Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Exxon CEO Pushes Back Against Environmentalists

 

RexTillersonAt a recent annual shareholders meeting, Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s longtime Chairman and CEO, did something very unusual for a business executive: he questioned the global warming hysteria.

Tillerson said that models predicting the effects of global warming “just aren’t that good,” and that it would be very difficult for the world to meet aggressive emission-reduction targets. He further noted that technology can help deal with rising sea levels or changing weather patterns “that may or may not be induced by climate change.” Tillerson added, “Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity. I know that is an unsatisfactory answer to a lot of people, but it’s an answer that a scientist and an engineer would give you.”

To compound his sins, Tillerson then rejected calls to invest in faddish renewable energy schemes such wind and solar saying, “We choose not to lose money on purpose.” According to the above article, the audience broke out in applause.

Shock isn’t the word. Business executives, especially those leading large, publicly-traded firms, have a great terror of bad publicity. Witness the absurd recent actions of Tim Hortons, an immensely popular Canadian coffee chain, in pulling ads for Enbridge, one of the world’s largest energy distributors. The ads, broadcast via a CCTV network that runs in many of the chain’s restaurants, extolled the benefits that Enbridge and the rest of the oil and gas sector bring to the Canadian economy. Those ads ran afoul of an activist group that most Canadians had never heard of, SumOfUs.

In order to appease a group of activists, most of whom I suspect have never been in a Tim Hortons, the chain pulled the ads. This was interpreted as an insult by many loyal customers whose livelihoods depend on the oil and gas business. The first rule of business is to know thy customer. It’s a rule the leadership team at Tim Hortons broke completely.

While disappointing, the decision to pull the Enbridge ads was hardly surprising. Many business leaders are deeply uncomfortable in the public spotlight and are easily intimidated by clever groups like SumOfUs. This is one of the biggest problems that advocates of free markets face: trying to save capitalism from the cowardly capitalists.

Instead of robustly defending the system that gave them wealth and prominence, many CEOs spend their days apologizing for the high crimes of turning a profit and viewing the natural world as a bounty to benefit mankind. The default position instead is to talk about “stakeholder consultations” and keeping the environment in a “pristine” condition.

For those not in the know, stakeholders — at least in the sense the word is usually employed — is a fancy way of saying busybodies. They are not necessarily shareholders, employees, or anyone with a valid legal stake in the business. As for ‘pristine’? The last time nature was in a pristine condition, at least so far as man’s activities on earth are concerned, our ancestors were hunting naked in the savannahs of Africa.

Capitalists who refuse to defend capitalism are like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving. Mr Tillerson has wisely chosen a different approach.

Image Credit: “RexTillerson” by William MunoztillersonUploaded by SaltyBoatr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

There are 15 comments.

  1. ctlaw Coolidge

    I have long predicted that the left will switch from global warming hysteria to oxygen loss hysteria.

    Burning hydrocarbons consumes atmospheric oxygen and produces CO2 and H2O. It’s really simple.

    The real problem for the left is that you’ll have to burn a lot of hydrocarbons to have a significant impact on oxygen (e.g., to the point where sea level feels like Denver and Denver becomes uninhabitable). We may be on course for that. However, it does not create the kind of immediate alarm the warmists like.

    • #1
    • June 8, 2015, at 6:29 AM PST
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  2. The Reticulator Member

    1. I, too, applaud Tillerson’s statement as presented above.

    2. I do not wish Enbridge and its pipelines well, and I support efforts at local levels to stop them locally. I didn’t like the Enbridge oil spill in our backyard (not our backyard, literally, but the smell woke up my wife and made her feel ill for a while). Their cleanup was more destructive than it needed to have been, but it seems the idea was to remove all traces of tar, no matter what it was attached to, for public relations purposes, even in places where it would probably have been less damaging to the local flora and fauna to just leave it be.

    I do not support the use of eminent domain to run roughshod over property owners in locating pipeline routes.

    3. I sometimes stop at a Tim Horton’s for a bite to eat. There is even a chance at getting a decent coffee, though the quality is uneven across the chain. I don’t know that that will change. I avoid Starbucks because of its leftist politics, and I boycott McDonalds french fries because of the business and environmental practices involved in growing the potatoes. So it’s not that I’m against boycotts.

    • #2
    • June 8, 2015, at 6:35 AM PST
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  3. The Reticulator Member

    4. I am absolutely opposed to any organization that says “People over Profits.” (I took a look at the SumOfUs web site.) I can join in fighting monopolistic megacorporations such as the U.S. Government, Archer Daniels-Midland, etc. that are destructive to society and the environment, but profits are for people (unless you’re referring to the way the Government profits by exploiting people’s health care concerns).

    • #3
    • June 8, 2015, at 6:50 AM PST
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  4. James Gawron Thatcher

    Richard,

    Incredible!! This guy has got some true grit. People live in the left wing dream world that corporations are money rich monoliths that can withstand any amount of fool’s regulation from Uncle Sam. The truth is that bad policy from the EPA backed up by a know nothing Congress and an enviro-demagogue President can destroy productivity, raise prices of basic goods and eliminate 1st class 1st world jobs.

    In short bad enviromental policy is a major threat to the well being of this society. Tillerson says what Nancy Reagan said and what everybody should have said for a very long time. Just say “NO”.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • June 8, 2015, at 7:43 AM PST
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  5. Western Chauvinist Member

    About damn time.

    • #5
    • June 8, 2015, at 7:47 AM PST
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  6. Ross C Member

    The graph below which I stole from Roy Spencer’s website sums up the poor predictive power of the climate models. The green and blue lines are the observational data and the spaghetti bowl are the model outputs. The black line is the average or median (I am not sure which) of the model outputs.

    I would applaud Mr. Tillerson’s courage in questioning this. He will be blasted over it. Warmers will generally say this time period is meaningless and we need more data although it is interesting to point out that it is the models’ ability to reproduce the climate between 1979 and 1999 that give climate science its credibility such as it is. These models also drive the estimate of climate sensitivity (i.e. the temperature change associated with a doubling of Co2 concentration in the atmosphere) in that without a high sensitivity my understanding is that they cannot predict even past climate.

    CMIP5-90-models-global-Tsfc-vs-obs-thru-2013

    • #6
    • June 8, 2015, at 9:51 AM PST
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  7. John Murdoch Inactive

    The Reticulator:…I boycott McDonalds french fries because of the business and environmental practices involved in growing the potatoes. So it’s not that I’m against boycotts.

    I gather that you’re a Canadian. McDonald’s, I have been led to believe (by potato farmers who should know) buys their potatoes in Canada from growers in Prince Edward Island.

    Granted, I only worked there for a couple of years, and haven’t been to PEI since 2010–but I still keep up with the Guardian (“Covers Prince Edward Island Like the Dew”). Potato farmers on PEI are, AFAIK, uniformly prosperous (lobstermen wish they farmed potatoes); I’m not aware of any kind of environmental issues at all.

    Am I just missing something? Or are your business/environmental concerns about someplace other than Canada?

    • #7
    • June 8, 2015, at 10:24 AM PST
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  8. The Reticulator Member

    John Murdoch:The Reticulator:

    Potato farmers on PEI are, AFAIK, uniformly prosperous (lobstermen wish they farmed potatoes); I’m not aware of any kind of environmental issues at all.

    Am I just missing something? Or are your business/environmental concerns about someplace other than Canada?

    These potatoes are grown in Minnesota. I find it interesting that you refer to potato farmers, plural, because in Minnesota the growing and initial processing is all handled by a single megacorporation that (I am told) has properties on at least two continents. Its environmental practices are improving. But you can hardly grow potatoes without insecticides, and it’s pretty hard to do that without insecticide drift. There are also problems with excess nitrogen fertilizer ending up in the water supplies of communities, which is causing them to increase taxes and water fees to get new, uncontaminated water sources. That is a problem with more than just potatoes. The concentrated political clout of a single, huge grower is a problem, though.

    One sister of mine has health problems because of the pesticides; another says, yes, but look at all the jobs that have been brought to the region. I have points of support and disagreement with each.

    It sounds like PEI would make an interesting point of comparison for what’s happening in Minnesota, starting with the fact that local farmers haven’t all been bought out by a single megacorporation.

    • #8
    • June 8, 2015, at 2:00 PM PST
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  9. Nick Stuart Inactive

    There are only two ways to move commercial quantities of crude oil overland: rail and pipeline.

    Until someone figures out how to power our cars, move freight, heat homes, produce plastics, and generally fuel our comfy first world lifestyle by magic, those are the options.

    BTW, pipelines have a much better safety record than rail:

    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ib_23.htm

    • #9
    • June 8, 2015, at 4:42 PM PST
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  10. CuriousKevmo Member

    Nick Stuart:There are only two ways to move commercial quantities of crude oil overland: rail and pipeline.

    Until someone figures out how to power our cars, move freight, heat homes, produce plastics, and generally fuel our comfy first world lifestyle by magic, those are the options.

    BTW, pipelines have a much better safety record than rail:

    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ib_23.htm

    Well, my kid (23) would argue that there is one another option. Get rid of the cars and the freight, buy a blanket and plastics are evil. In other words, abandon the first comfy first world lifestyle.

    I then chastise him for having sent that message from his phone while driving his car.

    • #10
    • June 9, 2015, at 11:46 AM PST
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  11. Miffed White Male Member

    CuriousKevmo:

    Nick Stuart:There are only two ways to move commercial quantities of crude oil overland: rail and pipeline.

    Until someone figures out how to power our cars, move freight, heat homes, produce plastics, and generally fuel our comfy first world lifestyle by magic, those are the options.

    Well, my kid (23) would argue that there is one another option. Get rid of the cars and the freight, buy a blanket and plastics are evil. In other words, abandon the first comfy first world lifestyle.

    I then chastise him for having sent that message from his phone while driving his car.

    There was a TV commercial several years ago for (I believe) a car company. The basic plot was a dad driving a child to meet child’s friends at the movies. Child expresses his desire to be dropped off around the corner so that child’s friends wouldn’t see said child disembarking from an SUV.

    In the commercial, Dad calmly explains that his SUV isn’t evil because (well, honestly I forget – probably some new engineering that allowed SUV to get 16 mpg instead of 15).

    In my world, Dad would wing the car into a screaming 180-degree bootleg turn, drive home and let the little [redacted] walk to the movies (and everywhere else he wanted to go for the next 6 months) if he was so embarrassed by the family car.

    • #11
    • June 9, 2015, at 12:13 PM PST
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  12. Western Chauvinist Member

    CuriousKevmo:

    Well, my kid (23) would argue that there is one another option. Get rid of the cars and the freight, buy a blanket and plastics are evil. In other words, abandon the first comfy first world lifestyle.

    I then chastise him for having sent that message from his phone while driving his car.

    Ask kid to name three things he finds useful/necessary which weren’t either grown in or blown out of the ground… two things… one thing!

    • #12
    • June 9, 2015, at 2:23 PM PST
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  13. drlorentz Member

    Miffed White Male:In my world, Dad would wing the car into a screaming 180-degree bootleg turn, drive home and let the little [redacted] walk to the movies (and everywhere else he wanted to go for the next 6 months) if he was so embarrassed by the family car.

    As a parent, I wanted to ‘like’ your post 10 or 20 times, but I was only allowed one ‘like’.

    • #13
    • June 9, 2015, at 4:27 PM PST
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  14. drlorentz Member

    CuriousKevmo:

    Well, my kid (23) would argue that there is one another option. Get rid of the cars and the freight, buy a blanket and plastics are evil. In other words, abandon the first comfy first world lifestyle.

    He or she will find it distinctly unpleasant to follow that advice personally. I suggest a trial period right now as therapy, assuming you are still providing support. Since plastics are evil, credit cards have to go.

    • #14
    • June 9, 2015, at 4:33 PM PST
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  15. captainpower Inactive

    Ross C:The graph below which I stole from Roy Spencer’s website sums up the poor predictive power of the climate models. The green and blue lines are the observational data and the spaghetti bowl are the model outputs. The black line is the average or median (I am not sure which) of the model outputs.

    CMIP5-90-models-global-Tsfc-vs-obs-thru-2013

    trying to find the source of the image shows a couple hits:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/02/95-of-climate-models-agree-the-observations-must-be-wrong/

    http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/06/climate-change-is-real-too-bad-accurate-climate-models-arent/

    • #15
    • June 10, 2015, at 3:55 AM PST
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