Posted by: JohnnyRook | January 20, 2009

ExxonMobil’s Inauguration-Day, Greenwashing Barrage

LIke so many other Americans, I’ve been watching the Inauguration events in Washington on CNN. The excitement is palpable. The enormous, passionate crowds are impressive and President Obama (doesn’t that roll off the tongue nicely?) gave a speech that inspired without in any way downplaying the seriousness of the problems that we face. And then, CNN breaks for a commercial, most of which are for large corporations bragging about all the good they are doing in the world, chief among which is ExxonMobil whose greenwashing propaganda ads tout all that the company is doing to guarantee America’s energy future. (I also have spotted one for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity-the imbecilic industry group that brought us the classic “Clean Coal Carolers“.) Nothing could more graphically express the challenges that Obama faces in leading the country in a new direction.

This is the question that all of us involved in fighting Climaticide are waiting to have answered. Will the new administration have the courage and will to successfully confront the powerful campaign already underway to convince the American people that their prosperity depends on their continued dependence on fossil fuels, the companies that produce them, and the perverted political structure that makes their power possible?

There is nothing surprising in the ExxonMobil ads. They are a continuation of a campaign that stretches back decades. As Greenpeace reports:

So. The day of reckoning has come – when we get to find out just how much of the climate change denial industry ExxonMobil is still paying for.

This is the company which, apparently, has been “misunderstood” on global warming and has said it has dropped its funding of the deniers.

The ExxonSecrets people have gone through the documents, and found a clear answer: last year Exxon spent $2.1 million on 41 groups who are leading the climate skeptic industry.

While the company has been forced to drop the hottest potato of them all, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and another particularly vocal denier, Steve “Junk Science” Milloy, the rest of them are still on the payroll.

Like who? The Heartland Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the George C Marshall Institute, the American Enterprise Institute… all the groups who’ve been at the heart of the climate change denial industry for more than a decade. These include the groups who were listed in a 1998 American Petroleum Institute memo outlining a communications strategy for taking down the Kyoto Protocol.

So despite its protestations, the company is still running the skeptic industry.

ExxonMobil’s campaign to sow confusion among the public about Climaticide has gone through many configurations. In its latest incarnation the company claims that it has been misunderstood in the past, Moreover, it now says it favors a carbon tax. We shall see. I would like to point out to the ExxonMobil folks that in the image above, the wolf, exposed and revealed, is hanging from a tree with a noose around it’s neck.

Here is the full text of Aesop’s fable:

A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The Lamb that belonged to the sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing, began to follow the Wolf in the Sheep’s clothing; so, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal off her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and enjoying hearty meals. [emphasis–JR]

For “some time”, but not forever.

Crossposted at Daily Kos



  1. This could be endgame play (figure the last 50 to 100 years) then I expect business would be happy with this kind of short term gain.

    A carbon tax allows continued sales of carbon fuels – kind of like cigarette tax. If revenue flows into government coffers, then they would be slow to reduce consumption for any reason.

    Smart of Exxon. Now, very much like “clean coal” campaign, I expect they will claim they are working on “clean gas” and maybe even that a carbon tax could help pay for that research. “Our scientists are working day and night – we should have a solution soon”

  2. […] According to ExxonSecrets, in 2008 ExxonMobil spent $2.1 million on 41 climate skeptic groups, including the Heartland Institute, the Heritage Foundation, The George C. Marshall Institute and the American Enterprise Institute. It apparently no longer funds the Competitive Enterprise Institute. […]

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