Friday, July 15, 2005

Why boycott Exxon? Note to the oil industry: we might trust you if you stopped lying!

On Sunday morning (July 10) the phone rang and someone asked me to participate in a poll. I was asked the usual demographic questions, what TV I watch (none) and what I read (just about everything). Then, I was asked whether I remembered specific advertisements (no). Finally, I was asked, for each of several oil companies, whether I thought they were doing a good job, whether I trusted them, whether they cared about the environment, etc.. What became clear to me is that I don't trust any of them on anything. The reason is that they have all signed onto what can only be described as a bald-faced lie: that the jury is out on global warming. So far as I knew, no oil company had registered its dissent from this statement. I felt sure that they are all lying, and I don't trust any of them.

Of course, there is a sense in which all science is unproven. Maybe the earth is flat, maybe the sun orbits the earth, maybe God created the world on the 23rd of October, 4004 BC, maybe I don't exist, maybe you don't exist and maybe Bill Clinton has been a faithful husband. However, by any usual and reasonable meaning of the words "shown" or "established", global warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases has been shown to be an established fact. So long as the oil industry continues to lie about that in a completely up front, in-your-face way, why should we believe them about anything? Why should we believe them about their activities with regard to human rights in Nigeria, Myanmar or Ecuador? Why should we believe them about oil reserves? The fact that somebody was paying for the poll I participated in, and the fact that oil companies are paying for the ads whose effectiveness was being measured, tells me that the oil industry cares about being believed. If so, I have a piece of simple advice. Stop lying.

It's been five days since I got that phone call and I finally had some time to check my facts. While the position of the industry as a whole is very clear, and very objectionable, there appear to be real differences among companies. "Even though it believes that more research is needed" (quoted from here, which is dated 1998) Shell's own web site on climate takes a very realistic tone ("We believe action is required now to lay the foundation for eventually stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in an equitable and an economically responsible way.") and Shell presents responsible science at several places on its web sites (e.g. here). On the other hand, a search for the word "greenhouse" on the Exxon web site yields no hits at all and environmental groups have announced a boycott of Exxon/Mobil in particular (Google news), in part because of their Orwellian efforts to influence not only public opinion but also government policy (Google news). The poll made me aware of my ignorance of differences between oil companies and the boycott made aware of some of those differences. I'm glad to have had the chance to investigate, and I will be boycotting Exxon.



Blogger David said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

26/7/06 02:58  
Blogger David said...

Hi Steve, found you in blogger support yahoo group.
I'm also a Marylander... I'm linking to this article in a copule of my blogs.
I'm a hard core libeal republican who is pissed off that our govt is wants us addicted to oil.

liberal republican... I'm an oxy and a moron I guess.
find out for yourself here:

26/7/06 02:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found on
There is only one way to bring gas prices down. A one day, or even one week gas out will never work! We must all ban together, tell everyone we know, and stick to a simple plan.

Each month we choose a gas company, and ban that company for a whole month. (unless they stay at the top of the stock market) Take a moment of your time, visit the finance site of your choice, and don't buy gas from the company with the highest stock.

To make it simple, we will start the months of May, and June of 07, and ban Exxon Mobil (XOM). On the 1st day of July, whoever is on top of the stockmarket, they win that month's gas ban!

Simple, Huh?! So, tell everyone you know that from now until June 30th to not purchase ANY gas from Exxon Mobil stations! If they still remain on top on July 1st, the ban continues for them, if not we move on to the next Top Dog!

You'll see, VERY SOON (probably before July) that the gas prices will begin to drop! Together we WILL make a difference! Email, call, fax, or yell from your car!!! Make sure everyone you know has heard our plan. If we follow the plan, we'll soon be back to the good 'ol days of 99 cents a gallon!

We may all HAVE to get gas, but we can CHOOSE WHERE we buy it!!!

29/5/07 11:29  

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