pre-Sputnik days before NSF started throwing money around, the industry funded a lot of basic research. Some of it was for their own application, a lot more maybe, maybe not.
    This document has a paper on sea level.
    Shepard, F. P., F. B. Phleger, and T. H. van Andel. 1960. Recent Sediments, Northwest Gulf of Mexico. American Association of Petroleum Geologists. 394pp.

  10. It is ludicrous to say “Exxon knew”. A huge corporation is not a monolith brain that “knows” something. Who at Humble read the paper? Who thought it was important enough to pass on or discuss? Who discussed it? At a minimum, there would have to be widespread evidence of dissemination and discussion.

    • …a monolith brain that “knows” something.
      I think you just inadvertently described most of the looney left and activists Greens.

    • The propaganda trick lies in intimating that because someone “knew” something which you hold as gospel truth and didn’t act on it, therefore makes them guilty – conveniently not mentioning to the great unwashed that what you hold as gospel truth may well be nonsense.

    • ” Who at Humble read the paper?”
      Do you remember intra-office mortarboard initiated by the boss? Sometimes items of only tertiary interest to the ‘business’ were circulated …

  11. Farmers should sue them. They should have been told that beneficial warming and increasing photosynthesis would necessitate the cost for building of larger storage space/bins to store the massive increase in production (-:
    At least the NWS didn’t have to reduce the number of severe storm and hurricane experts/employees to go along with the decrease in violent tornadoes and hurricanes (-:
    Since we’ve experienced the best weather and climate during that time frame in almost 1,000 years, since the Medieval Warm Period that was warmer than this in many places(dialing in the extra beneficial CO2 made it the best for life going back much farther than that)……….who was harmed by this weather and climate and how?

  12. “and an increase in photosyntesis”….. WOW! that’s really scary!!!

  13. And of course Humble/Exxon was the only company that made products that were converted to CO2 when used. Mobile, Shell, Sunoco, Texaco, none or those existed back in the 1950’s. There weren’t any coal plants either. So Exxon is responsible for all of that CO2 and needs to be sued into submission.

    • “There weren’t any coal plants either.”
      A quick review of NETL CPPD 2005 shows over 110 coal fired power plants built before 1955, some with multiple units, totaling 11,800 MWs of capacity and, at the time of the report, still operating. Many of these are at risk of shutting down, not because of CPP, but because NG fired CCPPs are more cost effective.

  14. “Your honour, the documents clearly have an o, an i, and an l in them. This is obviously a oil company document…”

  15. When do we hold 350.org, Greedpeice, Sierra, Gore, Mann, Hansen et al responsible for the untold harm they’ve done to humanity with their lies and calumny?

    • Calgary Herald, Nov.5, 2014
      ‘Mintz and Williams: Smart fiscal policy can help save our environment’
      Opinion piece by Mintz and Williams. Mintz is also on the Board of Imperial Oil which is ~ 70% owned by Exxon. Both men with Ecofiscal Canada.
      Advocating a carbon tax or cap-and-trade.
      Calgary Herald, April, 12, 2016
      “Greenpeace Canada and the Sierra Club of Canada, meanwhile, are’ initiating organizations’ – founders, basically, of the Leap Manifesto.”
      Sierra Club of Canada is not the same as Sierra Club, USA.

      • Barbara
        Classic mistake: all eNGOs, including Sierra Club, are integral operational parts of multinational organizations. Greenpeace is a USD1 billion p.a. multinational corporation, and Sierra Club while it is smaller, is likewise a multinational corporation. Pretending otherwise is tantamount to arguing that Exxon or BHP-Billiton are also not multinationals, with all operational units reporting back to home base -whether that’s in the US or Australia. And BTW, Greenpeace Europe is managed by a fellow who lives in Luxembourg [tax haven, anyone?] who commutes by air [!] to London on a daily basis – like Gore his carbon footprint is something the MSM conveniently don’t talk about.
        When Sierra Club in the US accepts a USD25MM contract from a gas company [as it did for Chesapeak a few years ago] to run an anti-coal campaign, Sierra Club Canada has just as much moral and ethical gore and guilt on its hands as the US branch. And it’s been documented in detail how the US head offices of the eNGOs – including Sierra Club- use their Canadian units to fund outfits like the Suzuki Foundation and coordinate activists campaign like the one around the Bear Spirit area on the BC coast. The details of those and similar operations were obtained from the US IRS and published by an investigative journalist in Vancouver. BC. Not that you would expect the MSM – the CBC in particular- to spend any time telling the public about those realities. I at least got friends of mine, who at the time still thought of the Sierra Club as a nice wholesome outdoors outfit, to get their minds around these realities – which, good on them, caused them to cancel their memberships…
        Bottom line: the same “the end justifies the means” activist, authoritarian disregard for morals, ethics and verifiable facts lies at the heart of all the high minded eNGOs, geographical location be damned – do as we preach, not as we do…..

  16. Frivolous would be giving the attorney generals actions too much credit. Describing their justifications as reaching new levels of stupid would be generous. When government entities use frivolous and stupid to politically discriminate against a group, that’s a problem. A big problem. The attorney generals behavior is anti-science, anti-free speech, and in America unconstitutional.

  17. Somebody please get me from where we are to where they want to go.
    I got that they want cap and trade.
    They want to give the government a new revenue stream but how do we get from “start cap and trade” to
    the end of “catastrophic man made runaway global climate change”, including reduced droughts, fewer floods, milder hurricanes, etc?
    What happens when they start cap and trade and how much money do they need to confiscate before CO2 starts to reduce?
    How much does CO2 have to reduce in order to stop the catastrophic man made runaway global warming?
    How much runaway global warming do we have to stop in order to stop runaway glacial melting?
    How much runaway glacial melting do we have to stop in order to stop runaway rising sea level?
    I understand politicians wanting more of the people’s money to spend but,
    How do we get from where we are to the perfect climate they demand?
    How will they know when they got it done?
    What’s their plan and what’s their goal, not just what’s their first move?

    • Mike..
      Where they are heading is destruction of the “modern” world as we know it except for the elites who continue to have the largest carbon footprint as the President admits.
      Read more about the Rules Alinsky
      See anything familiar to what is happening in the USA today? The greens are being used as are the uninformed.
      It is all about controlling your life and distributing wealth as the UN leaders admit

  18. These ppl must engage in mass hypnotic sessions; little else would seem to rationality explain it.
    This century’s “Tulip Bulb Mania” straight out of MacKay’s “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” book …

    • Yes, there is so much concern for the stockholders here. This is the pretext for the maintenance of the SEC. “You did not tell the stockholders something we now declare was impotant? Well, we will destroy real shareholder value now.” Worse here, these AGs are seeking to confiscate the property that is Exxon including its direction and control. Exxon should divest from their states and territories until this predation ceases.

  19. Interesting that James Hansen and others are doing Exxon’s dirty work for them. Exxon stands to make very serious money from the demise of coal, because coal will in large part be replaced by natural gas – an Exxon product. Natural gas is currently very competitive with coal, so it might get there just on its merits, but a dose of dirty work aimed at undermining coal will certainly help.

    • Mike,
      You are mistaken, they hate all fossil fuels and after they put coal out of business oil is next on the agenda to be ruined (they have already started with the EPA regulations on everything from fracking to methane emissions) because they either don’t have a clue or don’t care if everyone but the elite progressives enjoy the benefits of fossil fuels. It is a matter of control which is more important than prosperity for the working class. One major difference however; the US oil companies can move “overseas” anf the US treasury will loose the massive income and other taxes they pay to prop up the government/ Unfortunately they don’t care how high the debt goes..

  20. A paper in a scientific journal is “hiding information”?
    Oh for heaven’s sake.
    OTOH, perhaps a group of concerned sceptics could take action against Mann, Jones, UEA and Penn State for hiding evidence of the MWP? That would have some basis in fact.

  21. I am disappointed that these progressives and environmentalist don’t have a clue as to how America was built and Rockerfeller among others while aggressive, highly competitive business men played a huge part in bringing us out of poverty for all but the elites into and age of everyone having the opportunity to have electricity, transportation energy, and a bounty of food including economic prosperity and military security.
    Of course Kerosene, oil and natural gas was one of the keys without which steel, electricity,railroads, automobiles and trucks, modern farming, etc would not have arrived on our doorstep.
    Of course much of the rest of the world benefited from this technology from the competition between the men who built America.
    While each played an important part when I watched this program, it was clear the Rockefeller’s kerosene brought light to many homes of the average person (also saved the whales too) and when electricity began replacing kerosene lighting, Rockefeller realizing that he was going out of business, he developed gasoline which modernized auto transportation, because electric cars were inadequate as they are today.
    For history buffs this is an interesting story that should be taught in our schools.
    Finally the MSM failse to mention that the “oil” business played a najor role in defeating the axis in WW II because without the technology that produced an abundance of Aviation fuel, the Allies air superiority whould not have existed. .
    “Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford are names synonymous with innovation and big business in America. They all built empires and created advances in technology. They helped shape the country in its early days by doing things such as developing the m… More”

  22. For more information as to how the US oil business played major role in winning world War II.
    This video was created as an anniversary celebration of the “Fluidized Catalytic Cracking Process and some of the inventors that developed this technology breakthrough (process) in the 1940’s.
    Esso ( Now Exxon Mobile) led the consortium of many that made this possible.
    The claim is that “now” at the time of the video, there are over 300 such units around the world upgrading crude oil and providing transportation fuel.
    Now the progressives want to forget these contributions and dismantle tho oil companies that helprd save our butts.

  23. Doesn’t seem to say anything about the fictional 2C rise being a catastrophe. Nevertheless, Australia’s environment minister is sneaking into New York this week to sign up to the Paris Agreement.
    He has been in Perth, Western Australia, spruiking a new suburban development based solely on renewable energy. What he leaves out is that each house is subsidised $45,000 aud from the government.
    What happens when the subsidies run out?

  24. I believe it shows that Exxon was initiating studies about environmental issues decades before the 1970’s global cooling scare was being promoted by the scientific community and Time magazine for example .
    What ever happened to that campaign ? It was much more scary .

  25. If it is determined that Exxon was aware of a “possibility” of climate change due to CO2, what were they supposed to do about it? Were they supposed to commit hari–kari and go out of business? Would the demand for fossil fuels have instantly dried up if Exxon had left the fossil-fuel business? Or would other companies have taken their place to meet the demand? I just don’t see how any action Exxon might have taken would have made any difference in the long run.

  26. When a religious extremist looks at anything, they always find evidence to support their extremist views. This effort to make the oil industry “guilty’ of a great conspiracy is a perfect example of the climate extremists doing just that.

  27. Decades ago Democrat Senator Danial Patrick Moynihan wrote a very astute paper showing the connection between the, then expanding, welfare state and the deterioration of the black family. Perhaps the left should be sued for ignoring this, much more destructive, policy.

  28. The claim includes that Humble Oil know that a CO2 increase was likely to cause global warming. How much? Detectable? Is the rise in CO2 cause by the oceans or burning fuels? Will the warming cause harm or good? Or both?
    It was also known that increasing the level of CO2 would increase crop yields. Is the benefit of this also-known-fact to be balanced against the putative harm claimed by the accusers?
    On that basis, the benefit to the food supply, the ‘fine’ for conspiring with stupendous foreknowledge that is still unavailable to modern researchers, would have to include whether or not, on balance, increased CO2 causes any net harm at all.
    Because the CO2 level was lower and temperatures higher 8500 years ago, and because food grows faster now all over the world, even in tropical jungles at risk from deforestation, the overall benefits will easily outweigh any putative and as yet unprovable ‘damage’. It might end up with Exxon sending a bill to the people of the world for all that CO2. Better yet, a CO2 tax on the beneficiaries payable to Big Oil and Big Coal so that they may long continue to benefit all the peasant agriculture that the developed nations have barely helped with, save selling them hybrid seeds at high prices.

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