The Mix

Taking denial to the next level

Does George Will's column yesterday signify a desperate response to the momentum to fight global warming?
Last week I blogged about the Time cover story and a new poll that showed the vast majority of Americans are deeply concerned about global warming, and that getting the government to make serious efforts to fight it is a high priority.

It seems like perhaps the Bush administration and its pro-industry, anti-Earth backers are stepping up the fight. In his syndicated column yesterday, George Will wrote:
Eighty-five percent of Americans say warming is probably happening, and 62 percent say it threatens them personally. The National Academy of Sciences says the rise in the Earth's surface temperature has been about one degree Fahrenheit in the past century. Did 85 percent of Americans notice? Of course not. They got their anxiety from journalism calculated to produce it. Never mind that one degree might be the margin of error when measuring the planet's temperature. To take a person's temperature, you put a thermometer in an orifice or under an arm. Taking the temperature of our churning planet, with its tectonic plates sliding around over a molten core, involves limited precision.
To which the authors of the always-excellent Progress Report respond:
There is not a shred of scientific evidence to support Will's position that the earth is not warming. Science Magazine analyzed 928 peer-reviewed scientific papers on global warming published between 1993 and 2003. Not a single one challenged the scientific consensus that the earth's temperature is rising due to human activity. The National Academy of Sciences (which the Bush administration recently called "the gold standard of independent scientific review") concluded in 2001, "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise." In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded global warming is "real and has been particularly strong within the past 20 years due mostly to human activities. The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have also "issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling."
With so much hard science behind global warming, and so many signs that its effects are accelerating, the only response that global warming deniers have is to pull a rhetorical sleight of hand and blame not the industries that value profits over responsible behavior, but (and you can probably see this coming) the media.

Yes, Will closes out his column with this inane and deceptive thought:
Why have Americans been slow to get in lock step concerning global warming? -- perhaps the "problem" is not big oil or big coal, both of which have discovered there is big money to be made from tax breaks and other subsidies justified in the name of combating carbon.

Perhaps the problem is big crusading journalism.
If only we could flip that mirror around and have George Will see the truth in his own words.
Matthew Wheeland is AlterNet's managing editor.
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