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Oil Industry Knew of Climate Change Dangers for Decades

The oil industry was well aware of the science that links fossil fuel emissions and climate change decades ago, according to documents analyzed by a Washington, DC-based non-profit. The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) says that the records, amassed over four years of research, reveal the oil industry’s own growing body of knowledge into the field of climate change – even as it publicly continued to cast doubt on its very existence.

CIEL has compiled a mountain of public documents on the oil industry and climate change that include scientific studies and patent documentation, among others. Carroll Muffett, the president of CIEL, spoke to Vice News about what the documents reveal.

The oil industry recognized the role of petroleum in air pollution as early as the 1940s, when the Smog and Fumes Committee was established to fund scientific research into those issues. Impetus for Smog and Fumes came from the growing problem of air pollution in Los Angeles. As the CIEL research reveals, the goal was not purely research and knowledge — it was to shape public opinion so as to help prevent what the oil industry viewed as unnecessary regulation of their business.

Geof Wilson

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