The Securities and Exchange Commission is demanding that publicly traded U.S. companies disclose their risks from man-made global warming to shareholders.
As a former federal regulator, I can foresee a whole range of possible risk assessments. Companies could tell their stockholders:
— To protect your share values, our company is planning to relocate our production assets to China. We’ll send our forwarding address when we get there.
— We believe it will be impossible to profitably manufacture aluminum under the proposed energy tax regime, and will sell out before everybody else realizes this.
— We believe the U.S. government can and will sharply reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and that Europe, China, and India will be persuaded to follow suit. Thus there will be no risk of the planet overheating, and your shares will retain their full value.
Here’s the risk assessment I would suggest they give their stockholders:
There’s still an urgent debate on whether the recent global warming has been caused by man-made CO2 or solar variation. The correlation between CO2 and our thermometer record is a meager 22 percent; the correlation with sunspots is a much stronger 79 percent.
Ice cores, seabed sediments, fossil pollen, and ancient Chinese court records all clearly indicate a long, moderate climate cycle of 1,500 years, plus or minus 500. The cycle puts an abrupt 2-4 degree Celsius kink in the temperature record every few hundred years at the latitude of Washington and Beijing. There have been five such previous warmings just since the end of the last ice age — all of them moderate. The warmings were the good times for humanity. The “little ice ages” were bitter and harsh, featuring famines, frostbite, and disease epidemics — all extremely bad for business.
Never have we seen the “runaway warming” predicted by Dr. James Hansen when he appeared before a Senate committee in 1988. When he testified again in 2008, global temperatures had actually declined. Clearly, the computer models have failed to predict the climate future.
In 2003, meteorologist Eugenia Kalnay used temperature records from satellites and high-altitude balloons to backcast U.S. surface temperatures “without cities or land-use changes.” She concluded U.S. land temperature increases since 1940 have been overestimated by 40 percent. James Goodridge, then California State Climatologist, reported in 1992 that the state’s urban counties (more than a million residents) had had temperature gains of more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit per century, while rural counties showed no temperature trend. Thus the real warming of the past 70 years is probably no more than 0.1 degree Celsius — well within the range of normal variability.
Our company cannot forecast how long the current warming will last, but we sincerely hope it will persist for several more centuries. The next climate cooling could be merely harsh or a full-bore ice age, with temperatures dropping 10 degrees Celsius.
Either would be very bad for business.
Thank you. We look forward to your continued support.
If the SEC demands a more politically correct agreement with the global warming alarmists, let them dictate it — and sign it.
E. Kalnay and M. Cai, 2003, “Estimating the Impact of Urbanization and Land Use on U.S. Surface Temperature Trends: Preliminary Report,” Nature 423, pp. 528-531.
James D. Goodridge, 1992, “Urban Bias Influences on Long-term California Air Temperature Trends,” Atmospheric Environment 26B, pp 1-7