Not long after images of a gas pipeline fire at an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico captured global attention, video has resurfaced of “Ellen’s Energy World”, an ExxonMobil-sponsored pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center that featured comedian Ellen DeGeneres and science commentator Bill Nye the Science Guy extolling offshore drilling and downplaying climate concerns while parroting fossil fuel industry talking points.
In the video, shared on Saturday on Twitter by writer Peter Brannen, the two celebs can be seen going on a fantastical adventure, flying through the sky and plunging under the water to see an offshore drilling rig. (The ride, sponsored by Exxon through at least 2004, closed in 2017.)
“Many of the easily reached petroleum deposits have been tapped,” says Mr Nye, whose work on projects like his television show “Bill Nye Saves The World” often touches on the climate crisis. “Most new discoveries will come from ones in inaccessible or hard-to-reach places.”
Ellen frets that undersea oil is hard to reach, but Mr Nye reassures her: “Oh hey, don’t give up. We can reach the oil with offshore drilling platforms like this!”
Later in the video from the pavilion, which began in 1996, Ellen asks about “global warming”.
“It’s a hot topic with lots of questions,” Mr Nye responds, before pointing to natural gas as promising because it’s “clean burning” even though gas leaks often release methane, a super-charged greenhouse gas far more dangerous than carbon.
Representatives for Disney, Exxon, Ellen, and Mr Nye did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.
The video is not the oil company’s first attempt to reach the thousands of young people who visit Disney World each year.
In 1985, Gizmodo reported, Disney and Exxon partnered on a comic book called Mickey and Goofy Explore The Universe of Energy at Epcot Energy in 1985, about the need to seek out new fossil fuel sources. In it they mention the port of Valdez in Alaska, the site of one of the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, one of the largest in US history. Exxon knew about the threat of the climate crisis as early as the 1970s, reporting has revealed, and it became widely known in the late 1980s thanks to the 1988 congressional testimony of James Hansen and other efforts.
Still, the company spent decades refusing to publicly acknowledge the climate crisis and funded misinformation efforts about the topic, according to Scientific American.