Geoffrey Supran's research while affiliated with Harvard University and other places

Publications (6)

Article
Using techniques from big data to decode Big Oil’s climate change propaganda.
Article
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This paper investigates how ExxonMobil uses rhetoric and framing to shape public discourse on climate change. We present an algorithmic corpus comparison and machine-learning topic model of 180 ExxonMobil climate change communications, including peer-reviewed publications, internal company documents, and advertorials in The New York Times. We also...
Article
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ExxonMobil Corp Vice President Vijay Swarup's criticisms of our 2017 study (2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12 084019), which demonstrated that ExxonMobil misled the public about climate change, are misleading and incorrect. Thanks in part to his feedback, we can now conclude with even greater confidence that Exxon, Mobil, and ExxonMobil Corp have all, va...
Article
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In our 2017 study ‘Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977–2014)’, we concluded that ExxonMobil has in the past misled the public about climate change. We demonstrated that ExxonMobil ‘advertorials’—paid, editorial-style advertisements—in The New York Times spanning 1989–2004 overwhelmingly expressed doubt about climate change as...
Article
Full-text available
This paper assesses whether ExxonMobil Corporation has in the past misled the general public about climate change. We present an empirical document-by-document textual content analysis and comparison of 187 climate change communications from ExxonMobil, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications, internal company documents, and paid...

Citations

... President Orlean's response dramatises real-world ideological contestations over climate science by governments and the fossil fuel industry, aimed at discrediting the scientific process and amplifying uncertainties. This process has historical precedent: for example, the politicisation of scientific uncertainties in the Climategate controversy; the decades long lobbying activities of oil companies in discrediting science [Westervelt, 2022]; and the greenwashing of oil's own climate practices [Doyle, 2011b;Supran & Oreskes, 2021]. The institutional politicisation of climate science is highlighted in the film when the Head of NASA, an Orlean superdonor, says the science is up for debate. ...
... For example, an internal report by Exxon in 1982 predicted frighteningly accurately the amount of excess CO 2 in the atmosphere and the consequential global temperature increase up to the present day, while Shell's 1988 internal report vividly depicted the devastating and irreversible consequences of a climactic collapse (Franta, 2018). Exxon knew about the threat already since 1977 (Hall, 2015), yet it did not only knowingly lied about it (Supran & Oreskes, 2020) and funded groups working on polarizing opinion by spreading disinformation (Farrell, 2016), but it also joined forces with other fossil fuel companies to actively lobby and buy off government officials in the US. 3 Exxon is of course only one of countless such corporations. Several of these companies employed entire teams of climate scientists to frame themselves as leaders of climate research and greenwash themselves, on the one hand, yet strategically suppressed, shelved or denied even their own research, on the other. ...
... Our paper also contributes to the literature on fossil fuel subsidies. This literature is largely concerned with detailing the size of subsidies (Coady, Parry, Sears, & Shang, 2017), the distributional impact of subsidies (Arze del Granado, Coady, & Gillingham, 2012), the impact of subsidies on economic and environmental performance (Rentschler, Kornejew, & Bazilian, 2017;Erickson et al., 2020), and the impact of subsidy reforms on the poor, among other groups (Rentschler, 2016;Soile & Mu, 2015). There is also a growing literature on the political economy of fossil fuel subsidy reform (Inchauste & Victor, 2017;Skovgaard & van Asselt, 2018), which provides a nuanced understanding of the complexities of policy reform and why so little progress has been made on reform (Ross, Hazlett, & Mahdavi, 2017). ...
... Faced with tighter regulations, industry trade groups mounted disinformation campaigns questioning the health impacts of particulate pollution by using techniques similar to those employed by tobacco and fossil fuel companies [104,105]. These efforts are well documented at the national level [91,106], but events in Utah are not as widely documented. ...