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Fossil fuel industry knew of climate danger as early as 1954, documents show

Source: The Guardian


Newly found documents reveal that as early as 1954, the fossil fuel industry was aware of the potential dangers of climate change, a stark contrast to its later public denial of the issue. This industry funded crucial early climate research, including that of Charles Keeling, whose work led to the “Keeling Curve” – a vital indicator of rising atmospheric CO2 levels over time.

The funding came from a coalition of oil and automotive companies, highlighting the industry’s initial interest in understanding the environmental impact of CO2 emissions. This early involvement in climate science research is particularly striking given the industry’s subsequent efforts to discredit the growing consensus on climate change and its impacts.

Experts, including Geoffrey Supran, point to these findings as clear evidence that the fossil fuel sector understood the significant implications of its products on the planet’s climate early on. Despite this knowledge, the industry later engaged in misleading the public and policymakers about climate change, undermining efforts to address the crisis.

The documents, uncovered by researchers and reported by environmental platforms, detail the financial contributions to Keeling’s research on CO2 levels in the atmosphere. This research laid the groundwork for the continuous monitoring of global CO2, providing crucial data on the role of fossil fuels in driving climate change.

The discovery of these documents not only sheds light on the fossil fuel industry’s early awareness of climate change but also underscores the missed opportunities for earlier action on the crisis. It serves as a reminder of the need for transparency and accountability in addressing the ongoing challenges of climate change and the shift towards sustainable energy solutions. The story of the industry’s engagement with climate science is a cautionary tale of the consequences of prioritizing business interests over planetary health and well-being.

Link to the Guardian Article