♪ ♪ >> For more than 150 years, oil and gas has played a critical role in our society, improving human lives, raising standards of living and enabling unprecedent economic growth.
>> What do you do when your industry can no longer exist without creating catastrophes worldwide?
>> The impacts of climate change are intensifying... >> It’s important to understand the past.
You can’t understand where you are, if you don’t know how you got there.
>> NARRATOR: In a special three-part series, the epic story of our failure to tackle climate change.
>> The whole world is heating up... >> NARRATOR: And the role of the fossil fuel industry... >> Did big oil knowingly spread disinformation?
>> NARRATOR: Now, in part one - what big oil knew about climate change more than forty years ago... >> The fact, that Exxon had been doing rigorous peer reviewed research in the 80s was staggering to me.
>> There were uncertainties, but the uncertainty was: when, how fast?
>> NARRATOR: And what happened as the science became more certain?
>> Scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect the global climate.
So, there’s simply no reason to take drastic action now.
>> They realized that it was going to be an existential threat to their business, but they made a deeply unethical decision to try to obfuscate the reality.
>> We have continued to maintain a position that has evolved with science and is today consistent with the science.
>> We won’t solve the climate crisis unless we solve the misinformation crisis.
(projector starting, film strip whirring) ♪ ♪ >> In 1978, my wife and I was just engaged six months prior.
So we were gonna get married a year after I graduated from college.
I was kind of awkward, a little bit reserved.
I was definitely a nerd.
I mean, I grew up in a blue collar area in Queens.
I went to Cooper Union.
And Cooper Union was very well known.
Not to toot my own horn, but you had to be pretty good to get in, so we were a draw for Exxon.
Exxon had a recruiting program.
They would go to colleges all around the country and every year they would take the best graduates from my school.
And so when Exxon offered me a position in their research division, and doing environmental monitoring, for me it was a really good fit.
And the salary I got offered was about $18,600, which in those days was a lot of money for somebody fresh out of school.
♪ ♪ >> Exxon was not just the largest oil and gas company in existence, it was the largest company period in existence.
It did business all over the world.
It was enormous.
And the resources were gigantic.
And it had a very good reputation.
At the time I joined it, they had a company making word processors, fax machines.
There was a new division of the company, Exxon Nuclear.
And they had Exxon Solar.
>> Exxon wanted to become an energy company.
They were flush with funds, the oil business was doing really well in the '70s, and so they wanted to move into other fields related to energy.
The energy projects that they were doing were very well funded.
Each one of them would have teams of five to ten scientists and then technicians supporting them.
So the project that I ultimately ended up working for them on was really blue sky.
They weren't gonna make any money on it.
It was just research for the sake of doing research.
For somebody who was 22 or 23 years old, it was like, "Wow, am I...
I'm really happy here, you know, it's a really great place to be working."
I was really happy to be working for Exxon.
>> ...two, one.
(beeping) (engines roar) >> Back in the mid-'70s, I was working for NASA.
It was a very exciting time because NASA was sending probes all over the solar system.
And the information that was coming back was very interesting-- things that we never knew.
For example, we found out that Venus was very hot.
It's at least 700 degrees there.
And the most plausible explanation came from the composition of Venus' atmosphere.
Venus is almost 100% carbon dioxide.
It was a kind of unified idea in the terrestrial planets of our solar system that greenhouse gas warming was caused by high concentrations of carbon dioxide.
At the same time, some research scientists were making observations of carbon dioxide in our own atmosphere.
And we have seen this curve of increasing carbon dioxide, it's become a classic icon of the carbon dioxide problem, where CO2 keeps going up and up a few parts per million every year.
And we can attribute that to greenhouse gases, primarily fossil fuel burning.
It was a small group, maybe 20 or 30, who were developing models independently and checking each other.
All of the models showed that the average temperature of the earth was going to warm.
The things that we didn't know were details.
We didn't know exactly where that was going to happen and how it was going to happen.
The question came up: what are we going to do?
Over 85% of our energy was generated by fossil fuels.
And about that time is when I had the opportunity to work as a consultant with the biggest company in the world at the time: Exxon.
♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: Today, the evidence of climate change is everywhere.
"Frontline" has been investigating the role of the fossil fuel industry, and one of its biggest players-- Exxon-- in delaying and preventing action on climate change over the past four decades.
This film is based on over 100 interviews and thousands of documents-- many of them newly uncovered.
It's a story that begins with a small team of scientists inside Exxon.
>> So this is a presentation entitled "The Proposed Exxon Research Program to Help Assess the Greenhouse Effect."
It's presented by Edward A. Garvey, myself, Henry Shaw, Wally Broecker and Taro Takahashi at Columbia University.
♪ ♪ Exxon wanted to do research related to climate change.
But they wanted it to be recognized that something that Exxon can contribute that unlikely anybody else could do.
The role of the ocean in the global balance of carbon dioxide was not well understood.
And so Exxon saw an opportunity, using an oil tanker, to involve itself in that line of research and make a really significant contribution to the understanding of the global cycle of carbon dioxide.
"Program goal: use Exxon expertise and facilities to help "determine the likelihood of a global greenhouse effect.
March 26, 1979."
♪ ♪ I wasn't dying to go to sea.
I was a city kid, I wasn't a sailor.
But I think I understood from the very beginning that the oil tanker was gonna be my baby, so to speak, I was gonna make it work.
"Rationale for Exxon involvement: develop expertise to assess the possible impact of the greenhouse effect on Exxon business.
Form responsible team that can credibly carry bad news, if any, to the corporation."
The work that we were doing, the company was interested in at the highest levels.
They wanted the knowledge.
♪ ♪ >> We wrote computer programs.
We plotted graphs, we analyzed the results.
We compared it with data, with what nature was doing.
And we would compare our results with others' results, we would see if there's a consensus.
Those papers would then get presented at meetings with the government, people from industry, people from the university.
And there would sort of be this sort of brick by brick advance in our understanding of how the system worked.
Everything that we studied was basically consistent with the finding that the earth was going to warm significantly.
And we just were trying to say how it would warm.
I can only speak about the research group and Exxon Research and Engineering.
Everybody there accepted it.
Roger Cohen completely accepted it.
Roger Cohen, who was the manager of the group that I was consulting for, passed a lot of our results on to higher levels of management.
Because that's what this is, he's writing to his boss about what the guys working for him are doing.
"There's unanimous agreement in the scientific community that temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth's climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere.
Our results are in accord with those of most researchers in the field and are subject to the same uncertainties."
>> There was no separation between Exxon's understanding and that of academia.
Yeah, there were uncertainties.
But the uncertainty was, when, how fast?
That's what we were looking at.
If we didn't reduce fossil fuel consumption in a significant fashion, we were going to be facing significant climate change in the future.
>> And here he's saying that we should keep doing the research, because it can inform our decisions.
"Our ethical responsibility is to permit the publication of our research in the scientific literature; indeed to do otherwise would be a breach of Exxon's public position, and ethical credo, honesty, and integrity."
>> Within the Exxon Research and Engineering Company, at least, we knew that changes were going to be necessary.
But I think Exxon was afraid we would change too fast.
You just can't shut off the fossil fuels.
Because all of society depends on it.
I was convinced that Exxon was doing this research to understand it, to get a place at the table, to be part of the solution, not so that we can deny the problem.
♪ ♪ (indistinct radio chatter) (wind whipping) (indistinct radio chatter) ♪ ♪ >> Some time in the 2000s, Exxon give their archives to the library at the University of Texas.
Many truckloads of documents.
Perhaps it was a PR effort to show that this company has a proud history and it's all transparent, it's all in the library.
And so it was a revelation when journalists uncovered documents showing how deep the conversation was about climate change within Exxon.
>> We came across letter after letter after letter to the leaders of the company about carbon dioxide.
And not only letters, but we came across a memo that said that if carbon dioxide concentrations continue to grow at this rate, this could be catastrophic.
That was the word used.
Anybody who covered climate knew that Exxon had played a critical role in developing and funding a narrative of climate denial that began in the 1990s.
So the fact that Exxon had been doing rigorous peer reviewed research in the '80s was staggering to me.
>> I've become a curator of documents.
And the evidence from the Exxon documents is that there was a cadre of really smart scientists putting Exxon in a position of authority on the science of climate change.
♪ ♪ >> Gasoline and fuel oil prices fell 2% last month, the third consecutive monthly decline in the price of gasoline.
>> That set the stock market skidding into its worse loss in three months, and the fallout continued as the week progressed.
>> Now we're in 1982.
And in 1982 oil prices dropped.
>> The bottom fell out of the oil market, and so Exxon was having a hard time staying profitable, and it began layoffs.
>> One of the things that was dropped overboard was the tanker project.
>> Basically just said, the market's too poor, we no longer can afford this level of research.
We're going to keep the modeling team together and shut down the tanker project.
>> And by 1984, Lee Raymond was senior vice president with broad oversight for Exxon Research and Engineering.
Raymond believed Exxon would always be an oil and gas company.
It would never be anything else.
>> When Exxon retrenched, and sold off its research in lithium batteries, sold off its solar energy, it's like, you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
These are all important lines of research for the potential for the company, and you're just getting rid of them.
You're not trying to shrink them down saying, "Okay, we have to make do with a smaller budget."
No, this is gone.
We're done with this, we're done with this, we're done with that.
>> Alternative fuels.
There was a time in the late '70s at your company... You spent a lot of money at that time to say... >> Yes, we did.
>> ...is there an alternative fuel that will work so that we don't have to burn fossil fuels and put all that CO2 in the oxygen in the air?
We were the first-- we were the first oil company that really spent a lot of money looking at all that.
>> And the results were what?
>> None of these technologies-- and we looked at everything, I mean, we looked from soup to nuts-- that none of these technologies were going to be competitive against oil.
The conclusion we came to, Charlie, was that fossil fuels had such an economic-- first of all, such an economic advantage, and secondly, such a relatively ease of use that it was going to be very difficult to displace them.
♪ ♪ >> I didn't stay there that much longer after they shut down the tanker project.
I know that Exxon did some really good climate-related modeling work and was still funding research at Columbia University.
But effectively they turned the corner and, well, I just...
I knew that the place that I worked in was gone.
I was heartbroken.
♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: Exxon Mobil declined to give us any interviews.
In a written response to questions, the company said: "For more than 40 years, we have supported development of climate science in partnership with governments and academic institutions."
And "ExxonMobil has never had any unique or superior knowledge about climate science, let alone any that was unavailable to policy makers or the public."
♪ ♪ >> I didn't learn about climate change until I was in graduate school.
These are documents from the '80s, the '70s, talking about climate change and to only learn about it in 2010 shows that knowledge doesn't necessarily go in a way uni-directional fashion.
That we lose knowledge, we forget things all the time, both as individuals and as a society.
There are many people working on this now and we're getting a better and better understanding all the time.
We now know that Shell, for example, had a sophisticated understanding of the climate issue also by the end of the 1980s.
The coal industry, too.
So there is a level of foreknowledge by the fossil fuel industry that business as usual would lead to disaster around the world.
>> My fellow Americans, with summer coming, a lot of Americans will be driving more than ever in everything from vans to buses to motorbikes.
This is a good time for it because gas prices continue to fall.
>> Corporate profits surged in the first quarter.
Individual winners were Ford, Exxon, General Motors, IBM... >> Retail sales jumped, reflecting a surge in demand.
>> ...have to sell thousands more with Sell-a-thon 3!
Starlets, Corollas... >> Boeing aircraft company unveiled their new 67 jetliner.
>> Sharp fare reductions by American Airlines... >> May turn out to be a major turning point in the history of airline pricing.
>> Who is making the excess buck here?
>> Primarily, U.S. refiners of petroleum products.
Most of these companies have announced huge increases in their refinery profits over the last nine months.
♪ ♪ >> Exxon had an idea of how soon governments would start to act about global warming.
The company predicted that policy action would occur around the late 1980s, which it did.
So this is really when a huge battle began.
♪ ♪ >> 1988 was the year that the issue of climate change moved from scientific journals into the realm of public policy.
I was a 26-year-old on the lower end of the totem pole in a Senate office.
Senator Wirth said, "You want to work on the environment because that's where all the action's gonna be."
>> Our climate is changing very dramatically and it's time for us to start acting on it.
>> You know, we identified early on how important this was and, uh, you know, we're probably one of the first to bang away at it.
>> Senator Wirth said, "I want to write a piece of legislation that addresses global warming."
The first person I reached out to was Dr. Hansen, a distinguished senior scientist at NASA.
>> A lot had changed between the middle of the 1970s when we first got interested in the problem, and the 1980s-- the late 1980s.
Because the real world was beginning to show signs that humans were affecting climate.
That implies that we're really going to get a significant change a few decades downstream.
>> My response was pretty immediate.
This is a big deal.
You know, we need to get working on a hearing.
>> Seattle and other parts of the northwest had their driest February in history.
Irrigation reservoirs are 40 to 85 percent below normal levels.
>> By the spring of 1988, there was a full-scale drought.
>> The earliest fire season in memory has been declared.
>> They're drenching around the clock on the once mighty now shrunken Mississippi... >> It was my perception that the media wanted to explain this drought.
And seemed to be at a tipping point on the issue of climate change.
>> The evening before I was lying on my bed in the hotel in Washington writing my testimony and listening to the Yankees baseball game.
And I wrote my testimony out by hand.
I do think that scientists have a moral obligation to point out the implications of their findings and try to do it as clearly as possible.
>> I had a sense that it was going to be a good hearing.
And that his statement would be important.
You could feel it in the room that this was a significant moment.
>> Thank you for the opportunity to present the results of my research on the greenhouse effect, which has been carried out with my colleagues at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
I would like to draw three main conclusions.
Number one: the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements.
Number two: the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe, with a high degree of confidence, a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect.
And number three: our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to affect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves.
Altogether, this evidence represents a very strong case, in my opinion, that the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.
>> That was a kind of a magic sentence.
This was not environmental groups.
This was not some green cabal.
This was a probably the lead climate scientist in the federal government making this statement.
>> I realized I was going out on a limb.
Not all scientists agreed with me that we were ready to say those things.
But they were based on sound physics, and observations, and models.
>> It was as if the rocket had lifted off.
I wrote on the hearing transcript, "historic."
♪ ♪ >> Some experts are saying now that the whole world is heating up because of a global greenhouse effect.
>> And in the long run that could mean devastating changes to all life on earth.
>> The next morning, the story was on the front page of "The New York Times."
>> There are no easy solutions.
We're talking here about the use of gas, and coal, and oil.
>> Scientists urge heavy conservation, a switch to solar energy, and a search for new power sources.
Pragmatists would argue that we cannot change our energy habits overnight.
Scientists say we had better get going.
>> In those years, there was still a spirit of bipartisanship, when really important challenges to the public interest appeared, you could work across the political aisle.
(crowd cheering) >> I felt like tremendous progress was being made.
There was greater awareness.
There was public policy emerging.
There was international negotiations developing.
>> Momentum was on our side.
And it kind of opened up the world and you had the feeling of "Wow," you know, "this is really going to change."
But the minute targets and timetables began to appear, you know, those were magic signals to the industry.
"Uh oh, this is serious."
Little did we know how devastating the counterattack was going to be.
♪ ♪ >> I've collected documents from every place where I've worked.
My basement looks like a trash bin and a fire hazard, but nevertheless!
I knew that having access to original documents that were, in my view, critical to certain decisions being made, would be enormously valuable.
I'm Terry Yosie, I'm vice president for Health and Environment at American Petroleum Institute.
at that time was tremendously influential.
It was the chief lobbying organization for the petroleum industry, and had representation from some of the major oil companies-- Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP-- companies like that.
By early 1989, the newspapers, the television networks were bombarding A.P.I.
with questions such as, "Well, what do you think of Hansen's testimony?"
"What is your view of climate change in general?"
"What do you think needs to be done about climate change?"
"Terry, what do you make of all of this?"
♪ ♪ The decision was made that a briefing needed to be prepared for industry C.E.O.s "Global Warming The Knowns and Unknowns.
By Terry F. Yosie.
American Petroleum Institute.
There is scientific consensus that the atmosphere is changing due to human activities.
There are three schools of thought that characterize the scientific and public debate over global warming.
The first is that a crisis exists, and that immediate measures are needed to ameliorate it through strong government actions.
The second school of thought is that the problem will go away by itself.
The third school of thought, and one that reflects A.P.I.
's present thinking, was expressed by a scientist named Patrick Michaels in a recent article in 'the Washington Post.'
'Our policies,' noted Michaels, 'should be no more drastic than the scientific conclusions they are based upon.'"
>> I'm not-- I hate this word.
I'm not a denier.
I'm a lukewarmer.
And people get that wrong.
It's the lukewarm view on climate change, which means climate change is real, people have something to do with it.
But it's probably not the end of the world.
I'm probably a lukewarm libertarian too.
There is a real problem with this so-called global warming apocalypse projection.
The earth may in fact be going in the other direction.
And until we solve that it seems to me that we ought not take any very expensive remuneration.
>> Pat Michaels was not a major voice in the scientific community on climate change.
But I think he was primarily useful to the industry as an external voice of doubt creating more skepticism about policymakers taking action.
"In that vein, A.P.I.
must become an active participant in the scientific and policy debate.
We are well on our way to doing that.
We must make policymakers fully aware of the uncertainty surrounding the global warming issue."
>> It's amazing.
I mean, it's... it is, um... it's al... it's a call to action.
They're realizing it's going down, we need to be in the room talking about uncertainty, and downplaying the urgency, effectively, that that is the call.
>> Can I ask you to take a look at the document in front of you?
>> This thing?
>> Yeah, which we found in the Exxon archives.
>> This says it all right here.
This paragraph starts, "Exxon's long term public presence and contributions to the scientific field give us unique credibility within the petroleum industry.
We served on a task force of the American Petroleum Institute and contributed significantly to the development of the A.P.I.
position on climate change."
So essentially what we see as the A.P.I.
position is the Exxon position on climate change.
"Our advice and input influenced the positions of NAM, the National Association of Manufacturers, CMA, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and the Global Change Coalition," which is probably the Global Climate Coalition.
These trade associations are key.
They are working with other shields and other umbrellas.
Their focus is trying to emphasize uncertainty.
♪ ♪ And we can show that they pretty much did that in following years.
>> NARRATOR: In response to questions A.P.I said critics were cherry picking information from decades ago, to support a misleading pre-determined narrative.
And that as climate science has evolved so has the industry.
Exxon Mobil has denied that it's policy at that time was to emphasize uncertainty.
(crowd applause) ♪ ♪ >> The man standing beside me today has what it takes to lead this nation from the day we take office.
Senator Al Gore of Tennessee.
>> When Bill Clinton announced that his running mate was going to be Al Gore, that was very exciting.
There was an anticipation of a much greater effort to tackle climate change.
>> We will finally give the United States a real environmental presidency.
(cheers and applause) >> Then President-elect Clinton understood clearly that that's why I was on the ticket.
That's why I agreed to run as vice president.
>> He has won this presidential race, along with Senator Al Gore, now the vice president elect.
>> Now you're in the White House.
>> To tackle it, did you feel a sense of responsibility?
>> Oh, absolutely.
That was the principal task that I set for myself entering the White House.
And I went to work right away to try to get a carbon tax in our first budget plan.
>> Senator Gore asked me to produce some quantitative results of how much various energy taxes would reduce emissions.
>> Our plan does include a broad-based tax on energy.
It is environmentally responsible.
It will help us in the future as well as in the present with the deficit.
>> I was excited that a fairly bold step had been proposed.
>> It's called a "BTU tax."
>> The tax is likely to be levied at the producer or distributor level, though consumers would feel it as energy companies passed it along in their prices.
>> It's a tax policy, you don't expect everyone to love it.
But the opposition to this particular proposal was very strong, very strident, very aggressive.
>> Koch Industries has been called the biggest company you never heard of.
The sprawling giant includes pipelines, petrochemicals, asphalt plants, trading floors.
Based in Wichita, Kansas, it sells everything from gasoline to beef.
>> I would say that virtually no one in the early 1990s had ever heard of Koch Industries.
>> Koch's core business is distribution.
It owns 37,000 miles of international pipeline.
>> They can take the heaviest oil, the dirtiest oil, the hardest to turn into a useful product and refine it.
And they became the best in the world at doing that.
I think it's still probably the second largest privately held company in the world.
The two brothers who ran Koch Industries were Charles and David Koch.
They had their sights set on how their they were going to deal with issues that were existential to their industry.
It's the heart of what they do, so they're going to... they're going to fight and hang on to that till the bitter end.
>> The Cato Institute was a public policy think tank.
It was founded by Charles Koch.
And Charles was heavily invested, you know, in energy policy discussions back in that time.
Particularly with the emergence of climate change.
The Cato Institute position was that climate change is real but the climate change that we're seeing today is far, far more modest than what the computer models say we should have seen by now.
We need to know a lot more before we should be spending trillions of dollars to address them.
>> So the Kochs had funding directed at the Cato Institute as a libertarian think tank.
They also had funding that went to Citizens for a Sound Economy, which was built for a slightly different purpose, which was to be a "grassroots mobilizer."
>> Coming out of the gate, we then get served up with a proposed BTU tax.
It was obvious to us at the Cato Institute that once that tax is in place, it's going to be very hard to get rid of.
>> We walked over from Citizens for a Sound Economy over to the American Petroleum Institute.
And then we met with the entire leadership of A.P.I.
And the meeting was all about, let's just knock out the BTU tax in its infancy.
>> We would be meeting in various locales in Washington with over 100 people in the room.
It was a real war room situation.
>> This coalition is one of the fastest-growing and strongest that I've seen.
We will stop the BTU tax, and I believe substitute spending cuts in its place.
Thank you very much for coming.
♪ ♪ >> We were known, and I think we made ourselves known that way, as the oil capital of the world.
Almost everywhere you'd look had behind it oil industry dollars.
I thought that the tax was a bad idea for America, but predominantly a bad idea for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma was not in a good spot at that time at all.
Oil wells were being shut.
That meant a lot of lost jobs, a lot of lost companies.
And that this was putting the heel of the boot down hard.
I got a call from Koch Industries, telling me the industry is very concerned about this, but we're worried that this word isn't getting out.
Our particular goal was to focus on Senator Boren.
>> David Boren was a moderate Democrat who chaired the relevant committee that would deal with the Clinton budget.
>> We were hearing that he wanted to be left to do his own revising of it behind closed doors.
>> They basically said if we can get David Boren to flip, we win.
So they said, what... we're gonna do whatever it takes.
>> We set about what I would call a grasstops and a grassroots campaign.
The grassroots were encouraged to call Senator Boren and let him know that you do not want a tax, after seeing an ad that showed "take shower pay a tax," "start your car pay a tax."
>> And everybody was given their marching orders out of this playbook.
People would stand up behind politicians with signs about no BTU tax.
There were rallies.
>> To the average household in Oklahoma, it's going to be roughly about $500 a year.
>> My main role was what I would call the grasstops.
You may be a civic leader, you may be a C.E.O.
Often it would be Mr. Koch would call them, or myself, and talk them through, "Did you know it does this, this, this and this?"
Encourage strongly Senator Boren "kill it."
>> What they told the public and what the policymakers were led to believe was that there was an army of folks who are ready to march in the streets.
Maybe there were a handful of folks who thought, "Oh, gosh, I should call my senator and register my complaint."
But they had no such grassroots army.
It was funded and fueled by the corporate interests.
>> CSE says its work isn't done yet.
It's joined forces with other lobbying groups, stoking the flames of the prairie fire, hoping they'll spread and burn the BTU tax for good.
>> I remember a very late night or early morning phone call.
And it was actually Senator Boren's communications guy.
"We want those ads to stop.
And we want the C.E.O.s to quit calling us, and in return, Senator Boren's gonna announce his intentions to vote against it."
>> Our proposal is fairer than that put forward by the administration.
That is the BTU tax, which is the tax, which is a part of the administration's plan that does hit lower and middle income Americans.
>> He folded right away.
It's like, wow, this can really work.
We can pick our targets strategically and win, even when we're not in political power.
>> NARRATOR: At the time, David Boren disputed he was influenced by the oil industry, he said, "He was responding to concerns from the American public," and "He opposed the tax because it would hurt consumers and busines people."
>> President Clinton has pulled the plug on his proposed BTU energy tax.
>> Critics said it would cost jobs and devastate the economy, and there weren't enough votes in the Senate to pass it.
Besides, who the heck knew what it was?
>> This is, after all, a nation addicted to its cars and to the idea of driving down the open road.
♪ ♪ >> It was extremely disappointing to not get the votes.
It was just the raw power of all the money that they threw into this.
But we just decided to regroup and try to skin the cat a different way.
>> They never proposed another energy tax.
It was just considered radioactive.
>> I think some of the leadership of the Koch network were really quite excited that it worked so well.
So that's how that playbook first began.
It was developed right then.
What I didn't know at the time was that it would become the beginning of something much bigger.
And that playbook is still in use today.
I don't feel embarrassed or regretful.
In hindsight, I shouldn't have done that.
There's no question I shouldn't have done that.
But they were my client.
I was a contractor.
I was paid, I'm gonna do my job.
And my job was to... was, was to do that.
♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: Charles Koch did not respond to questions about the campaign against the BTU tax.
In 1994, a top Koch executive said, "Our belief is that the tax, over time, may have destroyed our business."
♪ ♪ (indistinct chatter) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> As more and more scientists are confirming, our world is deficient in carbon dioxide and a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is very beneficial.
♪ ♪ >> I was aware that this emerging industry of naysayers was growing.
This effort to cast doubt... You had reams of material coming out of the government.
They were at NOAA, at NASA, this expanding network of people working on this day in and day out saying that this was a legitimate issue and that we needed to do something about it.
And, on the other hand, you had two or three guys who went around to conferences and said, "I'm not sure.
Oh, maybe there's clouds?"
>> I would like to show you the warming that the satellite sensed over the same region from 1979 to now, which is the next slide if you could.
>> It quickly became apparent that these were private interests, who had a stake in the status quo.
>> A respectable body of opinion in the international scientific community believes that any climate warming is as likely to be beneficial as harmful.
>> I remember seeing in the press, this skeptic Fred Singer, saying that global warming was not a problem for the planet.
You saw that he had worked on tobacco and a number of other issues.
He was sort of a specialist in denial.
I thought, that's odd.
When I brought that up to some my peers in the environmental movement, they really didn't think it was that important.
But then every time a new piece of science comes out, the same story will have somebody you'd never heard of saying, "No, that's completely wrong."
So you start to think, well, who are these people, and where are they coming from?
They're funded by Exxon's foundation.
And then you see this pattern repeated over and over and over.
It was coming from the coal-fired power utilities, Western Fuels Association, the Koch brothers, Global Climate Coalition.
And they're funding climate deniers.
♪ ♪ >> We are not an ad hoc group anymore, but as a matter of fact, the Global Climate Coalition formalized not too long ago.
>> The Global Climate Coalition consisted of every major manufacturing trade association that produced or consumed fossil fuels, and every major company that was in the fossil fuels industry.
And so it's a considerable coalition of business interests.
The Global Climate Coalition put out a bid for a contractor to provide communication services.
I'd left API in the late spring, and I had come over to the Harrison firm-- a public relations firm devoted exclusively to environmental issues.
"Communication Proposal Prepared for the Global Climate Coalition for the E. Bruce Harrison Company."
I was asked to be a part of the pitch team, because I was well known in the petroleum industry.
>> Everybody wanted to get the Global Climate Coalition account, because it was a coalition of the biggest industries in America.
I was brought in to handle press relations for the Global Climate Coalition.
A lot of reporters were assigned to write stories, and they were struggling with the complexity of the issue.
So I would write backgrounders, so that reporters could read them and get up to speed.
>> "It is important for GCC to continue to emphasize the scientific uncertainty surrounding climate change.
Scientists, economists, academics, and other noted experts carry greater credibility with the media and general public than industry representatives.
Communication efforts should be directed toward expanding the platform for third-party spokespersons."
The idea behind a third party is that you form a relationship with somebody who already has some stature or standing around a particular topic, in this case climate change, and you recruit that person, you pay that person, to give a speech, or write an op-ed.
The Global Climate Coalition would do the background work of placing that op-ed or maybe editing it.
>> I met some really brilliant climatologists and meteorologists.
Met Pat Michaels.
He struck me as someone who was very smart.
He loved talking about this issue.
>> What was your relationship with the GCC, the Global Climate Coalition?
>> Oh, God.
>> You were on their scientific advisory board?
What does that mean?
I don't think we ever had a meeting.
>> I, I understand you did.
>> We did?
It wasn't much of a relationship at all.
I mean, when you, when you bring up GCC, it's like, oh wait a minute, who were those guys?
>> How does the funding that you received from the fossil fuel industry impact what you were able to do workwise and impact the views that you took?
>> Didn't change what I do, didn't change the way I think.
>> How much do you think you did receive from industry?
>> I don't know.
>> Do you feel like in a way you were sort of used by them, um, that you were... >> No, I was using them.
You got, you got that wrong.
I'm somewhat verbal, and I like to write, and I have an overestimation of my ability, my sense of humor.
But can you imagine somebody giving you a little bit of money to say, "Write whatever you want every two weeks"?
We had a blast doing that.
♪ ♪ We weren't doing what we were told, we were doing what we wanted.
♪ ♪ >> The Global Climate Coalition is seeding doubt everywhere.
Sort of fogging the air with these counter arguments that are contradictory, and nonsensical, running this propaganda across the country, putting millions of dollars into this media effort.
And environmentalists really don't know what's hitting them.
>> Did it cross your mind or give you any kind of late night worries that you were being paid by a group that had a vested interest in delaying action, blocking action, creating doubt in the minds of the public and policymakers?
>> The backgrounders I was writing, the narrative that I represented, as the communications lead for the Global Climate Coalition, was not a popular narrative.
There's no question about that.
Was there truth in all the materials?
Yes, there was.
There was a lot we didn't know at the time.
And part of my role was to highlight what we didn't know.
It wasn't just that we, that is the Global Climate Coalition, needed to come up with contrarian voices, the media needed them to have balance.
>> You want to make an assumption that it's a meritocracy.
A good argument will prevail, and it will, it will displace a bad argument.
But what the geniuses of the PR firms who work for these big fossil fuel companies know, is that truth has nothing to do with who wins the argument.
If you say something enough times, people will begin to believe it.
>> Finally tonight, some new word on the temperature of the world.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault has that story.
>> It's warmer than ever, and last year set a record.
That's what British meteorologists report... >> Saying that 1995 was the warmest year since records first were kept in 1856.
>> You have ice slowly melting, you have sea levels rising, you have places like the Maldives Islands that's only a meter above sea level, that could be completely underwater... ♪ ♪ >> We knew.
We knew in '95 that humans were affecting the global climate.
Back in 1990, the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, concludes that it's too soon to tell definitively whether there is or is not a human-caused global warming signal.
Five years later, a very, very different finding.
People at different institutes, using different statistical methods, different models, formally identified a human-caused global warming signal.
This was a paradigm shift in scientific understanding of the reality of human effects on climate.
I was 40 years old.
I had spent one-and-a-half years working as convening lead author for chapter eight of the IPCC's second assessment report, "Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes."
We were in plenary in the beautiful Palacio de Congresos de Madrid.
Delegates from nearly 100 countries were all there to discuss the language that was relevant to chapter eight.
Some of the industry scientists were involved in the process.
Haroon Kheshgi from Exxon was there from the beginning of our work on chapter eight right through to the end.
The Global Climate Coalition and the Saudis and Kuwaitis dominated the plenary sessions, saying, "If you say something's uncertain, then it can be overturned."
Which led to all these sometimes heated exchanges.
Because uncertainty is an irreducible part of climate science.
The notion that uncertainties mean you can't say anything useful about anything is preposterous.
There were these extraordinary back and forth discussions, and my job was to implement those changes that we had discussed and agreed upon.
I think the most critical part of the changes after Madrid was the deletion of the concluding summary.
Chapter eight had a summary up front and a summary at the end.
No other chapter had a summary at the end.
Now the second summary discussed many of the uncertainties, essentially repeating much of the upfront summary.
Some of the government comments that we received said, "You need to delete the second summary," which we did.
The bottom line finding agreed upon by all countries present in Madrid was 12 words: "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate."
Madrid was a triumph of the science, the science won.
It was a big deal.
♪ ♪ >> Hi, I'm Joey Chen.
An international panel of scientists agrees we can blame ourselves for global warming.
>> Madrid, where 2,500 scientists from around the world have finally agreed with one another and are convinced that burning oil and coal is causing the world's temperature to rise, which may bring with it environmental disaster.
>> How do you think this is going to affect policy action on this?
>> Certainly ammunition for those that would like more government regulation of industry.
The move away from fossil fuels to other forms of energy.
>> In retrospect, those 12 words were the handwriting on the wall.
♪ ♪ What happened next was that the Global Climate Coalition really came onto my radar screen.
In the spring of 1996, they published this, um... (clears throat) report, "The IPCC: Institutionalized Scientific Cleansing."
They were arguing that I had purged all discussion of uncertainty from the document, which was patently untrue.
20% of Chapter 8 was specifically devoted to the discussion of uncertainties.
"The changes quite clearly have the obvious political purpose of cleansing the underlying scientific report of important information and scientific analysis that would lead policymakers and the public to be very cautious if not skeptical about blaming human activities for climate change over the past century."
I had grandparents who were cleansed because of their religion in the Second World War.
People were being cleansed because of their religion in Bosnia.
And the Global Climate Coalition, through this odious "scientific cleansing" was arguing that I was guilty of a crime.
"These revisions raised very serious questions about whether the IPCC has compromised or even lost its scientific integrity."
I certainly had probably a role in the creation of this-- there's a, there's a level of detail here, I just, I don't remember.
But what I do, I do remember the gist of this.
Um, where things were said at one part in the process, and then they disappeared at the next, and that struck me as troubling.
And so I noted that to the folks in the Coalition.
>> This stuff caught on like wildfire.
Patrick Michaels devoted substantial time to amplifying the Global Climate Coalition's allegations.
Others picked up that report, and repeated bits of it verbatim.
Things became worse when Professor Frederick Seitz wrote an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal."
I was accused of the worst abuse of the peer reviewed system that Professor Seitz had seen in his 60 years as a scientist.
Folks were calling for my dismissal with dishonor from my position.
A gentleman intimated that I was about to be indicted by the Hague International Court of Justice for "falsification of international scientific documents."
>> That document set in motion a number of public attacks on the lead scientist, the lead author of that chapter.
>> He was particularly shaken by the accusation that he was guilty of scientific cleansing, he found, why... >> Yeah, that, that wouldn't have been terminology, by the way, that I would have used.
How this was used, and what others did with it was outside of my control and purview.
And it troubles me to hear that this had such an impact on an individual.
That's not something I would want to do to anybody.
>> This attack on individuals, on their integrity, decency, honesty, involved high personal cost.
And the Global Climate Coalition knew what they were doing.
Sow those seeds of doubt, and watch them grow and mature.
And they did.
>> Clearly, one of the GCC's main missions was to blunt the scientific urgency driven by scientific reports.
Simultaneously, there's an assessment done written by a Mobil scientist within the GCC.
So it says, you know, "Can human activities affect the climate?"
And the answer is "The scientific basis for the greenhouse effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on the climate is well-established and cannot be denied."
What's really interesting about this document is the back six pages, and this is just a draft, this was never published as far as we know.
"Several arguments have been put forward attempting to challenge the conventional view of greenhouse gas-induced climate change."
Patrick Michaels, named as one of the people putting forward these arguments, and concludes, "They do not offer convincing arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse gas emission-induced climate change."
So don't use their, don't use their voice!
>> The science was growing more certain, and Exxon's own scientists were working with scientists in academia to discern the, the human fingerprint on a changing climate.
I am looking at an article written by Lee Raymond, who was chairman of Exxon Corporation, and it looks like this is from the mid 1990s.
"Global Warming: Who's Right?
Facts About a Debate That's Turned Up More Questions Than Answers."
Lee Raymond was certainly the person with the greatest stature in the oil industry to push for this narrative, that the science around climate change was uncertain, and therefore we shouldn't act precipitously to address it.
>> What's the date of this, my God, is this '82?
No, this says 1996!
(stammering) (chuckling) I am just flabbergasted by this.
"The unproven theory... (laughs) This policy, if implemented, has ominous economic implications, yet scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect global climate."
It's just total baloney.
This person should never be the CEO of an energy company.
I think it's outrageous that he would say such a thing because he has a world-class climate and carbon cycle research group in his own laboratory, in Exxon Research and Engineering.
He could pick up the phone and ask one of the people in that group if that statement is true, and they would tell him that it isn't.
He's using something which is a lie to justify a policy which is bad for the world.
And I would have to say that on an ethical basis, it's, it's actually evil.
I think he should be ashamed of himself.
And I think he should apologize to the world for saying that.
>> NARRATOR: Lee Raymond did not respond to interview requests.
In its statement to us, ExxonMobil insisted that its "public statements about climate change are, and have always been, truthful, fact-based, transparent, and consistent with the contemporary understanding of mainstream climate science."
Until his retirement in 2005, Lee Raymond continued to publicly question the science of climate change.
>> There is a natural variability that has nothing to do with man.
>> What would that be?
>> The climate has changed every year for millions of years.
Now, the question is, is part of what's happening related to something other than natural variability?
And if so, how do you determine what that is?
And the reality is, the science isn't there to make that determination.
♪ ♪ >> Two weeks from now, this issue of global climate change will be discussed by more than 120 different countries in Berlin.
This administration will be at the forefront of this global effort.
(applause) I wanted the United States of America... to lead the world community, to agree on a set of global initiatives and policies.
The United States is committed to reaching 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000.
Let us make sure that our next steps are the right ones.
Thank you very much.
(cheers and applause) Thank you.
>> We said that the United States was prepared to engage in targets and timetables.
I mean that was obviously a massive threshold for us to cross.
>> I declare open the first session of the Conference of the Parties.
The Convention is coming of age.
>> The question was, who goes first?
>> It was in no way possible to get a global treaty with a proposal that the poorest countries in the world would have to take the same obligations that the wealthy countries were undertaking.
>> And the idea was, those who developed the most, and had contributed historically the most to the problem, should step up to the plate first in the effort to reduce emissions.
>> I should bang the hammer now.
(bangs gavel) >> That was the formula that the world agreed was the only way to make progress toward a truly global agreement.
>> At a follow-up in Kyoto, Japan, in December, negotiators hope to agree on binding limits.
>> The negotiators did agree they would exempt developing countries from the caps negotiated in Kyoto.
>> But the fossil fuel companies took that feature of the agreement and made that a bete noire, they made that a politically salient issue, that they used to great effect.
♪ ♪ >> This is a plan from the PR firm E. Bruce Harrison after Berlin prepared for the GCC board.
This is the strategy of the grand fog.
"Third party recruitment and op-ed placement efforts will continue, although with a new emphasis on economists."
So the strategy is evolving.
(loud click echoing) ♪ ♪ >> In 1996, I finished up grad school and accepted a job at Charles River Associates.
We were doing work for the American Petroleum Institute.
So they had a particular point of view.
If the U.S. goes ahead and reduces its emissions, and countries like China and India don't do anything, the U.S. puts itself at a competitive disadvantage.
To try and put numbers on what those damages would do, how much they were hurt, I think is important, right?
We wrote a couple of papers on our findings.
I had general surprise of how much attention it got.
It was finding its way into the air waves.
>> Our president must decide if he'll sign a U.N. climate treaty that could increase the cost of gasoline by 50 cents a gallon and raise electricity and natural gas prices by 25 to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, countries like China, India, and Mexico, are exempt.
>> We pay the price and they're exempt?
>> It's not global and it won't work.
>> There's a great pressure that came from the clients to talk about jobs.
We tried to tell clients, we really can't measure jobs accurately.
But, you know, you have to get paid at the, at the end of the day so, you know, we ended up doing the best we could talking about jobs.
But you don't really, you don't really know.
>> The first people that will lose their jobs are the American coal miner.
>> It would cost probably five, six, 700,000 jobs a year.
>> That would hurt the U.S. automobile industry and would hurt the U.S. economy.
>> Every independent, and I say every independent economic study, has come to the same conclusion that the impact is negative, and it's going to cost jobs.
♪ ♪ >> Although the studies themselves acknowledge their funding from the industry, that funding is often not acknowledged when the results are presented to the public through advertorials that oil companies would take out in big venues like the "New York Times," without saying that the industry had paid for the study, or what the limitations of the studies were.
So it gave an impression that there were independent economists coming to this conclusion, when in reality they were hired by the fossil fuel industry.
The analysis completely ignored the benefits of taking action about climate change.
>> NARRATOR: Neither the A.P.I.
nor Charles River Associates responded to requests about their work together.
>> I had misgivings about just telling half the story, right?
You know, what do we get if we reduce emissions?
We get less damage from climate change, right?
And we're not putting that in there.
Yeah, I wish I weren't a part of that, looking back, I wish I weren't a part of delaying action.
You know, clearly on the wrong side of, of history.
(objects clattering) (wind whipping) >> 18 weather and climate-related disasters, with a damage total of more than $1 billion each.
>> Global damages estimated at around $280 billion.
>> These natural disasters could push the nation's infrastructure to the brink.
♪ ♪ >> Please welcome our chairman, Lee Raymond.
(applause) >> Right now, a United Nations effort is moving toward a decision in 1997 to cut the use of fossil fuels, based on the unproved theory that they affect the Earth's climate.
If implemented, such a policy could inflict severe economic damage, so it's critical that we in the industry provide a voice of common sense on this important issue.
It means cooperating more closely with other associations within our industry.
And it extends to the circle of logical allies outside our industry that stand with us on any given issue.
One example is our close cooperation with the automobile industry.
Recently, they have become engaged in the global climate issue and are active, aggressive allies.
If we all work toward the same goal, I believe we can change the perceptions of the American people about energy.
>> It's a call to arms.
He's trying to rally the oil industry to speak as one to oppose climate change action, to fight, basically, the run up to the Kyoto Protocol.
♪ ♪ This is when it really ramps up.
We know Exxon has been funding a bunch of right-wing and libertarian conservative think tanks.
Suddenly, in '97, the sums in those grants goes way up.
They know this is the big fight.
>> In the run up to Kyoto, you're seeing these ad campaigns, the denial ad campaigns, you're seeing TV ads, you seeing print ads, there's op-eds.
>> Millions and millions of dollars worth of advertising.
"Why is the U.S. being obliged to do more than everyone else?"
>> "It's not global, and it won't work."
And everybody sung from the same song sheet.
>> The administration had just completely misread the political situation.
There was no way in heck that the American public was going to accept regulating greenhouse gases in a fashion which would disadvantage American industry.
That's an easy argument to make politically, you can make that in your sleep.
>> The biggest loser in all of this will be science.
And I'm here to defend science.
>> And then, the Senate issues this Byrd Hagel Resolution, which passes 95 to zero.
>> S. Res 98 puts the administration on notice that an overwhelming and bipartisan majority of the United States Senate rejects its current negotiating position on a proposed new global climate treaty.
>> For me, it was, it was a big deal.
As a freshman senator it was my first year in the Senate, with Bob Byrd.
>> Any effort to avoid the effects of global climate change will be doomed to failure from the start, without the participation of the developing world.
>> This treaty would be a lead weight on our nation's future economic growth, killing jobs and opportunities for generations of Americans to come.
Byrd-Hagel got 95 votes.
Nobody voted against it.
>> Even using conservative assumptions, Charles River Associates, a leading economic modeling firm, for example, has estimated that holding emissions at 1990 levels would reduce economic growth by 1% a year, rising to 3%... (interview): I was not going to support a treaty that would affect our economy, everything else, when we didn't have the absolute scientific evidence, first of all, to prove it, and second, and maybe even more important, let all these other countries off.
If anything has become clear during congressional hearings on this issue, it is that the science is unclear.
It's that the scientific community has not even come close to definitively concluding that we have a problem.
I'm not a scientist.
I'm not a climatologist.
I listened to a lot of people.
I asked for a lot of opinions.
I had scientists coming in, I had other people come in.
>> We unearthed documents that show a series of meetings and briefings... >> Oh, wow.
It's quite amazing, here's a memo from the American Petroleum Institute.
They're putting on a luncheon.
They're hosting Senator Hagel, and they're going to brief him.
"Scientists do not have a precise understanding of this issue."
Meeting with Senator Hagel and the Ford Motor Company.
This is the American Automobile Manufacturers Association.
The Aluminum Association, Chemical Manufacturers Association.
You know, I'm emphasizing Senator Hagel.
But this is happening all throughout the Senate.
95 senators voted this certain way.
But if you pull that lens back, you're gonna see they're working politicians with the most sophisticated legislative campaigns.
>> What were they saying to you in those meetings?
And did you learn anything that did help to shape your views?
>> Well, they made their case, they made their point.
So you listen to them like you would anybody.
I wasn't surprised by anything I heard.
♪ ♪ >> You met Lee Raymond, the chairman and CEO of Exxon.
What kind of relationship did you have with him?
>> Well, Lee Raymond was a South Dakota boy, I remember that.
Um, I didn't have a close relationship with him.
I, um, but I listened to him.
He's head of the largest oil company in the country.
I listened to everybody's opinions.
>> So this is a page from a briefing document.
And it's, the title is, "The Dilemma for Congress."
"Draft resolution is attached for your consideration."
>> So the American Automobile Manufacturers Association is putting forth, on behalf, I think, of the Global Climate Coalition, the draft resolution for the Senate to pre-emptively kill the Kyoto Protocol.
>> You mean the Byrd-Hagel Resolution?
They didn't draft that.
We had many people coming forward with written examples, "Why don't you do this?"
That's not unusual at all, because our staffs work with them and so on.
But that, that resolution wasn't an A.M.A.
resolution, that resolution was decided by us, by the senators.
>> Vice President Al Gore is on his way to Kyoto, Japan, to attend the global warming summit.
Now the goal of the conference is an international treaty to protect the environment, but so far, it's been hard to find anything the diplomats can agree on.
>> I think Byrd-Hagel really destroyed any hope of getting something done in Kyoto.
There was no argument by the administration against the Byrd-Hagel Resolution.
The Clinton administration certainly didn't want to go into open war.
>> To those who seek to obfuscate and obstruct, we say we will not allow you to put narrow special interests above the interests of all humankind.
...of both substance and of spirit.
(man shouting indistinctly) >> ...democracy on earth!
Corporate American leadership will not save the world!
>> It was just an unbelievable mess.
He did broker a deal, and got as much out of Kyoto as he could have, but we were not gonna get steep cuts in CO2 emissions out of a global agreement with all the industry fighting against them.
>> Delegates from the U.S. and 149 other countries have approved the treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol.
President Clinton is praising the agreement, but he may have trouble getting it ratified.
>> The Clinton administration never even put the Kyoto Protocol up for a vote in the Senate.
It was D.O.A., and I think they understood that within a week of return from Kyoto.
>> I feel that at the end of the day, the Clinton-Gore administration was not able to deliver on the lofty promise of American leadership.
The door closed for the next ten years.
So it was a significant missed opportunity.
>> When I became part of that world we thought the odds were pretty long against us, we did not expect to prevail in the climate debate.
...against a problem that most scientists don't say exists.
By the end of the decade, however, the climate skeptics and denialists were in a position of strength.
Now, they had pretty much run the table.
In every decisive fight, we had won.
>> They won the battle, I was intent that they would not win the war.
It became clear to me at that point that it was going to be a longer war.
>> NARRATOR: We approached multiple members of the industry coalition that campaigned against Kyoto.
None would sit for an interview.
For its part, ExxonMobil has stated publicly that, "We recognize that our past participation in industry coalitions to oppose ineffective climate policies subjects us to criticism by climate activist groups."
And that "the Kyoto Protocol was unrealistic and economically damaging."
(water rushing, man shouting) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> It is unequivocal that human activities are responsible for climate change, that's the finding of a new study by the U.N.'s intergovernmental panel on climate change.
>> A dire warning and a stark reality.
The head of the U.N. referred to this as code red for humanity.
>> Global temperatures are the hottest in 100,000 years, and many effects of climate change are already irreversible.
>> If we want to avoid catastrophe, we have to drastically cut emissions-- now.
>> We now know that Exxon was making a concerted effort through the 1990s to cast doubt on the science.
Do you feel that you were misled?
>> Well, what we now know about some of these large oil companies' positions... they lied.
And yes, I was misled.
Others were misled.
When they had evidence in their own institutions that countered what they were saying publicly, I mean, they lied.
>> If they had said that, if they held their hands up there and said, "Yes, this is real," could it have been different?
>> Oh, absolutely.
It would have changed everything, I would have...
I think it would have changed the average citizen's appreciation of climate change.
And, and mine, of course.
It would have put the United States and the world on a whole different track.
And today we would have been so much further ahead than we are.
It cost this country, and it cost the world.
>> NARRATOR: ExxonMobil continues to defend its record on climate change.
>> My name is Darren Woods.
I'm the chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil Corporation.
ExxonMobil has long recognized that climate change is real and poses serious risks.
But there are no easy answers.
Our position in this space has been consistent with the general consensus in the scientific community.
♪ ♪ (turn signal clicking) >> I am 83 years old.
Three or four decades ago, we predicted it.
As a scientist, to have those predictions come true, that's sort of the golden icon that you look for.
However, as a human being, and as an inhabitant of planet Earth, I'm horrified to watch the lack of response to this.
I am trying as much as possible to distance myself emotionally.
>> So you're angry.
>> (chuckles) Yes, I'm furious.
♪ ♪ >> It's heartbreaking to me.
I saw all of that potential there, at least at that point in time, to really solve the problem in many different ways.
Had Exxon chosen to pick up the ball then and begin to lead, the discussions would have been about how to do it.
We had solar scientists doing research.
We had lithium battery chemists doing research.
Think of how important these sciences are to the world currently.
Parts of the world are going to suffer enormously, unnecessarily so.
And for something that we could have done something about.
Not doing anything for decades, that, that's just... it's just squandered time, and we're going to pay for it.
>> NARRATOR: Next time... >> The plan says, “Victory will be achieved when recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the conventional wisdom.” >> NARRATOR: The fossil fuel industry continues its fight... >> Emphasizing doubt is a critically important speed bump to ambitious policy.
>> I don’t think this is happening.
>> Lee Raymond is salient because he's hammering away the idea of scientific uncertainty even as the science grew more certain.
>> NARRATOR: And the political struggles for the future of the planet... >> We do not know how fast change will occur... >> There just was no appetite, economically, politically to go forward with a cap on carbon.
>> My brother Charles and I provided the funds to start the Americans for Prosperity.
>> Our job was to fight back against the progressive agenda.
>> This was the end of climate legislation in the US Congress for a long time.
We had a shot at it.
And we got beat.
>> Go to pbs.org/frontline... >> And then we came across letter after letter after letter about carbon dioxide.
>> For more of our reporting on climate change, including 10 years of documentaries on environmental threats.
>> Connect with Frontline on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and stream anytime on the PBS Video App, YouTube or pbs.org/frontline.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org.
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