Water is a greenhouse gas. Thanks, Exxon-Mobil. I feel cooler already.

Just reading this Exxon-Mobil memo from 1998, which points out to us non-scientists (oh, wait, I am a geologist, even though I am now merely an attorney) that water is a greenhouse gas, and that hydrocarbons are being unfairly targeted in the global warming debate.  Joe (the author of the memo), are you kidding me?  You really put that in writing?  You and Exxon-Mobil (oh, and I’m a past Mobil employee with great memories of the pre-merger company) can sleep at night, knowing that your intent to foment uncertainty in the global warming debate ignores scientific quantities, like the heat-trapping capacity of water versus that of hydrocarbons?  The heat-trapping  capacity of fossil fuels greatly exceeds that of water.  They aren’t comparable.  And I’m betting that even you know this.

Little bitty science lesson:   It used to be really, really hot on Earth.  Then water came, formed an atmosphere, which shielded the Earth from a whole bunch of that wicked Sun and heat.  Then, when the temperature was not so hot, plants came.  Plants absorbed a bunch more of the heat.  They also gobbled up carbon dioxide like nobody’s business.  That’s the way they survive.  Gobble up CO2 and give off O2.  Sequester that Carbon.  Give off oxygen.  So, now land plants could begin to thrive.  The Earth became green.  And we came along a lot later.

Then over time, all the decayed plants, both land and ocean, held onto a large part of that carbon.  But now we drill it up, mine it up, burn it up – and return that carbon to the atmosphere.  And bear in mind that oil was discovered in the late 1800s.  When my grandfather was born, there was no petroleum oil lamp.  It was whale oil.   Maybe some other oil.  But not petroleum.  And our hydrocarbon of choice for heat at that time, I repeat, in my grandfather’s time, was either wood, peat or coal.   As luck would have it, in that time frame, the industrial revolution also happened.  And the newly discovered hydrocarbon, oil, was added to coal as the hydrocarbon of choice.  So, it’s not a mystery.  It’s not even hard to imagine.  It’s logical.  It’s predictable.  Since my grandfather’s birth, the Earth has become a lot dirtier and a lot hotter.  I repeat, it’s not a mystery.

But hey.  Who cares about history, or science, or what is predictable?  Not Exxon-Mobil, I guarantee you.  Or they would stop.  It is about the dollar for them.  It’s about survival.  And who can blame them for being terrified.  But, sorry.  They picked an industry that had a fixed life span because it was not rooted in sustainability.  But their clamoring for their last few dollars is shameful.  They figure the future will handle itself.  It’s not their problem.  It’s not their board’s problem.  It’s not their stockholders’ problem.  Let the future executives, boards and stockholders find their own solution.  But the problem is, it’s not their problem alone.  It’s ours.  They created it.  But we live it.

It doesn't really need a caption, does it?

It doesn’t really need a caption, does it?

So, here’s the little internal Exxon-Mobil memo that states that their main goal in the global warming issue is to avoid certainty in the scientific debate.  To delay getting a clear answer for as long as they can.  Keep those pumps pumping and those pipelines flowing for as long as they can.  But, you know?  Scientists don’t seek to encourage uncertainty.  They look for answers.  It might not be the answer that the scientist on the next block or in the next consortium finds.  That’s fine.  That’s the way the scientific process works.  But it does not, never has, and never should encourage uncertainty.  Especially not by proudly proclaiming that water is a greenhouse gas.  Give me a stinking break, Exxon.

For shame, Exxon-Mobil.  Find a real solution.  You have the dollars.  You have the scientists.  You can find a new monopoly.  I promise!  Solar panels don’t grow on trees.

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