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Renewable Vibes > News > Blog > Newly surfaced documents reveal: Fossil fuel industry possessed undeniable evidence of climate risks as far back as 1954

Newly surfaced documents reveal: Fossil fuel industry possessed undeniable evidence of climate risks as far back as 1954

Newly discovered documents have revealed that the fossil fuel industry funded early climate science research as far back as 1954. These documents show that the industry provided funding for Charles Keeling’s early work in measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, including his famous “Keeling curve” that tracks the increase in atmospheric CO2. The funding came from a group called the Air Pollution Foundation, which was backed by oil and car manufacturing interests. The documents also show that the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Western Oil and Gas Association were major contributors to the foundation.

Experts say that these documents provide proof that the fossil fuel industry was aware of the potential climate impact of their products as early as the 1950s. Despite this knowledge, the industry publicly denied the science for decades and funded efforts to delay action on climate change. Previous investigations have also shown that major oil companies conducted their own research into the consequences of burning their products.

The funding provided by the fossil fuel industry played a crucial role in Keeling’s research, which led to the establishment of continuous CO2 measurement at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Keeling’s work has been hailed as one of the most important scientific contributions of modern times. Currently, the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 level is 422 parts per million, nearly a third higher than the first reading taken in 1958.

These newly discovered documents highlight the industry’s intimate involvement in the inception of modern climate science, despite later denying the science and funding ongoing efforts to delay action on the climate crisis. The documents come from various archives and represent the first instance of the fossil fuel industry being informed of the potential consequences of its business model.

The revelations in these documents strengthen the case for holding oil and gas firms legally liable for the damages caused by the climate crisis. The oil and gas industry has been accused of misleading the public and regulators for decades regarding the climate risks of their products. Trusting them to be part of the solution is seen as foolhardy, and there is now a growing call for accountability.

The American Petroleum Institute and Charles Keeling’s son, Ralph Keeling, who is also a scientist, were contacted for comment but did not respond.

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