Study: Naomi Oreskes Claims Exxon Mobil Misled About Climate

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

What do you do if nobody cares about your hardline green hate campaign against Exxon? You re-present your position as a study, of course.

Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977–2014)

Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes

This paper assesses whether ExxonMobil Corporation has in the past misled the general public about climate change. We present an empirical document-by-document textual content analysis and comparison of 187 climate change communications from ExxonMobil, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications, internal company documents, and paid, editorial-style advertisements (‘advertorials’) in The New York Times. We examine whether these communications sent consistent messages about the state of climate science and its implications—specifically, we compare their positions on climate change as real, human-caused, serious, and solvable. In all four cases, we find that as documents become more publicly accessible, they increasingly communicate doubt. This discrepancy is most pronounced between advertorials and all other documents. For example, accounting for expressions of reasonable doubt, 83% of peer-reviewed papers and 80% of internal documents acknowledge that climate change is real and human-caused, yet only 12% of advertorials do so, with 81% instead expressing doubt. We conclude that ExxonMobil contributed to advancing climate science—by way of its scientists’ academic publications—but promoted doubt about it in advertorials. Given this discrepancy, we conclude that ExxonMobil misled the public. Our content analysis also examines ExxonMobil’s discussion of the risks of stranded fossil fuel assets. We find the topic discussed and sometimes quantified in 24 documents of various types, but absent from advertorials. Finally, based on the available documents, we outline ExxonMobil’s strategic approach to climate change research and communication, which helps to contextualize our findings.

2. Method

We adapt and combine the methodologies used to quantify the consensus on AGW by Oreskes [23] and Cook et al [22] with the content analysis methodologies used to characterize media communications of AGW by Feldman et al and Elsasser and Dunlap [27, 28]. Developed to assess peer-reviewed scientific literature, cable news, and conservative newspapers, respectively, these offer generalizable approaches to quantifying the positions of an entity or community on a particular scientific question across multiple document classes.

Our study comprises 187 documents (see table 1): 32 internal documents (from ICN [16], ExxonMobil [59], and Climate Investigations Center [60]); 53 articles labeled ‘Peer-Reviewed Publications’ in ExxonMobil’s ‘Contributed Publications’ list [15]; 48 (unique and retrievable) documents labeled ‘Additional Publications’ in ExxonMobil’s ‘Contributed Publications’ list; 36 Mobil/ExxonMobil advertorials related to climate change in the NYT; and 18 ‘Other’ publicly available ExxonMobil communications–mostly non-peer-reviewed materials–obtained during our research. To our knowledge, these constitute the relevant, publicly available internal documents that have led to recent allegations against ExxonMobil, as well as all peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed documents offered by the company in response. They also include all discovered ExxonMobil advertorials in the NYT discussing AGW. Advertorials are sourced from a collection compiled by PolluterWatch based on a search of the ProQuest archive [61].

The most widely held theory is that:

  • The increase [in atmospheric CO2] is due to fossil fuel combustion
  • Increasing CO2 concentration will cause a warming of the earth’s surface
  • The present trend of fossil fuel consumption will cause dramatic environmental effects before the year 2050.

However, the memo notes: ‘It must be realized that there is great uncertainty in the existing climatic models because of a poor understanding of the atmospheric/terrestrial/oceanic CO2 balance’ [82]. Likewise, an internal briefing on the ‘CO2 “Greenhouse” Effect’ from 1982 states: ‘There is currently no unambiguous scientific evidence that the earth is warming. If the earth is on a warming trend, we’re not likely to detect it before 1995’ (see table 3). Yet, the authors say, ‘Our best estimate is that doubling of the current concentration could increase average global temperature by about 1.3 °C to 3.1 °C’ [83]. Several internal documents make this distinction, acknowledging that increased CO2 would likely cause warming, while expressing (reasonable) doubt that warming was already underway and large enough to be detected.

This cautious consensus is also evident in charts in internal ExxonMobil presentations and reports. (Due to copyright restrictions prohibiting the reproduction of figures owned by ExxonMobil, we instead provide hyperlinks to third-party websites at which relevant figures can be viewed.) For example, in a 1978 presentation to the Exxon Corporation Management Committee, Exxon scientist James Black showed a graph (see of projected warming ‘model[ed] with the assumption that the carbon dioxide levels will double by 2050 A.D.’ [95]. Another case is the 1982 Exxon primer already mentioned, which includes a graph (see showing ‘an estimate of the average global temperature increase’ under the ‘Exxon 21st Century Study-High Growth scenario’ [83]. A third example is a table (see presented by Exxon scientist Henry Shaw at a 1984 Exxon/Esso environmental conference, which showed that Exxon’s expected ‘average temperature rise’ of 1.3 °C–3.1 °C was comparable to projections by leading research institutions (1.5 °C–4.5 °C) [96]. This shows that ExxonMobil scientists and managers were well informed of the state of the science at the time. But they also tended to focus on the prevailing uncertainties: Black stressed the alleged shortcomings of extant climate models before showing his results; Shaw emphasized the variable and ‘unpredictable’ character of some values.

Read more:

The study concludes that what executives discussed in private was different to their public position.

But lets think about this claim from a rational perspective.

  • Exxon scientists like Henry Shaw were saying that climate might cause between 1.3 – 3.1C warming / doubling of CO2.
  • A lot of this material was published – so in no sense was it “hidden”, other than use of annoying paywalls which a well funded science journalist could afford – just like the paywalls alarmist climate scientists frequently use to help fund their work.

The key point is that the science IS uncertain. 1.3 – 3.1C is a huge range of uncertainty.

1.3C / doubling of CO2 is a complete non-event – if we burn every scrap of fossil fuel available to current technology, we might just about achieve a little over a doubling of global CO2 since pre-industrial times. Given we have already experienced around 1C of that warming with no ill effects, other than in the imaginations of activists, its difficult to see how another degree would be that different to what has already occurred.

That one degree of warming to date since pre-industrial times may have included an anthropogenic contribution, but the level of anthropogenic contribution to global warming is far from certain. A degree or two of warming or cooling is well within the range of natural variation.

The high end of the Exxon estimate, 3.1C / doubling, is potentially disruptive, but the high estimate is looking more unlikely every passing year that global temperature stagnates. Even if climate sensitivity is as high as 3.1C / doubling, we can afford to wait and see.

If global warming becomes a problem in the future, our descendants will have access to advanced technology and engineering capabilities to rectify any issues. Or they could just plant lots of additional trees.

The lower range of Exxon’s estimate is an unequivocal “no action required”, the upper range of Exxon’s estimate is “we might need to do something about it in the future”.

Exxon plainly opposed frantic green campaigns to shut down the modern world because those green scare campaigns were based on fantasies, not mainstream science.

Deep greens like Naomi Oreskes are so caught up in their apocalyptic fantasies, they completely miss the obvious; an objective interpretation of the facts suggests there is no case to answer. In my opinion, Exxon’s actions and communications with the public were proportionate and reasonable.

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August 24, 2017 5:06 am

That anyone can even consider publishing crap like this is a sad indictment of climate “science”

Reply to  David Johnson
August 24, 2017 7:24 am

She’s not a climate scientist.

Russell Cook (@QuestionAGW)
Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 9:48 am

But don’t forget what Oreskes is – she’s the author of the 100% scientific consensus paper which Al Gore cited in his 2006 movie right before he trashed skeptic climate scientists as ‘paid shills of Big Coal & Oil.’ Gore also named-dropped her name during the Q&A session of the big March 2016 press conference he had with NY AG Eric Schneiderman about what “Exxon Knew” on AGW ( ). On top of that, her narratives about how and when she learned who her skeptic climate scientist critics were doesn’t line up right ( ), among myriad other problems she has concerning her role in the smear of skeptic climate scientists.
She isn’t merely an ‘activist/scholar’ like the media portrays her, she has every appearance in the world of being one of the core people pushing the baseless ‘crooked skeptics’ accusation.

george e. smith
Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 11:14 am

I don’t depend on Exxon Mobil for my climate needs; ho hum !
Wake me up when Exxon Mobil starts misleading us on gasoline availability.
Is Naomi Orestes related to Elektra ?? She was a real piece of work !

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 12:33 pm

And the Cook mentioned is a cartoonist.
Not a lot of “bench strength” on the Team, is there?

Reply to  Aphan
August 26, 2017 1:01 pm

Russell (@QuestionAGW),
I’ve probably said this before, but thank you for being one of the few people who understands how fundamental Oreskes is to the house of cards that is The Narrative.
Her “research” was key to the “credibility” of Gore’s Nobel/Academy-winning carbon-credits infomercial, An Inconvenient Truth.
It couldn’t have suited Gore’s purposes better if he’d commissioned her to write it just in time for the movie.
Not that a scholar (chuckle) of her integrity (chuckle) would have entertained such an indecent proposal, of course—I’m not suggesting any such meeting took place, much less that considerations were exchanged.
That would be absurd.

Reply to  David Johnson
August 24, 2017 8:45 am

George Orwell did this way better in 1984. She is a rank amateur.

Reply to  David Johnson
August 24, 2017 10:00 am

Once more that ugly C words come in to play.

Reply to  David Johnson
August 25, 2017 3:50 am

Jittery Jillian picked up on this in the Torygraph.

David A
Reply to  David Johnson
August 25, 2017 10:38 pm

Crap it is. If Exxon’s expected ‘average temperature rise’ of 1.3 °C–3.1 °C was comparable to projections by leading research institutions (1.5 °C–4.5 °C) [96]….
Then everyone knew it might maybe could possibly be an issue, and by alarmist logic; they all knew, a big fossil fuel funded conspiracy no doubt.

Reply to  David Johnson
August 26, 2017 12:14 pm

Cut the peer reviewers some slack. They were obviously #distracted when this one slipped through—they’re only red-blooded humans, after all.comment image

August 24, 2017 5:19 am

That first footnote reference to “Cook et al” says it all.

Reply to  eqibno
August 24, 2017 7:27 am

If the Cook/Oreskes methodologies were so great previously… why the need to “adapt and combine” them? It’s more like two wrongs adapted and combined are still wrong.

Dems B. Dcvrs
Reply to  eqibno
August 24, 2017 7:58 am

Bringing up a relevant question.
How does scientific community put an end to use of a chain of references that starts with a flawed or questionable reference?
A flawed or questionable reference that was protected by say Pal Reviews. A reference now enshrined in numerous types of media, and has taken on a life of its own through more derived work.

Reply to  eqibno
August 24, 2017 10:09 am

Yes, the problem with a ‘consensus’ based on errors is recursive logic, where the errors support themselves by defining what the consensus believes which in this case is the idea that a consensus even exists.
The flawed application of Bode feedback is another and this was enshrined as irrefutable dogma in the very first IPCC report.

george e. smith
Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 24, 2017 11:18 am

You got that correct. What is the gain bandwidth product of the Climate system, or what is the unity gain cutoff frequency, and the phase margin ?? Do you have a consensus Pole-Zero diagram for the climate system ?

Reply to  george e. smith
August 24, 2017 11:37 am

what is the unity gain cutoff frequency

System parasitic capacitance varies.

Reply to  george e. smith
August 24, 2017 1:38 pm

Well, we can calculate the time constant based on the ratio between the change in surface emissions (the output) and the change in post albedo solar input. As the time constant increases, the p-p change in the output will decrease given a constant change in input. Once we know the time constant, the 3db cutoff and gain BW product can be determined.
When you do this, the time constant for the N hemisphere is about 8 months while the time constant for the S hemisphere is about 20 months.
Interestingly enough, when you apply this to the global response, the time constant becomes 0 because the phase of the net change in surface temp is opposite to the net change in post albedo solar input. The N hemisphere change in T is larger, while the S hemisphere change in Pi is larger.
The static gain is trivially determined as 1.6. which is that the surface (output) emits 1.6 W/m^2 for each W/m^2 of input. This is also equal to 1/e, where e is the effective emissivity of the planet’s emissions relative to the surface temperature.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 24, 2017 2:53 pm

Micro6500: “System parasitic capacitance” may vary, but government/academic parasitic capacity increases monotonically.

Science or Fiction
Reply to  eqibno
August 24, 2017 1:30 pm

This paper has a nice take on the Crook et al 2016 paper:
Consensus Nonsensus on 97%: Science is Not a Democracy – Michelle Stirling

August 24, 2017 5:24 am

“Cook methodology”.
Couldn’t have said it better.

Reply to  Rob Dawg
August 24, 2017 5:43 am

Brings new meaning to “cook the books”

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  LearningLondon
August 24, 2017 6:25 am

Yes, “Cooked” methodology is more like it.

August 24, 2017 5:26 am

As I posted elsewhere earlier today:
Oil companies, eh?
They come over here with their gas, petrol & diesel, which allow us to heat our homes, cook our food, keep the wheels of industry turning, supply electricity to our hospitals, schools & offices, deliver food & medical supplies, have personal mobility & the ability to fly to different countries at low cost. They also supply the feedstock for a range of chemicals and pharmaceuticals which clothe us, help construct our buildings, keep pests from our crops, cure our diseases, alleviate our pain and keep us alive for longer and in better health.
The CO2 their products produce has raised crop yields by at least 9%, and maybe as much as 30%.
The pay taxes directly, and generate taxation on fuel use which allows governments to waste billions on failed IT projects, vanity trainlines , useless wind & solar installations and policing words on Twitter & Facebook.
Not only that, but they don’t seem to have raised the average global temperature (if you can get anyone to define what that is) by much, if at all. If the IPCC is right, and up to 2C temperature rise is net beneficial, I think they should try a bit harder.
I suspect that oil companies have contributed a few billion per cent more towards human well-being that all the historians of science ever.

Reply to  soarergtl
August 24, 2017 3:08 pm

Yes. I always tell any green I meet to look around and tell me what they are willing to live without – starting with their phone which they are normally clutching like a security blanket.

Reply to  soarergtl
August 24, 2017 3:17 pm

Well said! Can I plagiarize this?

Phil Rae
Reply to  soarergtl
August 26, 2017 10:29 am


Non Nomen
August 24, 2017 5:29 am

Groteskes and her hanger-on are after Tillerson and neither facts nor truth.

August 24, 2017 5:31 am

And, if we did indeed increase temps by 1 degree by burning every scap of fossil fuels, we still would be no warmer than we were during the medieval centuries.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  arthur4563
August 24, 2017 6:05 am

Fred Hoyle in his book “Ice” considered exactly this point of burning all our fossil fuels to stop the slide into an ice age at the time whenever global cooling was the major concern. He concluded it would be a wasted effort because “the climate is relatively insensitive to the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere” (that is not a direct quote but a paraphrase from memory, but it is why I didn’t believe Mann’s hockey stick scare when it came out – along with knowing a bit about the warm early Middle Ages).

Dems B. Dcvrs
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
August 24, 2017 8:10 am

Speaking of the Mann, why is he still employed? After being so discredited, especially by his own doings.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
August 24, 2017 9:01 am

I recall it was in the mid 1970’s (/1974) when global cooling was feared Willi Dansgaard of Copen hagen university .with a comment by Magnus can find a bief vid of it onfacebook Excaliber newsnetwork videos

george e. smith
Reply to  arthur4563
August 24, 2017 11:20 am

But we WOULD have 7% more global evaporation and 7% more total atmospheric water content, and 7% more global precipitation; and very likely about 7% more global cloud cover. Ask Frank Wentz.

Reply to  arthur4563
August 24, 2017 4:11 pm

Somewhat before that, Kendo.

We report here on the first results of a calculation in which separate estimates were made of the effects on global temperature of large increases in the amount of CO2 and dust in the atmosphere. It is found that even an increase by a factor of 8 in the amount of CO2, which is highly unlikely in the next several thousand years, will produce an increase in the surface temperature of less than 2 deg. K.

Schneider S. & Rasool S., “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols – Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate”, Science, vol.173, 9 July 1971, p.138-141

Bill Illis
August 24, 2017 5:40 am

Who is burning the gas exactly?
It is Exxon’s fault that society uses cars and trucks and planes and railways and ships to transport people and goods?
If anything, we should sue mama nature for making fossil fuels so energy efficient.

Reply to  Bill Illis
August 24, 2017 7:43 am

Naomi Oreskes and The Green Boys have larger carbon footprints than the people they try to alarm, by a huge margin. Not a single one of them lives a “fossil free” life, and they wouldn’t even if it was easy to do! No more traveling across the world. No more high end hotels, dinners, conferences, retreats. No more dependable electricity, cars, plastics of any kind. No medical advances. No research. No food they dont grow for themselves, or clothing they dont make themselves. No internet to sell their books with, no paper to print them on, no electronic devices to read them on. No offices, campuses, or materials to teach with. No need for any of them to have jobs anymore.
NONE of them live like they believe their own words…so why would anyone else? The fact that something so simple, and so obvious to all of the “uneducated, deplorables”…has escaped Lee, Cook, Kahn etc for this long…is delicious irony.

Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 7:44 am

Lew, not Lee.

Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 9:34 am

… just as well, you are not allowed to say “Lee” in public anymore.

Reply to  DonM
August 24, 2017 10:36 am

Oh crap! That’s right!!

Reply to  Bill Illis
August 24, 2017 9:06 am

re my post .it should be Excaliburnewsnetwork videos, not excaliber.

August 24, 2017 5:41 am

So, they fail, and sling the same crap against the wall and fail, and sling the same crap against the wall and fail, and sling the same crap against the wall and fail, ad nauseam. It is high time to make these idiots pay, personally, directly out of their pockets, for this crap. They are pissing away our tax dollars on this shiite and we damned well need to get all that money back from them.

August 24, 2017 5:44 am

This Exxon Mobil obsession of climate scientists if hard to understand but your post gave me an insight. Thanks.

August 24, 2017 5:47 am

In the court of history, is Oreskes a credible witness? CliScep genuinely wants to know (scroll past the Lewandowsky GIFs to get to the section on Naomi ‘One-Woman War on Western Epistemology’ Oreskes).

Old England
August 24, 2017 5:48 am

Reading the extracts cited in the Extract I have to wonder how selective these are.
Equally pertinant, as this is not disclosed, it seems that the Exxon scientists were reporting to the board – with significant caveats as to how reliable these might be – figures, estimates and projections produced by IPCC and Climate Models which in any normal report to a Board would be referenced as footnotes. Although put out as Exxon’s own reports it is not clarified by the authors as to the source of the contents; i.e. own research or from IPCC reports.
To have any faith in the Oreskes/Supran ‘report’ would need a great deal of confirmatory evidence that is lacking in the extract above.

August 24, 2017 5:55 am

Wait, what about her lies about Climate?
Someone needs to write up all of Naomi’s lying.

August 24, 2017 5:59 am

New Green-made-up-word-of-the-day
OMG…Exxon talked about global warming and expressed “reasonable doubt”!!!!! Witches!!! Burn them! (Without releasing any dangerous emissions of course)

Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 6:35 am

I worked in newspapers for roughly 40 years. “Advertorial” has been a word used for 40 of those years. In terms most of us understand…In an advertorial section, if you buy an ad you also get to publish your own press releases. Of course these sections were marked as advertising supplements instead of news.
Advertorial is not a new made up word.

Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 1:45 pm

Ivanpaugh them, but CO2 capture any dangerous fumes.

August 24, 2017 6:00 am

The Oil Libel is so boring that I’ve taken to using a form response (starring our friends Exxon-Mobil) to any believer who parrots it at me:
Dear believer,
Big Oil is Big Energy. Its interest in climate science is self-explanatory: public fear of global warming has created new markets for the energy corporations out of thin air while doing little or no damage to their traditional revenue streams.
Demand for hydrocarbon-bond energy is essentially *inelastic,* whereas the new demand for neo-Medieval, bird-decimating technology that barely works is an artificial construct.
Wind farms; carbon credits; carbon capture; carbon sequestration—The Nu Energy gets its very *raison d’être* (and best selling-point) from the dangerous-AGW hypothesis.
Shell International has a huge Clean Development Mechanism [CDM] division. It also has $billions riding on the carbon credit exchange, formerly worth $130 billion per annum. You only need to imagine how much value it’s haemorrhaged from that portfolio since the CCX started tanking to know why Shell has never supported dangerous-AGW skepticism (except in Michael Mann’s mental cinema).
Thanks to a courageous cybercriminal, we know the University of East Anglia CRU (formerly the Tyndall Centre) came to be seen by British fossil-fuel giants as a business partner. Big Energy was worth a lot of funding to these alarmist ‘scientists,’ their alarmist ‘science’ was worth a lot of revenue to Big Energy, and both parties knew it.
The following emails come from *a single year,* the year 2000, which marked the start of a bidding war between Shell, Esso/Exxon-Mobil and BP for the ‘science’ of the CRU.
The scientist Mick Kelly writes to his colleagues Mike Hulme and Tim O’Riordan (Climategate file 0962818260.txt):
> I’m talking to Shell International’s climate change team, but this approach will do equally for the new [Foundation], as it’s only one step or so off Shell’s equivalent of a board level. I do know a little about the Foundation and what kind of projects they are looking for. It could be relevant for the new building, incidentally, though opinions are mixed as to whether it’s within the remit.
Mike Hulme then discusses with O’Riordan the potential benefits for the Tyndall Centre:
> Tim,I am meeting with Mick at 09:15 next Tuesday to talk about his links with Shell—and Tyndall dimension re. studentships, etc. Are you here and can you join us?
The courtship goes well. Later in the year Kelly sends out a progress report:
> Mike and TimNotes from the meeting with Shell International attached…. What ensued was necessarily a rather speculative discussion with the following points emerging.
> 1. Shell International would give serious consideration to what I referred to in the meeting as a ‘strategic partnership’ with the T[yndall] C[entre], broadly equivalent to a ‘flagship alliance’ in the TC proposal.
> A strategic partnership **would involve not only the provision of funding but some (limited but genuine) role in setting the research agenda** etc.
> 2. Shell’s interest is not in basic science. Any work they support must have a clear and immediate relevance to ‘real-world’ activities. They are particularly interested in emissions trading and CDM.
Next, “Esso”—which is UK English for “Exxon-Mobil”—also sees the investment opportunity. Mike Hulme writes (Climategate file 959187643.txt):
> I would think Tyndall should have an open mind about this **and try to find the slants that would appeal to Esso.**
The CRU climatologists grow so accustomed to the attentions of the fossil-fuel giants that by year’s end they’re taking it for granted that Beyond Petroleum will be another suitor. The scientist Simon Shackley writes:
> Subject: BP funding…
> dear TC colleagues, it looks like BP have their cheque books out!
> How can TC **benefit from this largesse?** I wonder who has received this money within Cambridge University? Cheers, Simon
This kind of collaboration isn’t just a British phenomenon. Here we can read (thanks to Freedom of Information laws) an interesting email from the University of Arizona climate scientist Dr Jonathan Overpeck.
“Peck” writes to an Exxon-Mobil executive:
> In addition to seeing and catching up w/ you, **I’m also quite intrigued by what Exxon-Mobil and the University of Arizona could do together on the climate change front.** As you’ve probably figured out, we have one of the top universities in this area, and lots of capability, both in understanding climate change at the global scale down to the regional scale, but also in terms of understanding how climate variability and change impacts society…
Overpeck is not a denialist He’s a believalist.
Why would these corporations barrack for skepticism? They haven’t lost a cent in the AGW panic and it’s unlikely they ever will. (Do you seriously think anything is going to “emerge” the next time someone throws a Kyoto Protocol reunion at a luxury resort? You know perfectly well the most binding document it’ll “produce” is a large alcohol tab.)
You people with your superstitions about carbon dioxide created the Alternative And Imaginary Energies market from thin air. Congratulations—you’re making the rich richer.
If the devil’s best trick was to convince the world he doesn’t exist, then Big Oil’s best trick was to convince you it’s on the devil’s side. Wake up, angels. It’s on your side.

Johnny Cuyana
August 24, 2017 6:01 am

Just my predisposition, but, whenever — such as in the excerpt presented in the above article — I see authors, writers, etc. using the word “theory”, where clearly the proper word is “hypothesis”, my mind generally goes “click” with the OFF switch. I generally interpret such situations as where either:
[a] this is a person who does not understand scientific first principles; or,
[b] this person has an agenda — which is based primarily/largely on propaganda — and I have next to no time for such rot.
In either case, I interpret ultimately that such an author most probably cannot be presenting something reasonably scientific … and it is not worth reading. My plate is full … and life is too short.
For me, this is one of those red flag items; where my other major AGW red flag is “97% consensus”. I personally am interested in whether the reading community here can list some of their own red flag terms and phrases.

richard verney
Reply to  Johnny Cuyana
August 24, 2017 6:29 am

I agree that it not be elevated to being a theory. It is not. In practice it is simply nothing more than conjecture. Even a hypothesis should have elements capable of testing.

Reply to  richard verney
August 24, 2017 6:42 am

Another shibboleth of scientific illiteracy: “According to an internal memo, the Big Money corporations wanted to, and I quote, Reposition Fact as Theory! How anti-science!”

Reply to  Johnny Cuyana
August 24, 2017 6:40 am

there’s more and more evidence each year*, and it’s clearer and clearer, and it’s all piling up and pointing to a single overwhelming conclusion. The science is unequivocal: if the earth’s bioclimatic envelope is to be livable for our children’s children’s children, it needs a regressive carbon tax schedule rolled out at a few dollars a tonne and rapidly ramped up from there. The evidence from all fields of science agrees with this macroeconomic prescription for literally saving the planet from literal destruction if we have any hope of stopping our acidified seas from literally boiling our children’s flesh from their bones.
*This is a really important point, because if the skeptics were right, then the evidence would instead be continually disappearing until there were no more published papers left. The fact that the number is actually going up, on the other hand, can only mean one thing: according to the science, the science is right, not wrong.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 6:58 am

If the science was right…it would take only one paper

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 8:01 am

Odd….the number of peer reviewed papers demonstrating other factors are influencing our atmosphere as much or more than the hypothesized effect of CO2 possibly could are increasing in number every year. All that “evidence” is piling up and piling up, and all the CAGW side has is rhetoric and logical fallacies.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 8:08 am

**science is right**
What science is right?
Give me ONE paper that shows how you measure warming due to CO2.
Next show me the paper that determined that warming of 2 deg C will cause runaway warming.
Other than that I have seen no science that supports AGW.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 1:38 pm

“…if we have any hope of stopping our acidified seas from literally boiling our children’s flesh from their bones.”
This is some funny stuff Brad. You sure have a vivid imagination. To date, those are the most extreme claims I have ever read. Your going to have to up your game if you want the well informed WUWT readers to buy into your view point. We all know that are seas are not acidic (they are actually basic), and even if we burn every barrel of oil in the earth, there will not be enough CO2 produced to ‘literally boil..” the seas. Your claims are so fantastical (with so many ‘literally’ s thrown in) that you have produced comic gold. (plus the standard ‘think of the children’ logical fallacy; ).

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 24, 2017 1:57 pm

I know, Jeff—guilty as charged. My attempts at comedy are laughable, just like you say.
My sarcasm is already going over your head, despite being the lowest form of wit—are you really sure you want me to “up my game”?

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 1:51 pm

Our ancestor’s ancestor’s ancestors got along fabulously when the planet was warmer than today.

Reply to  ZThomm
August 24, 2017 2:00 pm

Just to nitpick, our great-grand-ancestors may have got *on* reasonably well, but I wouldn’t describe the history of the world as a fabulous example of getting *along.*

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 2:02 pm

I had HOPED you were joking. These days I see stuff everyday that I think HAS to be a joke, and it’s not. It’s refreshing to see something that actually was. Most of us type /sarc because you never know on the internet. 🙂

Reply to  Aphan
August 24, 2017 2:19 pm

I have a bit of a reputation for being totally humorless in my writing, because I don’t believe the climate debate is a laughing matter.
Today’s aberration was merely in compliance with Johnny’s request:
” I personally am interested in whether the reading community here can list some of their own red flag terms and phrases.”
I would’ve thought a compilation of idioms from the alarmist corpus, immediately secondary to Johnny’s question, would have spoken for itself but I guess the ambiguity of the medium strikes again.
People, let my sad example be a lesson to you all: don’t even think of being ironic. You may think you have a compelling purpose for doing so, but trust me: it’s not worth it.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 2:43 pm

It’s hard. The endless stream of trolls who come here and state all the things you did, and seriously believe them all, gets really old. Climate change is an oxymoron. There’s no such thing as Climate Same.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 3:32 pm

Brad, you changed the subject. I referred to the slightly improved state of the general population during the warmer periods on record. I should have been more specific.
Of course human populations have never gotten along with each other. But the warmer years were conducive to agriculture, and then settlements in the earlier periods. The Medieval warm period was when Europe got into the big cathedral phase, iirc.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 8:13 pm

“Climate change is an oxymoron. There’s no such thing as Climate Same.”
That’s why climate change is not an oxymoron but a pleonasm.
Am I the only one around here who speaks Ancient Greek?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 9:12 pm

Keyes: My sarcasm is already going over your head, despite being the lowest form of wit—are you really sure you want me to “up my game”?

The sarcasm didn’t go over anyone’s head, it just wasn’t very good.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 10:21 pm

Always a pleasure Brad.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 25, 2017 6:01 am

I’m confused. Was it “comic gold… some funny stuff… you sure have a vivid imagination”…. or was it “not very good”?
Sigh. You skeptics—always with your independent opinions and different perspectives! Even skeptics called Jeff can’t seem to settle on a single consensual hypothesis! I bet you don’t all vote the same way either!
And you wonder why Legitimate Scientists whose married parents have peer-reviewed pedigrees going all the way back to Charlemagne don’t take you people seriously.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 25, 2017 7:57 am

“I’m confused. Was it “comic gold… some funny stuff… you sure have a vivid imagination”…. or was it “not very good”?”
So…you find it confusing when someone uses sarcasm on the internet. That’s progress!

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 25, 2017 7:50 am

I stand corrected. Climate Change is indeed a pleonasm. 🙂
Your “reputation for being humorless in your writing” is certainly well earned and on full display here. At least you are consistent, and that’s something.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 25, 2017 8:48 am

always nice to meet a phan!
“Climate change” may be a pleonasm but “climate science”—a bloated, necrotic, dysfunctional parody of science—is a neoplasm.

richard verney
August 24, 2017 6:06 am

Once has to bear in mind the historic perspective.
Don’t forget that the accepted/consensus view of matters in the mid 1970s was significant cooling, viz:
National Academy of Sciencecomment image
National Center for Atmospheric Researchcomment image
This view (ie., cooling) was still accepted in the early 1980s. Jones & Wigley paper of 1980 accepted the above plots as being representative of Northern Hemisphere temperatures and suggested that Southern Hemisphere temperatures were uncertain due to sparse historic data and inadequate spatial sampling.
James Hansen in his 1981 paper considered the Northern Hemisphere to have a similar temperature profile and set this out in Fig 3 of his paper, noting that as at 1980 the Northern Hemisphere was still some 0.3 deg cooler than it was in 1940. He also set out the comment by Phil Jones on the problems with the Southern Hemisphere and did not join issue with what Phil Jones had said about SH temperatures.
The accepted view/consensus view in the mid 1980s was that there was nothing unusual about Arctic Ice which undergoes cyclic changes. This is apparent from the US Department of Energy plot, viz:comment image
The US Department of Energy plot was based upon the Vinnikov 1980 peer reviewed study. Vinnikov was well respected and was one of the leading authors of the IPCC chapter 7 Observed Climate Variations and Change.
The accepted/consensus view in the 1970s was that sensitivity to CO2 was low. This had been studied by Schneider and Hansen, and GISS/NASA published a peer reviewed paper in 1971 (Science 173) which stated that an 8 fold increase in CO2 would cause less than 2 degC of warming. In fact it is interesting to look at their fig 1 which details sensitivity/temperature change caused by CO2, and by CO2 including water vapour feedback. It is anything but alarming.
Anyone looking at the satellite data between 1979 and the run up to the Super El Nino of 1997/98 would not have seen anything alarming. There is a very slight positive trend but not which is statistically significant. If one looks at this in conjunction with the Hansen 1981 paper one would conclude that the Northern hemisphere was still not as warm as it was in 1940.
Of course it is only in the late 1980s and onwards when the Team (and their minions) started adjusting the land based thermometer record that things started to get different.
Naomi Oreskes is looking at matters out of their true and proper historical perspective and only after the revisionary practices have taken hold.

richard verney
Reply to  richard verney
August 24, 2017 6:22 am

Further to my comment above, I set out an extract of Hansen’s 1981 plot for the Northern Hemisphere going through to 1980 (from the peer reviewed paper published in Science 213 July 1981). You will note that 1940 is +0.4degC and 1980 is +0.1 deg C. This is consistent with his comments on this figure, namely that the Northern Hemisphere is at 1980 some 0,3 deg C cooler than it was in 1940.
So if one looks at this in conjunction with the satellite data through to the run up to the Super El Nino of 1997/98 one would have concluded that the Northern hemisphere was still no warmer than it was in 1940.
Then one sees a significant step change in temperature of close to 0.3degC coincident with the Super El Nino of 1997/98 which was a natural phenomenon not a manmade one and within a few years, by around 2004/5, people were already noting the pause. This was commented on in the Climategate emails by around 2005.
And of course there was no warming between the end of the 1997/98 Super El Nino until the latest 2015/16 strong El Nino.
As I say everything is being taken out of the natural context. It is based upon the science being certain and solid and well understood when it is clear that it is anything but. The mere fact that there are so many models all showing different things is conclusive prove that the science is neither well understood nor certain and solid. In fact there is absolutely no consensus on sensitivity as the computer models themselves establish. After some 35 years of investigation, the scientists have been unable to even reduce the uncertainty surrounding climate sensitivity. It is difficult to think of any other are of science that has received so much money where so little progress has been made.

Reply to  richard verney
August 24, 2017 7:01 am

+1 X a trillion

Reply to  richard verney
August 24, 2017 12:59 pm

Thanks for that 1981 Hansen chart, Richard. That’s probably the last unmodified surface temperature chart we have before promoting CAGW became a priority for Hanse. Hansen started modifying the charts and changed them into Hockey Stick charts in later years, to make it look like temperatures were on a steadily upward climb.
It’s nice to have the “before” picture, to show us just how much the offical record has been bastardized in an effort to sell CAGW.

Robert B
Reply to  richard verney
August 24, 2017 7:52 pm

“This had been studied by Schneider and Hansen, and GISS/NASA published a peer reviewed paper in 1971 ”
Rasool &,Schneider. Some shill gave me grief for just writing Schneider and Rasool.

Robert from oz
August 24, 2017 6:13 am

Oz ABC have been running this story but with this comment .
“The researchers said they used a social science analysis method to turn statements in the documents into data points that could be counted and compared to each other.”

Reply to  Robert from oz
August 24, 2017 8:05 am

You can’t even make up something that idiotic! No wonder less than 30% of Americans think climate scientists know what they are talking about. Why don’t REAL scientists stand up against this glaring and pathetic devaluation of their fields??

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Robert from oz
August 24, 2017 10:04 am

NPR ran this big ‘science’ announcement yesterday on their idiotic propaganda “climate connections” brief. They mentioned Harvard, prominently, but failed to say anything about authorship by an activist and political zealot.
Naomi Oreskes is one of the ugliest people on this planet. And I’m not talking about the way she looks.

August 24, 2017 6:16 am

“The most widely held theory…”
There’s no objective proof of that theory but they took a vote and the vast majority of them believe it to be true.

August 24, 2017 6:18 am

Bought and paid for by Climate Activists Central : “This research was supported by Harvard University Faculty Development Funds and by the Rockefeller Family Fund. “

August 24, 2017 6:21 am

Oreskes may not like talking about this, but ExxonMobil gave Stanford University a cool $100 million—much more than anyone’s ever given to skeptical climate research—for its Global Climate and Energy Project, which develops “ways to meet growing energy needs without worsening global warming,” and another $600 million for Biofuels Research.
Exxon was late to the party—the other energy giants have been capitalizing on the climate-change movement from day one. Lest we forget, the carbon-trading clause in Article 16 of the Kyoto Protocol was the creature of BP and Enron, the Smartest Guys in the Room. BP and Enron were also the major lobbyists telling governments around the world (including Australia’s) to ratify it.
BP, or should I say Beyond Petroleum, stands squarely behind “mainstream” (alarmist) climate research. It funds research into “ways of tackling the world’s climate problem” at Princeton University to the tune of $2 million a year for 15 years. It funds an energy research institute involving two other US universities, to a total of $500 million, that aims “to develop new sources of energy and reduce the impact of energy consumption on the environment.” It was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, substantially funding the climate-related lobbying efforts of its members, including Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy and the World Resources Institute.
BP even put on the champagne and canapés at the book launch for Rajendra Pachauri’s erotic novel.

richard verney
Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 6:23 am

We all know about Enron and their practices.

August 24, 2017 6:55 am

Per the IPCC, the Earth has warmed .8 degrees C. Of that .8 degrees, only about .3 degrees is attributed to CO2. Those of us who’ve been following this discussion for the last fifteen years doubt that much warming has been experienced because of the effect of UHI and manipulation of the temperature history data.
Ms Oreskes claims on temperature increase are exceedingly exaggerated.
As to Exxon; has everyone forgotton their experience with the powerful green lobby and the contributions they were making to CEI? Exxon was forced to abandon contributions to groups that would have given a more balanced view of AGW after being confronted by the green lobby. Exxon made a business decision, not a science based decision to stop contributions.

August 24, 2017 7:10 am

Did anyone see any of these advertorials?

August 24, 2017 7:28 am

“1.3C / doubling of CO2 is a complete non-event – if we burn every scrap of fossil fuel available to current technology, we might just about achieve a little over a doubling of global CO2 since pre-industrial times.”
The present rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere is about 2.5 ppm. It is based on the CO2 emissions of 10 GtC per year. I think that the mankind could easily continue to burn carbon producing this much emission during the next 100 years. It would mean the CO2 concentration of 625 ppm in 2117.
How much we have fossil fuels available?

Tom Halla
August 24, 2017 7:32 am

Oreskes citing Cook as an example of good science gives most of what one needs to know about Ms Oreskes view of science. The “97%” Cook study is an example of special pleading (cherry picking) taken to a reductio ad absurdiam.

August 24, 2017 7:45 am

” textual content analysis”
In other words, they made it up.

Mr Bliss
August 24, 2017 8:01 am

This could be interesting, given the recent legal action against Greenpeace etc, for misrepresentation

Reply to  Mr Bliss
August 24, 2017 8:07 am

I hope they add Oreskes and Cook etc to the lawsuit for misrepresentation of facts.

August 24, 2017 8:18 am

The “widely held theory” is no more than a hypothesis, with no evidence to turn it into a theory.

August 24, 2017 8:24 am

Oreskes in 2004: ” But one aspect of the debate not often noted by climate
contrarians, but which they might exploit if they thought about it, is that not very
long ago most earth scientists held the opposite view. They believed that Earth was
” In the 1950s, 60s, and even into the early 1970s, the dominant view was that Earth was cooling, and some even worried about the “coming ice age.”
But the oil propaganda has no room for the cold scare, and she never mentioned it again as far as I know, not even in the voluminous fiction, “Merchants of Doubt.”

Reply to  agfosterjr
August 24, 2017 2:05 pm

The Earth WAS cooling in the 50’s, 60’s, and even into the early 70’s. Some are still worried about the “coming ice age”. In fact, Earth is still in an ice age, but its an interglacial period.
So if most Earth scientists were wrong about cooling, this means they are right about warming, if I can follow Oreske’s “logic”.

old man
August 24, 2017 8:28 am

I do not understand. Even though Oreskes publishes faulty information, for instance, the 97% Cook study, how is it illegal for a corporation to make public data that might be faulty?

Gary Pearse
August 24, 2017 8:44 am

Catastrophiliacs aren’t capable of more than one thought in a lifetime, particularly if they don’t have a real field of study and if it gave them some moments of fame. With her, I’m sure we are paying for a lousy relationship she had with her father. I’ve seen a few actual cases of this – spend a lifetime of anger deflecting to a new target – but you’ll never see a psychology paper on it in this post normal age.

Patrick B
August 24, 2017 8:44 am

All I want to know is did the government provide any support for her work; and, if so, who authorized the grants and why are they still employed by the government.

Reply to  Patrick B
August 24, 2017 9:23 am

Erik Conway collaborated with Oreskes in “Merchants of Doubt” and another piece of fiction, and he is employed by NASA as one if it historians. There are no doubt thousands of apparatchiks on the tax payer’s dime (including NPR). –AGF

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  agfosterjr
August 24, 2017 10:09 am

I think you mean hysterians.

Reply to  agfosterjr
August 24, 2017 3:19 pm

Or, ? and the hysterians.

Old Grump
Reply to  agfosterjr
August 25, 2017 5:16 pm

ZThomm, you just made my day! Thank you!

Reply to  agfosterjr
August 26, 2017 12:03 pm

whom to believe, whom to believe:
some anonymous commenter called agfosterjr who seems to have a grudge against academic alt-historians and basically the last 300 years of pseudoscience
the TWENTY FIVE INDEPENDENT REVIEWERS who found my reaming of Oreskes’ and Conway’s conspiracy yawner at Amazon to be, and I quote, “Not Helpful”?

August 24, 2017 9:40 am

They will never stop trying to spin the Climate Armageddon tale. We’re over 30 years into the scam and nothing but failed prognostications to show for their efforts. Climate Change has become a caricature of itself. If it weren’t for the UN and Progressive money supporting it there would be nothing.

G. Karst
August 24, 2017 9:42 am

what a witches brew – eye of newt, fang of snake and a hair of a hanged dead man. GK

Michael Jankowski
August 24, 2017 10:38 am

Oreskes is a horrible person on so many levels. The word “scum” applies.

August 24, 2017 10:55 am

The authors are Harvard climate activist historians. The historians have taken the false premise that climate science is settled and conducted a baseless investigation of Exxon complicity in a coverup. The absurdity of this whole issue is the premise that a crime can be committed for withholding the truth about climate change when the truth has yet to be discovered. The Harvard study is much ado about nothing.
Physicists now posit that nature cannot be modeled with Newtonian physics but might be modeled with quantum physics. In December 2016, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) reported results from the CLOUD experiment that are potentially game changing. The implications of the results are that CO2 does not play a significant role in global warming, climate models used by the IPCC to estimate future temperatures are too high, and the models should be redone. The CERN models are driven by quantum physics.
The Harvard historians could have better used their time to investigate how the scientific message about climate change was hijacked by United Nations’ bureaucrats in 1992 and distorted to further the redistribution of wealth under the guise of an illusionary threat of runaway global warming. A perverted interpretation of Principle 15 from UN 1992 Rio Declaration led to the one percent solution: The EPA interpreted Principle 15 to mean that, if one can hypothesize a one percent possibility of an environmental threat, measures to respond to the perceived threat were justified. Compelling scientific evidence of a threat of serious damage became a moot point. The adoption of this premise was the beginning of agenda-driven science. This is the real story that should be investigated.

August 24, 2017 11:30 am
August 24, 2017 12:03 pm

Forget it, Jake. It’s Oreskes.

Joel Snider
Reply to  JEM
August 24, 2017 12:11 pm

Yeah, she’s been in such a twist ever since Dorothy dropped that house on her sister.

Another Scott
August 24, 2017 1:05 pm

I wonder if I can get my study published that proves I don’t get enough free cars or vacations? Trust me it’s very sound and rigorous

August 24, 2017 1:11 pm

What nonsense is this? They admit Exxon funded climate change research. They admit this work was published and made public. They admit that what Exxon claimed is inline with IPCC estimates. Then, weirdly, they try to say that Exxon tried to hide it. Jesus, they did a fairly terrible job of that.
I can only conclude that when they started oit, they hoped or assumed there was more to it, but like any good greeny lefty loon, they can’t back down and stop being offended.

Mike Maguire
August 24, 2017 1:12 pm

Since the biggest effect from increasing CO2 has been the planet greening up and massive increases to crop yields/world food production…….. should they have prepared the world and farmers(build more storage bins) for the current oversupply of grains?
Keep in mind that we are coming off of the 2 hottest years every(2015-2016).
The weather for growing crops(and most life) over the past 30 years has likely been the best on this planet since the Medieval Warm Period, 1,000 years ago. Not in spite of climate change and increasing CO2 but because of it.

Tom - the non climate scientist
August 24, 2017 1:21 pm

My comment at skeptical science – Lets see if there are any rational responses at SkS
Before we jump to conclusions regarding the validity of this study, a few observations
1) The links to the XOM articles, studies, etc are not easily accessible which makes it difficult to independently ascertain if the classification of the position of each individual paper is a reasonable classification of the position of such paper, ie is the classification assigned a reasonable classification, since it is difficult to link to and subsequently read the article, it is difficult to ascertain the reasonableness of the classification,
2) A total of 187 papers, articles, studies, etc seems to be an extremely small sample of the total volume of work and internal documents generated by ExxonMobil, Given the size of Exxon Mobil, most would have expected a much larger sample
3) As noted in #2 above, the sample size is exceedingly small. Was there ex-post screening to the papers used in this classification study.

Reply to  Tom - the non climate scientist
August 24, 2017 2:09 pm

Rational response at Sks??? They are her flying monkeys!!

August 24, 2017 3:48 pm

Desperate clingers, gotta love it.

Robert B
August 24, 2017 4:45 pm

A lot of the early examples are from one scientist merely parroting what was coming from the likes of Hansen. Closer to a school report than research. Not even a critique. Why would the opinions that it was not good enough to destroy their business be anything but sensible?

Stan on The Brazos
August 24, 2017 4:56 pm

Worked in research for a major oil company during my 50 years in the industry. These companies actively encouraged their scientist and engineers to question/support/disagree on literally everything it was fun! Therefore I find a discussion saying an oil company hid research, particularly what was not money value silly. It is the encouragement of disagreement that results in the American oil and gas industry being one of the most creative industries in the world.

Michael Jankowski
August 24, 2017 5:43 pm

I anxiously await Oreskes’ “study” on the climategate emails.

August 25, 2017 3:31 pm

In all four cases, we find that as documents become more publicly accessible, they increasingly communicate doubt.

As opposed to the IPCC where the policy driving summary statements decreasingly communicate the doubt of the working areas which in turn decrease the doubt of the source papers?

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