Gavilan College Misinformation Essay

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STEP 1: Watch the PBS Frontline documentary The Power of Big Oil, Part 1: Denial (1hr 25min): to an external site.. Read through this assignment and take notes as you watch the video. The questions may not be in the order in which the answers appear in the video.

STEP 2: Address each of the following questions 1a-2c.  Clearly label and address each question separately, and include the word count for each question in parentheses after the paragraphs addressing that question (e.g., word count: 263 words). Do not include the questions in your paper or in your word count. Your paper should be ~750 words total, double spaced, and written in Times New Roman (12-point), Calibri (11-point), or Arial (12-point) font. Your writing should be understandable, concise, straight-forward, and grammatically correct with good transitions throughout your paper; avoid wordiness, rambling, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments. Include a reference page with citation(s) for the video and any other resources you used for your assignment.


The first ~ 29 minutes of the documentary outlines the evolution of the fossil fuel industry’s goals and tactics with respect to climate-related research, public perception, and government policy over time. Give an overview of the evolution of the fossil fuel industry’s involvement in climate-related research, perception, and policy from the mid ‘70s to the beginning of the Clinton presidency (1992).  Address the following questions (1A-C), and be sure to include Lee Raymond’s role in Exxon’s evolution: (~250 words total)

Describe Exxon’s initial goals and programs with regard to climate and energy research in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

Describe the economic events that occurred in the early ‘80s impacted Exxon’s research and business goals. How did Exxon change course?

Describe the shift in the perception of climate change that occurred in the late ‘80s. How did this impact the industry’s actions around climate?  Include James Hansen’s role (indirect).

In the video, the fossil fuel industry employed two primary strategies to delay action on climate change: (1) block government action on climate change, and (2) cast doubt that human activities were causing climate change. Describe and discuss these two strategies, as per the questions (2a-c) below. Questions 2A-B ask about strategy #1, while question 2C asks about strategy #2.  (~500 words total)

The industry’s initial strategy was first developed and used in an effort to block the BTU tax in the early ‘90’s.  Describe and discuss the strategy used, how it originated, its primary goal, and the key players and their motivations. Was it successful? What did the industry players learn from the experience? Include the roles of and relationships between the Cato Institute, Koch Industries, and Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) in your answer. (~ 33:00-39:15)

The Strategy of the Grand Fog, used in the later ‘90s leading up to the Kyoto Protocol, was an evolution of the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to block/delay climate change. Describe this evolving strategy, and explain who was behind it and how it was used to further delay action on climate change. Include Byrd-Hagel Resolution and background (Senator Hagel), the role of fossil fuel industry groups, and contributions of Charles River Associates (Paul Bernstein).

Describe and discuss the strategy of climate change uncertainty/denial. When did it begin, what precipitated it, and how did the fossil fuel Industry use this strategy?  Include the roles of Global Climate Coalition (GCC), E Bruce Harrison Company, Terri Yosie, Don Rheem, and Patrick Michaels. (focus on ~ 39:16- 47:48)

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