Monday, July 27, 2009

By George (Will), I don't think he's got it!

George Will, the well known conservative columnist and author, dislikes many things. Sure, his disdain for blue jeans and video games (no joke) definitely had us scratching our heads. But it's his apparent hatred of what one could call 'scientific consensuses' that has brought us well beyond head-scratching, and moved us into the 'vision impairment due to excessive eye-rolling' category of shock at his strange selection of things to despise.

In a Washington Post Op-Ed from last week, Mr. Will recycled a worn out claim popular amongst many climate change skeptics:
When New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called upon "young Americans" to "get a million people on the Washington Mall calling for a price on carbon," another columnist, Mark Steyn, responded: "If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you're graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade."
A (seemingly) shocking assertion, right? What's even more shocking is that someone can get away with delivering such obvious misinformation. Kevin Drum does an excellent job responding to the claim:
Here's the deal: Will is being cute. If you're 29, you became an adult in 1998, and average global temperatures last year were lower than they were in 1998. So: no global warming in your adult lifetime.

But as about a thousand serious climate researchers have pointed out, it's not true. Global temps have been trending up for over a century, but in any particular year they can spike up and down quite a bit. In 1998 they spiked up far above the trend line and last year they spiked below the trend line. So 2008 was cooler than 1998.

Of course, you can prove anything you want if you cherry pick your starting and ending points carefully enough. For example: The year 2000 was below the trend line and 2005 was above it. Temps were up 0.4°C in only five years! The seas will be boiling by 2050!
Drum also links to a great graphic from NASA on his blog which clearly shows this positive trend. BUT BE FOREWARNED, in looking at the chart, you run the risk of the following: having your jaw drop all the way to the floor, being rendered speechless for roughly a week, or, at the very least, you may have a strange desire to stare at a photo of George Will and say "tsk-tsk" for hours on end.
To close, we'll let Mr. Drum sum this one up for us:
Sigh.