The Rockefeller family, which traces its roots to the Standard Oil Co. that became the Exxon-Mobil we know today, has a long history of conservation. Thousands of acres of parkland enjoyed by millions of people resulted from the investments of their oil money.
More recently, the family has tried to exert some old school control over goings-on at Exxon-Mobil via some bold shareholder resolutions. They wanted to see the company invest in renewable energy, study the impacts of global warming and shake up the management so that different folks would fill the shoes of chairman of the board and the CEO.
But shareholders are quite content with the company's $1,385 a second profit rate, which earns the company headlines for record profits nearly every quarter these days (its $10 billion-plus first-quarter profits were short of the $11 billion-plus profits last quarter).
Through it all, Exxon has been the most committed to keeping its head in the sand on the issue of global warming. It has funded the think-tank thinkers who promoted skepticism about global warming science in the media, providing political cover for do-nothing politicians for years. It has argued for retaining federal oil subsidies in an era of record profits, and begged to drill for more oil in pristine national parks and preserves.
Its shareholders have incentives 1,385 of them every second to look the other way and let the money keep pouring in. The Rockefellers tried steer the company in a more ethical direction, and they lost by a landslide.
Exxon is the nation's most profitable company. It does more business than many nations. While other companies try to burnish an image brushed with green, Exxon and its shareholders appear to care only about that other form of green.
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