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Monday, February 22, 2016

108 scientists call on world’s largest Earth science organization (the American Geophysical Union) to reject ExxonMobil sponsorship

February 22, 2016
Contact: Ben Scandella, 206-276-2699,

108 scientists call on world’s largest Earth science organization
to reject ExxonMobil sponsorship

Cambridge, MA Today, more than 100* geoscientists sent a letter (also attached) to the President of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) - the world’s largest association of Earth scientists - calling for an end to ExxonMobil sponsorship of AGU in a stand against climate science disinformation.

Signatories include leading AGU-member scientists such as former Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and renowned climatologist Professor James E. Hansen, former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Harvard Professor James J. McCarthy, Penn State’s Earth System Science Center director Michael E. Mann, and author of Merchants of Doubt and Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, as well as other concerned geoscientists including Professor Hans Schellnhuber, CBE, who currently serves as Chair of the German government’s Advisory Council on Global Change and as a climate advisor to the Pope.

“As Earth scientists, we are deeply troubled by the well-documented complicity of ExxonMobil in climate denial and misinformation…By allowing Exxon to appropriate AGU’s institutional social license to help legitimize the company’s climate misinformation, AGU is undermining its stated values as well as the work of many of its own members,” states the letter.

In fact, AGU’s own Organizational Support Policy states that “AGU will not accept funding from organizational partners that promote and/or disseminate misinformation of science, or that fund organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science.” Despite this claim, the nearly 24,000 attendees of the AGU 2015 Fall meeting were greeted by a prominent display of gratitude for Exxon’s sponsorship.

Asked why she signed the letter, Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes - whose work has been instrumental in exposing the corporate-financed public relations efforts to sow confusion about scientific issues ranging from tobacco smoke to climate change - explained, “The scientific community has been clear and articulate in communicating the reality and threat of global warming. However, accepting sponsorship from ExxonMobil undermines that message. We cannot say that climate change is real and demonstrated, and at the same time turn a blind eye to the real and demonstrated nature of ExxonMobil’s anti-scientific activities.”

The letter comes amid the ExxonMobil climate denial scandal, with the company currently under investigation by the New York and California Attorneys General as to whether it lied to the public and its shareholders about climate change risks.

Leading climatologist Michael Mann, a signatory whose “hockey stick” global warming graph has made him a well-known target of attacks by climate deniers, remarked, “While I recognize that it is a contentious matter within the diverse AGU community, I just don't see how we can, in good conscience, continue to accept contributions from a company that has spent millions of dollars over several decades funding bad faith attacks on scientists within our community whose scientific findings happen to be inconvenient for fossil fuel interests.”

“As the largest and most respected society of Earth scientists in the world, the AGU should not be invested in nor take money from a corporation that places its profits above the health and well-being of our global society,” commented Cornell University Professor Charles Greene, another signatory of the letter.

The letter is the most recent example of a growing trend of scientists stepping out of their traditional roles to advocate for stronger climate action and to counter climate science disinformation in response to the urgency of climate change. For example, through the recently launched Climate Feedback project, scientists are evaluating the credibility of climate science presented in the popular press. Last Spring, dozens of the world’s top scientists released a letter urging science museums to cut ties to fossil fuel interests. They subsequently led a campaign to remove David Koch from the board of New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Mr. Koch resigned from his board position in December.

*Note: A few signatories prefer to not disclose their names in the online version of the letter.



  1. The letter follows an editorial by three AGU members, published in January, calling on AGU to reject Exxon’s sponsorship of its future scientific conferences:

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