Where to Draw a Line on Climate Denial

Joel B. Stronberg
10 min readNov 5, 2019

More Questions than Answers

It appears that presidential press secretaries are not the only ones doing headers into the hedges to avoid having to answer potentially embarrassing questions. Sean Spicer’s dive into the history books made for great journalistic sport and allowed Melissa McCarthy to show-OFF her considerable comedic talents.

Spicer’s hiding in the greenery is not exactly what’s implied by the term hedging. However, as I will explain a bit further on, companies and organizations like Google, Shell, Bank of America, the US Chamber of Commerce, and Amazon are doing their own version of the Spicey — a hedging maneuver they would have preferred to remain hidden from journalists and the climate defense community. Maneuvers the climate community should wish them not to engage in in the first place.

Investors understand hedging to be a strategy designed to offset a potential loss on one investment by purchasing a second investment that is expected to perform in the opposite way. Most of us engage in the practice whether we’re aware of it or not. The purchase of health or auto insurance, for example, is a form of hedging.

Hedging in politics is not very different from pairing investments or paying for insurance. The goal in each of the cases is to offset a potential loss through a countervailing action. In politics, the loss usually being hedged against is access rather than dollars.

Political hedges come in a variety of forms and flavors. For example, a political action committee (PAC) that contributes campaign dollars to candidates of both parties is hedging its bets the same as any gambler.

Another hedging example is when a contributor sponsors activities of organizations with opposing stances on climate science, e.g., the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the American Conservative Union (ACU). The giver in these cases is looking to establish a line of credit with each of the groups, credit lines that could be drawn down in the future for help in passing legislation, or an introduction to an influential lawmaker or cabinet secretary.

Increasingly solar, biofuel, and wind companies are making hedged investments through their PACs. The biggest renewable-related PAC in the current election cycle…

Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.