Benjamin Franta

US Government Knew Climate Risks in 1970s, National Petroleum Council Documents Show

Read time: 10 mins
President Ronald Reagan meets with National Petroleum Council in 1983

By Kaitlin Sullivan, Climate Liability News. Crossposted from Climate Liability News.

A series of newly discovered documents clarify the extent to which the U.S. government, its advisory committees and the fossil fuel industry have understood for decades the impact carbon dioxide emissions would have on the planet.

The documents obtained by Climate Liability News show how much the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy, knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s. A series of reports illuminate the findings of government-contracted research that outlined the dangers associated with increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

An Illustrated History of What Big Oil Knew About Climate Change—Before the Moon Landing

Read time: 2 mins
Comic showing what Stanford research on climate change told the American Petroleum Institute in 1968

By now, it’s no secret that oil companies have been long aware of the risks of climate change from burning fossil fuels. Exxon had “no doubt” that carbon dioxide was a global threat by the late 1970s, and Shell wrote in 1988 that the resulting climate change might lead to “the greatest [changes] in recorded history.”

But decades before, the oil industry was already privy to — and giving its own internal warnings about — the climate threats of carbon pollution from burning its products. In fact, as one science-and-art collaboration illustrated this week, that was happening before humans even landed on the Moon in 1969.

Climate Misinformation Researchers Throw Support Behind California Communities Suing Fossil Fuel Companies

Read time: 4 mins
Stand up for Science rally

Just in case fossil fuel companies had forgotten when and how much they knew about the impacts their products have had on the climate, a reminder came at them in court this week.

On January 29, six researchers studying climate misinformation filed one of eight friend-of-the-court briefs in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the California communities suing fossil fuel companies for climate damages.

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