A Courageous Act Of Journalism

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Seriously, this is amazing:

The new evidence -- including satellite data showing that the average multiyear wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic in 2005 and 2006 was nine feet thick, a significant decline from the 1980s -- contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.

That was written by two Washington Post reporters. And they aren't alone. I think it's truly weak that Will's editors stood by his efforts to misrepresent climate change data. In the face of such weakness, Will, of course, didn't back down but was emboldened. It's great to see reporters not just avoiding on-the-other-handism, but actually challenging someone in their midst.

But I have a deeper question. Why is Will even fighting this one? Why can't the "sensible" right let this go? The other day I watched David Frum and my colleague Reihan Salam argue on Bill Maher about climate change. They weren't backing denialism, but Frum kept arguing that liberals are alarmists, and Al Gore's overstated the data. But I kept thinking, why would anyone ever listen to anything David Frum has to say about climate change?

That's not fair--which is really my point. Will's denialism tarnishes the conservative brand. It also makes it hard to take lectures about "liberal alarmism" on climate change seriously. There's a basic credibility problem. Any argument that sees Al Gore and George Will as two sides of the same problem isn't serious. And taking advice from a guy who worked for George Bush on how to proceed on climate change will always be laughable.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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