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FHA: Why does the Post let conservative columnists make up climate facts?

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"FHA: Why does the Post let conservative columnists make up climate facts?"

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MEMO: To Washington Post, circa 2008
FROM: Future Historians of America (FHA), circa [you wouldn't believe us if we told you]
RE: Historical Fact Checking

VIA: T-mail (Tachyon-Mail)

As we attempt to document the reasons carbon dioxide concentrations are currently 945 ppm and rising 5 ppm a year, the FHA has a few questions we hope you can answer for us. It seems like every time the United States contemplated legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you and other major media outlets allowed your — we believe you called them conservative columnists, but we call them Delayer-1000s — to ridicule any serious action using claims that would never have passed a ninth grade science teacher with access to Google.

[There is some controversy today at the FHA as to whether major media outlets of your time actually had access to Google, given the stream of disinformation you kept printing. Can you clear that up for us?]

Your most famous Delayer-1000s, are, of course, Charles Krauthammer and George Will. Please let them know they were among the original inductees enshrined in the “Climate Destroyers Hall of Fame” in 2045. We were especially amused that you printed Krauthammer’s claim that Newton’s laws of motion were overthrown, since we used those laws to launch a photocopy of all his columns into the sun in commemoration of his tireless contributions to raising average temperatures in the inland United States 15°F while claiming the warming was all due to sunspots. Do let Dr. Krauthammer know that thanks to people like him, we are not only rationing energy, but food, water, arable land, and dartboards featuring his face.

Of course, Dr. Krauthammer is hardly remembered today compared to Delayer-1000 George Will, perhaps because Will is now seen as an unappreciated humorist of your time. We know many readers of your time actually took his favorable review of Michael Crichton’s State of Fear seriously, but many in the FHA have concluded your newspaper never would have let somebody that uninformed publish regular serious columns. If you have information to the contrary, please let us know. You might consider having “categories” for columns that include “humor,” as we understand that was popular with certain of your time’s … we believe you called them climate bloggers, but we call them Cassandras.

In a June 1, 2008 column your website titled, “Keep your hands off my Carbon” [you guys kill us with your ironic headlines -- no literally, you kill us, as the carrying capacity of the planet is now down to 4 billion], Will began

An unprecedentedly radical government grab for control of the American economy will be debated this week when the Senate considers saving the planet by means of a cap-and-trade system to ration carbon emissions.

Do let Mr. Will know that the FHA, along with the EAB (Energy Allocation Board), WAB (Water Allocation Board), FAB (Food Allocation Board), and DAB (Dartboard Allocation Board), do not appreciate his use of the historically incorrect phrase “unprecedentedly radical government grab for control” [although the Boards do appreciate his tireless efforts to ensure such truly radical government control was needed]. But we digress.

Certainly some FHA fellows have devoted their entire lives to detailing the unintentional irony and easily-checked factual mistakes in the writings of Will, but we did have one particular question. At the end of Will’s piece, he writes:

Regarding McCain’s “central facts,” the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, which helped establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — co-winner, with Al Gore, of the Nobel Prize — says global temperatures have not risen in a decade. So Congress might be arriving late at the save-the-planet party.

Many of our digital records of your time were lost when the West Antarctic ice sheet fell into the ocean a few decades ago and sea levels rose 15 feet in a few months. But when our modern day Google-Microsoft-GE-ExxonMobil-Newscorp-Bloomberg search engine looked in the surviving WMO database of contemporaneous press releases, we could only find from December 2007, “1998-2007 Is Warmest Decade on Record,” which began

The decade of 1998-2007 is the warmest on record, according to data sources obtained by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global mean surface temperature for 2007 is currently estimated at 0.41°C/0.74°F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.20°F….

Since the start of the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74°C. But this rise has not been continuous. The linear warming trend over the last 50 years (0.13°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th Assessment (Synthesis) Report, 2007, “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

and, previously, from August 2007, “The World Meteorological Organization reports on extreme weather and climate events,” which began

Weather and climate are marked by record extremes in many regions across the world since January 2007. In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89°C warmer than average for January and 1.37°C warmer than average for April.

We did also note the “Press Conference by World Meteorological Organization: global trends in climate change and desertification,” which noted:

Speaking to journalists at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Dr M.V.K. Sivakumar, Chief of the Agricultural Meteorology Division at WMO, said there was a clear linkage between the rise in global temperatures, the emission of greenhouse gases and desertification, adding that: “We are seeing an enormous amount of warming, and the projections are that the warming is likely to be around a 0.2°C increase per decade over the next several decades”.

Do let the WMO and Dr Sivakumar know that indeed one third of the planet now is desert, and he might consider making major investments in concentrated solar thermal power, which seems to be the only thing on Earth that benefits from such desertification, other than cacti, bark beetles, and scorpions.

Anyway, we were hoping that one of your fact checkers could explain to us the source of George Will’s claim. You do have fact checkers don’t you? Again, this is a source of some controversy at the FHA, and we’re hoping you can resolve it.

Some senior historians here are are convinced you never had fact-checkers or really any quality control or oversight at all, given that The Washington Post Company went bankrupt in 2024, and the last two remaining journalists were hired by Google-Microsoft-GE-ExxonMobil-Newscorp-Bloomberg.

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7 Responses to FHA: Why does the Post let conservative columnists make up climate facts?

  1. silence says:

    Its normal to allow right-wing columnists to make up “facts”

    Nothing special about climate here.

  2. hapa says:

    eureka! i have perfected my method for making dartboards out of surplus car tires.

  3. Lou Grinzo says:

    To answer the question in your title: To sell more copies of the paper, of course.

    I keep telling people this, but they don’t believe me: Most media outlets don’t give a flying fig about what’s true, except to the extent that they can call their “news” (as opposed to op-eds) accurate. Period.

    The letters and editorials in the average US newspaper sound like the work of a bunch of psychopaths who have been locked up for anywhere from 20 to 50 years. Newspapers are getting crushed by the ‘net, so they’re pandering to their readers as much as possible, in a miserable attempt to hold on to their dwindling readership. Expecting them to turn down columns like the ones you (appropriately) rip apart would be like asking a teenage boy to pass up a chance to spend a night with a room full of porn stars–your intentions are admirable, but it just ain’t gonna happen.

  4. Willem van Oranje says:

    The quote “[T]he U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization [...] says global temperatures have not risen in a decade” is from an article by Roger Harrabin for the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7329799.stm).

    The quote is not from the WMO, it is intimated by the author of the article, Roger Harrabin:

    El Nino warms the planet when it happens; La Nina cools it. This year, the Pacific is in the grip of a powerful La Nina.

    It has contributed to torrential rains in Australia and to some of the coldest temperatures in memory in snow-bound parts of China.

    Mr Jarraud told the BBC that the effect was likely to continue into the summer, depressing temperatures globally by a fraction of a degree.

    This would mean that temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world.

    But Mr Jarraud from the WMO countered that in the same article with:

    But Mr Jarraud insisted this was not the case and noted that 2008 temperatures would still be well above average for the last 100 years.

    “When you look at climate change you should not look at any particular year,” he said. “You should look at trends over a pretty long period and the trend of temperature globally is still very much indicative of warming.

    “La Nina is part of what we call ‘variability’. There has always been and there will always be cooler and warmer years, but what is important for climate change is that the trend is up; the climate on average is warming even if there is a temporary cooling because of La Nina.”

  5. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    RE: 945 ppm

    What is that? It should be 385 ppmv or 385 ml CO2/ cu meter for standard dry air. The absolute amount of CO2 for air at 15 deg C and 1 atm pressure with 1% abs. humidity is about 365 ml/cu meter. In the warm, humid tropics there is about 330 ml of CO2 /cu meter.

  6. John McCormick says:

    Harold;

    when I read your comments I am reminded of that great 1966 classic “King of Hearts” starring Alan Bates And, I can take some comfort that you keep reminding me this all a movie and the bell tower clock has not struck midnight.

    John McCormick

  7. Tom G says:

    Harold…..right over your head and long gone.