Two stories shed new light on Rex Tillerson, the incoming Secretary of State for the US.
Read this. It’ll warm your heart: What I learned about Rex Tillerson. A major corporate leader does what any good citizen would do. But in a sea of corruption and self serving glorification it’s a rare story and quite a good read too.
During a five day trial of a man accused of abusing a young girl, the jury noticed one juror was a tall and somewhat charismatic middle aged man who wore a business suit. Mysteriously, he always had another man in a suit present around him, but doing nothing much. He was picked as the jury foreman, but declined to “be in the spotlight”. When finally asked about the extra man, he just pointed at an Exxon headline in the paper and just said “I work for them” and he needed extra protection. The jury used the internet to figure out who he was. In 2007 Tillerson was CEO, and Exxon was the second largest company listed in the Fortune 500 list.
Emily Roden: “As our deliberations came to a close, it appeared we might have a hung jury.
That’s when Tillerson began to speak. Humbly, delicately and without an ounce of condescension toward those who disagreed, he began walking us all through the details of the case. I even recall being moved by his thorough explanation about the nature of doubt and the standards set forth by our justice system.
With great patience, this man who strikes multibillion-dollar deals with foreign heads of state brought our scrappy jury together — to bring a sexual predator to justice and to deliver justice for a scared and deeply wounded little girl.
All I know is that this man who holds one of the most powerful positions in the world and clearly has the means and ability to side-step his jury responsibilities, served as a normal citizen without complaint or pretense.
He later donated to a local charity that worked with abuse victims.
It’s about character. While the media world lords up Leo and Al for “saving the world” real hero’s are quietly helping other people, and don’t make a documentary about it.
Of course, Tillerson’s a skeptic
The second story is a Huff Po piece lamenting that Tillerson is no convert to the global warming faith. That this is news says a lot: in the aftermath of Trump (and he’s not even sworn in) the Global Worriers have been reduced to hoping that Tillerson might be more akin to them than Trump’s other cabinet picks. How hath that politico-spectrum shifted?
Tillerson spoke in favour of the Paris agreement recently, but scratch the surface and he mocks renewables, and holds views like his predecessor, Lee Raymond, who was one of the few corporate leaders brave enough to openly fund the skeptical side.
The main message in the Huff Po piece is that if people who are powerful (you know, like CEOs of a “top ten” global company) can be badgered and cajoled into expressing support for something they don’t believe — perhaps just as a strategic move — it still shows how powerful badgering and heckling is. We might prefer to focus on facts and figures but the data shows homo sapiens are a gregarious species and that coercion and bullying is a major force in carving history.
The mirage of eco-concern: An ocean of people who “endorse” Paris but don’t care
This shows the brittleness of the faith in a man-made crisis. How many others are quietly like Tillerson, expressing some support for carbon taxes or Paris agreements while actually having very little interest in it?
Senior Business Editor, Alexander Kaufman, Huffington Post.
As Coll wrote, “Tillerson’s own views about climate science were not greatly different from Lee Raymond’s,” though Tillerson “did not claim or wish to project the same sort of independent scientific expertise that Raymond had offered about climate science.” But Tillerson did see that the company needed to reposition itself.
The company announced its first big investment in biofuels two years later, vowing to spend $600 million on research into algae-based transportation fuels. In 2015, the firm backed the historic climate agreement reached in Paris, a stance it reiterated four days before this year’s election.
Tillerson, who President-elect Donald Trump has now nominated as his secretary of state, has gotten a lot of credit for Exxon’s shift away from climate denial. But even as Exxon learned to talk the talk, the $378 billion company has failed to walk the walk.
Tillerson “brought a more clever approach, a more PR-savvy approach, to climate at Exxon, but the company really didn’t change its stripes much,” said Kert Davies, who leads the Climate Investigations Center and was the creator of ExxonSecrets,
But even as recently as last year, Exxon continued to fund organizations that deny or downplay climate science, and proposed solutions to global warming. In 2015, the company spent nearly $2 million on more than a dozen such think tanks…
….unlike many of its industry rivals, Exxon has failed to invest seriously in renewable energy.
Tillerson has openly mocked the clean-energy industry for years, joking once that he wasn’t “really against renewables” because wind turbine operators bought Exxon’s oil as a lubricant. “The more windmills are built, the more oil we sell,” he said. At a May 2015 shareholders meeting, Tillerson said he hadn’t invested in renewables because “we choose not to lose money.”
As I said, if Tillerson believed, he had years to turn Exxon into another BP and Shell, but he didn’t.
Bear in mind that the total Exxon funding for skeptics, which ended in 2007 and has been mashed through the news cycle for ten years ever since, was only a tiny 23 million dollars compared to the five to ten billion a year from the US government paid to unskeptical researchers. The apostles for the Global Warming religion are utterly zealous about cleansing out even tiny amounts of “wayward” funding that go in the wrong direction. They know how important it is to starve the opposition (and a double thankyou to all the supporters who are making sure David and I don’t starve).