Tag Archives: Big Oil

Top fossil fuel producers caused half of global warming, third of sea level rise

I’ll just put this item from UCS here for your interest:


Study Finds Top Fossil Fuel Producers’ Emissions Responsible for as Much as Half of Global Surface Temperature Increase, Roughly 30 Percent of Global Sea Level Rise

Findings Provide New Data to Hold Companies Responsible for Climate Change

WASHINGTON (September 7, 2017)—A first-of-its-kind study published today in the scientific journal Climatic Change links global climate changes to the product-related emissions of specific fossil fuel producers, including ExxonMobil and Chevron. Focusing on the largest gas, oil and coal producers and cement manufacturers, the study calculated the amount of sea level rise and global temperature increase resulting from the carbon dioxide and methane emissions from their products as well as their extraction and production processes.

The study quantified climate change impacts of each company’s carbon and methane emissions during two time periods: 1880 to 2010 and 1980 to 2010. By 1980, investor-owned fossil fuel companies were aware of the threat posed by their products and could have taken steps to reduce their risks and share them with their shareholders and the general public.

“We’ve known for a long time that fossil fuels are the largest contributor to climate change,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, lead author and director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “What’s new here is that we’ve verified just how much specific companies’ products have caused the Earth to warm and the seas to rise.”

The study builds on a landmark 2014 study by Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute, one of the co-authors of the study published today. Heede’s study, which also was published in Climatic Change, determined the amount of carbon dioxide and methane emissions that resulted from the burning of products sold by the 90 largest investor- and state-owned fossil fuel companies and cement manufacturers.

Ekwurzel and her co-authors inputted Heede’s 2014 data into a simple, well-established climate model that captures how the concentration of carbon emissions increases in the atmosphere, trapping heat and driving up global surface temperature and sea level. The model allowed Ekwurzel et al. to ascertain what happens when natural and human contributions to climate change, including those linked to the companies’ products, are included or excluded.

The study found that:

<li>Emissions traced to the 90 largest carbon producers contributed approximately 57 percent?of the observed rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, nearly 50 percent of the rise in global average temperature, and around 30 percent of global sea level rise since 1880.</li>

<li>Emissions linked to 50 investor-owned carbon producers, including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Peabody, Shell and Total, were responsible for roughly 16 percent of the global average temperature increase from 1880 to 2010, and around 11 percent of the global sea level rise during the same time frame.</li>

<li>Emissions tied to the same 50 companies from 1980 to 2010, a time when fossil fuel companies were aware their products were causing global warming, contributed approximately 10 percent of the global average temperature increase and about 4 percent sea level rise since 1880.</li>

<li>Emissions traced to 31 majority state-owned companies, including Coal India, Gazprom, Kuwait Petroleum, Pemex, Petroleos de Venezuela, National Iranian Oil Company and Saudi Aramco, were responsible for about 15 percent of the global temperature increase and approximately 7 percent of the sea level rise between 1880 and 2010.</li>

“Until a decade or two ago, no corporation could be held accountable for the consequences of their products’ emissions because we simply didn’t know enough about what their impacts were,” said Myles Allen, a study co-author and professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford in England. “This study provides a framework for linking fossil fuel companies’ product-related emissions to a range of impacts, including increases in ocean acidification and deaths caused by heat waves, wildfires and other extreme weather-related events. We hope that the results of this study will inform policy and civil society debates over how best to hold major carbon producers accountable for their contributions to the problem.”

The question of who is responsible for climate change and who should pay for its related costs has taken on growing urgency as climate impacts worsen and become costlier. In New York City alone, officials estimate that it will cost more than $19 billion to adapt to climate change. Globally, adaptation cost projections are equally astronomical. The U.N. Environment Programme estimates that developing countries will need $140 billion to $300 billion annually by 2030 and $280 billion to $500 billion annually by 2050 to adapt.

The debate over responsibility for climate mitigation and adaptation has long focused on the “common but differentiated responsibilities” of nations, a framework used for the Paris climate negotiations. Attention has increasingly turned to non-state actors, particularly the major fossil fuel producers.

“At the start of the Industrial Revolution, very few people understood that carbon dioxide emissions progressively undermine the stability of the climate as they accumulate in the atmosphere, so there was nothing blameworthy about selling fossil fuels to those who wanted to buy them,” said Henry Shue, professor of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford and author of a commentary on the ethical implications of the Ekwurzel et al. paper that was published simultaneously in Climatic Change. “But circumstances have changed radically in light of evidence that a number of investor-owned companies have long understood the harm of their products, yet carried out a decades-long campaign to sow doubts about those harms in order to ensure fossil fuels would remain central to global energy production. Companies knowingly violated the most basic moral principle of ‘do no harm,’ and now they must remedy the harm they caused by paying damages and their proportion of adaptation costs.”

Had ExxonMobil, for example, acted on its own scientists’ research about the risks of its products, climate change likely would be far more manageable today.

“Fossil fuel companies could have taken any number of steps, such as investing in clean energy or carbon capture and storage, but many chose instead to spend millions of dollars to try to deceive the public about climate science to block sensible limits on carbon emissions,” said Peter Frumhoff, a study co-author and director of science and policy at UCS. “Taxpayers, especially those living in vulnerable coastal communities, should not have to bear the high costs of these companies’ irresponsible decisions by themselves.”

Ekwurzel et al.’s study may inform approaches for juries and judges to calculate damages in such lawsuits as ones filed by two California counties and the city of Imperial Beach in July against 37 oil, gas and coal companies, claiming they should pay for damages from sea level rise. Likewise, the study should bolster investor campaigns to force fossil fuel companies to disclose their legal vulnerabilities and the risks that climate change poses to their finances and material assets.

Why fossil fuel corporations killed us

Sometimes, when I look at the things the Republicans and their leader, Donald Trump, are doing, I think of that poignant line in so many actual and fictional moments: “You have killed me.”

Someone says that because the killing is done, but they are not yet dead. The knife is driven deep, the car is heading for the cliff, the contract killer is closing in. Then the person dies, but not before they get to say, “You killed me.”

Today, I look at Donald Trump, the Koch Brothers, Rex Tillerson, the petroleum industry, the Heartland institute. They didn’t kill me, but they have killed my daughter, and they have killed my son.

And I wonder, why the hell did they do that?

Wondering leads to thoughts, and thoughts lead to blog commentary, so this:

ExxonMobil, to take one example, made a very significant mistake and essentially killed themselves as a corporation. They did this by choosing to not shift their corporate activities to follow, if not actually lead, in the energy transition that is absolutely required if our global civilization is expected to survive into the future, decades hence. ExxonMobil and the other petroleum corporations can not exist 100 years from now, though they could have made decisions over recent decades to ensure that they do.

I’m reminded of my deceased mentor’s comments (before he ceased) on patrilines. Irv Devore, when discussing patriliniality and kinship systems, would note that patrilines and corporations, unlike people, are expected to exist for all eternity, or at least, up until the day they stop existing. Once you grasp that idea, it is possible to understand why either does what they do. An elder man in a patrilineal kinship-based society will go to great lengths to preserve the patriline. The very strong often heinous preference for male over female children is part of this. Since only sons carry on the patriline, too many daughters are a threat. Infanticide of daughters is therefore significantly more common than infanticide of sons. And so on.

(Hell. My writing is interrupted by an Amber Alert. An ex-boyfriend stabbed the mother of his son, took off with the son. A male associate assisted. Long life the patriarchy. Fuck the patriarchy.


But I ever so slightly digress…)

This should mean that decisions by corporations are made with very long term consequences in mind. When ExxonMobil and the other Big Oil corporations realized, in the 1980s, that continued use of fossil fuel would eventually a) be curtailed by regulation and/or b) cause the end of civilization and thus corporations, they should have started on plans to change what they do. A big energy company could have developed non-fossil fuel burnable materials, they could have muscled their way into the electricity industry, figuring that electric motors, already the preferred means of running a lot of machines that could have been run with IC engines, were part of the future. They could have done a lot of things to usher in a new age of reduced fossil fuel use and expanded use of other energy sources.

But no. They didn’t. Instead, they’ve killed us.

They, the big energy companies, the corporate sycophant-parasites known as Republicans, and their allies and puppets like the Heartland Institute and others chose to kill us all rather than do the right thing.

So why would someone like Rex Tillerson, when he was CEO of a major oil company, make decisions like this?

A lot of you will say: they do it for the short term profits, for the quarterly earnings report, because the corporation is beholden to the stockholder, etc. etc.

I do not disagree with any of that, all of that is true. But, there is another element that I think needs to be considered.

Even though all those reasons are true, there is something else that should be going on, and that in fact HAPPENS ALL THE TIME in other corporations. Not all corporations fail to consider the long term. Leaders of many corporations make decisions that positively affect the long term. They recognize that short term reduction in earnings can have long term positive effects on earnings. They choose sensible investment in the future, in all the future quarterly earnings.

But in some industries, I suggest, this is much less likely because of the interplay between risk and compensation.

If you run a company that makes shirts, nothing is going to happen in your corporation that causes the entire world to suddenly focus on you as the person in charge of a deadly disaster. Well, OK, in the past that did happen for shirt companies now and then, but not any longer. But if you run a company with offshore rigs, chemical factories, refineries, giant ships full of oil, a fleet of passenger carriers, and so on, then there is a risk of a sudden and singular disaster that will attract everyone’s attention, cost hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and that may become truly notorious. Bhopal, Exxon Valdez, Deep Water Horizon. Unforgettable disasters.

(I think we actually do forget about some of the disasters, if they are in a category with frequent events over decadal times scales. So, even if you don’t remember Tenerife, you know that plane crashes are bad.)

If you are a Rex Tillerson in charge of an ExxonMobil, or the CEO of any of these high risk corporations, there is a distinct possibility that you will wake up one morning to the news that a chemical leak in one of your factories just killed thousands of townspeople, with thousands more to have permanent debilitating injuries. You might be informed, just before picking up your bonus check, that one of your ships ran ashore and dumped 41 thousand cubic meters of crude oil on a formerly pristine natural coastline. You might get the news just before going to bet that one of your off shore rigs has exploded and is burning, eleven dead, three months of oil blowing into the sea, the worst environmental disaster ever, and on your watch. Or perhaps you’ll learn that one of your aircraft just colided with another at an obscure airport in the Canary Islands, and nearly 600 died in the fiery crash.

Most of us would be able to live for years off of a single year’s salary of any of the top CEOs in the oil industry. And, by years, I mean hundreds of years. But from the CEO’s point of view, the relevant balance is between getting a huge salary and bonus this year, allowing one to never have to work a day again, to cover high end living expenses for the whole family and their offspring, vs. the long term health of a corporation that might fire you at any day if something really terrible goes wrong.

Why would a corporate executive choose to stop earning an income forever? Well, if your company kills a few thousand people or destroys a major habitat under your watch, you might not be working for a while.*

The bottom line: In an industry that can spit out major career ending disasters, the foresight of corporate leaders becomes myopic, and long term prospects become invisible, much more easily than in most corporations. This strongly biases the already myopic focus on short term earnings reports. The result: corporate, or any, sustainability goes out the window.

It is ironic that the biggest petroleum related disaster ever was the sinking of a rig named Deepwater Horizon. There is nothing deep about the time horizon considered by Big Oil. Yes, that is because of the quarterly report fetish, but the mitigation of short term thinking is obviated by the grotesquely imbalanced comparison of likely disaster vs. outlandish salary and bonuses.

FYI: The top paid oil company execs get between 15 and 150 a year in salary, and between 4 and 10 extra in bonuses.


*Note: People in charge of major corporations when there is a major disaster don’t necessarily lose their jobs or become unhirable. But it does affect them. Lawrence Rawl was in charge of Exxon when the Exxon Valdez crashed into Alaska, and he was criticized for badly handling the response. He kept his job for four more years and retired, and I don’t know if he got very many more bonuses. But, he is officially “known for the Exxon Valdez spill.” That is his legacy. Warren Anderson was in charge of Union Carbide when Bhopal happened. He was charged with manslaughter. He remains a fugitive. Other higher ups in the Indian part of that company were tried and convicted of various charges. Tony Hayward, CEO of BE at the time of Deepwater Horizon, was not fired but then was replaced, and that disaster and his handling of it has left him a very controversial figure. He is dogged by protestors and companies and institutions that have anything to do with him find themselves shunned. So, no, this is not a simple formula: I will be fired if there is a disaster. But there are consequences, and I suspect, a perception of fear of consequences is very real.

Examples of “You killed me”:

There is no way to sugar coat this: Trump is a Russian asset, according to me.

ADDED: It has been suggested that I clarify an important point about this post.

So, dear reader, please understand that the information provided here is my best attempt at analysis of the information that I have available. There is clearly conjecture here. So, of course, read all this with a grain of salt. The size of that grain of salt can be as small or large as you like. I also amended the title of the post.



I’ll just be putin’ this link here: http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/01/news/fsb-kaspersky-arrests/index.html?sr=twcnni020217fsb-kaspersky-arrests0129AMStoryPhoto&linkId=34031636

The story that I outlined on this blog on November 10th was widely known in the US intelligence community and has been developed and elaborated upon in numerous stages. Pretty much everything we need to know is now known, and we await the appearance of the videos currently in possession of Russian agents, and some other key pieces of information. But the story is credible, outlined in moderate detail, and shocking.

To get up to date, read this.

As I have already noted, I find this story very believable because I already knew the broad outlines and some of the details. I came across this via a contact closer to the famous MI6 spy who put together the dossier than most people are to Kevin Bacon. Over the last several days, more information has been made available, and it would now appear, if these sources are accurate, that Russian intelligence has in its possession multiple copies of videos showing Trump in some sort of sexual activity. Multiple things, multiple occasions, multiple locations in Russia, possibly in both Moscow and St Petersburg, according to a source within the CIA (see link above).

There are also financial dealings worthy of use in blackmail.

Obtaining this kind of information on a person with influence is called “developing an asset” and here, Donald Trump is the asset. So, in just over a week, the executive branch of the United States will be run by a person who is arguabley a Russian FSB asset. We hope it is not true, but if it is, there is no way to sugar coat this: We are screwed. And, personally, I’m convinced this evidence is reliable. (I’ve discussed elsewhere, see link above, why I think it is reliable.)

We know that the US Congress Gang of Eight had all this information weeks ago. People with links into the intelligence community were aware of this report. People like Mad Dog Mattis, who may become our Secretary of Defense, and who have taken an oath to protect and defend the US from all enemies foreign and domestic, knew about this. Let me restate something I’ve mentioned elsewhere. According to my contacts in the intelligence community, a) this information was generally known, b) this information was not unexpected given the usual methods of the intelligence agencies and Trump’s weaknesses, and c) the source, which is now publicly known, is among the most highly regarded agents alive today. It is becoming increasingly fashionable in the media to discredit this source. An MSNBC commenter yesterday morning called it “apocryphal” (tough, when Senator Franken pointed out that this word, “apocryphal,” may not mean what she thinks it means, she seemed to withdraw her statement). Bernie bots are resisting this information because they really want to blame Hillary Clinton for this loss, and if the Russians are in with Trump, that takes it away from them.

But when it comes down to it, the evidence is both unproven and highly likely to be true, in my opinion. And — this is important — I’m taking my cues from the same people the Gang of Eight and the various other leaders are taking their cue from. It looks to me like they are all, to an individual, currently engaged in committing an act of treason. They will either have to convincingly disprove the ever hardening Trump-Russia connection or live up to their decision to stand by.

What would be the consequences? Many and severe. Here is a quick theoretical look at one of the more obvious possibilities: a convenient arrangement whereby the Russians control key US decisions that will have great positive, and personal, consequences to Putin, and very negative consequences to the US and to the entire world.

One of Trump’s most important appointments is his Secretary of State.

The likely appointment of Rex Tillerson is widely seen as an affront to the Earth’s climate, and as a prelude to a period of entrenched denial of climate change. That is probably true. But I strongly suspect, and it is starting to become more generally apparent if you are watching the reporting, that this is not the main reason Tillerson is being placed in this position. Most people also assume that Russia would benefit from a Russia-Friendly Trump administration because Russia wants to weaken NATO, and invade a neighbor here or there. I’m sure that is part of it, but again, there is something more immediate afoot.

Tillerson is being placed in this position because Vladimir Putin, Trump’s handler, wants Exxon-Mobil and possibly other international agencies to get on with the business of exploiting Russian oil using technology that the Russians are a bit thin on. This will involve the US lifting sanctions on Russia. While wary Americans are waiting for a Russian invasion of Syria or the cancellation of the Paris agreement, the sanctions will be first ignored, then given special exemption, then weakened, then lifted. The Republicans in Congress will facilitate this because they have no intellectual or emotional power to govern, having jettisoned those qualities the day the first black man was elected President of the United States, as they vowed to make removal of the uppity negro from office their number one, and in fact, sole, objective.

Eight years is apparently enough time to gut a political party of even the smallest iota of ability to govern.

Then, of course, there will also be the expected weakening of NATO, the invasions into neighboring territory unchecked by American interest, and all that.

The other developing problem is with China. Trump and Tillerson have been waving swords at China all along, the most recent coming in yesterday’s hearings when Tillerson came an inch away from declaring war on China in the South China Sea. We would be prudent to assume, if the worst is true, that this attack on China comes at the request of Trump’s handlers in Moscow. The risk here is a trade war. Or a world war. Or worse.

This Tillerson scenario is increasingly buttressed by the facts and the context. It will be very interesting to see how what Tillerson is saying in hearings holds up with his actions, should he be confirmed.

At the moment, there seems to be only one way to address this problem in the short term, and the corruption of the Republican Party makes this nearly impossible. Impeachment would likely be successful, but the House has to initiate it, and the Senate has to conduct it. As long as both are in Republican hands, we would have to trust the Republican party to do the right thing. That, of course is impossible. They will never, ever do the right thing. Republicans will commit treason before they will stand up as patriots for America. How do we know this? Because they are doing it right now! Everything that is now publicly known about Donald Trump being handled as a Russian asset has been known by those in the know inside the beltway for weeks. For many, some of this was known since the summer. For virtually everyone, most of this was known before the election.

The act of treason being carried out by the Republican Party right now has been going on far longer than one might expect for an entity that would eventually come to its senses. They are not going to change course. They are in it until the end.

So, we are left with Plan B: Impeachment of Donald Trump after the midterms, if the citizens of the United States can get past their deeply held racism and sexism to replace many of the Republican members of the Congress, both houses.

Addendum: Donald Trump Regularly Banged Russian People. It Is Said.

This is interesting, if you can stand listening to it.
Start at about 4:10 for the discussion of Donald Tump banging Russian people.


Also of note, near the end when “AJ” threatens to date Trump’s daughter, “Anything you have, I can take from you.” An oligarch in the making!

One minor takeaway from this interview, relevant to those of you unfamiliar with New York (The City), is this: Donald Trump talks funny, both his accent and the way he constructs streams of non-sentences. This is, of course, how New Yorkers talk unless they are in polite company. I assume Donald Trump does not regard America as polite company.

Also, all the talk about winning. Trump is a winner. The rest of you are losers, I hope you know that. Amiright?


What Does Rex Tillerson Get Out Of Being Secretary Of State?

He’s trying, in the hearings, to not let it look this way, but the truth is that he and Exxon Mobile stand to benefit a great deal from a Tillerson SOC. Also, Russia will benefit a great deal.

Putting it a slightly different way, Tillerson’s appointment makes the most sense of you replace “Trump” with “Putin” in sentences that refer to who the leader of the United States is.

The composite graphic above explains this. The context for those graphics is here: