In 1991, Shell Produced This Alarming Video Warning About Climate Change Dangers

The oil giant then ditched its own concerns and spent decades lobbying against action instead.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


A 1991 public documentary produced by Shell, in which the oil giant acknowledged the dangerous effects of climate change and the fossil fuel industry’s role in accelerating “ferocious” climate patterns globally, has resurfaced this week.

“Faced with such a disturbing scenario, governments are having to consider their response,” the narrator said in the film. “Global warming is not yet certain, but many think that the wait for final proof would be irresponsible. Action now is seen as the only safe insurance.”

The documentary also explored the power of alternative energy sources, including wind and solar powers, while predicting the devastating consequences manmade global warming might have on flooding, climate refugee populations, and more.

The video, which was obtained by the Correspondent, a Dutch online journalism platform and shared with the Guardian, calls into question why the company continued to heavily invest in controversial drilling projects and lobby against environmental protections, despite the prescient warnings presented in its film.

The video also adds to growing evidence of how early the oil industry knew about the serious dangers surrounding global warming. In 2015, previously unseen documents revealed ExxonMobil attempted to cover up its own scientific findings confirming the existence of climate change. The research programs were followed by decades of climate denial and the intense lobbying by the oil giant against emissions regulations.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate