Monday, February 25, 2013

Wrong Then, Wrong Now

Perhaps he does this about every four years.

If you're old enough, you remember when George F. Will, though conservative, had a handle, however tenuous, on reality.  Not so anymore.

In February, 2009 Will wrote a column attacking what he believed to be the hysteria behind the predictions of global warming.  He concluded by claiming "according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade, or one-third of the span since the global cooling scare."

Will's column was widely debunked.  In one instance, author Chris Mooney wrote

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is one of many respected scientific institutions that support the consensus that humans are driving global warming. Will probably meant that since 1998 was the warmest year on record according to the WMO -- NASA, in contrast, believes that that honor goes to 2005 -- we haven't had any global warming since. Yet such sleight of hand would lead to the conclusion that "global cooling" sets in immediately after every new record temperature year, no matter how frequently those hot years arrive or the hotness of the years surrounding them. Climate scientists, knowing that any single year may trend warmer or cooler for a variety of reasons -- 1998, for instance, featured an extremely strong El NiƱo -- study globally averaged temperatures over time. To them, it's far more relevant that out of the 10 warmest years on record, at least seven have occurred in the 2000s -- again, according to the WMO.

Will additionally had contended that there was a global cooling consensus in the 1970s.  He included exceedingly brief quotes from the New York Times, 5/21/75; Science Magazine, 12/10/76; International Wildlife, 7/75; Science Digest, 2/73; Christian Science Monitor, 8/27/74; and four other references.  Mooney, however, noted that a recently published Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society examined studies between 1965 and 1979 (inclusive) and concluded "emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated "the scientific literature even then."

Fast-forward to February, 2013.   In a column inspired by his belief that the concern that the upcoming sequester will damage the economy considerably is mere hype, Will attempts to draw an analogy to what he still claims was a fear of global cooling in the 1970s.  In it, he refers to- you guessed it- the New York Times of May 1975, Science Magazine of December 1976, International Wildlife of July 1975, Science Digest of February 1973, and the Christian Science Monitor of August 1974.

In the aforementioned study (pdf), Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck, found 71 papers which discussed a factor which would affect the global climate from a period of decades to a century.  They found seven (7) suggesting global cooling, 44 implying warming, and 20 which were neutral.   "A major cooling of the planet," Will quotes The New York Times- twice- was "widely considered inevitable."  Apparently, ten percent (10%) of experts is considered "widely" in the world of George Frederick Will, master of disinformation.

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