A Skunk By Any Other Name . . .

Mon, 2007-01-08 14:13Ross Gelbspan
Ross Gelbspan's picture

A Skunk By Any Other Name . . .

ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson told a group of fund managers the company would not be changing its basic position on global warming - just explaining it better.

Previous Comments

As long as ExxonMobil won’t change its position on climate chnage, concerned citizens should not change their position either. Therefore, I will continue my boycott of Esso and encourage others to do so as well.

Exactly Dave. If you don’t buy gas from Esso, the gas you buy elsewhere won’t contribute to global warming. Good thinking! ;) Regards,

Paul, You’re missing Dave’s point. There are lots of oil companies (i.e. Shell) that are not fundning disinformation campaigns to confuse the public about the realities of global warming. I’m with Dave and will continue to not visit Esso stations until they at least stop funding industry front groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

S-n-o-r-e. The hugest waste of environmentalist’s energy has been on Exxon’s so called “disinfo” campaign. What a sleeper! And what a waste of time.

Now I’m off to engage in some Token Environmentalism by filling up my car at Shell. That’ll teach those dastardly disinfo-spewing action-paralyzing Exxon deviants!

One has to realize that in Oil and Gas production, there is upstream (the oil wells, gas wells, oil sands, offshore), downstream (refineries) and retail (the gas stations).

Many refineries sell product to multiple retailers. Some are company owned, such as Exxon / Esso retail stations. Others are independents, or major retail competitors where it makes sense to buy from the closest refinery. So, in some areas, Shell may buy from an Exxon refinery if it makes sense economically, or vice versa.

If one boycotts an Exxon gas station, a good chance the competing station will still sell Exxon product, the only difference is that you have deprived them of the margin on retail, which typically is pretty low.

Good for feeling good, or sending a message to Exxon.

Not likely to make much difference on their bottom line, or domestic gas consumption in the short term.

The fact that ExxonMobil feels the need to “soften” its image on climate change, and is having to justify itself to major investors, clearly demonstrates that the European boycott is starting to take effect. Obviously, if such a boycott were to spread to North America, the effect would be even greater. And I agree with Anonymous that it would be even more effective if it were also to include other Exxon-supplied retailers. Of course, a boycott has other benefits - it provides a good public education opportunity. In my personal case, that’s very important, as I drive very little myself. Naturally a boycott also needs to be combined with shareholder action. For example, public and pension plans should be pressing ExxonMobil (and its subsidiary Imperial Oil), as well as other recalcitrant companies, to fully acknowledge anthropogenic global warming and abandon the disnformation campaign. If they don’t comply, the next step should be disinvestment. I also believe that think tanks and the corporations (and other organizations) that fund them need to be much more transparent and accountable. It’s simply unconscionable that the Fraser Institute, for example, can publish non-scientific “studies” on climate change while hiding who is paying for this nonsense. (Of course, at least we do know that ExxonMobil paid $120,000 to FI as part of its disinformation campaign). And before someone screams “what about the Sierra Club?”, of course I would support transparency of large donations to any public advocacy group. And, by the way, Anonymous, I do hope you are not agreeing with Paul when he refers to Exxon’s ‘so called “disinfo” campaign’.

$120,000 is enough to fund a “disinfo campaign”? I didn’t know propaganda came so cheap. Our own federal government spent $6,000,000,000 to get Canadians to reduce CO2 emissions and it was a total flop.

Following the money trail leads to environmental groups and our own government. Leading to Exxon is a trail of pennies. Regards,

Hi Paul, Obviously, $120,000 is only a very small part of Exxon’s overall disinformation budget, which has been in the tens of millions. Anyway, I just realized, by searching prior posts, that you are somewhat of a “troll” in these parts. Plus, you really seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of your arguments. So I’ll have to declare an end to our little conversation (or at least my part in it). Regards, Dave

It may seem like a small amount in the scheme of things, but here in Canada our federal politician's are limited to around $110,000 to use for an entire election campaign. If you're good, you don't need much money (but you do need some) to run an information, or in this case a disinformation, campaign.

And sorry Paul, it's not pennies when you consider that the goal of these groups is not to convince but to confuse. Convincing someone to change their mind (and I am not defending the fed gov on this) is generally a lot more difficult and expensive than simply confusing and muddying the waters.

Kevin, the amount really is pennies. How much total over the last 8 years has Exxon spent? $18 million. That is not even a drop in the bucket.

You call it disinfo. But is it really? An organization like the Competitive Enterprise Institute has neither the public recognition, nor the prestige to carry out sophisticated disinfo as you claim. While you may claim Exxon is good at disinfo, nobody, not even the great propagandists of all time are that good.

This whole obsession with Exxon is to me a sideshow that too many environmentalists have gotten sidetracked on and is counterproductive to the goal of meaningful action on AGW. Regards,

Dave, I apolgize for my excessive sarcasm in your case (it’s one of my New Year’s resolutions to work on :)).

Too many people I talk to who are “concerned about the environment” will not change their habits until Big Oil does and everyone else in society does.

As you state you drive very little yourself, you at least appear as someone who has taken it upon himself to modify your lifestyle and I admire that. Regards,


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