Attacking Global Warming Science: Where There’s George Will, There’s a Way

George Will is at it again. His column today is another lackluster effort to cast doubt about global warming science and the imperative to do something about it. Here is the key graph:

[W]hen Gore says the scientific debate is “over,” he must mean merely that there is consensus that we are in a period of warming.

This is not where debate ends but where it begins, given that at any moment in its 4.5 billion years, the planet has been cooling or warming. The serious debate is about two other matters: the contribution of human activity to the current episode of warming and the degree to which this or that remedial measure (e.g., the Kyoto Protocol) would make a difference commensurate with its costs.

Two responses:

1. There is no scientific debate about whether human activity is contributing to global warming. Science Magazine analyzed 928 peer-reviewed scientific papers on global warming published between 1993 and 2003. Not a single one challenged the scientific consensus the earth’s temperature is rising due to human activity. In 2002, the Bush administration’s EPA concluded that global warming the the last 20 years was “due mostly to human activity.”

2. Addressing the problem is not a zero sum game. It’s not the case that all efforts to address global warming will harm the economy. The Apollo Alliance has a plan to address that problem of global warming that would create an estimated 3 million jobs. Bush’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, said that the failure to ratify Kyoto was a blow to U.S. competitiveness.

Will continues to distort the facts about global warming, but he doesn’t really seem to have his heart in it. He fills up most of his space with snarky speculation about Gore’s political ambitions.

This is what’s left of the current “debate” about global warming — misrepresenting the facts and personal attacks. Hopefully, sometime soon, we can move past this and start addressing the problem.