How George Will cherry-picked data to make a dishonest case against climate change

Skewing data to argue against mainstream scientific theories regarding global warming is nothing new for conservative columnist George Will. Consider, for example, THIS CASE from four years ago.

But you have to wonder why Will thought he could get away with arguing that the fact there were one-third fewer U.S. wildfires last year than in 2006 proves his overall point.

Joe Romm has the story HERE:

If you wonder why in Hell (and High Water) Will just happens to pick the year 2006, you need look no further than the above graph of annual U.S. acreage burned from the National Fire Center..

For Will and the Washpost, the “decline” since the record-smashing 2006 disproves climate change. In Will’s logic, unless ever year is worse than the previous year in all respects, humans are not suffering the effects of global warming.

We have moved beyond a time when such op-eds should be seen as just the outgrowth of a polarized political system. George Will, with the support of the Washington Post, is spreading disinformation whose goal is to delay or stop efforts to deal with climate change. If these efforts are successful, they will cause billions of people to needlessly suffer. As President Obama said, such Willful denial of “the overwhelming judgment of science” can only be seen as an effort to “Betray Our Children And Future Generations.”

Shame on George Will and the Washington Post. While it would be trivial to debunk Will’s entire piece, wasting everyone’s time is a key goal of disinformers like Will, so I’ll just focus on the fires.

Will coyly asks, “Are the number and severity of fires determined by climate change rather than forestry and land-use practices?” The key debater’s word there is “determined.” It should be “increased.”

The goal of disinformers and their media allies is to create a straw man whereby those who accept the overwhelming judgment of science are accused of saying global warming is the sole cause of a given extreme event, rather than an aggravating cause.

Will, a pedant of the worst kind, doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know. There is a large and growing literature that global warming is increasing the number and severity of wildfiresin this country — and that it is going to get much, much worse. A 2006 cover storyin the prestigious journal Science magazine, “Warming and Earlier Sping Increase Western U.S. Fore Wildfire Activity” explains.



  1. Pat, I have never known you to cherry pick any data or publishing skewed data to make a dishonest point.

  2. wilson: Congratulations! For once, you’re right.

    Oh, I’ve made my mistakes here, but I have never misrepresented data regarding climate change.

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