“How do we explain the heat? One word: summer.”
—political columnist George WIll on ABC’s “This Week”
A lot of people confuse weather with climate. That’s why we can never be too careful about making conclusions based on what’s happening with our weather right now. Or even over the last year. It’s what’s happening globally and over the long-term that counts.
So although the many records being broken (and which I report regularly on this blog) do not necessarily prove that global warming is happening when you only look at the isolated measurements, the findings and the trends we’re seeing over the decades certainly fit with the predictions based on our understanding of the science. The one trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide we’ve added to the atmosphere over the last fifty years should contribute to a warmer global temperature. And by golly, that’s what’s been happening.
The simplest way to think of weather is what’s happening in your neck of the woods in the short term. Climate affects much broader geographic regions, and over much longer spans of time.
Now I would expect a smart man like columnist George Will would know the difference. But he repeated this common misunderstanding that so many people make between weather and climate, often used by people who truly should know better but prefer to argue that global warming isn’t real. (It seems arguing against the science is easier than trying to change behaviours.)
Here’s a rather amusing summary of Will’s comments. If you’d like to see the full five-minute segment, you can find it here.
By the amount of press this gaffe has received, I’m sure that George Will knows his error, and I believe he knew his error before he even made it, but still used it to support his personal ideology anyway.
I think any respected journalist would rather speak the truth than simply spew out ideological rhetoric. I used to think George Will was in the category of respected journalist. I guess he’s proven those days are behind him.