Exxon’s response is that “our Tomorrow's Energy and Corporate Citizenship reports explain our views openly and honestly on climate change.” In other words, because the company is quite open about the fact that it doesn’t believe in climate change, it is being honest.
That seems to me to be setting the bar for honesty pretty low. I mean it’s possible that there are people working in the cigarette industry who genuinely don’t believe cigarettes are harmful or addictive. If those people said, “We believe cigarettes are safe and healthy and children should start smoking them at age five,” they would, technically speaking, be being honest.
And that’s giving Exxon a huge benefit of the doubt, and assuming that it really believes what it’s saying. Al Gore recently told people he thought the global warming deniers got together with the flat earthers and the folks who think the moon landing was staged on a movie lot in Arizona to share their delusions.
But the people who believe the earth is flat don’t have any huge financial stake in that belief. You have to assume it’s genuine. You can’t say the same of the anti-global warming crowd. And the stakes are a little different too.