As we have said, this op-ed by George Will may take a while to sort out (luckily today he did some reportage on the sorry state of Illinois politics). Having already confused science fiction with science fact and having grossly exaggerated the amount of conflict among present day scientists concerning global warming, Will argues that no one is in a position to know whether it would be a bad thing:

>In fact, the Earth is always experiencing either warming or cooling. But suppose the scientists and their journalistic conduits, who today say they were so spectacularly wrong so recently, are now correct. Suppose the Earth is warming and suppose the warming is caused by human activity. Are we sure there will be proportionate benefits from whatever climate change can be purchased at the cost of slowing economic growth and spending trillions? Are we sure the consequences of climate change — remember, a thick sheet of ice once covered the Midwest — must be bad? Or has the science-journalism complex decided that debate about these questions, too, is “over”?

As a commenter pointed out a few days ago, Will distorted the scientific claims about “global cooling” in the articles he cites. But if we leave that aside, we find in the above passage a more straightforward instance of the fallacy of ignorance. Say one grants that we can’t be certain that global warming (with the consequent rise in the waters and so forth) is a bad thing. It certainly does not follow from that fact alone that we should, as Will argues here and elsewhere, *do nothing.* To do nothing is to conclude that global warming it’s *not* a bad thing–thus the fallacy.

To me it seems that a cautious–or even conservative–individual would conclude that it’s best to be on the safe side and cut back on all of those nasty pollutants, which, by the way, are bad for innumerable other reasons.

2 thoughts on “Antediluvian”

  1. i just turned on my water faucet and the water came out much too hot. rather than acting on the fact that my hand was burning, i just left it there, hoping that the blisters forming were “not a bad thing.” Turns out all those wacky claims about hot water were right! Too bad no one realizes the veracity of warnings until they are tested out….

  2. Thank you for posting this!

    I read Will’s “column” and was starting to fall for his “argument”. But there was just something odd about his writing that I could not put my finger on…

    While many of Will’s “peers” simply state that global warming is not true (or a hoax), he simply mixes many issues together. He is, like many in his realm, just not too knowledgeable regarding science.

    It’s like, “Well, gee, it was really cold last winter. How can there be global warming?”

    It is above increasing averages. Increasing average tempatures in the atmosphere and water. Increasing arctic thawing. Increasing water levels.

    Unfortunately, the averages of journalistic integrity these days are decreasing.

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