More than 45 years ago the Stanford Research Institute presented a report to the American Petroleum Institute (API) that warned the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels could carry an array of harmful consequences for the planet. The main body for the oil industry in the US, knew about the dangers of climate change at least 20 years before the issue was brought into mainstream public knowledge via the former Nasa scientist James Hansen. Former US president Lyndon Johnson also received an early warning about climate change, with scientists explaining the mechanism of the greenhouse effect in 1965. Last year, it was revealed that ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, knew of climate change as early as 1981, only to spend millions of dollars over the following 27 years to promote climate denial. The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) said hundreds of documents show oil and gas executives met in 1946 to agree that they should fund research into air pollution issues. The subsequent findings were then covered up to protect company profits. Carroll Muffett, president of CIEL, said the latest documents from 1968 “add to the growing body of evidence that the oil industry worked to actively undermine public confidence in climate science and in the need for climate action even as its own knowledge of climate risks was growing.
“Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000 and these could bring about climatic change,” the 1968 Stanford report, found and republished by the Center for International Environmental Law, states. “If the Earth’s temperature increases significantly, a number of events might be expected to occur including the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans and an increase in photosynthesis.It is clear that we are unsure as to what our long-lived pollutants are doing to our environment; however, there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe.” The study, written by scientists Elmer Robinson and RC Robbins, adds that accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere could cause “serious worldwide environmental changes”.
Climate scientist Michael Mann, of Pennsylvania State University, said it was “disgraceful that industry groups like API knowingly hid the dangers of their project decades ago when they first learned of them, much as the tobacco industry hid the dangers of their product”.