A shred of reality.

I never thought I would see a New York Times article critical of climate change, but Joe Nocera’s Talking Business column on Saturday actually did it. In discussing a petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission to force companies to disclose their "climate change risk" in their statements, he had this comment:

I realize that many of you have just put down your morning coffee in order to nod your head in approval. But I would ask you, please, hold the applause. Putting aside the fact that both the Ceres petition and the Cuomo subpoenas are feats primarily of environmental grandstanding, the real problem is that these measures, appealing though they may seem at first glance, are misleading and disingenuous. To put it more bluntly, they are an attempt to use regulation and litigation to force companies to toe the environmentist party line on global warming, and to change corporate business models in ways that are more pleasing to the environmental community. It’s environmental tyranny disguised as public policy.

He explains the potential outcome:

And why is he doing this? For the same purpose that Mr. Spitzer used the Blodget e-mail: to force an industry to change its behavior. See, once he has the messages in hand, he can brandish them before the court of public opinion to “prove” that Peabody Energy is hiding the truth about the risks inherent in building coal fired plants. Of course, at least part of the risk facing Peabody Energy is the risk of being sued by environmentalists — who will use Mr. Cuomo’s “evidence” to do just that. It’s lovely the way this works, isn’t it? You investigate them for not disclosing risk, even as you’re creating the risk through your investigation.

And he points out the reasoning behind this:

In the end, both the Ceres and Cuomo efforts are little more than sideshows — but telling ones nonetheless. They presume that all right-thinking people should believe what they believe about global warming — and that therefore public policy can be built around those presumptions. They assume that the big, bad corporations must be brought to heel even as the rest of us continue to buy our S.U.V.’s and sixth iPod.

Finally, a shred of reality.

And he asks a favorite question of mine:

Question for William Safire: why did the phrase “global warming” morph into “climate change?” Just wondering.

I’m pretty sure that I know the answer to that one.All too frequently global warming proponents have been faced with bothersome issues like falling temperatures and unfortunate things like snowstorms (see the Gore Effect). When you change to the term "climate change" you no longer have to deal with the pesky requirement to provide proof of warming. Suddenly everything – drought, snow, early frost, and the like – are all proof of your hypothesis.

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