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AI has downplayed ExxonMobil’s role in climate change

AI has downplayed ExxonMobil’s role in climate change


1977 and In 2014, 80% of ExxonMobil’s internal research supported the idea that human activity has contributed to climate change. But at the same time, 80 percent of the public statements of the oil and gas supplier expressed doubts as to whether climate change was caused by humans or even real.

To draw this conclusion, Harvard researchers Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes used machine learning to study more than 200 internal documents, peer-reviewed studies, and Exxon Mobil’s public statements. Newly Released Paper, “ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications Rhetoric and Frame Analysis” shows the model of public statements that sanitize the company’s role in contributing to the CO over decades2 emissions.

Oreskes and Supran used automatic learning analysis to support both claims. First, ExxonMobil placed the talks on climate change in ways that minimize its responsibility. Second, while the company questioned the immediate threat of climate change, it funded research that investigated whether climate change is a direct result of human activity, which it then ignored.

“It’s very important for us to understand the importance of misrepresentations and misleading claims and how they work,” Oreskes says. “At the time of writing this article it was very misleading to try to make better use of the types of languages ​​that ExxonMobil used, even though they weren’t completely lying.”

Oreskes hopes the role will function as a “translator,” revealing the messages behind the rhetoric facing the public. He is also the author of the author Doubtful traders, inspired the book 2014 documentary of the same name by examining the role that scientists themselves play in disseminating misinformation about climate change.

The company’s phrase “risk of climate change” is a misleading example of what the company is constantly using. According to the computational analysis, Exxon increasingly used phrases such as “legal long-term risk” or “potential long-term risks” in 2000 after joining Mobile. Between 2000 and 2014, this emphasis on “risk” appears in almost all of ExxonMobil’s “advertisements,” including major publications such as paid publications. The New York Times.

The use of the term “risk” is very clear, partly because it knows the problem, but also because it is driving it into the future, “said lead researcher Oreskes.

ExxonMobil also often refers to “energy demand” or “energy use” to explain its ongoing reliance on fossil fuels. Oreskes calls this a “guilt-changing language” that presents the company as a passive supplier simply to meet people’s needs, rather than an engine to produce oil and gas. This contrasts with the research reviewed at ExxonMobil, which is based on the basic premise of human-induced climate change. While the company began to publicly acknowledge man-made climate change In the mid-2000s, Oreskes and Supran find that Exxon’s academic research cites “fossil fuel combustion” as a source of CO2 Since 1978.

Over the years, ExxonMobil’s public statements have said that natural gas can become “clean” viable or “clean burning”. This, in turn, supports research between accepted studies technical difficulties in capturing carbon and biofuel, an exciting but as yet unproven scale needed to put up barriers to climate change prevention. ExxonMobil knew there were no alternatives for the near future. (“If you ever see the word fossil fuel company used clean, you can replace it with dirty “, jokes Oresk.)

The researchers said the phrase was an example of clearing the green, overemphasizing the company’s role in exploring clean alternatives. “These companies have business models that are committed to using fossil fuels for the near and beyond in the near future,” says Oreskes.



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