The Smoking Guns

Evidence shows that Big Oil & Gas knew as early as the 1960s that their products would lead to climate change, and that it could have disastrous impacts worldwide.

Journalists and academics have used internal company documents to illuminate a trail of deception that kept profits high while deliberately downplaying the risks of global warming.

Scientists Warn Execs
Profits Over People
Companies Deliberately Sow Doubt

Scientists and executives at fossil fuel companies such as Exxon knew since as early as 1968 that burning fossil fuels would raise global temperatures, which could lead to "catastrophic" consequences.


“… the abundant pollutants which we generally ignore because they have little local effect, CO2 and submicron particles, may be the cause of serious world-wide environmental changes.”

The American Petroleum Institute, a trade organization for the oil and gas industry, understood during the Johnson administration what risks climate change posed.

Originally uncovered by Center for International Environmental Law

“Prevailing opinion attributes C02 increase to fossil fuel combustion ... Doubling C02 could increase average global temperature 1°C to 3°C by 2050 A.D. (10°C predicted at poles).”

Exxon science advisor James Black's "Greenhouse Effect" presentation lays out for company executives and scientists the causes and effects of carbon emissions generated by burning fossil fuels.

Originally uncovered by Inside Climate News

“It is distinctly possible that the CPD scenario will later produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth's population).”

Exxon employee Roger Cohen urges higher-ups to recognize the severity of possible impacts due to global warming and cautions that failing to warn the public of their research results would be unethical.

Originally uncovered by Inside Climate News

Voices from inside and outside the industry recognize that addressing climate change could require burning fewer fossil fuels — a threat to industry profits.


“... the consensus position was that Exxon should continue to conduct scientific research in this area because of its potential importance in affecting future energy scenarios.”

This memo outlines the state of climate modeling at the time, including Exxon's internal analyses. The author recognizes that the concentration of atmospheric C02 in the future depends on the consumption of fossil fuels.

Originally uncovered by Inside Climate News

“... an atmospheric C02 buildup will cause adverse environmental effects in enough areas of the world to consider limiting future use of fossil fuels as major energy sources.”

This memo says reducing reliance on fossil fuels (the main source of the CO2 that drives global warming) will be necessary to slow and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Originally uncovered by Inside Climate News

“If the greenhouse effect should become an urgent environmental concern, restrictions on fossil fuel and land use might be established.”

The causes and potential effects of climate change, including its impact on the industry and Mobil operations, are laid out in an internal Mobil memo.

Originally uncovered by Inside Climate News

After deciding that a transition to clean energy would be bad for business, climate polluters such as Exxon deliberately sowed doubt to undermine scientific truths.


“Exxon position: Emphasize the uncertainty in scientific conclusions regarding the potential enhanced greenhouse effect.”

After explaining the causes and effects of climate change, this memo suggests the company reframe climate change science as unsettled, and, contrary to their research agenda up to 1988, not build climate change into its forecasts or research.

Originally uncovered by Los Angeles Times

“Reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”

This collection of materials illustrates an effort funded by utilities and Big Oil to undermine growing public concern around climate change. Informed Citizens for the Environment was a public relations and media blitz to "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)."

Originally uncovered by Climate Investigations Center

“Victory Will Be Achieved When: ... Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”

With the Kyoto Protocol, an international effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions, gaining momentum, The American Petroleum Institute (with input from oil companies and anti-regulation groups) prepared this strategy to undermine scientific truths about climate change. Tactics included funding scientists to conduct research into alternate climate change theories the industry knew were bogus, and deliberately undermining established climate science with the media and members of Congress.

Originally uncovered by Climate Investigations Center