Will’s a glutton for punishment

WILL’S GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT…. Why George Will would choose to return to the issue of global warming is beyond me, but there he goes again.

“Fervently” is how America will henceforth engage in talks on global warming. So said the president’s climate change negotiator Sunday in Germany, at a U.N. conference on reducing carbon emissions. This vow was fervently applauded by conferees welcoming the end of what the AP news story called the Bush administration’s “eight years of obdurate participation” in climate talks.

Reducing carbon emissions supposedly will reverse warming, which is allegedly occurring even though, according to statistics published by the World Meteorological Organization, there has not been a warmer year on record than 1998.

It gets worse from there — these are just the first two paragraphs — but let’s pause to appreciate how wrong the column is from the start.

The first problem is obvious: “Reducing carbon emissions supposedly will reverse warming.” Wrong. No one’s saying that at all. The point is to reduce emissions to prevent global warming from getting worse. Will not only doesn’t understand the nature of the crisis, he doesn’t even understand the nature of the arguments.

The other problem is with singling out 1998, an unusually hot year. As Jon Chait explained, Will “fails to understand a very basic concept in data that you don’t need any particular social science expertise to grasp, which is that trends don’t always move in a perfectly straight line. The planet has been getting warmer, and there was an extreme spike in 1998. Both these things can be true.”

Will really should just avoid this topic altogether. For that matter, the Post‘s editors should probably take a closer look at the column when Will submits items like these for publication.

Update: Will’s column also questions the efficacy of compact fluorescent lightbulbs. He’s wrong about this, too.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.