Thanks to Bob Walker, President of the Population Institute, for quickly responding to a particularly mendacious column put out recently by the notorious George Will. As Bob successfully points out, the arguments Will makes are innovative, cutting edge and perhaps even moderately convincing , “assuming, of course, you are still living in the previous century.” Will titles his column “Doomsday Predictions Never Come Close.”
When it comes to the environment, George Will is a classic conservative. As evidenced by his latest column (“Doomsday Predictions Never Come Close”), his views never change. They remain forever frozen in time, along with his facts and figures. The polar icecaps and all the glaciers could melt, the oceans could rise by 20 feet, and he would still be saying, ‘ We’re having some hot weather. Get over it.”
Several weeks ago, Will created a minor stir when he breezily dismissed any possible connection between climate change and the massive drought that has been afflicting half the country. He scoffed at the idea that anything had fundamentally changed. “I grew up in central Illinois in a house without air conditioning. What is so unusual about this?”
Well, like Will, I grew up in central Illinois in a house without air conditioning, but I never recall the corn fields looking like they had been microwaved. Nor do I rely upon my childhood memories when weighing matters of scientific record. When the scientists say that the country has endured the hottest decade on record or that the drought is the worst in over 50 years, I don’t beg to differ.
If George Will had written his column twelve years ago, it might have been deemed credible, but today it is just laughable. It’s as if record high temperatures, record droughts, record flooding, and record commodity prices count for nothing.
George Will, like many other climate and science-deniers, is trapped in a preconceived vision of how the world works, and nothing will change his ossified convictions. Leading scientists may be warning that human activities are breaching “planetary boundaries” and threatening posterity and the planet, but the world according to Will never changes.
Unfortunately, particularly for the poorest of the world’s urban poor, the world is changing. With wheat and soybean prices rising this summer to new heights, and wheat prices soaring once again, the world is dangerously close to its third food crisis in five years. Once again, the household budgets of those living on a $1 or $2 a day is being stretched to the breaking point.
George Will and other conservative intellectuals ignore such “doomsday” warnings, not because they lack supporting evidence, but because they do not comport with their long-held convictions. They should recall the wisdom of a more visionary conservative, Thomas Jefferson, who said:
“… laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”
But George Will does not believe in keeping pace with the times… or the data. I guess it’s a case of willful denial.
I urge readers to read Walker’s Huffington Post article and form their own opinions.