Memo: To Washington Post, circa 2008
From: Future Historians of America (FHA), circa [you wouldn’t believe us if we told you]
Re: Historical Fact Checking

Via: T-mail (Tachyon-Mail)

As we attempt to document the reasons carbon dioxide concentrations are currently 945 ppm and rising 5 ppm a year, the FHA has a few questions we hope you can answer for us. It seems like every time the United States contemplated legislation to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, you and other major media outlets allowed your — we believe you called them conservative columnists, but we call them Delayer-1000s — to ridicule any serious action using claims that would never have passed a ninth grade science teacher with access to Google.

(There is some controversy today at the FHA as to whether major media outlets of your time actually had access to Google, given the stream of disinformation you kept printing. Can you clear that up for us?)

Your most famous Delayer-1000s, are, of course, Charles Krauthammer and George Will. Please let them know they were among the original inductees enshrined in the “Climate Destroyers Hall of Fame” in 2045. We were especially amused that you printed Krauthammer’s claim that Newton’s laws of motion were overthrown, since we used those laws to launch a photocopy of all his columns into the sun in commemoration of his tireless contributions to raising average temperatures in the inland United States 15 degrees F while claiming the warming was all due to sunspots. Do let Dr. Krauthammer know that thanks to people like him, we are not only rationing energy, but food, water, arable land, and dartboards featuring his face.

Of course, Dr. Krauthammer is hardly remembered today compared to Delayer-1000 George Will, perhaps because Will is now seen as an unappreciated humorist of your time. We know many readers of your time actually took his favorable review of Michael Crichton’s State of Fear seriously, but many in the FHA have concluded your newspaper never would have let somebody that uninformed publish regular serious columns. If you have information to the contrary, please let us know. You might consider having “categories” for columns that include “humor,” as we understand that was popular with certain of your time’s … we believe you called them climate bloggers, but we call them Cassandras.

In a June 1, 2008 column your website titled, “Keep your hands off my carbon” (you kill us with your ironic headlines — no literally, you kill us, as the carrying capacity of the planet is now down to 4 billion), Will began,

An unprecedentedly radical government grab for control of the American economy will be debated this week when the Senate considers saving the planet by means of a cap-and-trade system to ration carbon emissions.

Do let Mr. Will know that the FHA, along with the EAB (Energy Allocation Board), WAB (Water Allocation Board), FAB (Food Allocation Board), and DAB (Dartboard Allocation Board), do not appreciate his use of the historically incorrect phrase “unprecedentedly radical government grab for control” (although the Boards do appreciate his tireless efforts to ensure such truly radical government control was needed). But we digress.

Certainly some FHA fellows have devoted their entire lives to detailing the unintentional irony and easily-checked factual mistakes in the writings of Will, but we did have one particular question. At the end of Will’s piece, he writes:

Regarding McCain’s “central facts,” the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, which helped establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — co-winner, with Al Gore, of the Nobel Prize — says global temperatures have not risen in a decade. So Congress might be arriving late at the save-the-planet party.

Many of our digital records of your time were lost when the West Antarctic ice sheet fell into the ocean a few decades ago and sea levels rose 15 feet in a few months. But when our modern-day Google-Microsoft-GE-ExxonMobil-Newscorp-Bloomberg search engine looked in the surviving WMO database of contemporaneous press releases, we could only find from December 2007, “1998-2007 Is Warmest Decade on Record,” which began,

The decade of 1998-2007 is the warmest on record, according to data sources obtained by the World Meteorological Organization. The global mean surface temperature for 2007 is currently estimated at 0.41 degrees C/0.74 degrees F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00 degrees C/57.20 degrees F …

Since the start of the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74 degrees C. But this rise has not been continuous. The linear warming trend over the last 50 years (0.13 degrees C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th Assessment (Synthesis) Report, 2007, “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

and, previously, from August 2007, “The World Meteorological Organization reports on extreme weather and climate events,” which began,

Weather and climate are marked by record extremes in many regions across the world since January 2007. In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89 degrees C warmer than average for January and 1.37 degrees C warmer than average for April.

We did also note the “Press Conference by World Meteorological Organization: global trends in climate change and desertification,” which noted:

Speaking to journalists at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Dr M.V.K. Sivakumar, Chief of the Agricultural Meteorology Division at WMO, said there was a clear linkage between the rise in global temperatures, the emission of greenhouse gases and desertification, adding that: “We are seeing an enormous amount of warming, and the projections are that the warming is likely to be around a 0.2 percent increase per decade over the next several decades.”

Do let the WMO and Dr. Sivakumar know that indeed one third of the planet now is desert, and he might consider making major investments in concentrated solar thermal power, which seems to be the only thing on Earth that benefits from such desertification, other than cacti, bark beetles, and scorpions.

Anyway, we were hoping that one of your fact checkers could explain to us the source of George Will’s claim. You do have fact checkers, don’t you? Again, this is a source of some controversy at the FHA, and we’re hoping you can resolve it.

Some senior historians here are are convinced you never had fact checkers or really any quality control or oversight at all, given that The Washington Post Company went bankrupt in 2024, and the two remaining journalists were hired by Google-Microsoft-GE-ExxonMobil-Newscorp-Bloomberg.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.