Rex Tillerson, CEO ExxonMobil
Not the wave of the future
Okay. What do you expect from a 60-year-old guy who joined Exxon practically the same day he graduated from college and steadily rose through the ranks until six years ago he became CEO and president of the whole shebang, which is now merged into the largest corporation in the known universe, ExxonMobil? Not exactly a fellow to be found on the front lines with climate-change activists getting arrested at the White House alongside Bill McKibben for protesting policies that continue our planet-changing addiction to fossil fuels.

In fact, for many, many years ExxonMobil funded climate-change skeptics (read: f'n liars) with millions of dollars to challenge the findings of climate science regarding global warming and, on numerous occasions, to smear the scientists doing the work. ExxonMobil claimed to have stopped doing this five years ago, but it hadn't actually done so as recently as 2011.

These days the oil leviathan has toned down considerably, and that includes CEO Rex Tillerson. But he's still saying, as he did last June, that climate change isn't going to be that big a deal and that climate-change models are too flawed to accurately assess the scope of the change or its impact. Meanwhile, as Tillerson not only expects but also is laying plans for, we'll just keep extracting more and more oil, conventional and unconventional, and burning it in greater quantities than before.

On Thursday, Tillerson added to his reputation for tra-la-la-la-ing global warming for profit when he appeared on Charlie Rose. An excerpt:

Rose: Why have environmental groups made Keystone such a priority?
Tillerson: There’s a segment of the environmental groups that’s very concerned about the burning of fossil fuels. In a sort of obtuse way, they took a view that if they could prevent the transport of crude oil from Canada to the U.S., then that would throw an obstacle in the way of future developments. I think they probably misjudged Canada’s resolve. [...]

Rose: How much longer do you think we’ll be burning fossil fuels?
Tillerson: When coal came into the picture, it took about 50 or 60 years to displace timber. Then crude oil was found, and it took 60, 70 years, and then natural gas. So it takes 100 years or more for some new breakthrough in energy to become the dominant source. Most people have difficulty coming to grips with the sheer enormity of energy consumption. If we look at our energy outlook, at things like renewable wind, solar, biofuels, we have those sources over the next 30 years growing 700 to 800 percent. But in the year 2040, they’ll supply just 1 percent.

Rose: For now, then, is fracking the solution to our energy problems?
Tillerson: I would hate to hang the hat on that alone, but it’s transformational. [...]

Rose: Whether it’s Alaska or offshore or wherever it may be, is your philosophy “Drill, baby, drill!”?
Tillerson: No. My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do. For us, it’s about making quality investments for our shareholders. And it’s not a quality investment if you can’t manage the risk around it.

And yet it's Tillerson who thinks environmental advocates are obtuse. Not only is he selling oil, he's pitching snake oil, as well. He's right about the "enormity" of energy consumption, although he doesn't apparently know what that word means. He is dead wrong about the contribution of renewables only being one percent in 27 years from now. In 2012, wind power already generated 3.46 percent of all electricity in the United States. It's not yet making a dent in oil used to power our transportation system, but it will, and long before 2040.

Tillerson may believe the future will be like the past when it comes to fossil fuels, just with more sophisticated extraction methods. He couldn't be more wrong.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 11:09 AM PST.

Also republished by Kosowatt, DK GreenRoots, Climate Change SOS, and Daily Kos.

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