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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 11:12 PM

What You Should Know About Exxon Mobil’s Latest Ad Campaign

If you were watching the Masters golf tournament last weekend, you would have noticed it was laced with ads from Exxon Mobil calling for….better science. That’s right. The very company that funded decades of science denial takes it back. Sort of. ExxonMobil ranks high in a short list of powerful institutions that has done this country an enormous disservice in undermining the overall credibility of the scientific method in general, and climate scientists specifically.

They now realize, of course, that without scientifically sophisticated workers, our global standing slips backwards. The company plans to spend a small fortune on the ad campaign featuring the National Math and Science Initiative and is a founding sponsor of this effort to dramatically improve science education in the U.S.

I have a friend, Jackson Robinson, who runs a green investment company called Winslow Management. He regularly asks CEOs, what is keeping you awake at night? More than half the time, the answer has to do with the work force: how hard it is to find educated, skilled people to take their companies to the next level. The workforce issue has gotten so serious that Chicago, with 100,000 jobs that could not be filled in 2010, has had to launch a “college to careers” movement to train students. For the record, not one CEO has ever responded to Jack that he stays awake because of global warming. And I imagine one reason it isn’t top of mind: a disinformation campaign that has been raging for decades.

The ExxonMobil website explains that its ads are meant to alert people about “underperformance” of U.S. students, who rank internationally 25th in math and 17th in science. Considering that the company employs more than 18,000 people around the world, their success must depend on a capable workforce—“Its not just U.S. leadership in energy that’s at risk—it’s also our leadership in medicine, research, technology and other pillars of the American economy.”


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