The bland phrase "climate change" makes rising sea levels seem like a minor shift caused by Mother Nature rather than a planetwide catastrophe caused by us. Environmental activists use the term regularly despite its having originated with Republican strategist Frank Luntz (of "death tax" fame). A Naked Capitalism commenter opined that "global warming" isn't helpful to convince the uninitiated if it's snowing outside. Richard Stallman suggests “Global heating” as a more accurate substitute. “Climate disruption”? "Oil company-caused climate disruption?"
One oil company, having recently been outed as knowing about this all along, is fighting back, claiming that climate science is opinion and that the US First Amendment protects their right -- as a corporate person -- to have the opinion that they weren't responsible. This is actually in court right now.
In a nutshell, attorneys general Healey (Massachusetts) and Schneiderman (NY) have been investigating Exxon and Exxon has sued to stop them.
[Exxon's lawyer] Anderson told the judge that the two attorneys general were attempting to prevent Exxon from exercising its First Amendment right to free speech and said that Healey and Schneiderman were attempting to silence those who disagree with their opinions, specifically the causes, impacts, remedies and severity of climate change.
[Judge Valerie] Caproni wasn’t convinced, telling Anderson that Healey and Schneiderman don’t care about Exxon’s opinion, they care about Exxon’s disclosure.
“You don’t have the right to lie in your SEC filings,” said Caproni, who added that while Exxon can’t be penalized for its opinion, it can be penalized for lying.
Judge Caproni has a sharp wit, as shown in this exchange (quoted by Climate Liability News):
Exxon attorney Justin Anderson told Caproni that evidence suggests the investigations were motivated by activists, including those associated with the Rockefeller Family Fund.
Caproni scoffed at the suggestion, suggesting that Exxon should then sue the Rockefellers.
“Ironic,” said Caproni, who pointed out that it was Rockefellers who originally founded Standard Oil, a predecessor of Exxon.
“Disturbing,” said Anderson.
“Fascinating,” said Caproni.
“Could be both,” said Anderson, adding that he wondered what happened to make them jump on the climate change bandwagon.
“They care whether subsequent Rockefellers can breathe,” said Caproni.