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EnvironmentSpeaking Truth to Corporate Power

Speaking Truth to Corporate Power

Speaking Truth to Corporate Power

A long time ago, industry scientists fought to get their bosses to concentrate to climate change.

A long time ago, their very own scientists told automotive corporations and oil corporations about climate change, information the businesses selected to disregard.  The scientists were voices crying out in the company wilderness.  Sadly, they were ignored on the time, but corporations are beginning to pay the worth for that in lawsuits. Those scientists advocated for the reality, and their stories deserve telling.

Let’s start with the automotive industry.  An article in E&E News describes among the efforts of scientists within the industry.  There was Ruth Reck, a young physical chemist who went to work for GM over fifty years ago.  There have been few women in the sector back then— only a few.  Reck graduated from Mankato State  University at 18 and had gone on to get a Ph.D on the University of Minnesota. She met a visiting physicist from Princeton on her very first week on the job. He talked her into studying climate change. Management approved her shift in emphasis, hoping that she would prove that aerosols within the atmosphere (including those from auto exhaust) would completely offset the greenhouse gas effect.  Her research didn’t come out that way.  She and one other GM scientist published their work and presented their findings to GM’s VP for presidency relations (a/k/a “head lobbyist”).  Later, she explained her work to 2 top executives at GM who became CEOs.

Relatively than heeding her warnings, the corporate doubled down on gas-guzzling SUVs and pick-up trucks. Reck says she left GM when the corporate called her research to a halt. She went on to grow to be the top of the climate change program at Argonne National Lab and a professor at UC Davis.

Over at Ford, Gilbert Plass had left a position at Johns Hopkins to work in the corporate’s aerospace division.  He had already written about global warming before starting there in 1956.  Within the early Sixties, he wrote again about fossil fuels as causes of worldwide warming.  Like GM, Ford seems to have paid no attention.

What concerning the oil industry?  In July 1977, in line with Inside Climate News, a senior scientist at what’s now Exxon Mobile told the corporate that “there may be general scientific agreement that the most definitely manner wherein mankind is influencing the worldwide climate is thru carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”  The scientist, James F. Black, had participated in a National Academy of Sciences report that said CO2 increases might eventually require reducing using fossil fuels. Management decided to look into the issue and assembled a team of scientists to research.  The LA Times detailed among the research, including a study launched by a scientist named Henry Shaw to make use of an oil tanker to measure how effectively the ocean was removing CO2 from the atmosphere.  After three years, not liking what the scientists had found, Exxon killed this system.

You may’t fairly call these scientists heroic.  Their research findings apparently didn’t endanger their careers.  Still, they’d to remember that their findings weren’t exactly what their corporate bosses were on the lookout for.  They went ahead and did their work, reporting their findings truthfully to the corporate and to scientific journals.   Integrity isn’t one among the more glamorous virtues but it surely could also be one of the vital essential.  These industry scientists deserve loads of credit on that rating.  The identical can’t be said  for the company leaders who ignored their findings and promoted public views of climate science they knew were unfaithful.

What would have happened if corporate leaders had listened? Let me close with a story told by one scientist who worked for Exxon within the Nineteen Eighties:

Back in 1980, there was a man working for Exxon and he was one among the inventors of the lithium battery, which electric cars now use. This guy won the Nobel prize in chemistry for his work on lithium batteries. Just imagine if Exxon management had taken our prediction seriously! They might have easily built huge factories to make lithium batteries to facilitate the transition to electric cars. As a substitute, they fired this guy.

That’s the road not taken. Something to ponder.

automobile and truck emissions, Climate Change, climate denial, climate science, Oil and gas production, scientific integrity


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