How Exxon Questions Science

Inside Climate News: “When ExxonMobil’s public relations department plucks a complex chart from the authoritative report by the world panel on climate science and starts chanting an uncertainty mantra, put your thinking cap on.”

“Apparently, it’s too easy to misunderstand—and just as easy to misrepresent—a rainbow-hued chart full of squiggly lines and obscure acronyms.”

“Exxon spokesman Ken Cohen either misunderstood or misrepresented his selected chart the other day as he pushed back against an InsideClimate News investigation into what Exxon’s own scientists knew about the emerging risks of climate change, and when they knew it.”

“Cohen made it sound like the chart’s wide range of climate outcomes was due to scientific uncertainty, when in fact much of the range is tied to social and economic unknowns. What path will the world choose to take? Will society decide on deep decarbonization, on half-measures, or on business as usual?”

“The graphs show this century’s rising global surface temperatures as simulated by climate models under different policy options.”

“Examine the chart for yourself. Especially if you are versed in the underlying science, you’ll see that it presents two kinds of uncertainties—those inherent in climate models, and those in the emission scenarios that are fed into the models.”


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