Even oil tycoons are worried

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For anyone who still thinks global warming is a bunch of hullabaloo, they might have missed a Forbes story about the Rockefellers in April.

You might already know that John D. Rockeller founded Standard Oil Co. and became the richest man in America until he died in 1937. The New York Times this month declared him the richest American ever, when measuring individual wealth as a percentage of the economy. (Bill Gates placed fifth; Warren Buffett 16th.)

One of the companies that descended from Standard today is Exxon Mobil. The Rockefeller family fortune is dispersed over about 300 family members, and they own part of Exxon Mobil. Further, they are upset at Exxon Mobil, even though last year it posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company ever.

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The Rockefellers say the company has become myopic, according to Forbes. They want the company to look at the effects of global warming and develop a renewable energy policy. They want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Exxon Mobil operations and products. They also want the company executive to no longer serve as the board chairman, saying the change would provide an alternative perspective.

Read what Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, a great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, told Forbes:

“The truth is that Exxon Mobil is profiting in the short term from investments and decisions made many years ago, and by focusing on a narrow path that ignores the rapidly shifting energy landscape around the world, including developing nations.”

The story is a realization that even wealthy oil heirs have concerns about the future of the environment. They would like a healthy world for their children and grandchildren. They surely have plenty of time on their hands to draw their conclusions, too.

And the last people you’d expect to utter such concerns are the ones who have profited the most from despoiling the planet. If they are worried about the planet, shouldn’t everyone?