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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    There is a part of me that thinks that we should carefully document the names of every major climate change denier, along with the names of their children and grandchildren. So that if the worst comes to pass and future generations will have to make hard decisions about who is going to live and who is going to die, it will be the descendents of those who helped bring this disaster about who will be the first to be stripped of everything and cast out into the wastelands. 

  • Morilore

    Yeah, that’ll hypothetically show those long-dead-in-the-future people! ಠ_ಠ

    EDIT: That was not the best criticism. A better criticism would be “holy balls can we please not fantasize about murdering innocent people.”

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

    There’s apparently an article George Will once wrote in 1994 or 1995, claiming Americans had never had it so good.

    His basis for comparison? The 1930s and 1940s, not the 1950s and 1960s.

    I can’t find the original article, but his selective bases of comparison should tell you something about the honesty of his writing.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     I’d also go with “Let’s not punish people for nothing more than being the descendents of foolish and/or immoral people.”

  • Betz

    Whenever you hear a non-expert like Will expound on how we don’t have to worry about some aspect of nature we’re mucking with, think on a report filed by some in the Ohio legislature when conservationists were trying to protect the passenger pigeon in the 1850′s:
    “The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully prolific, having the vast forests of the North as its breeding grounds, traveling hundreds of miles in search of food, it is here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary destruction can lessen them, or be missed from the myriads that are yearly produced.”
    Less than one human lifetime later, extinct.

  • TheFaithfulStone

    George Will is like one big damn case of “Bad Jackie.”

  • David Nangle

    At some point on the graph of fossil energy profits vs. green energy profits, all opposition to the concept of man-made global warming will melt away like an ice cube in Death Valley.

    Unfortunately, the people that are now most responsible for it will have become the owners of the new energy sources.  They’ll just have fewer customers to cheat and slowly murder.  And they’ll have to build new seaside mansions several miles inland from their current positions.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    George is a perfect argument against tenure on Sunday talk shows.  

    He’s also a perfect argument for crediting those who spend their time addressing issues ten times as much as those who simply point them out.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    George is a perfect argument against tenure on Sunday talk shows.  

    He’s also a perfect argument for crediting those who spend their time addressing issues ten times as much as those who simply point them out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     I’m not fantasizing about murdering anyone since I, thankfully, don’t anticipate living long enough to see Thunderdome first hand. Innocence, however, is a relative term. The worst case scenario I mentioned involves what some scientists call “the Great Die-Off,” i.e. a reduction by 50% or more of the human population. Given the prospect of such a death toll, what exactly makes the children of James Inhofe or the Koch Brothers or Lord Monkton (or untold thousands of other monsters who are demonstrably pro-climate change) more innocent and more worthy of life than the children of any average peasant in Bangladesh. Other than, of course, being rich and white, which will probably be enough to save them no matter what happens.

  • VMink

    For the past few days, a climate-change argument has been broiling on, of all places, the venerable Traveller Mailing List.  The climate-change-skeptic isn’t actually a skeptic, but claims that he acknowledges climate change is happening, it’s just a matter for him as to what, if anything, we can or should do about it.  (Though he does go on about ‘Climategate’ and only going back to 200 years of data and so on.)

    Instead of trying to reduce CO2 emissions, he thinks we should put a ring of shadowing particulates around the sun in between Earth and Venus, to reduce the amount of solar energy striking the planet and increasing temperatures.  Obviously, the effect this would have on solar power is not at all his concern (to say noting of the ecology of the other planets in the solar system.  Or what happens when a cometary body swings by the sun to work on its tan.)  And yet anyone who thinks that it might be easier to go on a ‘diet’ from CO2 emissions gets labeled an ‘eco-freak.’

    Yeah… I got nothin’.

    Climate change is happening.  Even most of the skeptics have changed their tune and are saying that the climate is changing, it’s just a question of if it’s anthropogenic (or not,) and if we should do something (or not.)  Predictably, their stance is ‘no’ and ‘no,’ respectively.  The problem is that they tend to be rich enough to be able to move further inland and further north with minimal problem.  Further, most of them will probably have died of natural causes long before the serious effects of climate change will be visible.

    There are some scientists saying it’s already too late to change CO2 emissions and the emission of other greenhouse gases.  At this point it might be best, in addition to reducing such emissions and switching to cleaner energy sources, to try to make plans for a massive relocation of agriculture and marine transportation hubs.

    Or we could put a ring of shadowing particulates around the sun in between Earth and Venus.  No problem at all.

    (What a dumbass. =P /aside)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     So given the very premise of the worst case scenario — a Great Die-Off in which billions are going to die of deprivation, calamity and want no matter what we do — you would prefer to see the loss of life borne by the poor and destitute rather than the children of monsters who, by then, will likely be monsters too. Or does anyone seriously expect that the grandchildren of James Inhofe will devote their lives to combating climate change rather than just becoming the next generation of world-eaters?

  • GG

    Some of my ancestors owned slaves, and others were abolitionists,  It gets tricky when you try to pass the sins of the fathers onto the children several generations removed.

  • VMink

    That assumes that people like that really give a damn what happens to anyone else, including their issue.

    But yes, they are rich enough to be able to emigrate to more inland, higher-altitude, and northerly locales, where they will build their new mansions.  With gates.  And lots of guards.  And lots of guns.

    There was a novel that came out last year.  It’s main thrust was the national command authority succession and how it’s essentially a ‘constitutional time bomb.’  As a science fiction novel it was awful; someone organizes a flashmob takedown of the entire US technological infrastructure, develops and detonates multiple ‘clean’ fusion bombs, wipes out most of the National Command Authority, launches EMP BOMBS FROM THE MOON! and yet they remain little more than an Ominous And Shadowy Threat, and are never addressed.  Most dissatisfying.  But as a character study in power, flashmob terrorism, memetics, and even fifth generation warfare, it… had its moments.  Anyway, one of the things going on in the book was that, after the collapse, a rich white dude on the California coast with his own compound more or less set himself up as a feudal lord by dint of having anyone who was on his land and eating from his hand, giving up their sovereign vote to him for him to cast as he pleased.  In that light, I can imagine some of these jackwagons thinking they’ll be the new self-proclaimed Lord Baron of the Catskills, instead of the Objectivist Jerky they’d be without all those guns protecting them from Everyone Else.

  • Morilore

    Either way, who is descended from whom is completely irrelevant.  Innocence may be a relative term, but genetic inheritance carries exactly 0.0% of it.  And if you really were just talking about first-worlders-v-third-worlders, then maybe you would have speculated that our descendants should be pushed off the boat.

  • http://johnm55.wordpress.com/ johnm55

    We have been having some rather extreme (for The United Kingdom ) weather recently. An article in the Guardian today links it directly to climate change. To be exact they they state that while some events fall within natural variation others are anything up to sixty times more likely to be caused by climate change than by natural variation.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    “Yeah, but…”  

    If the descendants of today’s earth-destroying plutocrats grow up to be tomorrow’s plutocrats using their inherited wealth to insulate themselves from the destruction their parents wrought, that’s *their own* sin, not the sin of their parents

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     Or does anyone seriously expect that the grandchildren of James Inhofe
    will devote their lives to combating climate change rather than just
    becoming the next generation of world-eaters?

    I have no expectations either way.  People are their own people, and people are just as capable of criticizing their direct ancestors — even their parents (see Frank Schaeffer as one good example) — as they are of emulating them.  I would prefer to see which choice one actually makes rather than make prejudiced assumptions.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     Absolutely!  But let’s see what they actually grow up and do rather than automatically assume they’ll follow in their ancestors’ footsteps.

  • PurpleAardvaark

    That part about not giving a rat’s ass about future generations pretty much defines modern Conservatism in  the USA.  While giving lip service to the notion that we are piling debt upon debt on the shoulders of generations yet to come, the policies being promoted are clearly aimed at maximizing the short-term return to a small number of wealthy people.

  • connorboone

    Maybe some people object because your list would include them or their loved ones.  For instance, my wife and daughter would be included on your kill list, because my father-in-law is an avid denialist.

    And, yes, my wife is very interested in combating climate change, thank you very much.

    I don’t think your list is a very fun idea at all.  This is me, not laughing at all over here.

  • Donalbain

     Seriously? How the fuck is someone “less innocent” based on the actions of someone that they never met?

  • Tonio

    I agree with everyone else here – treating the descendants of the deniers that way is not only cruel but pointless. Enough that the prominent deniers themselves will have their names turned into mud in the centuries to come, sort of like Roger Taney.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    How [..] is someone “less innocent” based on the actions of someone that they never met? 

    Can’t speak for Alan, with whom I disagree deeply, but there are plenty of actions for which I consider myself to be partly culpable despite their having been performed  by other people, many of whom I’ve never met; indeed, many of whom died long before I was born.

    In some cases, that’s because I’m the beneficiary of the action; in some cases, it’s because I partake to some degree of the social or biological or other wellsprings of the action; in some cases for other reasons.

    This seems no odder to me than the fact that I can (and do) enjoy the benefits of actions performed by people I’ve never met.

  • Not a Nazi Flunkie

     I understand the feeling, but it’s not a nice thing to think.  My ancestors mostly came from Germany around 1900.  There’s no reason to think my grandparents were any better or worse than their cousins who stayed in Germany and mostly ended up being Nazi flunkies.  The idea that I should benefit from a decision like this is monstrous.  George Will is a bad person; let’s not all be bad people by fantasizing about killing off his descendants.

  • AnonymousSam

    Your ancestors did horrible things. I’d like to kill you and take your money now; do you terribly mind writing a check and committing suicide to save me the trip?

    Or you could renounce this silly idea of the sins passing down from father to son. That’s Old Testament bullshit.

  • hidden_urchin

    I believe then that the cod fishery, the herring fishery, the pilchard fishery,the mackerel fishery, and probably all the great sea fisheries are inexhaustible: that is to say that nothing we do seriously affects the numbers of fish. And any attempt to regulate these fisheries seems consequently from the nature of the case to be useless.”

    Thomas Huxley, 1883

    I believe Newfoundland would like a word regarding the cod.

  • Amaryllis

    I have, for my sins, recently been made a recipient of a subscription to the Washington Times. (Recent headline: “The U.N. Is Coming For Your Guns.” This is a real newspaper, not a supermarket tabloid (do they still have those?)  distributed daily in our nation’s capital. People actually sign their names to its articles.)
     
    I learn from their editorial writers that global warming is all the fault of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington: “Court Decrees Global Warming.” Who knew that  those mere humans were so powerful?

    On actually reading the thing, I find that they’re blaming the Court not for ordering global warming to occur (too bad, at least that would have been entertaining) but for accepting climate-change data as “settled science.”

    The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled June 26 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was “unambiguously correct” in applying the Clean Air Act to combat carbon dioxide. The court deferred to the scientific judgment of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in the agency’s
    endangerment finding that this gas, which is produced by all humans,
    becomes harmful to human health when it is a byproduct of man-made
    technological advances such as automobiles.

    This is apparently a Bad Thing.

    Because “true science is never settled,” right? Therefore no science can be trusted. And certainly not

    the mythical, anti-scientific proclamations of a cadre of politically
    motivated bureaucrats. Americans shouldn’t be content to give the EPA the last word on climate science.

    Something called “the Coalition for Responsible Regulation” thinks they should have the last word, instead. Me, I think that, just as anything with “Family Values” in its name is probably going to be bad for actual families, what the Coalition means by “responsible regulation” is probably “no regulation.”

  • Jenora Feuer

     

    what the Coalition means by “responsible regulation” is probably “no regulation.”

    Or, more likely, “regulations that we get to write so that they don’t affect us but do affect anybody who tries to set themselves in competition to us.”

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    Oh, the odd malleability of that word—responsible.  When talking about responsible regulation or taxation, to the conservative mind, it means as little as possible.

    Responsible gun ownership, on the other hand, means just about as much as you damn well please.

  • Kiba

    Yeah, being punished for something I didn’t do and had no control over? No thanks. 

    Or you could renounce this silly idea of the sins passing down from father to son. That’s Old Testament bullshit.

    That was one of many reasons why I walked away from Christianity. The idea that I can be punished for the misdeeds/sins/screw-ups of someone long dead never made much sense to me. 

  • PJ Evans

     I believe there are a lot of people who would like to speak with him about the nearly-extinct Pacific oyster beds, the white abalone, and the sardines that are also mostly gone.

  • PJ Evans

    a subscription to the Washington Times

    A lifetime supply of birdcage liners? Assuming the bird doesn’t read, of course.

  • elusis

    The book “Inheriting the Trade” and the accompanying documentary “Traces of the Trade” explore the question of inherited culpability in a very thought-provoking fashion.  A Rhode Island family explores their family’s history of slave trading, and looks into how they have benefited from the legacy of slavery and the fortunes it created even though none of them were personally involved. 

    http://www.tracesofthetrade.org

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And a larger part of you finds that idea abhorrent, right?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That was one of many reasons why I walked away from Christianity. The idea that I can be punished for the misdeeds/sins/screw-ups of someone long dead never made much sense to me.

    Jesus kind of called bullshit on that mindset, didn’t he?

  • Kiba

    Supposedly Jesus died to save humanity from original sin. In practice, however, it seems that his sacrifice didn’t stick since I’m still told that I suffer from original sin. 

    Like I said, it’s one of the reasons I left, but not the only one. 

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Actually, I think Sgt Pepper’s is referring to when Jesus pointed out that, no, the blind man wasn’t blind because his parents had been sinners.

    Supposedly Jesus died to save humanity from original sin.

    Only in one interpretation of the whole thing. There are plenty of theological ideas surrounding Jesus’ death that have nothing whatsoever to do with “original sin”.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yeah, that’s what I meant.

    And agreeing with your second point while I’m here. Apart from the fact that not all of us hold to the idea of substitutionary atonement, I didn’t think all denominations accepted the doctrine of orginal sin.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Apart from the fact that not all of us hold to the idea of substitutionary atonement, I didn’t think all denominations accepted the doctrine of orginal sin.

    Personally, I don’t really agree with either…

  • Lori

     

    I didn’t think all denominations accepted the doctrine of orginal sin. 

    The Church of Christ definitely doesn’t. They basically teach substitutionary atonement, but not original sin.

  • AnonymousSam

    The idea isn’t necessarily tied to the Fall of Man and the Garden of Eden either. The earliest mention of the concept is in the laws of Exodus. Sections like this:

    “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    So if your great-great-great-great-grandparents were pagans, God is going to punish you.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t agree with the first and my stance on the second depends on what exactly one means by “original sin” and, for that matter, how exactly one defines “sin”.

  • Kiba

    According to the Catholic Church the sin committed by Adam
    and Eve was a personal sin; however, this sin affected the human nature of
    their descendants and caused them to be born in a fallen state. It is a sin
    contracted (kind of like an STD) and not committed. With this understanding I
    am, supposedly, suffering the consequences for the actions of two individuals
    and while that might make since in a non-theological discussion (take climate
    change: the descendants of the deniers will have to live with the consequences
    of the deniers’ actions; rising sea levels, higher temps, increased droughts,
    etc) it does not, to me, make a damn bit of sense in a theological discussion
    when the same church holds that God was able to exempt one person (Mary) from
    the stain of original sin.
     
    So if God can do that for one person then why not everyone?
    Why does the rest of humanity have to suffer a fallen state, and all the
    bullshit that goes with it, when God has proven that he has the power to negate
    that state?  

    Also from the Catholic Catechism:  The
    redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life
    as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28), that is, he “loved [his own] to the
    end” (Jn 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways
    inherited from [their] fathers” ( I
    Pt 1:18).

    Maybe I am mistaken but “futile ways inherited from [their] fathers”
    sounds like original sin to me. Or did he die because without some form of
    human sacrifice God was unable, or unwilling, to forgive the sins of humanity? And
    if the Christian God is love, mercy, justice, and so on why did he need a
    sacrifice in the first place? And if it was, indeed, to save humanity from
    their inherited sin why am I still told that I bear the stain of original sin?

  • Kiba

    I hate Disqus.

  • Kiba

    Personally I prefer substitutiary locomotion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS3lu1Bwl_0 

  • ozonator

    Marc ‘Mengele’ Morano is currently touting the glut of lobsters on his coffee table in his mother’s basement during NAMBLA meetings when Looter Limbaugh is in Haiti.  

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     Can’t speak for Sgt Pepper’s, but as a non-Catholic I feel absolutely no obligation to believe anything beginning with “according to the Catholic Church…”.

    I’m not saying this stuff isn’t a valid Christian position – but it certainly isn’t the only Christian position.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I am a Catholic and I feel no obligation to believe anything beginning with “according to the Catholic Church…” :)

    @@Bomer:disqus :

    And if the Christian God is love, mercy, justice, and so on why did he need a sacrifice in the first place?

    Like I said, I and plenty of other Christians don’t think he did.

    I join you in solidarity for your hatred of Disqus.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     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.  So they’re acknowledging it to the extent that they’re quietly making sure that the machinery to deal with an angry, poverty-striken underclass and keep it in check is in place, and that they’re in position to extract the maximum profit from the coming series of worldwide climate disasters while remaining comfortable. The rest of us are effectively expendable.   

    Of course, it may be that I’m crediting them with entirely too much foresight, and they’re not concerned with ANYTHING much past this year’s quarterly company stock reports. 


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