In a decision that could have much more impact than has been reported, a state court has thrown out New York’s case against ExxonMobil for securities fraud allegedly perpetrated in the company’s misrepresentation of the threat of climate change, a charge the investigation of which the judge in the case described as “politically motivated”. No surprise there. The left has been arguing for years that those who disagree with their views on this threat and their preferred policy prescriptions should be prosecuted, and this case was to be their crown jewel of criminal prosecution for corporate “deniers”. Current and former Attorneys General from New York and California, including one current presidential candidate, made valiant attempts to that end. This is a major setback for this movement and its underlying misguided ideology of “settled science”.
I haven’t written much about this debate over the years because, frankly, I have not felt qualified to deal with much of the science involved beyond the philosophical aspects, i. e., what can science know and how can it know it. But I do try and keep up with the reasoned commentary and recently I was struck by an essay in the Claremont Review of Books by Christopher Caldwell which more fully encapsulates my thinking than anything I have read. The essay is entitled “From Saving the Earth to Ruling the World”. It is quite long, but this excerpt provides the crux of the article:
Solving the problem of global warming in the manner activists desire would require not only that we put our own moral house in order but also that we threaten those countries that insist on, say, burning coal to achieve the same lifestyle we already have. It would mean the equivalent of a non-proliferation treaty, to deny not weaponry but comfort and sustenance. (Although the weaponry would be denied, too, because to de-carbonize a society is essentially to disarm it.) Short of war, or statesmanship of the least democratic kind, it is hard to see how the anti-warming agenda can be carried out. Today’s climate politics are incompatible not just with this or that state but with the continuation of the state system in general.
Climate change is one of a family of crises of modernity involving Promethian hubris and unfunded externalities…….the Enlightenment has many aspects. It is a source values, the source of a new type of domination by experts, and the source of energy-extracting technologies that have brought wealth beyond man’s wildest dreams. Like many problems the Enlightenment gets called on to solve, this is one of its own making.