It wasn’t free speech; it was a crime.
Two investigative reports, one by “Inside Climate News” and the other by the “Los Angeles Times” recently concluded the same thing: Exxon’s own scientists accurately reported the impacts of using fossil fuels on the climate to Exxon management as early as 1978, and throughout the 1980s. Thirty years later, many of the predictions Exxon scientists made about temperature rises, melting of Arctic ice, and disruptions in weather patterns turned out spot on.
Exxon knew, in other words, and then it lied. It knew that carbon emissions from its products would irrevocably disrupt the climate, threatening humanity and every other living thing on the planet. But that didn’t matter as much as profit.
Exxon could have led the world in making the changes necessary, but instead it turned against its own scientists and began funding institutions like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation to deny the reality of global warming. Politicians were also, of course, paid off.
The fact that Exxon knew how harmful using its product was, yet lied to the public and Congress about it, makes it subject to prosecution the same way the tobacco companies were. Sharon Eubanks, the woman who successfully prosecuted the tobacco companies under the RICO act for the Justice Department, thinks the same thing she did to the tobacco companies should be done to the oil companies.
It’s about time. It wasn’t free speech; it was a crime.