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Should ExxonMobil Embrace Gore's Crusade?

March 13, 2007

Tags Corporate WelfareThe EnvironmentInterventionism

A New York Times article "From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype" reveals that numerous scientists are calling on Al Gore to stop making "exaggerated and erroneous" scientific predictions about global warming catastrophe. It turns out that Gore's scientific "consensus" about human-caused global warming conveniently excludes the many scientists who are publishing peer-reviewed studies contradicting Gore's thesis. "A report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore's portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium," notes the Times. "Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period."

The NYT article provides an interesting contrast to a recent article by NYT business columnist Joe Nocera savaging ExxonMobil for not climbing on the global warming bandwagon. In "Exxon Mobil Just Wants To Be Loved (Feb. 10)," Nocera writes: "Exxon Mobil has become the enemy because it has been slow to concede that global warming is a real phenomenon caused largely by human beings burning fossil fuels. Exxon Mobil opposed (and still opposes) the Kyoto accord. It has contributed money to Washington research groups that have cast doubt on the severity of global warming and on the need for taking drastic measures to reverse its effects. It has generally opposed mandatory caps on greenhouse gases."

The global warming hysteria is not about science but about politics and the campaign to impose price controls and/or taxes on private sector energy use. There is massive media pressure for Big Business to endorse these "drastic measures," if only to avoid becoming what Nocera calls "the world's whipping boy." Nocera actually argues it would be in ExxonMobil's best interest to endorse energy regulation. But as George Reisman asks in a related Mises.org article, what would have happened if ExxonMobil had embraced Al Gore's global warming crusade when he began it in 1977? Would the company have done right by its shareholders in 1977 by turning its back on petroleum and basing its business strategy on solar/wind power? It seems obvious that this company would have stood no chance of becoming the largest (market cap: $360 billion) and most profitable ($36 billion) business in the world thirty years later. Global warming alarmism is neither sound science nor sound economics.

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