In New Column, Will Sticks To His Guns On Global Warming

February 26, 2009 10:41 a.m.

Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in.

We thought we were done with the topic of George Will and climate change. But now we’ve gotten an advanced look at Will’s latest column, set to run tomorrow in the Washington Post and in syndication. And it amounts to a stubborn defense of the amazing global warming denialist column he published earlier this month, that was ripped apart by just about everyone and their motherincluding us.

Will’s new effort is framed as a response to a New York Times story, by science reporter Andrew Revkin, from earlier this week, which asserted that Will’s earlier column, published February 15, was guilty of “inaccuracies and overstatements,” in the view of experts. (That Revkin story itself provoked some blogospheric ire by equating Will’s out-and-out distortions with some minor exaggerations on the other side by Al Gore — but that’s a whole other story.)

In the new column, Will makes two central claims, one directed narrowly at Revkin, the other more broadly at critics of the February 15 column.

First, he suggests that Revkin is guilty of sloppy journalism, noting that the Times writer doesn’t name the experts who judged the February 15 column inaccurate, and adding that Revkin contacted him for comment only late in the afternoon of the day before his story ran.

Revkin didn’t immediately respond to an email from TPMmuckraker seeking a response to those charges.

Second, Will stands by the substance of the February 15 column, maintaining, in the case of the key factual dispute, that he had accurately reported the findings of a respected climate research center on the question of sea-ice levels. Though the center has since put out a statement disavowing Will’s use of its data, Will claims that last month it posted confirmation of that very data on its web site — and, getting all bloggy, includes a link.

We’ll leave it to others to parse the finer points of this defense — though it’s immediately noticeable that Will doesn’t mention that the center’s confirmation of its findings notes that the data concerns global sea ice levels, rather than northern hemispheric levels. Global levels, it says, “may not be the most relevant indicator.”

But after Will and Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt declined to answer TPMmuckraker’s questions about the column — leaving that task to the paper’s ombudsman, who cited the paper’s “multi-layer editing process” — it’s certainly intriguing that Will has chosen to wade back into the muck.

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