Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour


Your neighbors are making a scene,                     G  C              (CAPO 2nd fret)
And your papers won’t say what it means.          G  D
While civilization careens,                                      G   C
Is carbon pollution disturbing your dreams?    Em D C D–
Well, Exxon knew all along, They knew all along. G Em Am D    G CG D

Now rivers rain down from on high,
But on earth, how the rivers run dry.
It’s the future already arrived
And it’s burning Creation right under your eyes,
And Exxon knew all along, They knew all along.

Back in seventy-seven they learned
All the trouble with fossils we burn.  
Are they going to level or lie?
Is all of that money worth more than the sky?
Oh, Exxon knew all along, They knew all along.

Premeditation means planning a crime,
All the details, ahead of the time,
How to profit from all of the mess,
To poison the public, and perjure the press.
Oh, Exxon knew all along, They knew all along.

How wicked a web do they weave,
All that genius and power to deceive.
Into classrooms their tentacles reach,
On Capitol Hill and in think – tanks they preach.
And Exxon knew all along, They knew all along.

Now, I really don’t want to be crude                Bm  C
But the cost of your oil includes                       G  C  D
The heat and the fires we watch in dismay    C  C#dim G G7
The  people and villages washing away,          C  C#dim  D D7
The farms that will fail, the mouths without food  Em D G C–
So much of Creation you’ve already screwed      C  C#dim D  D7
Extinctions and refugees drowning in tears,      Em C  G G7
The way that you lied to us all of these years!     Em C D D7
And Exxon knew all along, they knew all along, they knew all along!

© Doug Hendren 2015 and 2021

What’s it about?  I originally published this song as a slower lament in 2015, after the prize-winning reporting by Inside Climate News that, Exxon’s management fully understood decades ago that fossil-fuel combustion was de-stabilizing earth’s climate, with catastrophic consequences. Rather than act on this knowledge, Exxon chose to follow in the footsteps of the tobacco industry. Exxon led the fossil-fuel industry in organizing and funding an epic campaign of disinformation spanning decades, with the goal of deceiving the public and obstructing legislation on climate change. Thanks to numerous sources, (notably Oreskes and Conway’s Merchants of Doubt (2010 book, and subsequent Sony Classics film), the story of Exxon’s deception is now well known.

What has happened since then? Remarkably little. While Exxon has belatedly paid lip service to the reality of climate change, has publicly supported a tax on carbon, they have continued to fund disinformation, and done their best to retard any meaningful action to combat climate change. As a result of Exxon’s decades of political and economic resistance to meaningful climate action, what might have been a manageable challenge to world science and industry has now become an emergency. The summer of 2021 has opened a “Pandora’s box of catastrophes,” leading scientists to speculate that we may have entered a new, very dangerous stage of climate change. Economists are attempting to estimate economic damages attributable to climate change in the US.  Western wildfire season, once just 5 months long, is now a year-round risk, extending now east of the Rockies and north, deep into Canada.  As I have written about before (see my song “Baby Maria“), much of the US immigration crisis from Latin America is actually a climate crisis.

Recently (July, 2021), an Exxon lobbyist was caught on video boasting about Exxon’s various strategies for continuing to obstruct US climate legislation and undermine public understanding of the seriousness and urgency of the climate crisis. The lobbyist frankly admits to Exxon’s corrupt dealings with members of US Congress, notably describing Senator Joe Manchin (R-WV) as their “kingmaker,” being in a unique position to stall the Biden administration’s efforts to enact decisive legislation to combat climate change. It is clear that Exxon’s anti-climate campaign that started in the 1970s is still going strong.

The story of Exxon’s ongoing deception is a crime story. Thanks in large measure to their deception, climate derangement is now a true, global emergency. What we are experiencing now is only the beginning. It will get much harder.  We know enough to act. We need to act now.

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