The climate crisis is generally ignored on the major Sunday morning talk shows, so it was encouraging to see the subject come up on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” Far less encouraging, however, was George Will’s take on the issue.
E.J. Dionne Jr., a member of the media panel on yesterday’s show, raised a terrific argument: “What I don’t understand is why my conservative friends are so resistant in taking out an insurance policy. There is a lot of evidence that human activity is changing the climate. There’s not a lot of dispute among scientists about this. Why wouldn’t we want to take out an insurance policy to protect ourselves? Because if we go wrong on this, we’re making an awfully big mistake.”
George Will dismissed the argument out of hand. Ian Millhiser posted this clip of the conservative columnist’s response.
For those who can’t watch clips online, Will told Dionne, “You asked us, how do we explain the heat? One word: summer. I grew up in central Illinois in a house without air conditioning. What is so unusual about this? … We’re having some hot weather. Get over it.”
It’s worth appreciating the extent to which Will is dangerously wrong. Indeed, Steve Rattner, who was on the same panel, reminded Will, “[T]he 10 hottest years on record have been in the last 12 years. The 20 hottest years on record have been in the last 30 years. There is a lot of science around this. The polar icecaps, everything we’ve all read, I don’t think we can just ignore it, George.”
But that’s exactly what Will wants to do. Indeed, he wants the rest of us to “just ignore it,” too.
For context, it’s also worth noting that Will’s profound ignorance on the subject isn’t new. In January, he published a truly unhinged column, arguing that global warming is part of an elaborate collectivist plot. He wasn’t kidding.
In 2009, Will’s commentary on climate change was filled with so many dramatic errors of fact and judgment, the Washington Post felt compelled to publish a compelling retort from my friend Chris Mooney, who carefully explained that Will has no idea what he’s talking about.
And yet, Will keeps popping off on the subject, both in print and on national television, hoping unsuspecting news consumers won’t realize that every argument he presents is blisteringly untrue.