Yes, ExxonMobil misled the public

In late August, we published the first academic analysis of ExxonMobil’s 40-year history of communications on climate change. We published our findings in an open-access, peer-reviewed journal and made our method and evidence transparent and auditable by publishing 121 pages of supplementary materials.

The result: a systematic discrepancy between what ExxonMobil scientists communicated in their scientific articles and internal reports, and what the company told the public in “advertorials” — advertisements in the New York Times masquerading as editorials. In other words, our study showed that ExxonMobil misled the public about climate science and its implications for decades.

Reviewing 187 ExxonMobil documents, we found that 83% of peer-reviewed papers authored by ExxonMobil scientists and 80% of the company’s internal communications acknowledged that climate change was real and human-caused. In contrast, only 12% of ExxonMobil’s advertorials directed at the public did so, with 81% instead expressing doubt.

How did the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company respond? With a straw man, a falsehood, cherry picking and character assassination.

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