Yesterday DR Tucker gave a good overview of the reporting on the scandal surrounding Exxon’s cover-up of its decades-old research clearly demonstrating the link between fossil fuels and climate change. In a move that echoes similar scandals involving the tobacco industry and cancer research, Exxon conducted research into fossil fuels and global warming, discovered it had a major problem that threatened public safety, and quickly decided to start intentionally misleading the public and peddling doubt and uncertainty rather than confront the problem.

Exxon could have chosen to expose the problems with fossil fuels and become the world’s leading investor in and producer of renewable energies. It would have been risky and reduced short-term profits, but it would potentially have set the company up for massive long-term growth. It would also, of course, have been the right thing to do. But that’s not the path Exxon chose. Exxon chose to lie, cheat, cover up, collude with other oil companies, and bring the entire world to the brink of global climate disruption and destruction.

The heat is turning up on them. Just today the Dallas Morning News frontpaged the Inside Climate News story on the matter in a way that should shake the confidence of even the most fervent deniers and scare both Exxon and any other oil company that was aware of the research:

At a meeting in Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

A fossil fuel company intentionally and knowingly obfuscating research into climate change constitutes criminal negligence and malicious intent at best, and a crime against humanity at worst. The Department of Justice has a moral obligation to prosecute Exxon and its co-conspirators accordingly.

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David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.