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Washington Post Crashed-and-Burned Watch: A Suggested Correction For Will’s ‘Dark Green Doomsayers’ Column

From Brad Johnson

Wonk Room: A Suggested Correction For Will’s ‘Dark Green Doomsayers’ Column: To the editors of the Washington Post:

George F. Will’s column of February 15, 2009, “Dark Green Doomsayers,” contained certain factual inaccuracies despite the “multi-layered editing process” it underwent. Several bloggers have volunteered their time to fact-check Mr. Will’s column. Here is a suggested correction based on their work:

George Will’s Feb. 15, 2009 column mischaracterized a statement by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on the threat of catastrophic snowpack decline in California due to global warming. Chu was referring to an end-of-the century scenario, not a near-term threat.

Will’s column claimed that experts cited a 2008 decline in “global sea ice” as evidence of man-made global warming. Scientists cited the observed decline in Arctic, not global sea ice.

Will’s column claimed that the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center said that global sea ice levels are “now equal to those of 1979.” Although the center said that global sea ice levels were “near or slightly lower than those of late 1979″ at the start of January, global sea ice levels are now eight percent below their levels in February 1979.

Will’s column claimed the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said “there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.” According to the WMO, global warming is continuing, with the past decade the warmest on record.

Will’s column argued that imminent global cooling was a predicted planetary catastrophe in the 1970s. There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that imminent global cooling was a threat.

Will’s column cited articles from Science magazine and Science News to imply the authors expected an imminent ice age. The Science article instead predicted an ice age within several thousand years, “ignoring anthropogenic effects.” The Science News article described climatology as an “infant science” and discussed predictions of manmade global warming that have since proven to be accurate.

The Washington Post and George Will regret the errors.