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Confused about global warming? Thank ExxonMobil

Tara Lohan: The petro giant was nabbed again in their plot to misinform the American people and muddy the scientific waters.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists offers the latest evidence about how ExxonMobil has been actively working for years on a disinformation campaign to prevent action on climate change, confuse the public, and stymie scientists.

ExxonMobil is one of the world's largest producers of global warming pollution - if they were a country, ExxonMobil would rank 6th in the world in global warming emissions.

According to the report, "Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Change," the company has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.

Apparently the oil industry is taking lessons from the tobacco industry. As UCS reports, ExxonMobil: "raised doubts about even the most indisputable scientific evidence; funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change contrarians who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings; attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest for 'sound science' rather than business self-interest; and used its access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming."

The report is like adding insult to injury. It's only a few days into the new year and already the UK's Guardian just reported that "global temperatures will rise to their highest levels ever recorded this year, according to scientists at the Met Office. They believe there is a 60% chance that 2007 temperatures will top the previous hottest year, 1998."

In times like these ExxonMobil's misinformation campaign is playing with fire. They may be void of any ethical responsibility, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to follow along. Join a growing grassroots movement to hold them accountable and tell your representatives and senators to reject all the "Big Oil" disinformation campaigns by supporting several critical policies in the new Congress:

  • Immediately repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major oil companies and redirect money to renewable energy programs and energy efficiency technologies;
  • Support a sound, science-based bill that would reduce global warming emissions as quickly as possible to 80 percent below 1990 levels;
  • Increase fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, including all trucks, SUVs and buses;
  • Require utilities to significantly boost their use of clean renewable energy sources.
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.