Editorial Blunders


I don't expect much impartiality from the archconservative editorial board of the The Washington Times on environment issues, but a piece that ran on the paper's editorial page last Thursday caught my eye for its sheer ideological absurdity.

Charging right into his argument, Walter E. Williams, a syndicated columnist and professor of economics at George Mason, begins with an attack on environmentalism, democratic government, and what scientists know about the Earth's climate. "Despite increasing evidence that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a significant greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change, politicians and others who wish to control our lives must maintain that it is," he writes.

I have to ask: Who is it in the Times building that sees something like this come across his or her desk, deems it "provocative," and sends it off to print?

 

Rather than explaining his preposterous lede, Williams moves swiftly to an attack on Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., for proposing a gas tax and a rollback of tax credits on large, energy-inefficient homes. Then it's a couple hundred words of meandering speculation that environmentalism has provided an excuse for government boondoggles (an interesting and entirely possible assertion, but one Williams doesn't feel he has to back up) and another airing of the fallacious argument that environmentalism hurts the economy. Finally, he returns to his initial claim that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas—a position that most global warming skeptics have abandoned in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Williams' evidence seems to come entirely from a propaganda pamphlet put out by the right-wing National Center for Policy Analysis, the kind of place that cherrypicks scientific evidence out of context and claims it disproves global warming. "During the Jurassic Period, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, CO2 levels were as much as 9 times higher than today," Williams quotes. Yes, professor, increased carbon was great news for dinosaurs, ferns, and giant insects, but how about for us humans and our costal cities?

Ideally, the role of an editorial page should be to stimulate discussion, string together the disparate pieces of the day's news, and present passionate but reasonable arguments on important issues. When editorials stray as far from reality as the Washington Times' does, they leave the already murky world of opinion journalism, and become little more than echo boxes filled with self-satisfied and unchallenged assertions.

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