Peak George Will: Sadly, stubbornly, repeatedly wrong on climate change

America is watching longtime conservative columnist George Will slowly flush himself out of the mainstream and into the nation’s right-wing media plumbing. His column Wednesday on climate change sees him swirl even deeper into the works.

Climate progress sums up:

[blockquote]Will reviews two books that explicitly show how even modest regional changes in climate can have devastating impacts on human society. Will manages to ignore the authors’ long discussions of this point and instead conclude that because the climate changed in the past for reasons other than human-caused carbon pollution, we can’t know that carbon pollution will cause harmful changes in the future…

It would be exactly the same as saying that because people who didn’t smoke have died of cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer, we can’t know that cigarette smoking also causes those diseases and is unhealthy. In fact, climate scientists now have the same degree of certainty that human-caused emissions are changing the climate as they do that cigarette smoking is harmful.

Both of these books make clear that the historical record should make one more concerned about what modern human-caused climate change will do to society, not less. Before joining the throng directly debunking Will’s column, as Climate Nexus does here, let me point out that it’s obvious Will has never talked to leading paleo-climate scientists, since they are, in my experience, much more concerned about human-caused warming than most scientists.

Why are they more concerned? Because the paleoclimate record is alarming: “The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts even to small nudges,” climate scientist Wallace Broecker said in 1995.[/blockquote]



  1. George Will has a Ph.D in politics from Princeton, a Pulitzer Prize, a nationally syndicated column (approximately 400 papers) and appeared twice on the New York Times best sellers list. The mere mention of his name elevates the standing of those who use it.

    But he has committed a sin worse than using the n-word, worse than being involved in domestic violence worse even than insisting Michael Sam didn’t make the NFL because he wasn’t good enough: He has sought to question those who have embraced global warming as a religion.

    And for that egregious and unforgivable indiscretion Mr. Will has been labeled a (gasp!) GLOBAL WARMING DENIER!!!

    The frustration of those who worship at the Church of the Holy Smokes it’s Getting Warm doesn’t stem from George Will but rather polling which suggests Americans don’t believe climate change is an important issue. In one poll climate change was eclipsed by 13 other issues Americans considered more important including the economy, federal spending,the budget deficit, unemployment and the size and power of the Federal government.

    The cigarette smoking analogy is interesting only because despite known health risks neither the smoking nor exporting of cigarettes has been banned. Instead, our government has decided that warning labels and onerous taxes are sufficient punishments. A rather cynical approach that allows the government to generate another revenue stream at the expense of those putting their lives at risk by buying and using a known carcinogen.


    And make no mistake, the government will be more than willing to ignore warmists if they can figure out how to turn the global warming hysteria into another revenue stream.

    George Will has suggested, and Climate Progress agrees, reading the two books he based his column on. Unfortunately, the Colorado Independent didn’t deem that newsworthy and as a result did not publish the names and authors of those books.

    So, as a public service, I will:

    “The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century,” William Rosen 

     “Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century,” Geoffrey Parker

    You’re welcome.

  2. Dear Editor,
    Thank you for John Tomasic’s excellent essay pointing out some of the basic flaws in George Will’s column. It’s sad that a well-educated person like Will participates in the dissemination of doubt manufactured by fossil fuel interests when there is no doubt amongst scientists that our current climate change is being caused primarily by humans. Some studies suggest that 110% of measured warming is due to human causes.

    Want to know more? Want to know how to stabilize the climate during this era of excessive greenhouse gas emissions? Please contact your local chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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