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Report: Oil Industry Knew About Dangers of Climate Change in 1954

HeadlineNov 21, 2018

Leaders of the U.S. fossil fuel industry knew as early as 1954 that carbon dioxide pollution accumulating in the atmosphere posed a growing threat to life on Earth, but failed to warn the public. That’s according to new research published by Stanford historian Benjamin Franta in the journal Nature Climate Change. Franta found that in the 1950s the American Petroleum Institute commissioned a study by a Caltech scientist which concluded global CO2 levels had risen by 5 percent in a century. It’s the earliest known industry-funded research into climate change, and the findings led in part to a 1965 report by President Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee on the threat posed by global warming. Speaking to members of an oil industry conference that year, Frank Ikard, then-president of the American Petroleum Institute, warned, “This report unquestionably will fan emotions, raise fears, and bring demand for action. The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world’s peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.” The American Petroleum Institute would instead go on to fund decades of climate change denial while fighting efforts to switch to renewable energy sources.

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