Rush Limbaugh told millions of his radio listeners to remove any suggestion that climate change was the culprit for the terrifying scale of forest fires ravaging California and the Northwest Pacific.
Man-made global warming is not a scientific certainty; it can not be proven, and it never has been, ”Mr Limbaugh declared in his Friday exhibition, ignoring the mountains with empirical evidence to the contrary. He then turned to a popular right-wing rhetoric: that policies aimed at curbing climate change are in fact an attack on freedom.
Hours later, that message jumped to prime time on Fox News, with host Tucker Carlson saying those who blamed climate change for fires were simply reciting “a biased conversation.”
“In the hands of democratic politicians, climate change is like systemic racism in the sky,” Carlson told viewers. “You can not see it, but be sure it is everywhere and it is deadly. And like systemic racism, it’s your fault. ”
Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Carlson is two of the most prominent commentators in the right-wing media sphere, where a rich history of climate nationalism is fused with the Trump-era cultural warfare to create a deep skepticism about the notion that climate change is a factor in the fires destroying the West Coast.
Like President Trump, conservative media stars reject climate change – which scientists say is the primary cause of the burning – pointing to the poor management of forest areas by local (and conveniently democratic) officials. Fringe, right-wing websites, such as The Gateway Pundit, have blamed left-wing arsonists for promoting false rumors that authorities say are hampering rescue efforts.
When he visited California on Monday to witness the devastation first-hand, Mr. Trump took Western states to task for not managing the forests properly. During a meeting with California officials that pushed him to recognize the role of climate change in forest fires, the president said: “It’s getting cooler. You just look. ”
“I wish science agreed with you,” replied Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary of natural resources.
“Well, I actually do not think science knows that,” replied Mr. Trump.
The president’s comments could probably resonate with fans of the conservative media personalities who routinely defend his agenda.
“This has nothing to do with climate change, it has nothing to do with man-made climate change, and it would certainly be hell if these forests in these timber areas were free to be properly managed, but they are not,” Mark Levin, another popular right-wing radio host, said in his nationally syndicated show Friday.
Like Mr Carlson, Mr Levin drew a link between climate prevention and recent demonstrations of racial justice, suggesting that both causes – broadly linked to liberals – offered a cloak for more sinister intentions.
“They want to talk about man-made climate change because out of this they want to control you,” Levin said. “It’s like the race stuff – ‘systemically racist’ – well, what do you want to do about it? Control yourself. Sit down. You have to change your lifestyle, have to confess something. ”
Some right-wing writers see even darker origins in the eruption of a deadly flame.
Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy site with a healthy online sequel – its lead author, Jim Hoft, was welcomed to the White House by Mr. Trump – published posts claiming that left-wing anarchists were to blame, not the environment.
“Many arsonists have already been arrested in Oregon, Washington and California, but Democrats continue to blame forest fires for climate change,” a Gateway Pundit story said Monday along with a video allegedly showing a woman in Oregon confronting an arsonist on her property. . The site claimed that regular news outlets ignored this story because “it contradicts their global warming and anti-gun narrative.”
A man in Oregon was charged last week with starting the destructive Almeda fire in a small town that was being ordered to evacuate. But authorities say rising temperatures are a major cause of this year’s outbreak.
For the president’s political supporters, the notion that rogue hotspots are causing chaos is a tempting echo of a key message adopted by Mr Trump and Republicans during the president’s run: that regions of the country have been devoured by left-wing violence.
And Mr. Trump continues to downplay environmental factors. Asked on Tuesday’s “Fox & Friends” about his political plans to combat climate change, the president replied: “You have forests all over the world. You do not have fires like in California.”
Californians have been discussing how to reduce the risk of deadly flames, with some officials arguing for more controlled burns. A August press release from the office of Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, noted that state forests were “very vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires and the need for active, science-based management”, in part due to warmer and drier climate-created conditions. change.
Mr. Newsom has called on the federal government to play a more active role in the management of state forests. About 58 percent of California’s forest areas are controlled by the federal government; the state owns 3 percent.
For environmental groups, problematic media coverage of forest fires is not limited to right-wing platforms.
The Environmental Defense Fund said in a harsh post that many ordinary news outlets had not drawn a direct link between the widespread destruction and the dangerous consequences of a changing climate.
“It’s like talking about the increased spread of Covid, while ignoring the reason why it is spreading,” the group wrote.