Just wanted to point out the obvious. For those joining late, Rex Tillerson is Trump’s former Secretary of State. But before that, Tillerson was one of the many people who served as CEO of Exxon, the biggest company in the world. Not Oil company big, Company big. Bigger than anyone (debate over the size of Amazon can find another locale, thanks).
Exxon is in court right now in NY State. It’s on trial following revelations made by Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week, a newsleter that I first reported on here in 2015. A series of Exxon documents uncovered by investigative reporters indicated that Exxon was certain in 1977-78 that its products (oil derivatives) caused global warming. Successive Exxon CEO’s including Tillerson decided to not reveal that fact to shareholders. They went so far as to pay scientists to DENY WARMING WAS HAPPENING. Tillerson is now in court and is helping defend his former company against New York charges that Exxon intentionally misled investors in accounting for the financial risk of climate change. Exxon denies wrongdoing. You can find a blow-by-blow overview on Marketwatch, here.
But here’s the thing–while defending Exxon, Tillerson also gave us a look into the dark heart of corporate America. The Tillerson quote that pays?
‘We knew [global warming] was a serious issue and we knew it was one that’s going to be with us now, forevermore, and it’s not something that was just suddenly going to disappear off of our concern list because it is going to be with us for certainly well beyond my lifetime.’
And with that, Tillerson (and his predecessors and his successors) decided on behalf of the seven billion plus of us humans on earth that we NEEDED TO BURN OIL damned the damage. We had to keep burning it because we had to keep growing that economy. And why even give us a heads-up? Because somebody might demand a halt to damaging the only livable planet we know of.
There has been a minimal effort to go after Exxon (and the other well-informed oil companies that kept the facts from the world). I wrote about the effort to hold Exxon Accountable in the court of public opinion. But in all the noise around the Trump election and other matters, it hasn’t yet penetrated the American consciousness that there should be no more debate about what’s causing global warming. We know that burning fossil fuels is what’s causing it because the world’s largest oil companies have admitted it. They’ve admitted it in court. And it will be interesting to see what that NY court decides should they find Exxon guilty.
And I have to ask what punishment is commensurate for a company that colluded with others to set us on the road to the Sixth Mass Extinction? Tillerson and his colleagues should be facing something more draconian than a large fine.