Year 4, Month 7, Day 1: Tyrannosaurus Rex

Breaking News: Rex Tillerson is still an asshole. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer:

It was the second time in 13 months that Tillerson articulated Exxon’s new acceptance that climate change appears to be a reality.

And it was the second time that Tillerson suggested the problem may not solvable. Previously Exxon did not acknowledge the possibility of climate changes, let alone how it might be dealt with.

“There are some things we know and understand about it,” Tillerson said of the forces behind the changes in average global temperatures. “There are a lot of things about it that we don’t know and don’t understand. “We’re not sure how this is going to turn out.”

If industrialized society is in fact changing the world’s climate, then steps can be taken to “mitigate” the risk, Tillerson said.

Exxon strongly supports energy efficiency, he said, referring to the tough automotive mileage standards the Obama administration issued a year ago as an example of mitigation. Those rules require automakers to achieve an average of 541/2 miles per gallon in 2025.

Better auto fuel economy and the decisions of electric companies to switch power plants from coal to natural gas are ways to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, while not crippling the economy, Tillerson said.

“But what am I going to do if it turns out that none of my mitigation steps make any difference?” he asked the crowd packed into the City Club. “What if it turns out that this is happening for a lot of reasons that I don’t understand? What’s Plan B?

“Plan B means you had better start thinking about what kind of adaptation measures are going to be necessary if the consequences that people are concerned about present themselves.”

Despite that sobering assessment, Tillerson said he does not support a “carbon tax,” referring to proposals advocated for years by environmentalists to have Uncle Sam tax the use of fossil fuels, basing the charges on the amount of carbon dioxide produced.

“We still have a lot of gains to be made through technology and other less intrusive policies on the economy,” Tillerson said. “And it is a global problem. We are not going to set the carbon tax policy for China.”

One upside to our imminent extinction-level evolutionary bottleneck is that our successors won’t have any fossil fuels left to extract. June 15:

Rex Tillerson may be breaking new ground for fossil fuel executives in his repeated admissions that climate change not only exists, but has the potential to cause profound damage to our civilization. But his pronouncements have the slightly desperate feeling of a man and an industry finally overtaken by inconvenient facts; the man is plainly grasping at straws.

Let’s review: for decades Exxon and the rest of the world’s oil industries denied the reality of global warming, co-opted our political system to their own ends, poured millions of dollars into pseudo-scientific attempts to rebut the overwhelming climatological consensus, and helped make the national discussion of a clear and present danger into a hotbed of conspiracy theories and anti-science nonsense. Just because Exxon’s CEO has reversed course on climate change’s existence doesn’t mean that the rest of his statements automatically gain credibility.

It’s like listening to a tobacco executive saying that even though his product is harmful, quitting is hard, so we’ll be fine if we just learn to live with emphysema, heart disease and lung cancer. When Mr. Tillerson speaks of people “adapting” to climate change, we must recognize that it’s a disingenuous euphemism for another, less reassuring word. Dying.

Warren Senders


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *