ExxonMobil CEO: ‘What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?’

From today’s annual shareholder meeting.

The Washington Post reports:

The CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. says there’s no quick replacement for oil, and sharply cutting oil’s use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would make it harder to lift 2 billion people out of poverty.

“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” CEO Rex Tillerson said at the oil giant’s annual meeting Wednesday.

FLASHBACK: Milloy reads activist shareholders the riot act at 2008 ExxonMobil meeting.

22 thoughts on “ExxonMobil CEO: ‘What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?’”

  1. Mr. Bear, where are you from? If it’s America or Western Europe, you’re wearing rose colored glasses or beer goggles. Between the Victorian era and the 60s we were in a state of massive environmental decline. In fact, it was around the time of your birth that western cities received their biggest health and environmental boost ever, the introduction of motorized transit to replace the horse. Removing kilotons of filth from our streets daily.

    Since the 60s, we have seen massive improvements in the environment. Greenspace has increased, regions farmed have decreased. Forests have expanded rapidly. All of this is possible due to the proper application of science and and fuels. You can go fishing in the Houston Ship Channel for goodness sakes.

  2. RB, I agree, it’s poorly phrased, but let’s talk about the meaning of the word. We cannot save the planet, and aside from nuclear warfare, we cannot meaningfully endanger the planet itself. We are talking minor changes in climate and ecosystems. Minor, futile changes that wil have a drop in the ocean effect for nature, but have significant numbers of lives in the balance.

    For example, a coal power plant in a region that has no electricity. This will save lives directly, thorough powering hospitals, indirectly through replacing dangerous candles and polluting fires, and even more directly by raising the standard of living (estimates are that consistent electricity is associated with a threefold increase in GDP). However, there will be a minor (~0.00001C/century) warming effect on the planet because of it. I may be missing a few zeroes on that, the science is vague and the asp is buggy so I cannot see my words.

    So, we have direct lives saved versus minor to nonexistent harm done to nature.

    The greens would have you not build this plant, and indeed, have petitioned various humanitarian organizations and development banks to ban all support for fossil fired fuel. However, as a bystander with no stake in this game, the correct choice is quite obvious.

  3. Howdy bobthebear and ozzie
    Human production of CO2 does not affect climate or weather in any way that can be measured with any degree of rigor. More than that; the last two centuries seem to show that temperatures vary even as humans have produced more CO2 steadily since 1800 (set your own start date). The Medieval Warm Period has been validated, not debunked, and be careful about the ” ‘we need CO2’ has been debunked”, because we do need CO2. Do we need more? There’s still valid discussion on that point.
    Mr. Tillerson’s key point, reflected in many comments above, is still valid. Cutting off CO2 production by humans will lower everyone’s standard of living except for the wealthiest and the poorest. The wealthiest will be as comfortable as ever; the poorest will lose any opportunity to advance their standard of living. Meanwhile, my sweetheart and I would have a hard time planning a four-day road trip to celebrate our anniversary. That’s what the nanny-bullies will achieve; wildlife will go on whether humans curtail CO2 or produce at current levels, corals will do fine, weather will vary and sometimes be extreme. But MT Geoff and sweetheart will be over-warm in summer and chilly all winter and we’ll have to skip that trip to “the scene of the crime”. And the malaria-ridden child of Rachel Carson’s fantasies will shake with both fever and the sweltering hut in which her parents watch her suffering.
    That’s really what’s at stake. Mr. Tillerson offers me a chance to enjoy life more and that malaria child a chance to live. You want to condemn him for it. Try again.

  4. Howdy bobthebear
    There are people with outlier beliefs — some just plain nuts — among climate skeptics and among climate alarmists. I’m sure we could match well-documented ad hominems for days.
    I am in the computer technology field, a linear thinker among linear thinkers. I am widely read, though not credentialed, in science, Judaeo-Christian thought, and economics. I believe in evolution but I keep open the possibility that evolution was guided or chosen as a mechanism by a divine power. I believe in a clean environment — minimizing soot in the air and solvents in water, for example — but I can follow the science that shows climate alarmism is poorly founded.
    I will say this in particular: most climate alarmists are also nanny-bullies. Most climate sceptics are libertarians. “You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses…”

  5. Massive, sad facepalm. The medieval warm period thing AND “we need CO2!” thing have been debunked so comprehensively it’s hard to believe people are still saying them. The fact is the planet will survive anthropogenic climate change, human civilisation will not. The human suffering that’s coming will dwarf anything caused by reducing fossil fuel usage.
    Here’s a starting point if you’re openminded.

  6. Unemployment during the First Great Depression was 25%. Not 100%. All the plants were not closed.

  7. Well, “smoke” still comes out of steam chimneys. Yes, you’ve been conned. The stacked photos you see do not show smoke, bobthebear, it is really steam. Go figure. You’ve been duped.
    At your age, you should know better.

  8. Prove that “the temperature has risen faster than at any other period”.? Prove that CO2 needs to be taken out of the atmosphere.
    Bill Gates has money to throw away and not even notice it. He can do whatever he wants with his money but that has nothing to do with the supposed “warming” of the earth.
    I trust that at your age you have at least heard of the Medieval Warm period. The temperatures of the earth were much hotter then with nary an oil well in sight and certainly no “smoke” stacks in large factory buildings.
    As for CO2, you do realize that plants NEED carbon dioxide, don’t you?

  9. Dear bobthebear, the earth is exactly the same as when you were a kid. No, I take that back, it’s much better.

  10. Ken, thanx for the comment. I may be missing some fundamentals, because I don’t know everything, so I have to go with the 97%, who by the way don’t know everything either. The probability is that we are going through a period of man made global warming. I say probably, because the temperature has risen faster than at any other period. The real problem is that even if we stopped using fossil fuels right now, it wouldn’t do much good. The only thing that will work is if someone invents a machine that takes CO2 out of the atmosphere. Bill Gates is financing a company that is trying to do just that. I hope it works. I’m sure you do too.
    Good night, good luck

  11. I was a kid in the 30’s and things were a lot cleaner. All the plants were closed because of the depression. All the smoke came from steam engines.

  12. I guess that you didn’t know that Mr. Milloy is a lawyer, like the nuts that we have in congress.

  13. We in the United States have made massive efforts to clean up our environment since the 1960s. We have spent over a trillion dollars. The earth (sic) was ABSOLUTELY not cleaner when you were a kid.

  14. it will be hard for them to enjoy a clean Earth if they are too busy gathering firewood since we can’t make electricity.
    Bob, you are missing the fundamental here: no one wants pollution or bad things. Seriously. The point is that cutting all fossil fuels will NOT impact warming to any significant degree, warming is a natural part of climate and we’ve been much warmer in history and none of that was due to fossil fuels.

  15. Ken, I know that you must be talking about specific people, but I have no idea about who you are talking. I do know of a senator that is an MD who doesn’t believe that the earth is billions of years old. He say that the Bible says that the Earth is about 12,000 years old. Ken, is that what you believe?

  16. From what pray tell? Your Mr.Tillerson made the remark, “What good is it…..if humanity suffers.” You are exactly right about this “old dirt ball”, Mother Nature and all her associates will do just fine without humans. However humans will suffer on their way out. It’s humanity’s choice. I personally wish that my grand children and their children would be able to enjoy the wonders of the clean earth that I had when I was a kid (I’m 83).

  17. You mean like a railroad engineer/soft porn writer pretending to be a scientist? Or a career politician and trust fund baby playing scientist? Do tell.

  18. “What humanity will be left if the planet isn’t saved?”

    Saved from what, pray tell?

    This big old dirt ball will be flying around the sun for billions more years. What kind of saving does it need?

  19. Mr.Tillerson’s remark may be the stupidest remark ever spouted by a supposedly educated human. What humanity will be left if the planet isn’t saved? What a jerk.
    BTW, this web site is perfectly named. It promotes junk science. Can you imagine, a lawyer as a scientist or pretending to be a scientist. They each go to school looking for different outcomes.

  20. The Post/AP did a great job of mentioning the speakers there who agreed with/defended the company. Oops. I guess they forgot.

    Also, saying Tillerson “jousted” is quite a dramatic way to put it. Someone who believes the planet is in peril asked a question about CO2 being at 350 ppm (so they said) in an orderly way, and Tillerson gave his view in reply.

  21. Louder and more often, Mr. Tillerson. The people who oppose you are, most of them, fanatics who will attack you unless you utterly surrender. Stand firmly and announce loudly the harm these “greenies” are doing.

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