Did major oil companies have knowledge about climate change in the 70’s and prior?

By Cody Sheehan, Riley Smith, and Calvin Dodge 


The simple answer to this claim is yes, big oil companies did in fact know about climate change in the 70’s and prior. It can be seen in many different reports and articles that these companies have been forced to turn over. The greed filled minds caused these companies to portray ignorance and not release their information to the public has delayed years of work that could have been done to prevent climate change. 

Origin and Prevalence 

The claim that big oil companies knew about climate change has recently come to light, when several news outlets discovered studies that were conducted by these companies. Many different articles have recently been written talking about companies like Exxon Mobile knowing about climate change and that they wouldn’t turn their studies over to the government. Another source of this claim was when The Guardian exclaims that Shell also knew about climate change as early as the 1980’s. 

This is a very prevalent claim in society today due to the ever-increasing threat of climate change changing the way that humans and animals live their lives. More people everywhere are realizing that these companies did know about climate change and that the burning of oil caused it. Every day we can see the effects of the ignorance from these oil companies just based from how much global temperatures have risen since the 1970’s. This information is being so widely talked about today because it is such a large issue in the world. 

Issues and Analysis 

Based on the various research and documents released, we can see that these oil companies did in fact know about climate change and chose to not release their studies until they were forced to do so when they were taken to court. This issue alludes to that of big tobacco companies in the 1980’s where it was disclosed how the effects of cigarettes on the body were hidden to avoid a decrease in profits. Both the tobacco and oil industries understood that their products wouldn’t make a profit for very long once the public knew about the multiple health risks associated with them, so they created marketing messages that would ignore those obvious risks. While the debate over climate change may still be opinionated and filled with information that can be different from other scientists are saying, we can see very concrete evidence that the companies had various studies and research projects on the lasting effects that C02 emissions had on the Earth’s atmosphere. The reader can see from the link above that the scientists from in this case Shell, were able to do research and determine that climate change would happen.