A Free-Market Energy Blog

Climate Alarmist as ExxonMobil Whistleblower

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 27, 2024

“There is a strong intellectual case against the view that ExxonMobil ‘knew’ that CO2 was a threat to human betterment versus the continuous growth of consumer-desired, taxpayer-neutral oil and natural gas. In fact, Enron, not Exxon, was the bigger culprit in the climate-change-and-business saga.”

Geoscientist Lindsey Gulden speaks for the Climate Industrial Complex, not the average person who depends on oil and gas every minute of every day, when she portrays herself as a martyr for the cause of climate alarmism/forced energy transformation.

It is not easy to get fired by ExxonMobil, but there are underperformers and just bad apples in every batch. Lindsey Gulden appears to be one. On social media, she tells of just this experience, invoking climate alarmism.

But she does note one thing of interest: the company’s overhyped political play of carbon capture and storage, which is correct. But it is climate exaggeration that has created the political winds to allow ExxonMobil to get its piece of the taxpayer-subsidy pie. Dialing back politics would right-size the very technology she decries.

Her Story

“It may not be advisable to talk on LinkedIn about the time I was fired by #ExxonMobil,” she begins. “But here goes.”

I am a #climate scientist…. I started out as Ms Rebecca Grekin, a climate scientist who earnestly, naively believed that the ExxonMobil of today is a trustworthy actor in the energy transition. I spent more than a decade working for ExxonMobil, occasionally (but not often enough) advocating for combatting #climatechange .

In 2020, I was fired—yes, fired—by ExxonMobil because I reported what amounted to a $10 billion fraud. To put it mildly, that experience fundamentally altered my opinion of whether present-day ExxonMobil can be considered an honest broker in anything, but most especially in the realm of the energy transition, which is a far-greater-than-$10-billion threat to the Exxon’s bottom line….

What is good for oil and gas re ExxonMobil is good for energy consumers worldwide. And the less climate politics, the better. But Gulden will have none of this.

Despite what smooth-talking spokespeople will tell you, ExxonMobil continues to fund and be an active member of organizations that are—today—working to decrease political support for government action to curb climate change and decrease the public’s access to and trust in readily available replacements for #oilandgas.

They fund PhDs and national labs to burnish their reputation and influence what questions researchers address. 

Then a very good point is made by Gulden: the rent-seeking and greenwashing of ExxonMobil with carbon capture and storage, a mistake in the making.

#industry lobbyists have convinced large swaths of the public (and most of their own well-meaning employees) that technologies like carbon capture and storage are legitimate recipients of billions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for combatting climate change.

Those taxpayer dollars are urgently needed for existing, proven, ready-right-now solutions but instead are funding a massive campaign to enhance oil recovery. Carbon capture and storage is, at its core, a technology for producing more oil. It requires more carbon to be expended to inject #co2 at pressure than it keeps out of the atmosphere. It is not and will not be a viable solution to climate change.

She blames herself with her half-truth conscience.

ExxonMobil executives can continue this deception in large part because so many useful idiots, myself included, willingly lend their personal reputations to the propping up of a lie. They can continue this deception because they make an example of people like me (I’m not the only one) to ensure that their employees are afraid to truly challenge the ethics of the company line.

She concludes:

I wish I could tell my younger self that the cynical Mr Yannai Kashtan is right. That idealism and/or a paycheck can lull you into trusting those who say one thing and do another. That we must stop allowing ourselves to be used by a few people who care more about their reserve shares than about doing the right thing. And, most important, that we must, without delay, find the unflinching political will to turn off the #fossilfuels tap as fast as we possibly can. 

Social injustice and carnage on a global, massive scale, Ms. Gulden? If she is in turmoil about her time at ExxonMobil and the way forward, a fundamental rethink is in order. Whole new ideas to quell ‘climate anxiety’ as the world’s energy needs continue to be met, increasingly so, by oil, natural gas, and coal.

Exxon and ExxonMobil: The Road Not Taken

More fundamentally, Exxon and (after 1997) ExxonMobil abandoned the moral high ground when it substituted appeasement for principle, which began around the time of President Obama’s election in 2008.

There is a strong intellectual case against the view that Exxon – ExxonMobil “knew” that CO2 was a threat to human betterment. Just the opposite, the company smartly understood that continued growth of consumer-desired, taxpayer-neutral oil and natural gas was good business and morally imperative. (“Big Oil, Exxon Not Guilty as Charged” offers a six-part rebuttal to the simplistic, errant arguments of the ExxonKnew legal campaign.)

In fact, Enron, not Exxon, was the bigger culprit in the climate-change-and-business saga. Read and laugh (or cry) at Enron’s Kyoto memo of 1997 in terms of green-as-in-money.

What about employees at ExxonMobil whose take is opposite of that of Lindsey Gulden? Glen Lyons offers an opposite take:

Here’s my two cents on the general concept of “What Exxon Knew” as a retired employee with more than 36 years of experience there. 

First, Exxon doesn’t “know” anything. It’s a collection of people and just like any other organization with many people, there are many views and understandings on almost every topic imaginable. I worked with Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, and Libertarians. 

I worked with people who believed 25 years ago that climate change was a concern and I worked with people who still don’t believe that climate change is a concern. One of the great features about working at ExxonMobil is that it gives employees a fair amount of latitude to think “outside the box” by studying and proposing ideas that their management may not agree with. 

There was always disagreement and tension among talented people. Lyons continues:

I did plenty of that during my career, and sometimes it was well received by my management and sometimes not. Just because I made a presentation on a particular topic of my choosing doesn’t mean that my management was fully aligned on the front end or after the fact.

One thing is very true about ExxonMobil – the company has a long history of hiring brilliant people who are original and creative thinkers. Sometimes the output of these people finds broad support among management and sometimes it doesn’t. No one who knows ExxonMobil is surprised to learn that some employees were studying the link between CO2 emissions and global temperatures. However, that does NOT mean that his/her management agreed with the findings.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Glen Lyons has a maturity and open-mindedness that a Lindsey Gulden does not.

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