Big oil = big chums!

My thread on Peaceful Science, “Media Science” has gone, so far, to over 400 comments, but despite the stern admonitions from the skeptical scientist types there to “follow the data, not the propaganda,” none of them has even attempted to address the subject of the post, which was the data about the misinformation about walrus deaths being due to climate change on a David Attenborough documentary.

There were plenty of accusations about propaganda, using propaganda labels like “denialist,” thrown not only at me but at the sources to which I linked. But no attempt was made to address the data on walrus haulouts. The thread has revealed all it needs to about their rigorous scientific inquisitiveness. It’s a sham for ideology.

But early in the thread, the first diversion from the subject was by John Harshman, who dismissed any evidence presented by the zoologist Susan Crockford on the basis that she is (allegedly) funded by big oil:

Yes, that’s a position taken by many denialists. It means we don’t have to try to do anything about it, which suits the oil companies that fund her.

Now, I don’t know whether Dr Crockford has ever received big oil money. If she has it can’t have been much, given the low-key nature of her blog and the self-publication of some of her books. But in this post I want to prove that the accusation is ill-founded not because it is untrue, but because it is clear from the evidence that Big Oil is not the enemy, but the friend and indeed the greatest benefactor, of urgent climate change measures.

Only yesterday a new body at Cambridge University was announced. This is The Centre for Climate Repair, an initiative by the well known former Chief Scientific Advisor to HM Government and climate action enthusiast, Professor David King. This will investigate drastic technological solutions for global warming such as re-freezing the polar ice-caps, and so will require some massive funding. I’ve been unable to find, at this early stage, where this funding will come from, but one appropriate source would be another David King initiative, The Energy Technologies Institute, set up in 2007 with a whopping £1 billion budget,

…to “accelerate the development, demonstration and eventual commercial deployment of a focused portfolio of energy technologies, which will increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gasemissions and help achieve energy and climate change goals”. The institute works with a range ofacademic and commercial bodies.

Now, the point is that not only was this body funded from the start by, as well as government, oil giants Shell and BP, and power companies EDR (who run our last coal-powered generators and have an interest in nuclear) and E.ON, supplemented now by oil dependent companies Caterpillar and Rolls-Royce, but also senior executives of EDR, Shell, BP, Rolls Royce and Caterpillar even now give of their valuable time to make up fully half of its board. Who could doubt their goodwill in the face of such generosity of time and money?

I can’t say I’m surprised, because even a decade or so ago, the warming-skeptical meteorologist Piers Corbyn – as an old-school socialist like his brother Jeremy no friend of Big Oil – found himself unexpectedly in conversation with the CEO of ExxonMobil at a climate conference. To his surprise, this chap expressed full awareness of the climate change agenda, as he clutched a sheaf of research results, and his company’s firm intention to be at the forefront of the green agenda. Admittedly, he also said their own scientists concluded that global warming came from the sun (agreeing with Corbyn’s own position) rather than from anthropogenic CO2, but it’s of a piece with BP and Shell’s investment in NGOs, isn’t it?

The involvement of Big Oil in the green movement goes way back to the very beginning. I had never realised the central role of Maurice Strong, who mixed with those like the Rockefeller oil-men and the de Rothschild bankers, and who remained an oil-man himself throughout his life, in the whole climate change business. His business interests would take too long to summarize here, but for example after 1976 he ran the Petro-Canada conglomerate at the request of Pierre Trudeau.

Despite his unparalleled green credentials even Wikipedia seems to have unjustly taken sides with the denialists against him:

Maurice Strong was no stranger to skepticism and criticism as a result of his lifelong involvement in the oil industry, juxtaposed with his heavy ties to the Environment. Some wonder why an “oilman” would be chosen to take on such coveted and respected environmental positions. One of Strong’s companies, Desarrollos Ecologicos (Ecological Development), built a $35 million luxury hotel within the Gandoca-Manzillo Wildlife Refuge where development is restricted and must be approved by the Kekoldi Indian Association, which it was not. “He (Strong) is supporting Indians and conservation around the world and here he’s doing the complete opposite,” lamented Demetrio Myorga, President of the Kekoldi Indian Association.

Further skepticism arose due to his continual promotions to titles of power, likely due to his political connections. Additionally, Strong was involved in several legal battles and scandals over the years where he conveniently seemed to recuse himself from the situation before being held personally responsible.

Well, lust for power and oil seem to go together, but none of that should be taken seriously in the light of Strong’s many achievements in highlighting global warming. This started back in 1971, when he was the one responsible for organising the famous Stockholm Conference that highlighted the environment for the first time. Admittedly global warming, having not yet been discovered, was not on the agenda – pollution and population reduction were more prominent.

But it led directly to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programe (UNEP), headed by Strong, of course, and he was also instrumental in establishing, from this base, the IPCC itself – and he himself set its structure and terms of reference, which still apply today. So we can thank Big Oil for ensuring that IPCC is both restricted solely to the investigation of anthropogenic climate change and accountable to UN politicians – otherwise, who knows how it could have been distracted into scientific backwaters like the solar cycle or the other few dozen natural causes of climate change?

Strong was even on the board of the then World Wildlife Fund (now Worldwide Fund for Nature) at one stage, though it had begun much earlier. It was another Rockefeller, Godfrey, who founded it and hired its first staff, and probably injected some of its initial funding from the family oil fortune. And its first president was Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, a friend of David Rockefeller and co-founder of the Bilderberg Group, whose members from banking, politics and big business were no doubt prevailed upon to help kick start the fund. Royal Dutch Shell board members are included in its membership even now.

Bernhard rather blotted his copybook by using WWF funds to start a private army to shoot poachers and, apparently, target ANC members during the Apartheid struggle in South Africa. Oddly enough even now WWF is embroiled in accusations of human rights abuses.

But oil interests cannot be blamed for that now, though in former times the Rockefeller Foundation had been the primary financier for Eugenics movements in the US and in Germany, and suspicions about eugenics have dogged it and its successors ever since – most people do not realise that this it what fuels the opposition to vaccination in Pakistan. When Bill Gates talks about overpopulation, and was associated with David Rockefeller who had the same concerns, perhaps the suspicions are canny rather than primitive. But that story is only indirectly related to oil interests.

In the past oil money was indeed dirty money. John D Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire by ruthlessly destroying all competition in the oil business, and by himself, or in league with others, managed to destroy the electric vehicle industry, and arguably to precipitate alcohol prohibition, with all its evils, at least partially in order to to make alcohol too expensive to rival petroleum, as an otherwise cleaner and easily manufactured fuel. He cornered the market in chemicals and created Big Pharma, at the same time gaining power over university and medical education. He made Eugenics popular enough to engineer enforced sterilisation of the “feeble minded” in America and euthanasia in Germany (I G Farben, the German “marriage partner” of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, manufactured Zyklon gas and, indeed, built Auschwitz). He probably precipitated major wars when money and power could be gained from them (and certainly profited from them in an uncannily fortuitous way: even the oil crisis of the 1970s increased profits by hiking prices). Agri-business was also, and remains, part of this empire, thus making the whole world increasingly dependent on western big business founded on oil for fuel, transport, medicine and food. That’s some monopoly.

Of course, Rockefeller was not the only big player in oil, but the symbiotic relationship of the big players in banks, poltics and industry is well known, for the tender-hearted were long ago driven out of business by fair means or foul.

But although all the inconceivable amount of money and power gained over more than a century still remains in the hands of the heirs, descendants, business associates and political allies of such oligarchs (even the United Nations building itself was donated by John D Rockefeller), we may be truly grateful that the days of Machiavellian self-aggrandizement are past. As I have shown above, Big Oil is now fully devoted to funding, assisting – and even spearheading – the challenge of global warming which was first identified by its own appointees. Profits have given way to benevolence.

So if oil companies did, out of charity or mischief, perhaps, slip a few dollars to climate deniers like Susan Crockford, it would scarcely dent the enlightened programme which the oligarchs – now supplemented by newcomers like Bill Gates and George Soros – are doing so much to help deliver, to save the planet from that scourge the cannon fodder of the human population the destruction of the planet.

Some may ask why becoming fabulously wealthy by eliminating all competitors from oil or computing business should entitle someone to decide the future of the world without asking the rest of its inhabitants their opinion. But that would be mean-spirited. Philanthropy speaks for itself – well, actually, it’s the press that the oligarchs control that speaks for it, but no matter – just as the wisdom and selflessness of the politicians running supra-national organisations and NGOs need never be doubted when it comes to climate change.

After all, the alternative is that big money is convincing the world of a damnable lie. That may have been the case in the bad old days of John D Rockefeller, Eugenics, and the Technocracy Movement (how coincidental – Elon Musk’s grandfather headed up the Canadian branch of that!), but this is 2019.

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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6 Responses to Big oil = big chums!

  1. GD GD says:

    The climate change debate has ‘heated up’ and the damage to good sense is obvious. To add a few facts that should be known ‘down under’, the increase in subsidised renewables, especially solar, has been astronomical, and yet the winners have been old, highest emitting coal power stations. Because new coal power stations are opposed, the old power stations are now receiving about twice the money for power generated than when renewables were not around, while emissions have increased (old plant). Meanwhile the IEA has provided extensive analysis (and the Stern report) that shows if old plant were replaced with new high efficiency coal plant, emissions would be down by 40% (with all efficiency measures) and electricity affordable. Instead old power stations have never been so profitable, emissions have not reduced, and people are paying the highest electricity (and gas) bills in our history.

    Get these ideological twits to admit to this?

  2. GD GD says:

    While I am on facts, I add the following from my book (with the publisher):

    … the USA; the EPA inventory reports the following US GHG Emissions (the figures are all stated as million metric tons (MMT) CO2 equivalent):
    “Overall, from 1990 to 2016, total emissions of CO2 increased by 189.6 MMT (3.7 percent), while total emissions of CH4 decreased by 122.5 MMT (15.7 percent), and N2O emissions increased by 14.8 MMT (4.2 percent). During the same period, aggregate weighted emissions of HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3 rose by 73.8 MMT (74.0 percent). From 1990 to 2016, HFCs increased by 115.8 MMT. (248.5 percent), PFCs decreased by 19.9 MMT (82.1 percent), SF6 decreased by 22.6 MMT (78.5 percent), and NF3 increased by 0.5 MMT (1,110.2 percent). Despite being emitted in smaller quantities relative to the other principal greenhouse gases, emissions of HFCs, PFCs …… are significant because many of these gases have extremely high global warming potentials and, in the cases of PFCs and SF6, have long atmospheric lifetimes. Conversely, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were partly offset by carbon sequestration in forests, trees in urban areas, agricultural soils, landfilled yard trimmings ….., and coastal wetlands, which, in aggregate, offset 11.5 percent of total emissions in 2016.”

    The figures to note are emissions from the manufacture of solar panels, which btw are far more potent, can last for hundreds of years, and the earth ecology cannot cope (unlike CO2 and the carbon cycle). And these emissions are the result of 10-20% of the total electricity produced. Heaven help us if these increase to >50%.

    These ideologs are determined to save us all by destroying everything……..

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Hmm – remember how safe leaded petrol was said to be (except by the denialists, who couldn’t stop the technocrats or persuade the politicians)?

      George – can you indicate which of the substances you mention are from solar panel production? It might come in handy in arguments!

      And let us know when your book comes out!

      • GD GD says:

        fluro and chloro hydrocarbons (and acidic solutions) are used in various processes (HFC and PFC) – I do not want to get technical, as these matters are well documented in the scientific literature.

        Silica is an inert substance and requires aggressive chemical to process.

        • GD GD says:


          I have a copy of a conference paper (2007) that discusses processes for solar panels – it is dated but free, and it can give a flavour of the argument – data however is from EPA organisations that monitor such things.

          I tried to paste the paper without success – perhaps you can send me your email address and I can send it to you if you want to wade through a lot of technical stuff.

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