Climate change denier and conservative columnist George Will continues his important work of keeping you misinformed about the weather. In a recent column, Mr. Will theorized that President Obama's inaugural remarks on global warming amounted to little more than a misguided effort to boost green energy.
In his column, Mr. Will served up a seven-course meal of twisted facts, although he at least began with an accurate appetizer -- that 1998 was warmer than the majority of the years since. Next, however, he jumped the rails and raced to the conclusion that, because 1998 was exceptionally hot, it is not possible that the earth is warming. You've got to admire the brass of someone who interprets excessive heat as evidence that we are not warming.
I feel a duty to inform Mr. Will that he is living in an era in which inquiring minds ask important questions, like why he chose to focus on 1998, and whether the Learning Channel should apologize to us for Honey Boo Boo, and others.
George Will began with 1998 because its temperatures set a new all-time record for annual average temperature and, in the two years following 1998, the average annual temperatures dropped a bit. But Mr. Will did not tell us that those two years still were warmer than every previous year in history except one. We were boiling in 1998, but merely simmering on low heat in 1999 and 2000.
The five hottest years on record have been 1997, 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2012, which Mr. Will conveniently did not tell you. And every year from 1998 to the present was warmer than the previous record, which was 1997, a fact which, by coincidence, he also did not tell you.
Suppose George Will's favorite college basketball team had averaged just 15 victories per year from 1975 to 1995. But in 1998 it surged to 25 victories, after which it fell to 20 wins each in 1999 and 2000. Then, from 2001 up, the team won 24 or 25 games every year. George Will, choosing 1998 as his baseline year, would attempt to convince you that the team is not winning more games in recent years. Just don't peek at the win totals prior to 1998. Or the temperatures prior to 1998.
Mr. Will's column did not stop with that messy math massage. He wrote, "Such is the rigor of many who preen as devotees of science that they declared the 2012 temperatures in the contiguous states (1.58 percent of the earth's surface) proof of catastrophic global warming." But according to the "preeners" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors sea and surface temperatures in a thousand places worldwide, 2012 was indeed the warmest year on record globally, not just in the United States. Is Mr. Will incapable of typing NOAA into a search box?
In another counterpoint to the president, Will wrote that we are not seeing more powerful storms. Hurricane Sandy got undue attention, he said, only because it devastated the city where the media congregate. But, in fact, we are seeing more powerful storms. Hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions have occurred with more than double the frequency since 1975, compared to the 75 years prior.
Has George Will thought to take a swipe at the World Bank? Last November it issued a report titled, "Turn down the heat: Why a 4 degree centigrade warmer world must be avoided." The bankers looked at the scientific evidence and concluded, "Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world ... We need to assume a moral responsibility to take action ..."
Either hippies are running the World Bank out of the back of a VW microbus, or George Will is a fact-fudging phony.
Wyatt is a Gazette contributing columnist and a Marshall University professor.