Most big oil companies like ConocoPhillips, Chevron Texaco and BP concede that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming. But not Exxon's CEO Lee Raymond, who in 2002 said, "[W]e in ExxonMobil do not believe that the science required to establish this linkage between fossil fuels and warming has been demonstrated - and many scientists agree."
Raymond is right. Some scientists are skeptical about the theory that fossil fuel emissions are creating a greenhouse effect in Earth's atmosphere.
But those scientists are a minority. And ExxonMobil funded some of their studies, according to "Exxpose Exxon," a U.S. Public Interest Research Group report.
The report claims Exxon gave 26 groups $1.9 million to challenge the scientific community on global warming last year. And between 1998 and 2004, the company gave $15 million to organizations that worked to weaken greenhouse gas restrictions, according to the report.
On July 12, environmental groups kicked off a nationwide campaign to pressure Exxon to change its ways. In Atlanta, a dozen Sierra Club and Georgia PIRG activists handed out leaflets in front of an Exxon gas station at the corner of Piedmont and Monroe avenues.
The goal, says the Sierra Club's Natalie Foster, is to convince people to hurt Exxon's wallet with an old-fashioned boycott.
"For years, ExxonMobil put its profits above the health of Americans families," Foster says. "As a result, we are asking all Americans not to work for ExxonMobil or invest in the company, or buy its gas and products."
ExxonMobil released a statement Tuesday in response to the coalition's boycott. "ExxonMobil recognizes the risk of climate change and its potential impact on societies and ecosystems, and we continue to take actions and work with others to address that risk," the statement says.
Dora William, an employee working at the Exxon gas station during the protest, didn't pay much attention to the environmentalists. "They're just doing something they think is right," she says.
To find out more about the boycott, visit www.exxposeexxon.com. To read ExxonMobil's response to global warming criticisms, visit www.exxonmobil.com.
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