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ExxonMobil advertisement in the Financial Times of 6 June 2008:
"more energy. fewer emissions. moving forward means delivering them both"

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"more energy. fewer emissions. moving forward means delivering them both." (FT 8606 p. 8-9)

Dear Mr Kelecom,
Dear Ms McLaughlin,

I did notice the "could" in your statements in the advert in the Financial Times.

Kindly allow me to advance some scientific points.

1. Humanity's environmental problems (increasing depletion rates of non-renewable resources, pollution including greenhouse gases, biodiversity loss, deforestation, soil erosion and degradation, etc.) are all a result of overpopulation and per capita overconsumption, which in turn were possible because of a temporary abundance of fossil fuels.

2. Humanity is living in a state of overshoot. After the onset of Peak Oil industrial and agricultural production, including transportation, will force humanity to contract in numbers and in resource consumption.

3. Since affluent fossil energy was the cause of humanity's overshoot, finding "more energy" will only extend the overshoot condition by a few years and thereby increase the depletion of non-renewables. The contraction transistion will be more painful and the risk of resource wars, famines and population die-offs will become higher.

4. Converting liquid fuels to hydrogen on board the car itself could indeed increase fuel effiency, Mr Kelecom. The motor car, however, has no future at all in world that is increasingly stressed for food and other basic needs.

5. A sustainable world will be re-localised, with an absolute minimum of transportation and other non-renewable resource use, with frugal lifestyles. People will again live where they work and factories will run when the wind is blowing, the sun is shining and the rivers are carrying water.

6. "Researching ways to overcome...", Mrs McLaughlin, does not provide any guarantee that such ways will be found. Carbon capture and storage is an unproven and highly debatable technology.

7. The urgently needed dramatical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions must and can be achieved by existing technologies and methodologies, such as the general reduction of consumption, the slowing down of society, and democratically banning wasteful habits and products such as the private motor car and many more.

8. You may think that the above is extreme. In that case you are invited to examine the environmental trends together, and their interactions. Population is growing by 70 million people a year. Climate change is unstoppable. Ensuing weather extremes are increasingly causing droughts and floods and agricultural shortages. Non-renewable groundwater streams are increasingly being depleted. Pollution is increasing, especially in China and India. The waters are being overfished. The whales are beaching themselves because of noise pollution. Corals are bleaching. The oceans are acidifying. Rainforests are being destroyed. Glaciers and permafrost soils are melting. Bees and other pollinating insects are being killed by pesticides. Economic and population growth is increasing stresses in all corners of this globe. The planet is a globe and not flat. And you are calling for more energy, on a planet that has overshot its carrying capacity?

9. You may want to reconsider your priorities. Business as usual today or changing course and saving the planet for your children.

10. "the global energy challenge" is how to reduce - not how to increase energy use.

Frankly, dear Ms McLaughlin, dear Mr Kelecom, one wonders how you and ExxonMobil can think that you are "Taking on the world's toughest energy challenges". Your endeavours are more of the same, meaning an increased speed towards the ultimate collapse of humanity. For me your advert is publicity only, aimed at improving the corporate image of ExxonMobil.

Real corporate responsiblity involves recognising the dire environmental overshoot situation that humanity is in and calling for a dramatic reduction of energy and resource consumption - with the means that we have and not with futuristic "could"s.

I would be interested in receiving your comments.

With kind regards ... Helmut Lubbers

Helmut E Lubbers Ingénieur, MSocSc, DipEcol,
editor of and
ecology discovery foundation ecoglobe
Wellington New Zealand and Geneva Switzerland
14 bd Carl-Vogt 1205 Genève
+41 22 3212320 helmut @ ecoglobe . ch

Also see
  • "Hostility to the notion of limits to growth" (with readers' comments)
  • "A world bursting at the seams" - Jeffrey Sachs
    Environmental developments:
  • The day of "Peak oil", i.e. the highest daily amount of oil extracted, is approaching. It is expected within one to twenty years. Thereafter petroleum will be used for prioritary applications. (compare fossil energy developments)
    Your comment or question
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