What Tillerson failed to mention was this: only the month before, an investigation of internal Exxon documents had revealed that those very scientists had repeatedly warned, almost forty years ago, of a potentially “catastrophic” warming of the planet that “endangered humanity.” But instead of responding to this red alert from their own experts by starting to shift the energy giant toward renewable resources, Exxon’s top executives, including Tillerson, had shut down the company’s own research—and embarked instead on a massive disinformation campaign aimed at debunking climate change as a myth.
The corporation was a ringleader in setting up the Global Climate Coalition, a massive disinformation machine bringing together the world’s leading fossil fuel companies in an all-out effort to prevent governments from curbing their emissions. Tillerson’s company, the second largest emitter of CO2 in the world (after Chevron), dispersed millions to muddy any scientific understanding and delay any real action.
Tillerson, his predecessor Lee Raymond, and their cronies knew the truth about the fate of the planet. And yet they lied, and they paid others to lie. They lied as global temperatures began rising at record rates. They lied as droughts and wildfires swept across the American West, and as California started running out of water. They lied as tornadoes and hurricanes and snowfall levels intensified in unprecedented ways. They lied as thousands died in European heat waves, and thousands more perished in Asian floods. They lied as Greenland’s ice turned liquid, and sea levels began to rise two-and-a-half times faster than anyone thought possible, and the oceans became increasingly acidic and filled with disease-causing bacteria. They lied and sacrificed future generations for their short-term profits.