Pundit George Will embraced his anti-truth nature when he jumped from ABC to Fox News last year. If only he had jumped from Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post to Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal.
But Bezos, the founder of Amazon — a company built around technology and hard-nosed accounting — must be accountable for the unadulterated anti-science nonsense of his columnists. Charles Krauthammer published his umpteenth falsehood-fest last week. In a debunking, climatologist Michael Mann notes his “laundry list of shopworn talking points [is] so predictable now in climate change denialist lore that one can make a drinking game out of it.”
This week, George Will outdid Krauthammer by dropping the “N” word:
No wonder “97 percent” — who did the poll? — of climate scientists agree. When a Nazi publishing company produced “100 Authors Against Einstein,” the target of this argument-by-cumulation replied: “Were I wrong, one professor would have been quite enough.”
Yes, Will believes the community of climate scientists warning the public about the dangers of unrestricted carbon pollution is analogous to Nazi attacks on Albert Einstein. This is apparently a whole new messaging strategy for the deniers. Last week, Roy Spencer announced that from now on he will refer to many politicians and scientists as “global warming Nazis.”
Of course Will can’t be bothered to use Google to find out that the “poll” is actually a peer-reviewed analysis of more than 10,000 recent scientific papers on climate science. For Will, like John Christy, there is no greater proof scientists are wrong than when they commit the cardinal sin of agreeing with each other. He writes:
Obama says “the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” When a politician says, concerning an issue involving science, that the debate is over, you may be sure the debate is rolling on and not going swimmingly for his side.
Well, as the AP reported in September, “Top scientists from a variety of fields say they are about as certain that global warming is a real, man-made threat as they are that cigarettes kill.”
So I guess we better remove all those Surgeon General warnings from cigarette packs, since scientists are just too collectively over-confident about the dangers of smoking for them to actually be right.
Will has the chutzpah to sneer:
Secretary of State John Kerry, our knight of the mournful countenance, was especially apocalyptic recently when warning that climate change is a “weapon of mass destruction.” Like Iraq’s?
Let’s go back to October 2003, when Will wrote a column defending our Iraqi war policy — despite our inability to actually find WMD. He argued that some actions must be taken with incomplete knowledge:
How much certainty is requisite as a basis for action depends in part on the consequences of being wrong.
Yet we had no idea what the likelihood of being right about WMD was, nor, truthfully, what the consequences of being wrong about WMD in Iraq were (since even if Saddam had them, we don’t know if he would ever have used them against us).
The tragedy here is that the likelihood the overwhelming majority of climate scientists are right is exceedingly high — and we know the consequences of Will being wrong about climate change are a century or more of needless misery for billions of people. That would constitute the basis for action if Will had any intellectual consistency.
But then that 2003 column was titled “Right Man, Right Job” and was a defense of … wait for it … Donald Rumsfeld. In punditry — unlike in climate policy — there is never any consequence for being catastrophically wrong. Indeed, Will has been so blatantly wrong about climate change for so long that back in 2009, two Washington Post reporters took the unprecedented step of contradicting him in a news article.
The Washington Post’s recent track record on climate change is indefensible. Last year, they removed their top climate reporter, Juliet Eilperin, from the environment beat, and their coverage of climate change dropped by one third.
Then in January, the Post dropped star blogger Ezra Klein — one of their only consistent sources of science-based coverage of climate change — and added the climate confusionist blog Volokh Conspiracy. And now their top conservative columnists have declared open season on climate science.
The Amazon rainforest’s dry season is 3 weeks longer now than it was 30 years ago. And experts worry that the Amazon could be devastated by drought and extreme weather if we stay on our current CO2 emissions pathway.
The guy who runs the other Amazon needs to stop letting his newspaper be a source of misinformation and confusion. Otherwise it will be a legacy he and the original Amazon may never recover from.