“Essential … This book belongs on the shelf next to Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s Merchants of Doubt, Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, and Christopher Leonard’s Kochland.”—Roy Scranton, author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene
Drawing from hundreds of confidential oil industry documents spanning decades, this explosive work of investigative reporting reveals for the first time the far-right conspiracy that’s stopped the world from preventing the climate crisis.
In The Petroleum Papers, investigative journalist Geoff Dembicki tells the story of how the American oil companies that founded the tar sands in Alberta, Canada—home to the third biggest oil reserves on the planet—ignored warnings about climate devastation as early as 1959. Instead of alerting the world to act on this impending global disaster, Exxon, Koch Industries, Shell and others created ad campaigns saying climate change isn't real and that alternatives to oil are an economic disaster. These companies built a global right-wing echo chamber to ensure tar sands could keep flowing into the U.S., which helped elect Trump and now leaves the Biden administration with a sprawling climate mess.
But Dembicki also tells the high-stakes stories of people fighting back: the Seattle lawyer who brought Big Tobacco to its knees and is now going after Big Oil, a young Filipino activist who saw her family drown in a climate disaster, and a former engineer at Exxon who was pushed out for asking too many hard questions. With experts now warning we have less than a decade to get global emissions under control, The Petroleum Papers provides a step-by-step account of how we got to this precipice and the politicians and companies who deserve our blame.
Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute
About the author
Geoff Dembicki is an investigative climate change reporter from Alberta, Canada, home of the largest tar sand deposits in the world. His book Are We Screwed? won the 2018 Green Prize for Sustainable Literature. He is a regular contributor to the Tyee and VICE. He lives in Brooklyn.