Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Post Finally Prints a Response

Well, the Washington Post has finally printed a reasoned response to George Will's silly climate change column.

In the paper's March 21 edition, more than a month after Will's column appeared, science writer Chris Mooney says:
In a long paragraph quoting press sources from the 1970s, Will suggested that widespread scientific agreement existed at the time that the world faced potentially catastrophic cooling. Today, most climate scientists and climate journalists consider this a timeworn myth.
Yet there's a bigger issue: It's misleading to draw a parallel between "global cooling" concerns articulated in the 1970s and global warming concerns today. In the 1970s, the field of climate research was in a comparatively fledgling state, and scientific understanding of 20th-century temperature trends and their causes was far less settled. Today, in contrast, hundreds of scientists worldwide participate in assessments of the state of knowledge and have repeatedly ratified the conclusion that human activities are driving global warming....
Mooney goes on to calmly debunk Will's abuse of sea ice data and his rather bizarre claim that the UN's World Meteorological Organization said that "there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade." (Of course, the WMO has said no such thing.)

I have quibbles with the response. It seems to imply that AGW critics have more "facts" on their side than they actually do. And I would have stated some things more strongly; for example, rather than "Today, most climate scientists and climate journalists consider this a timeworn myth," I might have said something like "This has been shown to be a myth," and included a link to the relevant AMS study.

But these are indeed just quibbles. Overall it's a nice piece of work. It's reasonable, and it makes its case without hyperbole and ad hominem attacks.

Update: I didn't notice that the same day's Post also contained this letter from WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud disputing the conclusion Will drew from WMO data:
It is a misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge to point to one year as the warmest on record—as was done in a recent Post column—and then to extrapolate that cooler subsequent years invalidate the reality of global warming and its effects.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog. I'll have to come back later and catch up on what you've written. Great wit you have.