President Obama has declared that the science is settled. Key staff appointees share this assertion. But there are credible business publications and a growing number of well-regarded scientific experts who are pressing the claim that the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ is challenged by ‘inconvenient facts’ – including the fact that it is cold outside! These experts claim the science is not settled. They assert that the climate change models are not accurate, and they point to contrary and historical data that call into question how much weather changes are correlated to carbon energy use rather than natural and cyclical phenomena. These subjects will feature at an international conference in New York in mid-March.

This is more than a theoretical debate. By assuming that the science is settled, US leaders are ordering a transformative reorientation of government policy as well as challenging (and expensive) transitions for places and industries that rely on carbon-based fuels. These changes may also foster substantial new business opportunities. During the past three years, venture capitalists have invested more than $5bn into 500 clean energy companies. The farther down these paths that business leaders have travelled, the less likely they will be bothered by whether or not there is settled science.

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Looking ahead, even if events such as the March conference lead towards an alternative tipping point, many minds, including some of the most powerful minds, may not be willing to backtrack very far. But, if a change in the climate of opinion is in the air, the new policies, regulations and incentives may become a bit less transformative.

Daniel Malachuk works with business and government leaders on global direct investment strategies. He has advised many of the world’s leading companies and served in the public sector as director of White House operations.

E-mail: daniel.malachuk@gmail.com