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February 24, 2009
12:00 PM

CONTACT: Media Matters for America

Brandon Hersh (202) 471-3205

Will's Climate Change Column Sparks Outrage in Environmental Community

After Post refuses to address numerous global warming falsehoods, leading environmental organizations join Media Matters in calling for correction

WASHINGTON - February 24 - After Post refuses to address numerous global warming falsehoods, leading environmental organizations join Media Matters in calling for correction

Today, Media Matters for America President Eric Burns joined Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, and Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder in issuing a letter to Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander asking him to address several blatant falsehoods in George Will's February 15 column about global warming.

Yesterday, Media Matters sent an action email, asking readers to contact the Post, which prompted thousands of activists to send correction requests.

"George Will's factually challenged attempt to deny the link between human activity and climate change is a stain on a publication respected for its commitment to accuracy," said Burns upon the release of the letter. "Will's column and the Post's refusal to address its falsehoods have drawn ire from thousands of Media Matters readers and sparked outrage from esteemed leaders and members of the environmental community. Hopefully, these actions will encourage the Post to finally correct the record."

The letter, a copy of which is included below, rebuts several falsehoods in Will's column. As Media Matters recently noted, Alexander reportedly responded to one of these claims with further distortions of the facts.

Andy Alexander

Ombudsman The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, DC 20071

Dear Mr. Alexander:

We are writing today to express urgent concern over your refusal to correct George Will's February 15 column, "Dark Green Doomsayers." Will used his nationally syndicated column to make several clear distortions about global warming.

First, Will misused data on global sea ice levels from the Arctic Climate Research Center (ACRC), wrongly suggesting that ACRC data undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus surrounding "man-made global warming." In fact, the ACRC says the opposite is true -- the sea ice data Will cited actually support the scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Second, Will claimed that "according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade." Will cited no source and provided no quote for this claim. In fact, last year, the WMO stated that the "long-term upward trend of global warming, mostly driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is continuing." And just last month, WMO secretary general Michel Jarraud reportedly said: "The major trend is unmistakably one of warming."

Third, Will rehashed the discredited myth that in the 1970s, there was broad scientific consensus that the Earth faced an imminent global cooling threat.

Will's column has sparked widespread criticism. Yet, the only response from the Post seems to be to defend Will with further misinformation. When Brad Johnson from the Center for American Progress Action Fund contacted you to correct Will's distortions, you reportedly refused to acknowledge that they exist.

Global warming is one of the most urgent issues facing our country and the entire world. In dealing with an issue of such magnitude, the Post has a duty to provide the truth to its readers.

George Will is entitled to his own opinions, but he is not entitled to his own facts. We respectfully ask that you immediately make your readers aware of the glaring misinformation in Will's column.

Thank you.

Carl Pope

Carl Pope

Executive Director, The Sierra Club

Gene Karpinski

Gene Karpinski

President, League of Conservation Voters

Brent Blackwelder

Brent Blackwelder

President, Friends of the Earth

Eric Burns

Eric Burns

President, Media Matters For America

To view a PDF of the letter, please visit:


Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.


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