Everyone is, quite rightly, upset about George Will’s recent column on global cooling. It’s the kind of thing that should be hugely embarrassing, to Will and to every last person who works at the Post. I like to think that if I worked for a publication that unapologetically put out such bilgewater and refused to make corrections when called on it, that I’d threaten to quit. But of course, that’s not how it works. This is just one of those times when it’s understood that papers sometimes work to make their readers less informed, because, well, I don’t know why. That’s just what happens.
The point of giving columns to Will and Charles Krauthammer and now hiring Bill Kristol is to show that Fred Hiatt and The Washington Post believe that whatever random crap the conservative movement wants to make up on any given day will get a hearing in The Washington Post. Theyâ€™re not interested in informing their audience, theyâ€™re interested in showing that theyâ€™ll bend over backwards to be fair to the right wing. Publishing error-free articles by movement icons serves that purpose, but publishing sloppy error-filled ones serves that purpose even better.
I don’t know why the Post would want to do this, but assuming that their goals was to show they’d bend over backwards for conservatives, publishing any old laughably false column is a good way to achieve that purpose. My question is why conservatives think it advances their purpose to continue this demonstrably wrong adherence to climate change denialism. This isn’t like, say, evolution. Scientific evidence of evolution is quite strong and will only continue to get stronger, but that growing evidence won’t be ever more obvious to the layperson. Birds, for instance, won’t start evolving faster and faster until it’s frighteningly clear that evolution is real and all those deniers were, in fact, cranks.
But the planet is getting warmer, and people are going to notice. Will can talk about global cooling all he wants, but arctic ice is actually disappearing. Snowpacks are shrinking. Droughts are intensifying. Sea-levels are rising. And this isn’t going to stop.
Climate change denialism is like arguing at three that in two hours it won’t be five. However convincing you think you are, you will ultimately be revealed as a fool and a charlatan. Even though I disagree with Jim Manzi’s outlook on climate change policy (and incidentally, Jim, if you’re reading — do stories like this affect your assessment of the need for significant action?) it has the notable advantage of not dooming him, with complete certainty, to laughingstock-hood.