Blindingly Stupid Fake News: #ExxonKnew Campaign Claims Global Warming Caused Exxon Valdez Spill

by Katie Brown, PhD

In an ironic twist of fate, the Exxon Shipping Company’s safety calendar featured the T/V Exxon Valdez in March 1989. Image: From the collection of Gary Shigenaka.

How irrelevant and desperate has the #ExxonKnew campaign become? Well, they’re now claiming that global warming caused the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, and that Exxon should have known it would happen. The claims were made in yet another article written by graduate students at the Columbia Journalism School, which was published today in the Los Angeles Times.

The article – fit more for The Onion than the LA Times – claims that ExxonMobil had evidence that the Columbia Glacier was calving due to climate change, but allowed one of its tankers to put itself in the way of the icebergs anyway.

Anyone who has ever followed the story knows that the only ice responsible for the Exxon Valdez spill would be the ice cooling the captain’s many cocktails that night. But for anti-Exxon campaigners, no alternate theories (or should we say alternative facts?) are too outrageous to publish.

For background, this is the LA Times’ latest installment of a series authored by graduate students at the Columbia School of Journalism, who were bankrolled by wealthy anti-fossil fuel foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) and Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF). The school’s dean, Steve Coll, also wrote an anti-Exxon book, Private Empire, while serving as President of the New America Foundation, which – surprise! – is also funded by the Rockefellers.

And yes, this is the same group that was criticized last week by a federal judge who said the Columbia School of Journalism and InsideClimate News (which is also funded by the Rockefellers and wrote its own anti-Exxon series) were “trying to pursue the same climate change policy agendas” as the attorneys general who have launched investigations into ExxonMobil.

Now why would the LA Times, which presumably wants to be seen as an objective news outlet, print such obviously paid-for (and ridiculous) “journalism”?

Perhaps it has to do with money. Recall that the LA Times failed to disclose that the original #ExxonKnew series it published in late 2015 was funded by the Rockefellers. It only did so months after other news outlets discovered the lack of disclosure. Even the Columbia Journalism Review said not disclosing this funding was a mistake, noting “the rollout after publication was botched. While this particular misstep occurred on the most contentious of stories, the question of when and how to disclose funding for such projects appears widespread.” Yet even after all that, the LA Times’ link to the page describing the funding for the original series is currently broken.

Clearly, the LA Times, Steve Coll, and the Rockefellers wished to keep their funding partnership secret. But after all these disclosures and several FOIA’d emails came to light, they must have felt compelled to list the Rockefellers as the funders for the project this time. However, the article fails to link back Columbia’s website or any of the materials they cite.

The disclosure also asserts “the funders have no involvement in or influence over the articles produced by the project fellows in collaboration with the Los Angeles Times.” This is laughable, considering that the wealthy foundations that have been driving this campaign were recently forced to admit openly that they specifically paid the Columbia team to investigate Exxon for this exact purpose.

Lee Wasserman of the RFF explained in an op-ed in December 2016, “we paid for a team of independent reporters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism to try to determine what Exxon and other US oil companies had really known about climate science, and when.” He also admitted that they met with Democratic attorneys general, particularly New York’s Eric Schneiderman, to lobby them to launch an investigation into ExxonMobil’s climate research.

Undaunted by their unraveling campaign, the Columbia team and its allies are back at it, desperately trying to breathe life into an effort that even the media is admitting has “quietly faded.”

Against that backdrop, let’s have a look at some of the claims, followed by the facts.

The Columbia School of Journalism students claim Exxon should have known climate change would cause glaciers to calve, but they deliberately omit how the documents say calving has other causes.

The Facts: In the story, the Columbia School team quotes the Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council’s Iceberg Monitoring Project report by retired U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers as well as claims by USGS in 1975 and 1978 to argue that Exxon had been warned that climate would cause the glacier to calve, yet they drove the tanker directly into the glacier anyway.  First of all, the Iceberg Monitoring Project report was published in 2000, more than eleven years after the incident!

Aside from the patently absurd claim that any energy company would knowingly and deliberately steer its investment into a spill, the reporters are cherry picking (again). The Iceberg Monitoring Project report notes that calving rates from the Columbia Glacier cannot be predicted and that climate change isn’t even among the most significant contributors to glacial calving. Here are some key passages from the source document to which the Columbia team refused to link:

“The breakup of Columbia Glacier that began in the late 1970s was likely caused more by negative mass balances directly linked to the twenty-five year period of low precipitation, which resulted in deficient snowfall and low winter balances, then [sic] by higher temperatures.”

“In general, these estimated climatic trends are not expected to have a significant effect on iceberg production during the next decade. There will be an increase in glacier runoff if the current trends continue, therefore, a greater tendency for icebergs to more rapidly drift away from the glacier during the summer months.”

Changes in the climate probably have only a minor effect on iceberg production once a drastic retreat is underway as calving rates are more controlled by water depth and ice flow rates than by meteorological factors.” (emphasis added)

As for the claims by USGS in the 1970s, Columbia simply ignored other USGS reports published at the time, which find there are many other factors that cause glacier calving:

  • A USGS study from 1980 concluded: “Nearly all grounded, iceberg-calving glaciers have experienced large-scale asynchronous advances and retreats. This behavior is apparently not directly related to climatic variations.”
  • Similarly a 1977 USGS study on the Columbia Glacier itself noted that: “Nearly all calving glaciers in Alaska and other parts of the world which end in the oceans have experienced large scale asynchronous advances and retreats. This behavior is apparently not directly related to climatic variations.” 
  • Even today, USGS’s website states, “Though perhaps triggered by climate fluctuations, this major glacier retreat once initiated, has progressed due to the nature of the calving glacier cycle with little concern for the climate.” (emphasis added)

Exxon Valdez is the most studied industrial incident to date. Yet not a single credible study has ever stated that climate change was the culprit.

The Facts: The Exxon Valdez grounding and oil spill have been the subject of more than 15,000 non-unique citations, according to the May 2013 Bibliography of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Publications. These include 5,000 scholarly journal papers, expert conference reports, Ph.D. dissertations, books, documentaries, and state and federal government agency examinations.

Nearly 20 state and federal government departments and agencies conducted or participated in investigations into the Exxon Valdez spill. They include, but are not limited to, the Alaska Oil Spill Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Response Team, the U.S. Department of Transportation (NTSB), the U.S. Department of Commerce (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

On Capitol Hill, fourteen U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate oversight committees conducted official investigations or hearings on the Exxon Valdez incident between 1989 and 1993.

Exxon Valdez was also one of the most widely-covered news stories in history. It was the subject of more than 6,000 news stories in 1989, the year the incident occurred. To date, the Valdez incident has garnered attention in more than 66,000 news stories. It has also been the subject of more than 500 books and documentaries, according to Amazon. 

Not one of these many investigations found climate change to be a causal factor in the grounding of the Valdez or the subsequent spill.

Even the Columbia team admits the Exxon Valdez deviation from the navigating channel was a “standard maneuver” – and that the captain’s cocktails were the cause of the spill.

The Facts: Even with Columbia’s desperate attempt to link this incident to global warming, they had to admit that the tanker’s deviation from the shipping lane was “a standard maneuver carried out hundreds of times before.” They also concede that two other tankers did exactly the same thing and passed through safely:

Earlier that day, two tankers, the Brooklyn and Arco Juneau, had to deviate from their shipping lanes to avoid ice. “It was some of the thickest ice I have seen in that area,” the chief mate of a passenger ferry later told the National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

The difference with Valdez? As the Columbia team also admits,

That was a maneuver carried out hundreds of times by other ships in the narrows, without incident.

But instead of waiting on the bridge, Hazelwood left his third mate in charge and retired to his quarters, tipsy from what he would later say were “two or three vodkas” he had earlier that evening. Hazelwood declined an interview request through his lawyer, Michael Chalos.

The third mate never maneuvered back into the shipping lane, and the tanker slammed into the rocks of Bligh Reef. (emphasis added)

Those were also the conclusions of numerous investigations, including the Alaska Oil Spill Commission Final Report, 1990; the Federal On-Scene Coordinator’s Report, U.S. Coast Guard, 1993; the State On-Scene Coordinator’s Report, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 1993; the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Team Report to the President, 1989; and the National Transportation Safety Board Report (NTSB), 1990.

In fact, the 1990 NTSB report concluded that the accident was a multi-dimensional failure: the driver failed to maneuver the vessel properly; the captain failed to provide a proper navigation watch; the company failed to provide a fit master and crew; the Vessel Traffic Service failed to provide proper equipment, training, and oversight; and finally, there was a lack of a pilot service.

But the “journalists” who wrote this report want us to believe that these facts were merely incidental elements, and that global warming is the real issue we should be focusing on.

With this latest installment, the Columbia team and their allies at the LA Times are simply continuing their campaign of misinformation, which is less about journalism and more about attacking a company that their Rockefeller funders want to marginalize. Or, as the activists themselves put it during a meeting at the Rockefeller Family Fund’s office last year: “To establish in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm.”

Link to blog post:

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April 6, 2017 9:36 am

A better case can be made that the ADA caused the Exxon Valdez spill.
Then there are the “environmentalists” who succeeded in blocking a pipeline from Valdez to the US.

Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 11:31 am

In a longer op/ed piece, Kurt Schlichter today summed up the Global Warming argument better than anyone else has yet – this is a perfect description of what we are dealing with!
Begin Quote:

“You should give us more of your money and more power over you because carbon in the atmosphere is bad because it will change the weather and make it hotter and, uh, hurricanier.”

“Well, the unadjusted data shows the weather isn’t getting any hotter and there have been fewer hurricanes in recent years, so maybe before we spend a trillion dollars…”


“But didn’t you say carbon would affect the weather, so isn’t it reasonable to look and see if the weather is changing…”


Reply to  wws
April 8, 2017 2:06 am

Good article. Thanks for the link

April 6, 2017 9:38 am

“Columbia Glacier was calving due to climate change”

Perhaps they have confused ExxonValdez with the Titanic?

They’re both boats, right?

Nick Werner
Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 10:05 am

Disastrous Oil Tanker spill was direct result of the Seven Degrees of Exxon Valdez.

Stay Tuned… Coming next week from CSJ: #WhiteStarKnew!

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 10:37 am

No, Boaty McBoatface is a boat though. Wait – it’s a submarine now?
I’m so confused!

george e. smith
Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 11:15 am

Well actually, if the glaciers had not been calving, there would not have been enough water there for the EV to get in there.

It takes a lot of water to float a boat as big as EV, so water from glaciers is a good thing.


Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 11:42 am

“Columbia Glacier was calving due to climate change”
“glacier calving or iceberg calving, is the breaking of ice chunks from the edge of a glacier.[1] It is a form of ice ablation or ice disruption and is normally caused by the glacier expanding”………

Reply to  Latitude
April 6, 2017 5:58 pm

……. as the result of global cooling, which was the trendy environmental crisis when Exxon supposedly first knew the climate was changing from warmer to colder.

Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 8:27 pm

They’re ships, dear boy, ships. Boats are little itty bitty things that of on top of the water (hopefully), or big black sneaky things that go under the water and sink big things like ships.

April 6, 2017 9:40 am

No one said the decline of journalism would be smooth and rational. The key word is ‘paid” and that also explains the nationwide pattern of media buys at outlets large and small leading up to the Paris Climate Agreement. Fake science news was on a rampage then and street money was behind it.

Reply to  Resourceguy
April 6, 2017 9:43 am

The same guys paying for this type of fake news, are the same ones demanding that other people’s “fake news” be criminalized.

Reply to  Resourceguy
April 6, 2017 11:11 am

The article – fit more for The Onion than the LA Times

Perhaps the author hasn’t been reading the LA Times lately? Some of the stuff in the The Onion actually makes more sense.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Edenvale
Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
April 6, 2017 4:46 pm

The Onion turned it down as unbelievable. Their articles have to have a patina of credence.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
April 8, 2017 2:09 am

True dat.

April 6, 2017 9:42 am

“fit more for The Onion than the LA Times”

Is there a difference anymore?

Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 10:03 am

Is there a difference anymore?

Of course there’s a difference! How dare you suggest otherwise. One has a long history of laughable agendas and obsequious kowtowing to financial masters and the other is The Onion.

Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 10:33 am

One is obvious, the other is subtle. One will admit to being full of shit, the other will claim no odor even exists. One is professional in their jobs, the other, well…

Rhoda R
Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2017 2:10 pm

Add the Wash Post in that category as well.

Steve Lohr
Reply to  MarkW
April 7, 2017 6:25 am

Actually, I think the Onion has standards of acceptance. LA Times, not so much.

Bob Greene
April 6, 2017 9:45 am

We have a whole new generation to spread the myth.
Are we to believe that glaciers just started calving 30 years ago and you didn’t have to navigate to avoid ice in and around Alaska until then?

Who knew?

Reply to  Bob Greene
April 6, 2017 10:22 am

The Columbia students now “know” … and apparently the Exxon folks should have known.

I always thought religion faded to myth over time. Appears that I was wrong … it appears instead that myth pushed hard enough as fact turns into religion.

george e. smith
Reply to  DonM
April 6, 2017 1:47 pm

Well I hope they also know, they can’t graduate until they have learned how to distinguish fact from fiction. That’s the very essence of journalism.

Oh ! I forgot. Newspapers no longer employ Journalists. They just reprint what is in the NYT, which we already read three days ago.


Reply to  Bob Greene
April 6, 2017 11:12 am

My theory of events leading to this historic environmental disaster:

Captain pours himself a scotch, realizes that he is out of ice, doesn’t want to wait for his ice machine, spots an iceberg, shifts course towards the ice berg, instructing first mate to chip off some cubes for his scotch, forgot to order engine reversal at the right time, because he was so fixated on ice for his scotch, … ooops!, CRASH!, oil spillmageddon.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
April 6, 2017 11:32 am

I’ve read reports that there was more environmental damage from the clean up than there was from the oil spill.
10 years later, the beaches that were left untouched were in better shape than the ones that were cleaned up.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
April 6, 2017 11:46 am

The cure can be worse than the disease. This from NOAA

Effects of the Cleanup

High-pressure, hot-water washing of shorelines, while effective at removing stranded oil, can damage plants and animals in the treated zone directly and indirectly, short-term and long-term. This might seem obvious, but before the Exxon Valdez spill there was almost no real documentation of these impacts.

We now know the negative effects of agressive shoreline cleanup methods like high-pressure, hot-water washing. However, this does not mean we would eliminate its use in the future. Hopefully, with the guidance of monitoring efforts like this one, we can employ the method in a wiser fashion.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
April 6, 2017 1:23 pm

The more recent spill in Louisiana may prove the conclusions of studies from some earlier spills about the clean-up. Authors of papers now coming out seem surprised at not finding more harm. Research dating back to nearly WWII, some earlier, showed that it was physically and biodegradable, and can even turn into a fertilizer, now lost to some modern oceanographers who apparently don’t have much sea time and others that extrapolate from computer models. They also don’t know about the specialized organisms living on oil out there in the spill area. That oil leaked out there has been known for at least a century. Beaches on the central Texas coast used to get some of it. What ever happened to the idea that taking the pressure off oil aquifers might reduce leakage?

Best idea I heard was from a geologist who said we should have bought up all the hay we could get and take it out there and burn it. Two biologists I know who the media asked about the spill gave a reasoned response and were ignored. This may be the most incompetent environmental crisis reaction in history. Not that I want to throw my dog in a pool of oil.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
April 6, 2017 3:37 pm

Mark W
I have read the same. Years ago. Opinion, I think.

The accident – Master probably sober – two drinks at lunchtime, none afterwards.
Third Mate – qualified Officer Of the Watch – OOW – simply missed [Distracted? Dunno] the alter course position, which happens.

Read the MAIB Accident reports.
See –
There are about 18 pages of links.

The number where the OOW was asleep on two watch ships is horrifying.


Phil Rae
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
April 7, 2017 1:03 am

While recognizing the undeniably deleterious short-term impact of large releases of hydrocarbon to the environment, the longer-term picture is much more encouraging. In the cases of those large spills studied extensively, like the Amoco Cadiz and Exxon Valdez incidents for example, scientists have found that the initial catastrophic effects are attenuated fairly rapidly. In the case of the Amoco Cadiz, it was estimated that more than 260,000 tons of marine animals (including 6000 tons of oysters) were killed by the spill. In the worst affected areas, the year immediately following the spill was characterized by a proliferation of opportunistic species, resistant to the presence of oil, which replaced the usual fauna. Over the subsequent years, these opportunistic species gradually gave way to tolerant species. By 1982-1983, four years after the spill, such tolerant species accounted for over three quarters of the marine population. Finally, as natural processes continued to degrade remaining traces of residual oil, species that were sensitive or very sensitive to hydrocarbons began to resettle and attained their normal pre-spill level by 1984-1985. In total, therefore, it took 6 to 7 years for the former balance to be regained.

The Exxon Valdez incident received enormous publicity and the general public’s opinion of the subsequent clean-up effort was poor. The viscous crude, low ambient temperatures and creation of a thick, sticky, emulsified “mousse” that adhered to rocks made clean-up crews look ineffectual under the glare of the media. Numerous techniques were employed in the clean-up effort, including the use of detergents, absorbents, hot- and cold-water jetting, skimming, digging-up topsoil, etc. and some of these probably did more harm than good. In the initial years after the incident, residual oil contamination was observed to decline quite rapidly – between 50 to 65 percent per year – suggesting that any detrimental effects would rapidly dissipate. Work in subsequent years, however, showed a much slower rate of decline in residual oil, falling to around 4 percent per annum by 2003. As a result, some areas remain contaminated by oil from the spill and will remain so for some years to come. However, numerous studies also show that superficially, at least, the impact of the spill has largely disappeared.

In the case of the BP Macondo blowout, we can probably be even more hopeful, despite alarmist predictions that the Gulf of Mexico would be poisoned for years and that it would become a “dead zone”. Thanks to warm surface waters and the use of approved chemical dispersants injected at depth into the rising oil column, much of the escaped oil had already dissipated within days of the successful surface kill operation that pumped heavy mud and cement into the well, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They estimated that almost 60% of the spilled oil had evaporated or been recovered and a significant percentage had already been biodegraded, thanks to the large indigenous population of oil-eating microbes resident in the Gulf of Mexico. They live and thrive in vast numbers there normally because of the natural oil seeps mentioned previously. In fact, while examining the seabed for leaks after the Macondo well was capped, natural seeps from a totally different oil reservoir were found a few kilometers from the damaged well, as if to illustrate the point. The media’s disappointment was almost palpable and politicians railed at the NOAA for their irresponsibility in daring to suggest that things might get back to normal after all. What happened to all those beaches that were going to be oiled or the fabulous prospect of oil entering the Gulf of Mexico’s Loop Current and contaminating the entire Eastern Seaboard?

Examination of the water column, in an area close to the Macondo well, by researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, did however detect the presence of a sizeable oil contamination plume at a depth of 3000 to 3400 ft. Headlines proclaimed another apocalypse, painting a picture of monstrous toxic plumes of oil roaming beneath the surface of the now superficially-normal Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the oil in the plume was present at extremely low concentrations and the water had no discernible smell of hydrocarbons; samples were as clear as spring water, to quote the lead researcher. Given this degree of dispersion, it was very likely that this remaining oil would disappear soon enough and scientists said it was unlikely to cause any problem to commercial fishing or other marine life due to its depth. Finally, tropical storms and hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, far from being the problem that the media apparently wanted them to be, are nature’s own way of dispersing and diluting spilled oil, just as happened in the Braer tanker incident off the Scottish coast in 1993.

April 6, 2017 9:49 am

In a time of fake news, why not a Department of Fake Journalism? Columbia University is just showing us the way to a bright new future.

And who is better equipped to make judgments about science, engineering, and technical matters than graduate students from the Columbia School of Fake Journalism, untrained in any critical subjects but whose deep personal convictions provide them with the correct answers right from the start?

The real news provided by these events is that the stench of academic intellectual corruption, as thick and pervasive as it is, is still not enough to stimulate the noses of university provosts and presidents.

The real story here is about the conscious betrayal and consequent loss of academic integrity. It’s not about Exxon at all, or global warming.

Reply to  Pat Frank
April 6, 2017 10:04 am


I think you have summed a part of the problem up quite nicely.

Tom O
Reply to  eyesonu
April 6, 2017 11:59 am

Actually he left out the part about money is the only true god and they worship it above all else. Let nothing stand between them and the money being offered for their form of prostitution. Who knows, maybe they practice more than one form.

Reply to  Pat Frank
April 6, 2017 11:14 am

Lee Wasserman of the RFF explained in an op-ed in December 2016, “we paid for a team of independent reporters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism ….”

Independent = left wing CAGW adherents.

Imagine what they would have got if they had invested in a group of biased researchers.

Reply to  DonM
April 6, 2017 11:33 am

According to standard left wing logic, biased researchers would have been right wing.

Reply to  DonM
April 7, 2017 10:37 am


Independent = left wing CAGW adherents.

Biased = right wing

Open minded = self-identified as left, right, or center, depending on which way the wind blows (aka socialist)

Reply to  DonM
April 7, 2017 1:25 pm

Someone who thinks government should grow a little slower than it is right now: Right wing
Someone who thinks government should shrink a bit: Far Right Wing

Reply to  DonM
April 7, 2017 1:25 pm

Somone who thinks government should only be half it’s current size: Anarchist.

April 6, 2017 10:15 am

This story should be embarrassing for the alarmists but apparently it’s not – that’s scary.

Reply to  PiperPaul
April 6, 2017 12:33 pm

Apparently, no human can ever be embarrassed or see themselves as immoral while fighting for a noble cause. All actions are justified if seen to advance the cause. That is why despots, dictators and power brokers always hide behind a noble cause to gain control. They attract their minions with ideology, then send them out to do their dirty work. This not only describes the article above, but nearly every war that has ever been fought.

Bruce Cobb
April 6, 2017 10:17 am

“Scientists estimate it is has contributed to nearly 1% of global sea level rise.”
So the Columbia Glacier has only contributed to, not (supposedly) caused 1% of SLR. Meaning it might only have contributed 1% of that 1%, or 0.0001. Good to know.
I guess they just don’t teach the ability to write any more than they teach logic or common sense anymore.

April 6, 2017 10:17 am

Dr. Josef Goebbels (the Minister of Propaganda of the Third Reich) would have been proud of this reporting. Actually, maybe not .. he always maintained that a propaganda must be done intelligently.

April 6, 2017 10:28 am

Is this where you just roll your eyes in disbelief? Fractured fairy tales, so boys and girls the moral of this story is… was there a polar bear sitting on this iceberg? ….. when it comes to climate change, co2 can even change history.
We will eventually March to the the sands of Normandy, raise our swords, declare Britannia conquered, and return to Rome, where it is warm and sunny.

Gary Pearse
April 6, 2017 10:29 am

Are there no legal courses of action against this abuse by journalists, attorneys general, and flagrant political based activities by tax exempt foundations? Must we simply weather this abuse? Is there no harm being done to commerce, the general public? Is this the stuff that is supposed to be protected by the First Amendment. And Mark Steyn’s statements about the fraudulent hockey stick are fair game for legal action? On the latter, I always like to point out that MBH98, Mann’s self-styled ‘iconic’ graph published in 1998, ironically marked the beginning of an 18yr pause and slight decline in temperature which would rebend the hockey stick back down. If you flipped the hockey stick with this extension, plus adding back the fraudulently removed LIA and MWP, you’d have a scythe instead of HS.

Michael Brown
April 6, 2017 10:35 am

No one remembers that neither Congress, Alaska, nor Exxon would PAY to complete and operate the Vessel Traffic System that would have prevented the event. IT was supposed to be completed before Valdez ever turned a valve on to load the 1st tanker. It was NEVER completed! Amazing how history forgets the FACTS!

Michael darby
Reply to  Michael Brown
April 6, 2017 10:45 am

No one remembers that the RAYCAS radar unit on board the ship was inoperative, and was broken for more than a year before the disaster. There was a radar reflector placed on the next rock inland from Bligh Reef which would have alerted the pilot to being off course. Maybe if Exxon kept their equipment in good condition, the accident would have been avoided.

Reply to  Michael darby
April 6, 2017 12:03 pm

There are forces in large organizations that resist doing the job right the first time. Usually they get away with it. Sometimes, as was the case with the Deepwater Horizon they don’t. This will continue until they start putting board members and CEOs in jail.

Doug in Calgary
Reply to  Michael darby
April 6, 2017 12:43 pm

Other things not brought up are… because the Exxon Valdez had been to port many times it was not required to have a pilot… the Captain was drunk and sleeping it off in his cabin when he should have been on the bridge… the 1st mate was off shift… the 2nd mate had command of the bridge, which is illegal when entering and leaving port as they have not yet been certified for the necessary navigation skills for tight maneuvering.

Next they’ll be producing peer reviewed studies that claim climate change causes ship’s crews to take leave of their senses.

Reply to  Michael Brown
April 6, 2017 10:55 am

Cheapskates never think they are responsible for the problems they cause. They always find a way to blame someone else.

At coffee one morning one of the local farmers was ranting up and down about how an electrician couldn’t properly put in a circuit. My reply was something like: “Who was the cheap farmer who insisted on having 2″ conduit cemented into the floor instead of the called for 4″ conduit?” I don’t recall that he ever spoke to me again. 🙂

Nigel S
Reply to  commieBob
April 6, 2017 11:54 am

Spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar.

April 6, 2017 10:41 am

A Graduate School of Journalism. Wow! That’s how journalism is being taught everywhere. A “walking while black” story by a Dean of a School of Journalism comes to mind. She wrote about an unpleasant experience of being stopped by police while jogging. Unfortunately, her maudlin article was contradicted by a police video.

Chris Riley
Reply to  Curious George
April 6, 2017 1:25 pm

This is from the most respected Journalism school in the country.

April 6, 2017 10:42 am

An Inconvenient truth (of which these intellectually challenged may not be aware) is that glaciers flow, driven by gravity, and are no more, no less than frozen rivers discharging into the sea.
The fact hat these morons are from a Jopurnalism School might imply their academic credentials, such as they are, are insufficient to vault them into careers with a much higher ‘bar’ to clear (in hi-jumping terms, in case that don’t “get that” either.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
April 6, 2017 10:48 am

PiperPaul asks why there is no embarrassment about making false claims among the environmentalist movement – it simply doesn’t register with them that there could ever be anything wrong with anything they say no matter how daft it is. Confront them with contrary evidence and all that happens is that their eyes glaze over and they move on to something else. They are of a type and generation who have never been taught that they can ever be wrong. Just consider some of the failure to respond to perfectly reasonable points we see from the alarmist community on WUWT.

April 6, 2017 10:53 am

comment image

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
April 6, 2017 10:55 am

Global warming makes vodka more potent? Who knew?

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
April 6, 2017 11:14 am


April 6, 2017 10:57 am

Yes, a butterfly flapped its wings down in the Amazon and…

Reply to  Wharfplank
April 6, 2017 11:15 am

No, it’s not butterfly wing flapping causing such events, but rather flea flatulence — far more subtle, you see.

Reply to  Wharfplank
April 6, 2017 11:16 am

….and the LA Times recorded ad revenue.

April 6, 2017 11:29 am

Huh, I thought rising sea levels would make it less likely for a ship to impact the reef.

April 6, 2017 11:48 am

Since I am interested in glaciology I would be very glad to hear about a tidewater glacier that doesn’t calve icebergs. Might Exxon know about one do you think?

Reply to  tty
April 6, 2017 11:57 am

Better yet, name an advancing tidewater or outlet glacier that doesn’t calve icebergs.

Dropstones tend to be associated with periods of glacial advance:

Global cooling inferred from dropstones in the Cretaceous: fact or wishful thinking?
Matthew R. Bennett,
Peter Doyle
First published: March 1996


Traditionally, the Cretaceous has been considered as a long period of global warmth, a ‘greenhouse’ world. This view has been challenged in recent years by several lines of evidence; palaeobotany, stable isotopes, and palaeoclimatic modelling in particular. However, although these data demonstrate that cooling is likely, the only first-hand evidence which demonstrates the presence of substantial ice build-up in Cretaceous high palaeolatititudes are dropstones. These outsized or exotic clasts set in a fine-grained sediment are often interpreted as a direct result of ice rafting. The reliability of this dropstone evidence and particularly its validity is questioned in demonstrating ice age interludes within the Cretaceous greenhouse.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2017 2:13 pm

Why, during the allegedly warm Cretaceous ,did so many dinosaur species start to acquire feathers ?

April 6, 2017 11:53 am

Funny thing about the Columbia Glacier…

A computer model predicts the retreat of the Columbia Glacier will stop when the glacier reaches a new stable position — roughly 15 miles upstream from the stable position it occupied prior to the 1980s. The team, headed by lead author William Colgan of the CU-Boulder headquartered Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, published its results today in The Cryosphere, an open access publication of the European Geophysical Union.


The imminent finish of the retreat, or recession of the front of the glacier, has surprised scientists and highlights the difficulties of trying to estimate future rates of sea level rise, Colgan said. “Many people are comfortable thinking of the glacier contribution to sea level rise as this nice predictable curve into the future, where every year there is a little more sea level rise, and we can model it out for 100 or 200 years,” Colgan said.

The team’s findings demonstrate otherwise, however. A single glacier’s contribution to sea level rise can “turn on” and “turn off” quite rapidly, over a couple of years, with the precise timing of the life cycle being difficult to forecast, he said. Presently, the majority of sea level rise comes from the global population of glaciers. Many of these glaciers are just starting to retreat, and some will soon cease to retreat.

“The variable nature and speed of the life cycle among glaciers highlights difficulties in trying to accurately predict the amount of sea level rise that will occur in the decades to come,” Colgan said.

The Columbia Glacier was first documented in 1794 when it appeared to be stable with a length of 41 miles. During the 1980s it began a rapid retreat and by 1995 it was only about 36 miles long. By late 2000 it was about 34 miles long.

The loss of a massive area of the Columbia Glacier’s tongue has generated a tremendous number of icebergs since the 1980s. After the Exxon Valdez ran aground while avoiding a Columbia Glacier iceberg in 1989, significant resources were invested to understand its iceberg production. As a result, Columbia Glacier became one of the most well-documented tidewater glaciers in the world, providing a bank of observational data for scientists trying to understand how a tidewater glacier reacts to a warming climate.


It’s retreat was totally unexpected and “the imminent finish of the retreat, or recession of the front of the glacier, has surprised scientists”… One would thing that “settled science” would be lacking in so many surprises.

And the Valdez did not run “aground while avoiding a Columbia Glacier iceberg.” It ran aground after having avoided the icebergs…

The Exxon Valdez departed from the Trans Alaska Pipeline terminal at 9:12 pm March 23, 1989. William Murphy, an expert ship’s pilot hired to maneuver the 986-foot vessel through the Valdez Narrows, was in control of the wheelhouse. At his side was the captain of the vessel, Joe Hazelwood. Helmsman Harry Claar was steering. After passing through Valdez Narrows, pilot Murphy left the vessel and Captain Hazelwood took over the wheelhouse. The Exxon Valdez encountered icebergs in the shipping lanes and Captain Hazelwood ordered Claar to take the Exxon Valdez out of the shipping lanes to go around the icebergs. He then handed over control of the wheelhouse to Third Mate Gregory Cousins with precise instructions to turn back into the shipping lanes when the tanker reached a certain point. At that time, Claar was replaced by Helmsman Robert Kagan. For reasons that remain unclear, Cousins and Kagan failed to make the turn back into the shipping lanes and the ship ran aground on Bligh Reef at 12:04 am March 24, 1989. Captain Hazelwood was in his quarters at the time.

Terry Warner
April 6, 2017 11:55 am

Linking this to climate change is nonsense.

All energy generation processes/methods have the capacity to cause associated environmental problems. Some may be notable major incidents (eg Exxon, BP, Chernobyl etc) others are an inevitabe consequence of the technology adopted.

Oil, gas and nuclear have the potential for major events – meltdown, oil pollution etc. All mitigating actions simply reduce the risk but do not eliminate it.

PV, and wind may not be economically viable but unlikely to cause a single major disruptive event. Coal probably sits between the two extremes.

The only issue is a trade off between risk and generation cost, immediate, exceptional or long term environmental impact.

April 6, 2017 12:07 pm

That the Rockefeller Foundation opposes fossil fuels is a knee-slapper right up there with the Ford Foundation opposing the internal combustion engine.

Exxon Mobil is the largest descendant of J. D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company.

Wonder how much Exxon stock the Foundation still holds.

What a hoot!

Nigel S
April 6, 2017 12:19 pm

An unlucky ship! Multiple names, finally ‘Oriental Nicety’, may not have helped. This from ‘Nature’ August 2012 describes the final act before her being broken up for scrap.

‘Activists claimed that the Oriental Nicety was contaminated with asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls, a persistent organic pollutant. The Indian Supreme Court forbade docking of the ship and imposed an environmental audit.

So the Oriental Nicety sat on death row for two months, costing her owner $10 million as the value of its steel declined and the company continued to pay its crew.

Last month, the court ruled in favour of Priya Blue: there was no toxic waste on the ship.’

False claims by ‘Activists’, I’m shocked, shocked …

Reply to  Nigel S
April 6, 2017 1:36 pm

In a rational world, the “activists” would be forced to pay for all the costs incurred by the company because of their groundless suit.

BTW, in the movie “Wall-E”, there is one scene with a bunch of oil tankers all grounded together. If you look closely, you can see that the first of these tankers bears the name “Exxon Valdez”.

April 6, 2017 12:20 pm

It’s like letting loose Phd students and recent graduates on GW in general. Despite their very expensive education, they know f^ck all about anything beyond their chosen subject. My recently graduated daughter, with a BSc in Zoology, as adorable as she is, argued that a common or garden Blue Tit was a Chaffinch, citing her qualification as her authority over my years of living in the country, an uneducated bumpkin.

Guess what, the bird was a Blue Tit.

Reply to  The Informed Consumer
April 6, 2017 1:37 pm

Blue tit. Now that’s cold.

Reply to  The Informed Consumer
April 7, 2017 10:50 am

Blue Tit is not an appropriate term … not used in zoology courses anymore. As such she had no way of knowing 🙂

(By the way, what is daughter doing with her degree? I’ve told my daughter that a zoology degree is not an allowed use of her time, and so far she still listens to the bulk of my advice ,,, but she is now leaning back towards the idea of playing with animals as a career. Is it working out for your kid?)

Reply to  DonM
April 7, 2017 1:27 pm

One of mine wanted to go into marine biology so she could play with dolphins.

April 6, 2017 12:28 pm

What do you do with an drunken sailor?
What do you do with an drunken sailor?
What do you do with an drunken sailor?
Put him in charge of an Exxon tanker. . .
Er-lie in the morning.

Then there’s lots more at

April 6, 2017 12:37 pm

Was the article in the Entertainment section of the LA Times? Or maybe it wasn’t “today” but on Saturday?
Seriously, there is no way you can take the article seriously. It’s seriously humorous. The C students MUST have been laughing their collectives butts off, and then were rolling on the floor when they were told the LAT was going to publish it! For that matter, the “good” folks at LAT were probably laughing all the way to the press room. Got’a give those kids kudos for humor thought. Just about fell of my chair reading it…..

David Chappell
April 6, 2017 12:47 pm

I’m curious as to why the Rockefellers have taken against Exxon so much. Are they engaged in a devious campaign to destroy the company’s share price so that they can re-take full control at firesale prices?

April 6, 2017 12:48 pm

I was about to yell at the computer and pound out the findings about the EV when I saw the author had all her bases covered!

It seems that AGW is directly responsible for one thing beyond any possibility of random chance – the loss of grey cells by the faithful!

April 6, 2017 12:49 pm

Several years after she went aground I piloted her (under the name Sea River Mediterranean) here in Scotland.
Before that there had been an article in the Glasgow Herald about drunkeness causing the grounding. I challenged this because so far as I was aware the Court of Enquiry said that the Master was overworked and suffering from fatigue.The Herald published an apology and agreed that at the time of the grounding he had not been drunk.
My experience of Exxon, known here as ESSO, is that they have, or had when I was working, so many rules, regulations and protocols that their Officers are, or were, hard pushed to find time to do anything but make sure that they are or were following the rule book, never mind doing anything by common sense. They certainly were under far more stress regarding what “The Office” might say than Officers in other tanker companies who mostly were allowed to act as seamen and conduct themselves in a seamanlike manner, i.e use common sense.
The reason that “the company failed to provide a fit Master”, in my view was because they overworked him.

Reply to  Oldseadog
April 6, 2017 9:02 pm

I was working for Exxon at the time and a number of factors in the accident never came to light. The head of the tanker transport division Lawrence Rawl implemented a cost saving measure where the tanker crews Including the Valdez were reduced by 1/3. The loading and unloading crew were cut from the roster 2 years before the Valdez accident. This meant that the navigation crew now had to take over the loading and unloading as well as drive the boat. Hazelwood sent a request to the dispatcher to delay the departure of the Valdez till morning light due problems during the loading phase that had caused a delay in the departure time. Other factors for asking for the delay were the iceberg danger and the lack of the functioning radar. The head of Exxon who was now Rawl over rode Hazelwood and ordered the Valdez out of port. If the Valdez did not arrive at his destination as soon as possible the receiving refinery would have to stop production due to a shortage of feed stock. Hazelwood was not supposed to be on the bridge that night due to problems that arose from the loading and he had timed out for hours of work for the day. He would have been in violation of company rules if he had been on the bridge because he had already worked too many hours during the loading phase. Company policy required Hazelwood to take a mandatory rest period before he could stand watch again. He thought he was going to take the boat out the next morning when he left the to get away from the tanker for a couple hours. When he returned he was informed that the tanker was leaving that night and after a heated conversation with the dispatcher he turned the tanker over to the standing crew and went to bed. Funny how none of this came out at the investigations. 8 hours delay in Valdez leaving maybe this never would have happened.

Scott Scarborough
April 6, 2017 1:13 pm

The Exon Valdez grounding was due to not enough global warming. If the sea levels had risen enough the ship would have never run aground!

Reply to  Scott Scarborough
April 6, 2017 1:28 pm


April 6, 2017 1:27 pm

I guess you can’t ignore probing attacks such as these, as long as you realize what they are.

April 6, 2017 1:57 pm

The Columbia School of Journalism seems to teach the Art of Propaganda and not journalism as we citizens over 50 expect. Andrew Revkin taught similar courses at Pace University — instructing students how to make the punchiest messages — without regard to truthfulness, fair and even-handed reporting, or any other journalistic value.

April 6, 2017 2:08 pm

I’m sure they will want this “research” also.

April 6, 2017 2:11 pm

And here I thought the left were holier than thou and certainly – CERTAINLY – never engaged in creating fake news!!! Only republican-siding people do that, right???

April 6, 2017 2:15 pm

The Rockefellers—another “we have ours and now we are going to make sure NO ONE ever gets as much as we have”. It’s a unique form of extreme greed that basically involves making millions, often in fossil fuels, and then doing a burn out of the company now that you are rich. Slash and burn in the realm of the ultra-rich. Evil to the core.

April 6, 2017 2:25 pm

I suppose that Exxon has Judge Crater hidden at ANWR

April 6, 2017 2:36 pm

The captain was not impaired, he gave the proper orders and was not required to stay on the bridge. Is a captain on the bridge 24/7, no. The coast Guard saw the tanker not returning to course but never said a thingood as not their mandate at the time.

The third mate did not follow given orders and return to the proper course at the required time.

This article is bogus in part.

Reply to  nc
April 7, 2017 10:54 am

NC ==> The Exxon Valdez accident is a fine example of multiple errors leading to disaster, especially given the facts of modern radar and a well-known location. Years ago I did a personal analysis based on my experience as a junior officer on the bridge of a much smaller (400 foot) coastal freighter operating off the coast of Iberia, the Azores and the Canary Islands, and the Caribbean. Plenty of blame to go around — my Captain would never ever have allowed an empty bridge in close waters (or even in open ocean for that matter) but would have required a full complement of bridge stations to be manned by alert qualified watch standers and officers — including helm (even if on autopilot), depth sounder, radar, navigation desk, radio watch and live lookouts on the bridge wings. Autopilot operation would certainly not have been allowed in any circumstance except on the open ocean, far from land. If there was the danger of floating ice (or any other floating obstacles, like wooden fishing boats off the coast of Portugal), a live bow watch would have been set. Our ship would never have sailed if there had been pre-voyage drinking — any officer or crew found to have been drinking in the last 24 hours would have been “clapped in irons” (forbidden to stand duty and disciplined).

Danged shoddy seamanship.

April 6, 2017 3:58 pm

I have a discolored toenail because of global warming. I swear these grant assisted TA’s sit in a pooh stained glass enclosure throwing shite against the windows, as people pass by, just to see what sticks. “Oops slid off. Guess they aren’t buying that one.”

April 6, 2017 4:36 pm
April 6, 2017 6:55 pm

They teach “alternative facts” journalism at the Columbia School of Journalism.
Sort of like National Enquirer and other supermarket mags.

Johann Wundersamer
April 6, 2017 7:35 pm

Anyone who has ever followed the story knows that the only ice responsible for the Exxon Valdez spill would be the ice cooling the captain’s [ said I dunnit for the sake of form ] many cocktails that night.


Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
April 7, 2017 1:42 am

Not so, Johann.
See post above by Boris and the MAIB report,

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Oldseadog
April 9, 2017 4:43 am

Thanks for the info, OSD.

Triest no longer is a seaport of KuK Austria.

Anyway there’s always long delays from working hypothesis to official end reports.

April 7, 2017 2:54 am

We all laugh at this stuff and try to see it as a sign of imminent collapse of the loony left. I don’t think it is. it is a sign that they know exactly what they are doing and have gone full-on mass cult with it. They couldn’t care less what any rational person might think about it. They are taking a leaf straight out of Islam’s immensely successful playbook and it is no coincidence they are so supportive of that other hideous mass cult. The more patently absurd the claim the more hysterically the cult’s adherents support it and we see the similarities with violent religious extremism every day. The left are quite prepared to take huge offense at anything and everything which is not directly in line with their creed and are ever ready to use violence as an expression of the ‘righteous’ outrage. These are very dangerous times indeed and in my view what we are staring wide-eyed at here is nothing less than the sack of Rome II.

gerald the mole
April 7, 2017 4:01 am

In the book “Sleep Thieves” the author says that sleep deprivation due to over work of the 3rd mate was possibly a contributing factor. This fits well with cost cutting by the company.

Reply to  gerald the mole
April 7, 2017 4:29 am

Not just the 3rd. Mate, Gerald, everyone was overworked and Capt. Hazelwood was exhusted and bullied by his office to sail when he was not in a fit state to carry out his duties safely.
Been there, got lots of T shirts. By the grace of God or good luck I got away with it.

Joel Snider
April 7, 2017 12:27 pm

Well, as long as we’re throwing out conspiracy theories, how about the Gulf oil spill of 2010? To my humble eye, it appeared that our then-current environmentalist president, who was so concerned about the oceans, ram-rodded through an experimental Bush-era contraption that was nowhere near ready for commercial use (pre-determined defense mechanism) – a product of Halliburton, no less (second Bush-attachment) – skipped past all the regulatory red-tape and dropped it in the deepest hole in the Gulf. THEN, when it naturally blew a gasket, used that as a platform to shut down drilling in the Gulf, and transport all the rigs to South America, where George Soros had just bought a bunch of stock in a Brazilian oil field that had just come on line.
But I guess there’s no reason to be suspicious of THAT environmental disaster… occurring under a president who never let a crisis go to waste… and, again in my humble opinion (based on other little picadillos such as ‘Fast and Furious – another Bush-era program repurposed for agenda action), perhaps a president who was not above CREATING a crisis to take advantage of.
Or am I just jaded?

April 8, 2017 7:41 am

So….where’s the story about how the White Star Line knew about climate change and let the Titanic sail to its demise?

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