As Exxon continues climate denial crusade, Raw Story fighting back
UPDATE: Raw Story has purchased carbon offsets from Terrapass, and is at this very second paying for the carbon produced by your reading this page. You can sleep easier tonight, and keep telling people about RawStory.com! -J
I’ve decided it’s time for us to do our part to ameliorate the coming climate catastrophe — but let’s please stop using the phrase “climate change.”
In an effort to offset carbon emissions produced by Raw Story and everyone who visits our site (our energy costs and yours), we will begin purchasing carbon credits through Terrapass.com.
Our offsets will include: our servers (energy costs), your computer (energy costs of time you spend reading our site), our work-from-home office utilities, our (rather limited) air travel, and any other associated energy expenses.
I’m sure you know why we’re worried about a world where the ocean rises, and hurricanes and typhoons consume entire cities. It’s already begun.
It’s actually gotten so bad that “the president of Maldives and his Cabinet wore scuba gear and used hand signals [last October] at an underwater meeting to highlight the threat climate change poses to the archipelago nation.” Countries are going to be underwater. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s population lives on coastal plains, and 11 of the planet’s 15 largest cities are on coastal estuaries. Global climate catastrophe is not a joke.
ONE of the worlds largest oil companies broke its pledge to stop funding groups that promote scepticism about man-made climate change, it emerged late Sunday.
U.S. fuel giant ExxonMobil gave almost $US1.5 million last year to organisations that campaign against controls on greenhouse gas emissions.
Several made outspoken attacks on climate scientists at Britain’s University of East Anglia and argued their leaked e-mails showed the dangers of global warming had been grossly exaggerated.
The scientists were exonerated this month by an independent inquiry but groups funded by Exxon continued to attack them. The U.S.-based Media Research Centre, which received $50,000 last year from Exxon, called the inquiry a whitewash and condemned climate alarmists.
ExxonMobil isn’t just “one of the world’s largest oil companies.” ExxonMobil is the largest corporation in the world. (For the record — if it were a publicly traded company, the Pentagon would be the largest corporation in the world; the US military is the world’s single largest consumer of oil, much of which it continues to buy from BP.)
ExxonMobil is also the company that just had its damages reduced to $507.5 million for the — well — you remember this, right?
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989, when the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef and spilled 10.8 to 32 million US gallons (40.9 to 120 million litres, or 260,000 to 750,000 barrels) of crude oil. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters ever to occur in history…
In the case of Baker v. Exxon, an Anchorage jury awarded $287 million for actual damages and $5 billion for punitive damages. The punitive damages amount was equal to a single year’s profit by Exxon at that time. To protect itself in case the judgment was affirmed, Exxon obtained a $4.8 billion credit line from J.P. Morgan & Co. This in turn gave J.P. Morgan the opportunity to create the first modern credit default swap in 1994, so that J.P. Morgan would not have to hold so much money in reserve (8% of the loan under Basel I) against the risk of Exxon’s default.
Meanwhile, Exxon appealed the ruling, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the original judge, Russel Holland, to reduce the punitive damages. On December 6, 2002, the judge announced that he had reduced the damages to $4 billion, which he concluded was justified by the facts of the case and was not grossly excessive. Exxon appealed again and the case returned to court to be considered in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling in a similar case, which caused Judge Holland to increase the punitive damages to $4.5 billion, plus interest.
After more appeals, and oral arguments heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on January 27, 2006, the damages award was cut to $2.5 billion on December 22, 2006. The court cited recent Supreme Court rulings relative to limits on punitive damages.
Exxon appealed again. On May 23, 2007, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied ExxonMobil’s request for a third hearing and let stand its ruling that Exxon owes $2.5 billion in punitive damages. Exxon then appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. On February 27, 2008, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for 90 minutes [Emphasis mine]. Justice Samuel Alito, who at the time, owned between $100,000 and $250,000 in Exxon stock, recused himself from the case. In a decision issued June 25, 2008, Justice David Souter issued the judgment of the court, vacating the $2.5 billion award and remanding the case back to a lower court, finding that the damages were excessive with respect to maritime common law. Exxon’s actions were deemed “worse than negligent but less than malicious.”
The judgment limits punitive damages to the compensatory damages, which for this case were calculated as $507.5 million.
It’s time for a change. And Raw Story is going to do our part. We may not be able to stop driving, or turning on the lights, but we’re sure not going to stop trying to make a difference.
Publisher & Founder, Raw Story