I started out several times to write a caustic post addressed to America’s business elite about their histrionic reactions over the past two weeks to President Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. But what’s the point? It’s not like they’re going to listen to little ol’ me.

Perhaps for other folks who’ve been cheering them on, though, a little additional information may be of value.

A quick note up front: this post has nothing to do with the merits of the science regarding climate change. You can be 100% convinced that global warming is a real and immediate threat to humanity, and still fully agree with President Trump’s action.

Next, a dose of harsh marketplace reality: for some of the CEOs in question, their signing a letter urging the President against his action beforehand or issuing an emotional “resistance”-style missive afterward is just marketing, a virtue-signaling means to increase their companies’ appeal to their primarily urban liberal customers. As such, it has absolutely nothing to do with “saving the planet.” Cynical? Sure – but what’s a little cynicism when it comes to making money?

But General Mills? Kellogg? P&G? Staples? For these kinds of companies, whose primary customers are the struggling moms and dads in “flyover country,” it looks like more of the ill-advised hyper-partisan Ivy-League-bubble obtuseness that cloyed so heavily around the many “Letters to My Team” our business elite issued after the President’s election in November or after his Executive Order on immigration some months ago (which looks increasingly sensible, given the spate of recent terror attacks). As I pointed out then, for firms such as these, such pandering to extreme “progressivism” is likely to go over just as well with their customers as it did for the Democratic Party with voters the last couple of election cycles.

Through a less partisan lens, however, I’d like to point out another reason last week’s pronouncements by top executives were so wrongheaded. I didn’t see a single one (and I read a good many) that offered any facts whatsoever. There were lots of admonishing, near-weepy pronouncements about “the global community,” “being in this together,” “taking care of the planet,” “competitiveness,” “efficient technologies,” “setting clear goals,” or loads of other claptrap. Many expressed “disappointment” with the President’s decision, without offering any reason why. A few offered opinions about the Paris accord creating millions of “green” jobs without any evidence to support the notion. Not one made any mention of the downsides of the agreement.

I offer you this thought: when one side of an argument offers only emotion or unsupported opinion, and the other side offers cold, hard reasoning and fact, that’s a telling indicator of the solidity of each position. The folks agreeing with the President, and the President himself, offered the following:

  • Were the US to keep its commitments in the agreement, it would have cost our deeply indebted nation trillions of dollars and an overall loss of jobs – specifically, as documented by the Heritage Foundation:
    • An overall annual average shortfall of nearly 400,000 jobs;
    • An average annual manufacturing shortfall of over 200,000 jobs;
    • A total income loss of more than $20,000 for a family of four;
    • An aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) loss of over $2.5 trillion; and
    • Increases in household electricity expenditures of between 13 percent and 20 percent.
  • The agreement is a treaty, yet ex-President Obama attempted to cement US commitment to it by executive action only, one of his many abrogations of his Constitutional responsibilities. Obama sidestepped his clear duty to  submit it for the advice and consent of the US Senate. Why? Solely because in the Senate, the Paris Agreement would die quickly and ignominiously, since it’s such a patently awful deal for the US.
  • Finally, and most important, even if all nations kept all their commitments (which they won’t, since there’s no enforcement mechanism in the agreement), the Paris accord would theoretically reduce global warming by 0.2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 (as detailed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). This fails the statistical null hypothesis test – the touted “benefit” doesn’t even reach the “background noise” of statistical uncertainty, much less do anything at all to change the planet’s climate.

To summarize: our business elite would have the US abandon proper treaty negotiation and passage, upending centuries of legal and political norms, to force the country and individual citizens to pay trillions of dollars for absolutely no measurable benefit whatsoever. Huh?

This reinforces my belief that there’s a dangerous partisan echo chamber at executive levels of US corporations. To any CEOs who might accidentally be listening: about half of your customers and employees on average, and a sizable majority in America’s heartland, believe that a lot of what you’re outspoken about is pure rubbish. Continuing to ignore or belittle those people, rather than stepping outside your bubble to learn about, value, and address their viewpoints and concerns, is poor leadership indeed.