Experts’ discoveries lie at the heart of two dozen lawsuits that hope to hold the industry accountable for devastating damage
As early as 1958, the oil industry was hiring scientists and engineers to research the role that burning fossil fuels plays in global warming. The goal at the time was to help the major oil conglomerates understand how changes in the earth’s atmosphere may affect the industry – and their bottom line. But what top executives gained was an early preview of the climate crisis, decades before the issue reached public consciousness.
What those scientists discovered – and what the oil companies did with that information – is at the heart of two dozen lawsuits attempting to hold the fossil fuel industry responsible for their role in climate change. Many of those cases hinge on the industry’s own internal documents that show how, 40 years ago, researchers predicted the rising global temperatures with stunning accuracy. But looking back, many of those same scientists say they were hardly whistleblowers out to take down big oil.