George Will on Climate Change: What’s Wrong With Him?

George Will.jpg

George Will has written one of the worst pieces I’ve ever read: “Climate change’s instructive past.” If my introductory college students had written this essay I would respond: “This is so poorly reasoned, please don’t expect to receive credit.” Or “I recommend an introductory logic class before you write another essay.” Or “Please don’t turn in such nonsense again.”

Will was once an intelligent man. I don’t know what happened to him. Our brains do shrink as we age, still, it’s just hard to believe that he believes what he writes. I suppose a non-scientist like Will, writing about a topic on which the experts are in virtually unanimous agreement, might be correct. Perhaps he’s a genius. But not likely.

In defense of his anti-science position, Will cites two books by historians who note that past climate change wasn’t caused by human activity. From this, he concludes that present climate change isn’t caused by human activity. Really? That’s like saying that in the past people died from natural causes so today no one can be murdered. The argument is ridiculous. Here it is in syllogistic form:

In the past, there have been warming periods not caused by human activity.
Therefore today’s warming period is (probably) not caused by human activity.

Logic teachers shake their heads. And I can just see the climate scientists discussing the column.”Hey Joe, did you know that some climate change in the past wasn’t attributable to human activity?” “Oh my God Bob, I never thought of that! I don’t think anybody who has devoted their life to studying the climate knew this! All of our evidence and the scientific consensus go out the window! I’m so glad George Will taught us about climate history! We had forgotten to include that in our calculations!”

Of course, every climatologist knows that the climate has changed in the past from natural causes. That’s one of the things they study. But that doesn’t refute the overwhelming evidence for human-caused climate change.

I wish Mr. Will wouldn’t insult our intelligence; I wish he’d retire. Perhaps he’s now just a shill for the oil companies. Perhaps he’s just an old curmudgeon. Or maybe he’s arrogant, so in love with his own intellect that he doesn’t know there are scientists who really understand science. They go to their laboratories every day trying to tease a bit of truth out of nature. They don’t just pontificate about science from their office chairs and then write op-eds. 


Addendum – Of the nearly 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers published between 1991 – 2012 exactly 0.17% either reject warming or attribute it primarily to causes other than CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

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5 thoughts on “George Will on Climate Change: What’s Wrong With Him?

  1. George is a smart man but he can be off the mark. Some really Intelligent Politicians, writers and media pundits with no science background say the most remarkably stupid things. I am constantly floored by their teasing skills.

    Being elected to Congress should require a 11 week course on Reasong, Critical Thinking and understanding how science works and how it is a set of tools for thinking.

  2. Our system selects the worst people, not the best, for public office. I think it’s the money, graft and power that attracts to “ne’er do wells”.
    Youtube, search on Paul Beckwith for Climate news. He’s a professor at University of Ottawa, that keeps his finger on the pulse of the Arctic, assembling the latest data from global sources.
    He’s the nutty professor type, hard to follow but logical, detailed and objective. Once you get his message, you’ll think differently about how to live.

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