George Will wrote an embarrassingly inept column for The Washingston Post entitled Dark Green Doomsayers that would almost be laughable had it not been written by a supposedly respected member of the elite press corp.
Will begins by opening a few canards, including the old classic line about scientists worried about global cooling in the 1970s (easily demolished by Dr. Joseph Romm), and then suggests that arctic sea ice has actually returned to 1979 levels this year.
Which prompted the scientists who actually measure arctic sea ice at the Illinois Arctic Climate Research Center to write:
In an opinion piece by George Will published on February 15, 2009 in the Washington Post, George Will states “According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.”
We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.
It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.
I could go on, but I find this comment by Ron on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight to be especially insightful.
I have never thought that George Will understood technical issues. He uses his debate tactics to try to discredit technical ideas he doesn’t understand or disagrees with. His shallow comments have really turned me off to any panel discussions that include him. I can take someone who understands issues and disagrees with me but not someone who wallows in his ignorance and displays it with pride.
Global warming is settled science. I see no reason to debate its veracity in the popular literature if an analysis is not based on fact and our best science. Simply being able to express an opinion does not give anyone a credible platform to contradict objective observations and the scrutiny of top professionals. Contradictions should be based on objective observations and informed analysis and should be reported to the scientific community for review before they are reported to the general public.
I have seen crusaders of all political stripes try to reinterpret science to suit their parochial needs. As far as I’m concerned, that destroys their credibility to me. I’m quite happy to listen to those who disagree with me if they are well informed and can formulate convincing arguments. Substituting debate skills for objective reasoning, such as I believe George Will does, only serves to distract us from honest discussions of difficult problems.
George Will wins this week’s Global Warming Double Dumb Ass Award.