IRVING, TX—Saying the multinational oil and gas conglomerate had “really dodged a bullet,” ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson told reporters Wednesday how relieved he was now that it was finally too late to do anything about climate change.
The 64-year-old petroleum executive, who acknowledged that throughout his career he had feared the public might take action to curb rising temperatures by imposing emissions restrictions or mandating a switch to alternative energy, said he was just happy that the window for avoiding the planet’s environmental destruction had closed, and that the entire industry was now free to carry on as usual.
“I was really worried for a while there that some kind of law would be passed to stop us from releasing all those hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, but I guess not,” said Tillerson, describing how he felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from his shoulders now that catastrophic climate change was an inescapable certainty. “Seriously, it’s a huge load off. There were a number of real tense years after the recycling movement picked up momentum when we thought people might all turn away from fossil fuels next. But it’s just so reassuring to know that we passed the point where it’s no longer possible to stop global warming through environmental regulation or green energy or anything like that.”
“Now I can finally just relax,” he continued. “This really makes things so much easier.”
The CEO remarked that, back when it was still possible to halt the devastating effects of climate change, he constantly feared that the energy industry would be forced to make costly concessions toward sustainability, perhaps investing in expensive technology that would reduce oil and gas companies’ environmental impact, and thereby severely harm his corporation’s bottom line.
Tillerson told reporters that growing public interest in wind and solar energy gave him “a pretty good scare” for a while, but noted how he eventually came to realize the public’s engagement was largely limited to vocalizing support for the initiatives rather than taking any substantive action to move the overall energy sector in those directions. He also admitted to losing sleep in 2009 when Congress considered regulating carbon emissions with a cap-and-trade system, although he said he now felt silly for ever believing that might actually happen.
While he became less worried about the possibility of government regulation after seeing the rapid melting of polar ice caps go completely unchecked, Tillerson stated that he was careful not to get his hopes up too high until humanity had blown through every last milestone for averting the worst effects of global warming, including atmospheric carbon dioxide surpassing 400 parts per million and average worldwide temperatures exceeding 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels.
“After scientists started saying we were in the middle of a global mass extinction event and still nobody at any level did anything to try to stop it—that’s when I knew we were in the clear,” said Tillerson, remarking that, by that point, he had become certain everyone would just keep driving their gas-powered vehicles and running their air conditioners 24 hours a day no matter what. “There’s just no way people are going to start switching over to renewables at this point. Hell, even if the whole world demanded new fuel-efficiency standards today, they’d be completely useless now that we’re beyond the point of no return, so really, why even bother?”
“And thank goodness,” he added. “Everyone’s complete hopelessness about the whole situation really is the best thing that could have happened to us.”