George Will

Plateau in Temperatures Adds Difficulty to Task Of Reaching a Solution -- New York Times, Sept. 23

WASHINGTON -- In this headline on a New York Times story about difficulties confronting people alarmed about global warming, note the word "plateau." It dismisses the unpleasant -- to some people -- fact that global warming is maddeningly (to the same people) slow to vindicate their apocalyptic warnings about it.

The "difficulty" -- the "intricate challenge," the Times says -- is "building momentum" for carbon reduction "when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years." That was in the Times' first paragraph.

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In the fifth paragraph, a "few years" became "the next decade or so," according to Mojib Latif, a German "prize-winning climate and ocean scientist" who campaigns constantly to promote policies combating global warming. Actually, Latif has said he anticipates "maybe even two" decades in which temperatures cool. But stay with the Times' "decade or so." By asserting that the absence of significant warming since 1998 is a mere "plateau," not warming's apogee, the Times assures readers who are alarmed about climate change that the paper knows the future and that warming will continue: Do not despair, bad news will resume.

The Times reported that "scientists" -- all of them? -- say the 11 years of temperature stability has "no bearing," none, on long-term warming. Some scientists say "cool stretches are inevitable." Others say there may be growth of Arctic sea ice, but the growth will be "temporary." According to the Times, however, "scientists" say that "trying to communicate such scientific nuances to the public -- and to policymakers -- can be frustrating."

The Times says "a short-term trend gives ammunition to skeptics of climate change." Actually, what makes skeptics skeptical is the accumulating evidence that theories predicting catastrophe from man-made climate change are impervious to evidence. The theories are unfalsifiable, at least in the "short run." And the "short run" is defined as however many decades must pass until the evidence begins to fit the hypotheses.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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