Witness the power of words: This week, the world's economic leaders declared at the G8 summit in Italy that global temperatures "ought not to" rise 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. How exactly they would do so, nobody said. Today the conservative WSJ editorial page compares their toothless declaration to King Canute, the ancient royal kook who walked to the beach and commanded the tides to roll back. I agree, that's a really good analogy!

But the analogy only works when the thing we're asking to "roll back" is, in fact, real and damn near inevitable. Did the Wall Street Journal editorial page just admit that climate change is real?


For those uninitiated in the ways of the the WSJ editorial page (and some of its columnists) let's just say they're no friend of scientists -- er, alarmists -- warning of climate change. Sometimes their scorn is expressed in a simple scare quote about "global warming." Other times, the climate change smackdown is less subtle -- see here, here, here, here.

Instead, by beating home the King Canute story, I wonder whether the authors are aware that they're implicitly endorsing the idea that global warming is, in fact, as real and insistent as the morning tide. Indeed, that's the only way their analogy makes sense. If the G8 had made a declaration saying, "Radical Quakers must never threaten the peace and prosperity of the free world," the proper response would be, "I don't think they have much to worry about" not "They're fighting the inevitable!"

At least the authors haven't completely lost their sense of tradition. Half-way down the page:

...Meanwhile, the supposed economic benefits of "green technologies" are evaporating...

It warms the heart.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.