As a fellow Texan who has lived in Italy for many years but longs for San Antonio, I wish to share some straight thoughts—the way Texans can lay it on the line. By the way, my father was a petroleum geologist, and I worked in the geophysical industry before moving to Italy.

We Texans contributed significantly to the climate debacle. The global warming projections documented by ExxonMobil's own scientists between 1977 and 2003 had modelled global warming due to fossil fuel burning and reasonably estimated how much CO2 would lead to dangerous warming. "Yet, whereas academic and government scientists worked to communicate what they knew to the public, ExxonMobil worked to deny it”1. This campaign of misinformation to delay the curtailing of the use of fossil fuels lasted decades2. According to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the company used many of the same strategies, tactics, organisations, and personnel the tobacco industry used in its denials of the link between lung cancer and smoking3. ExxonMobil and Chevron are also very active lobbyists. And the petroleum industry has had success; the sales of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions are still increasing globally. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are estimated to reach a record of 36.8 billion metric tonnes in 2023. The climate may be on track to heat up an additional 2.7 degrees C, but profits have been great.

By the way, premature deaths from air pollution due to the burning of fossil fuels globally total seven million people annually. Weather and climate-related disasters are growing exponentially. We may not know the hell we are creating.

This brings us, Texans, to the Smokehouse Creek firestorm. As I write, the week-old fire is still only 15 percent contained. It has incinerated more than one million acres, killed at least two people, and burned at least 500 homes and businesses. It is the largest blaze in Texas history.

It’s a wake-up call, a time to stop and reflect.

  • The denial of climate warming is ridiculous. We Texans helped create it.

  • We made profits but failed to be complete energy companies instead of only oil and gas businesses. What a difference several decades would have made.

  • Texas is beginning to actively participate in renewable and energy-efficient solutions. The petroleum industry could invest more in these opportunities rather than doubling down on traditional strategies. Texans are needed to build an efficient energy infrastructure.

  • It is ridiculous to oppose innovation in renewable energy and energy efficiency. In many cases, these alternatives simply cost less. They can be the most competitive solutions. Texas is the leader in wind, generating more than the next three top states, and ranks third in residential solar power. Emotional and political opposition to competitive and climate-favorable forms of energy is destructive. Someone needs to explain this to Trump. Historically, the Republican Party created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and supported the successful cap-and-trade mechanism for reducing sulphur dioxide emissions.

  • The extensive international experience in the petroleum industry should be utilized to facilitate developing countries' energy transition. Complete energy companies can do this by raising finance in developed and emerging markets. Broadening into electric power and infrastructure represents an opportunity.

  • Oil and gas will remain an essential market for decades, while fossil fuels will become progressively less important. It is in the interest of the petroleum industry to seek an orderly energy transition, unlike the rigid opposition of the past. Investments in new oil and gas reserves need to be compatible with future demand.

  • We can agree on adaptation measures. The Panhandle, like other areas of weather and climate disasters, will need to be restored. More importantly, the state requires preventive adaptation. For example, the Texas A&M Forest Service implements the Texas Wildfire Protection Plan (TWPP) and runs innovative programs such as windbreak planning assistance and climate-smart financial initiatives4.

  • Greenhouse gas mitigation is necessary for a better future. We need to admit it. The longer we delay mitigation, the more expensive adaptation will be. It makes economic sense to move quickly. Politicians need to understand this. A mediocre, cruel, and costly future climate is not desirable. To achieve an acceptable global climate, we must help emerging countries confront the problem.

  • Last but not least, is it time to confront the problem of inequality in earnings and wealth in America? We have reached extremes that are tearing apart our country. “The United States exhibits wider disparities of wealth between rich and poor than any other major developed nation... The richest 5 percent of Americans own two-thirds of the wealth"5. “In Texas, the wealth gap is so extreme that 66 billionaires living in the state own more wealth than 70% of Texans combined”6. Income inequality in the US is rising and is the highest among G-7 countries. This implies a substantial portion of Americans are leading very frustrating lives, barely making ends meet. In 2022, fourteen percent of Texans were living below the poverty line7, “they don’t have a pot to piss in," as we might graphically put it. The American dream of the self-made man is out of reach for too many. Democracy becomes strained under this conflicting situation. Countries in Europe and elsewhere have reached more harmony with lower inequality. The energy transition creates jobs.

We should recognize the facts and decide what to do; as a Texan might add with determination, "Come hell or high water."


1 Supran, G.; Rahmstorf, S.; Oreskes, N. (2023-01-13). Assessing ExxonMobil's global warming projections.
2 Curry, R., (2016), Exxon’s Climate Denial History: A Timeline, Greenpeace.
3 Union of Concerned Scientists (2007), Smoke Mirrors & Hot Air. Union of Concerned Scientists. February 2007.
4 Texas A&M Forest Service, (2023), Texas Wildfire Protection Plan.
5, (2024), Facts Wealth Inequality in the United States.
6 Cervantes, S., (2023), Proposition 3 Will Maintain Texas’ Extreme Wealth Inequality, Every Texan, October 20.
7 Salhotra, P., (2023), Texas’ statewide poverty rate declines, but several rural counties see increase in poor residents, Texas Tribune, December 15.