New York’s Attorney general is sending out the message that corporations who fund climate change skeptics will face political reprisal.
New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has started an investigation of Exxon Mobil “to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business.” According to The New York Times, its sources “said the inquiry would include a period of at least a decade during which Exxon Mobil funded outside groups that sought to undermine climate science.” See what they did there? To have a different view of climate science is to “undermine” it because there is no scientific study of the climate except that which they agree with.
We should start with the observation that Exxon could not possibly have “lied” about climate change, even if it intended to, because first there would have to be a proven truth on the subject. If the company later contradicted warnings about global warming issued by scientists it funded in the 1980s, that would be justified by the fact that those warnings were almost certainly wrong. The arguments for global warming have been undercut — not by anything Exxon did — but by what the earth didn’t do. It didn’t keep warming, with global temperatures leveling off for the past 15 to 20 years. Global temperatures are now trending at or below the lowest, least dire predictions of warming.
But this isn’t really about the science, is it? To make it clear that this is entirely a political witch hunt, the Times explains that “the company published extensive research over decades that largely lined up with mainstream climatology. Thus, any potential fraud prosecution might depend on exactly how big a role company executives can be shown to have played in directing campaigns of climate denial, usually by libertarian-leaning political groups.”