Oreskes: 'There is also a new, strange form of denial that has appeared on the landscape of late, one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs. Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power.'
Contrary to what Oreskes and McKibben believe, unearthing the thoughts of Exxon scientists from the late 1970s and 1980s illustrates a tendency among some scientists — even those in the pay of an oil company — to be prone to alarmism and to overstate what is known. Predictably, Oreskes and McKibben draw a different conclusion, one entirely unsupported by the evidence. Had Exxon been up-front about the dangers of global warming, we might have started to decarbonize decades ago, Oreskes argues. Instead, Exxon had behaved like tobacco companies who had “long delayed” public understanding by suppressing the truth about the deadly nature of their products.