I stumbled upon a mention of the two-page spread pictured above while reading Steve Coll’s excellent new book, “Private Empire” (Penguin Press), which highlights the outsized worldwide power of ExxonMobil. The ad—by Exxon precursor Humble Oil—appeared in the February 2, 1962 issue of Life magazine and features the headline: “Each day Humble supplies enough energy to melt 7 million tons of glacier!”
How times have changed. Fifty years ago, a major oil company had no misgivings about using the potential destruction of a majestic glacier to convey the enormous power of its energy output. Today, of course, scientists regard “the retreat of glaciers and mankind’s unembarrassed capacity to melt them as signs of a slowly unfolding global catastrophe,” as Coll puts it.
In case you’re wondering, the glacier pictured in the ad is Alaska’s Taku Glacier.