George Will is running out the clock on climate change

George Will is 71 years old. He’s simply running out the clock.

Yes, he’s utterly and ridiculously wrong about climate change, but he’s been denying it for so long that his denial of it has become an essential part of his identity — how he perceives himself, how others perceive him, and how he perceives others’ perception of him. So this would not be an easy thing to correct.

He could try to correct it, but that would involve effort, education and embarrassment — embarrassment that a sagacious intellectual required the effort of education. But the greater obstacle may be that matter of identity. Correcting his position on climate change would require Will not just to admit that he’s been wrong about something important, but that he is someone who was capable of getting it wrong on something important. I don’t think he can handle that.

So he’s running out the clock. The evidence that climate change is real — that it cannot be denied by anyone with a shred of credibility — becomes more obvious every day, but may not be overwhelmingly undeniable for a few more decades. And in a few more decades, George Will won’t have to worry about that.

By, say, 2060, climate change will be so obvious and such a large part of life that those who spent the late 20th century and early 21st century denying it will look like fools. But our children will be too busy actually dealing with the mess we’ve left them to bother wasting much time singling out George Will for ridicule.

And he’ll be long dead by then, so it won’t bother him one way or the other.

So he’s just running out the clock.

That makes sense. Or, rather, that makes sense if your main concern is preserving your own delusional self-esteem and if you don’t give a rat’s ass about future generations.

  • Münchner Kindl

    And he’ll be long dead by then, so it won’t bother him one way or the other.
    So he’s just running out the clock.
    That makes sense. Or, rather, that makes sense if your main concern is preserving your own delusional self-esteem and if you don’t give a rat’s ass about future generations.

    I don’t know who this guy is (or if he’s important) but I think Fred overestimates him. Running out the clock is an active decision – I think climate skeptics are so trained in their denial that they don’t have to make active decisions at all about it.

    Cold winter? Disproves global warming. Warm winter? Don’t talk about it / a fluke.
    Hot summer? Why we had those as kids, even hotter! Cold summer? Disproves Global warming!

    In “Collapse”* Jared Diamond describes how a glacier at the mountain peak in the state he used to spend his summer vacation as kid completly disappeared over 50 years – but when he talked to the natives as adult as to when that happened, they hadn’t noticed! It’s change blindness to small changes, so the people who lived there had only compared the glacier to last year, not to 20 years before. (And humans have lousy memory without pictures or other evidence). So they had seen the glacier roughly the same as last, while a longer perspective (of visiting Jared Diamond) showed the drastic change.
    * Required reading to understand the mechanisms on why societies destroy their habitat and what is necessary to bring a society around from the brink before it falls into it. He chronicles the state of several groups that faced problems and often died out, but sometimes changed their way of life and survived. Esp. interesting is the example of Haiti and Dom. Rep., who share the same island and thus similar ressources, but because Haiti was colonized by France and DomRep by Spain, this drove many other changes that made Haiti much poorer and ecologically instable, while Dom Rep relativly flourished. (Part of that was even that while both had mad tryrants in power, the Dom Rep had the luck of having one who listened about ecological concerns and got active, while in Haiti, Papa Doc and the others only thought about enriching themselves.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Correct. In fact, it’s happening now. At best, their only goal at this point is to throw enough obfuscation on the subject to stifle debate while they get their little ducks in a row. They’re banking on the notion that the majority of deaths will be in developing countries and slow enough that they can try to hide cause and effect, and that the biggest impact on OUR way of life will be things like food, water and energy simply becoming progressively more and more expensive, resulting in higher rates of unemployment and destitution.

    Um, you have had gated communities for two decades now, right? So if you spend enough money, you can isolate yourself from any problem, whether social upheaval or bad water, by buying private.

    And money invested in stocks doesn’t hurt when the companies fire employees, or even in a recession.

  • Kiba

    Well I used to be a Catholic so that’s what I the most familiar with and I didn’t mean by any stretch to imply that that was the only position on the subject, it is just the one that I am most familiar with.

    As for other takes on the same subject I have read some of them and none of the ones I have read thus far make any more sense to me than the Catholic one does.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Climate change denial is pushed by the same industry that spent decades lying about the link between smoking and cancers.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If the wages of sin is death, and Jesus Christ was supposed to end that by being the atonement for all humanity’s sins, I’d have to say he did a spectacularly poor job of helping pay the ‘wages of sin’.

    As for climate change generally, one thing I know is that aside from 1996 and 2006 I don’t think there’s been a really good, solid, snow-sticking-to-the-ground winter in this part of the world for a long time.

  • Kiba

    As for climate change generally, one thing I know is that aside from 1996 and 2006 I don’t think there’s been a really good, solid, snow-sticking-to-the-ground winter in this part of the world for a long time.

    Where I live winter used to mean ice storms (some snow, but mostly ice) and we haven’t had a decent ice storm since the late 90s. This last winter was incredibly dry.

  • Donalbain

    I wonder what the libertarian market based solution to climate change would be. If a person in Bangladesh has his farm flooded because of a rise in sea levels, who does he sue, and what court would he sue them in?

  • Ima Pseudonym

    ” So if you spend enough money, you can isolate yourself from any problem,
    whether social upheaval or bad water, by buying private.”

    Which is really probably a good thing for the people who can afford to.  For the 95% of us who can’t, not so much. 

    (For the record, I’m actually not trying to be insulting or snarky towards you.  If I’m coming off that way, there’s no heat to it, and ’tis all in good fun)

  • Ima Pseudonym

    The libertarians I know personally generally claim that corporate personhood wouldn’t exist under a libertarian system, so I assume that that would mean that no one person was responsible.  So, nobody, I guess? I’m sure someone will correct me. 

  • LouisDoench

     Well that scraps my Thursday night D&D game… ;)

  • LouisDoench

     I practically grew up in the Cincinnati Zoo, where the last passenger pigeon died.  There is a small museum there that is great testimony to the arrogance of fools like the one you quoted.

  • LouisDoench

     You got to admit that it’s the kind of thing a  Larry Niven hero would come up with, which makes sense for a Traveller player.

  • Münchner Kindl

    I wonder what the libertarian market based solution to climate change would be. If a person in Bangladesh has his farm flooded because of a rise in sea levels, who does he sue, and what court would he sue them in?

    Um, we already know the free market solution to this. It’s “bad luck for being poor, you’re powerless and therefore fucked.”Did the poor Indians poisioned at Bhopal get recompensation? No. Did the Mexicans used without their consent in Monsanto trials get justice? No. Did the organic farmers in US and Canada who had to destroy their whole harvest after contamination with GM pollen (after promises by the GM companies that pollen could never ever fly that far and that all safety precautions would be obeyed) get recompensation? No, they were accused by the GM companies for “growing GM plants without paying license fee”.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Which is really probably a good thing for the people who can afford to. For the 95% of us who can’t, not so much.

    Um, yes. Which is why this sucks, but also means that the rich won’t have an incentive to change things, unless we do storm the gates of the Bastille / Sanssouci.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    “…but also means that the rich won’t have an incentive to change things, unless we do storm the gates of the Bastille / Sanssouci.”

     Yeah, that’s about what I figured.  I don’t see it ending well no matter what happens.

  • Mrs Grimble

     Did the organic farmers in US and Canada who had to destroy their whole
    harvest after contamination with GM pollen (after promises by the GM
    companies that pollen could never ever fly that far and that all safety
    precautions would be obeyed) get recompensation? No, they were accused
    by the GM companies for “growing GM plants without paying license fee”.

    As they say, “It’s more complicated than that.”  A heck of a lot more complicated in fact.
    First, it was just one farmer, and he wasn’t organic – he discovered the GM contamination in one of his fields after a regular herbicide spraying.
    Second, the case wasn’t about any accidental contamination of the farmer’s crop – which the court anyway ruled to have been an unlikely occurrence – but the fact that the farmer freely admitted he had deliberately saved seeds from the GM crop and sown them the next year without paying Monsanto its licensing fee.
     The case hinged not on compensation for contamination, but about patent infringement and whether Monsanto could claim patent rights and licensing fees on the seeds it had developed.
    Read the facts here
    Oh, and the farmer didn’t have to pay damages, compensation or Monsanto’s legal bills.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Still, the very idea that food should be locked up and metaphorically held hostage by…. licencing fees.

    (>_<)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That article by George Will? It’s behind a paywall, but you can get it off the Dallas Morning News archives. See attached picture – you can see that he even starts out explicitly comparing to the 1930s and 1940s.

    If anyone can get the full text of the article I’d be much obliged. :)

  • arcseconds

    There’s a book recently published called The Statues that Walked about Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

    They take issue with the received wisdom of the ‘collapse’ (which Diamond more or less repeats, as far as I can figure out, having not read any of the actual books).  Their account is that there wasn’t really a collapse at all.  They blame rats for the deforestation, and point out that the islanders grow food in raised mulch gardens, so they’re not dependent on forests.

    The depopulation, they say, was not to do with any one factor, but European activities had a big part to play, including the usual introduced diseases and kidnapping people for slaves.

    Now, Diamond possibly is in the clear with Collapse,  but he did have a rather disappointing rebuttal to Statues somewhere on the web, where he basically ignores their main points, which is a bit concerning.

    Maybe they’re not right  and I’ve seen stuff that suggests their rat argument is perhaps a bit weak.  But it seems to me they’ve got points that can’t be dismissed out of hand, and they’re probably on the right track with a lot of things they say.   Notably they believed the received story until beginning their research.

    This is all just to say to say you can’t trust anyone these days.  Diamond may be shoe-horning stuff to fit his story. 

     Google everything – trust no-one.

  • eyelessgame

    Regarding visiting the sins of this criminals of this generation upon their children – I don’t think that’s such a great idea. Seems to me there was a particular group of people blamed for the murder of Our Lord And Saviour. The prejudice against them didn’t end well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    My “favorite” George Will column was in Newsweek about 2-3 years ago. He argued that the USA’s declining academic performance was due to Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS, because once schools were integrated minority students brought white students down to their level.

    He used lots of the “this totally isn’t about race, why are you bringing race into it?” euphemisms popular with the Tea Party in his argument, of course.

  • Afisher

    That’s true of most people. “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” demonstrates that it’s even true of scientists, who have more of a stake in fact-based data than other people necessarily do.

  • Evisceratus

    Many of the people who are commenting on this will not live to see the year 2060. Hopefully I will as I will only be 68. Theoretically I should be the one most worried and most concerned about it, but I am not worried in the slightest. I have followed the money on it, and I have seen the data for it and I remain unconvinced it’s real let alone worth worrying about. What I am more troubled by is the fact that the current generation has let the manufacturing capacity of this country which is supposed to be a superpower rust while borrowing to buy things we could be making ourselves. If I live to see the year 2060 and climate change alters the world we live on beyond recognition I can forgive that. If I live to the year 2060 and people talk about how the United States was once a super power like they do about England today I will curse the weak link of a generation that allowed it to happen.

  • The_L1985

    I’ll be 75. My family tends to be long-lived. That’s not the point. I do plan to have children, and I don’t want them living on a hellish planet without enough food and with dangerously unpredictable weather.

    I’m honestly surprised that you made it to the age of 20 without having any curiosity about this whole global-warming thing, and simply parroting back what your parents have told you.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X