Rarely does an ombudsman column rate blogging. This one, by Andrew Alexander of the Washington Post, does.
The short form:
“Will’s Feb. 15 column, headlined “Dark Green Doomsayers,” ridiculed “eco-pessimists” and cited a string of “predicted planetary calamities” that Will said have never come to pass.
A key paragraph, aimed at those who believe in man-made global warming, asserted: “According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.”
The column triggered e-mails to The Post from hundreds of angry environmental activists and a few scientists, many asserting that the center had said exactly the opposite.”
Now, reasonable people can disagree on controversial topics and spinning facts is nothing new, particularly where global warming is concerned. However…
“The ruckus grew when I e-mailed readers who had inquired about the editing process for Will’s column. My comments accurately conveyed what I had been told by editorial page editor Fred Hiatt — that multiple editors had checked Will’s sources, including the reference to the Arctic Climate Research Center. Although I didn’t render a judgment, my response was understandably seen as an institutional defense and prompted an orchestrated e-mail campaign in which thousands demanded that The Post correct Will’s “falsehoods.” Like they say when the pro football rookie gets clobbered: “Welcome to the NFL.””
The kicker? These “outraged demands” were frequently identical in language and form, suggesting a lemming-like campaign, rather than honest outrage over an alleged mis-statement of fact. The debate was marked more with smug sniping than rational discourse, a hallmark of pretty much any debate over global cooling… global warming… climate change.
In the end, if one reads the source Will claimed, it was something of a push. While there has been some localized loss of ice in the Northern Hemisphere, the sea-ice levels on a global basis approximate the level of sea ice in 1979. A sharp practice, perhaps, but within the bounds of accuracy for a debate. Too bad the eco-extremists demand conformity to doctrine and eschew debate.
About thirty five years ago, the “climate Cassandras” preached the coming ice age. When that failed to materialize, the shifted global warming… which, looking out my window, may not necessarily come to fruition. Nowadays, however, they call it “climate change” and, when they acknowledge doubts, claim that the risk is sufficiently high that we should act as if it were a certainty, relying upon fear over fact to make their arguments.
Now *where* have we seen *that* before?