NYT suckered by ExxonMobil in puff piece titled “Green is for Sissies”

Another nail in the coffin of the liberal media meme.

The NYT has run a greenwashing press release from the oil giant masquerading as a major business news story. Here are some unchallenged quotes — yes the print headline really is “Green is for Sissies,” but as you’ll see, this isn’t some kind of post-modern Onion-esque irony (except maybe unintentionally):

  1. “The business model is based on a disciplined and rigorous approach to dealing with scientific data and facts,” [CEO Tillerson] says.
  2. “For the foreseeable future — and in my horizon that is to the middle of the century — the world will continue to rely dominantly on hydrocarbons to fuel its economy,” Mr. Tillerson says.
  3. “It’s the world’s greatest company, period,” says Arjun N. Murti, a Goldman Sachs oil analyst…. “It is also the most misunderstood company in the world. For many people, the image of Exxon is the Exxon Valdez…. Exxon has persevered over the past 100 years with the best culture and management team any company could have.”

Poor misunderstood oil giant … poor, misunderstood, disinformation-peddling, planet-destroying ExxonMobil. I need to pause for a moment to wipe the tear from my eye….


ExxonMobil is certainly misunderstood by the NYT! A “rigorous approach to dealing with scientific data and facts”? Again, you’ve got to believe me — this really isn’t a story in The Onion. No single company has been more anti-scientific or anti-factual for the last 20 years. No company has done more to fund anti-science deniers and delayers — thereby undermining any effort to take action on the greatest preventable threat to humanity’s health and well-being.

Had the reporter spent two second on the web he would have found ExxonSecrets, which details the millions of dollars that the company has shoveled to fund the disinformation campaigns of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, all of which continue to advance unfactual anti-scientific attacks as I have detailed recently (see posts on Heritage and CEI and AEI). Chris Mooney wrote an excellent piece on ExxonMobil’s two-decade anti-scientific campaign. A 2007 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report looked at ExxonMobil’s tobacco industry-like tactics in pushing global warming denial (see “Today We Have a Planet That’s Smoking!”).

Yet here is all the NYT has to say about this grossly immoral and unfactual attack again all of humanity:

During the tenure of Lee R. Raymond, who ran the company from 1993 to 2005, Exxon became the lightning rod in the debate about climate change. Throughout the 1990s, the company was vilified by environmental groups and scientists for questioning the impact of human activities — especially the use of fossil fuels — on global warming.

Gingerly, over the last three years, Exxon has moved away from its extreme position. It stopped financing climate skeptics this year, and has sought to soften its image with a $100 million advertising campaign featuring real company executives, scientists and managers. One of the ads said the company aimed to provide energy “with dramatically lower CO2 emissions.”

The company was not vilified for questioning the impact of human activities — it was vilified for paying other people millions of dollars to question the impact of human activities.


For the NYT, though, you can apparently buy absolution for two decades of disinformation with a $100 million ad campaign that pushes more greenwashing. Well, maybe not absolution, but at least you can buy a greenwashing puff piece in the media outlet formerly known as the paper of record.

What’s doubly absurd is that the NYT piece isn’t even internally consistent. On the one hand, it points out that the oil giant has an ad touting company plans to provide energy with dramatically lower carbon. But then the NYT runs an extended dissing of low-carbon energy by the company:

But while Exxon is slowly unshackling itself from Mr. Raymond’s stance on global warming, it remains faithful to his legacy by dismissing most green alternatives and sticking with hydrocarbons. Although the company’s tone has changed, its strategy has not. Despite growing pressures on oil companies to invest in alternative energy, Exxon’s long-term view remains unapologetically tied to fossil fuels.

“Rex looks more approachable than his predecessor,” says a rival executive who requested anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize his relationship with Mr. Tillerson, “but he is more inflexible.”

More inflexible than Lee Raymond? I wouldn’t put that on my resume. But I digress.

Meanwhile, renewable fuels, like solar, wind and biofuels, will grow at a brisk pace but they will account for just 2 percent of the world’s energy supplies by then, according to Exxon, while oil, gas and coal will represent 80 percent of global energy needs by 2030.

“For the foreseeable future — and in my horizon that is to the middle of the century — the world will continue to rely dominantly on hydrocarbons to fuel its economy,” Mr. Tillerson says.

For the moment, Exxon does not see much business sense in investing in solar, as BP has, or wind, like Shell, or geothermal, like Chevron….

… its previous forays into renewable fuels — it was a big investor in nuclear power, synthetic fuels and solar energy in the 1970s — are seen as a costly lesson.

Yeah, nothing has changed since the 1970s. No need to rethink the strategy, just the tone of the message.

So the company still hates renewables, apparently for historical reasons — sounds pretty rigorously scientific and fact-based to me. And the company thinks the dominant form of energy in the middle of the century will be hydrocarbons, which is the same thing as saying that the company still denies the scientific reality of global warming (and technology reality of low cost, low carbon alternatives).


The scientific community, however, understands that avoiding catastrophic climate impacts requires a 50% reduction in total global emissions from hydrocarbons by mid-century, while, of course, increasing energy services to 3 billion more people and a rapidly expanding middle class. And that means that if we care about our children and their children and the next 50 generations, hydrocarbons must not be the dominant form of energy by mid-century.

All the NYT has to say on this is that ExxonMobil’s business model “will eventually have to be reconciled with reducing carbon emissions and finding low-carbon energy sources.” Yeah, eventually. It’s not like the world’s leading independent international energy group thinks we’re in a hurry and, say, must peak in hydrocarbon emissions within a decade to any chance of avoiding catastrophe (see “Must-read IEA report explains what must be done to avoid 6°C warming”).

And speaking of peaking, ExxonMobil apparently thinks we have an endlessly growing supply of oil:

According to Exxon’s own outlook, global oil demand is set to reach 116 million barrels a day by 2030, up sharply from 86 million barrels a day today.

Perhaps, but this “world’s greatest company” that the NYT claims is a master of “long-term vision” is at odds with many other big oil companies (see “Will we see $3 gasoline before we see $5?”).

Back in January, Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch/Shell, e-mailed his staff that the world will peak in conventional oil and gas within the decade. He wrote: “Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.” John Hess, chairman of Hess Corp., a global oil and mineral exploration company, said recently, “An oil crisis is coming in the next 10 years. It’s not a matter of demand. It’s not a matter of supplies. It’s both.” In October, Christophe de Margerie, CEO of French oil company Total S.A., said that production of even 100 million barrels a day by 2030 will be “difficult.” In November, James Mulva, CEO of ConocoPhillips, the third biggest U.S. oil company, told a Wall Street conference: “I don’t think we are going to see the supply going over 100 million barrels a day … Where is all that going to come from?”

To ExxonMobil, peak oil is a non-issue, global warming is no big deal, and renewable energy is for sissies. And for the New York Times, what ExxonMobil says goes!

I guess if you are in a downsizing industry, one way to cut costs is to simply repeat whatever you hear or read. That way you can replace your reporters with stenographers and copy machines. Heck, you can even replace your readers, since they will need to look elsewhere for credible analysis.