During a talk hosted by the conservative Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson claimed that 'fear-mongering' on climate change by environmental groups and independent scientists has been enabled by a 'lazy' press and a scientifically 'illiterate' public.
Though he acknowledged the existence of global warming during the event, Tillerson suggested that any possible impacts of the phenomenon were 'overblown' and could be mitigated by new technologies. "It's an engineering problem and there will be an engineering solution," he said.
When asked, Tillerson rejected the idea that man-made CO2 emissions, and the climate change induced by such emissions, was even in the "top-five challenges" for current and future generations.
"No," Tillerson said, "I think there are much more pressing priorities that we as a -- as a human being race and society need to deal with." He went on to say that billions of people were living in abject poverty and that their future well-being depended on more access to fossil fuels.
"They'd love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of life would rise immeasurably, and their quality of health and the health of their children and their future would rise immeasurably," he said.
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According to ananlysis by The Associated Press, Tillerson expressed frustration at the level of public concern over new drilling techniques that tap natural gas and oil in shale formations under several states. He said environmental advocacy groups that "manufacture fear" have alarmed a public that doesn't understand drilling practices – or maths, science or engineering in general. He blamed "lazy" journalists for producing stories that scare the public but don't investigate the claims of advocacy groups.
Drilling for oil and gas will always involve risks of spills and accidents, he said, but those risks are manageable and worth taking because they are small given the amount of energy they produce.
The full transcript of the talk can be read here. Video of the event follows:
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