Is Rush Limbaugh Our Preeminent Climate Skeptic?
Rush Limbaugh is perhaps the most typical climate change naysayer to have a major media platform at his disposal. There are, or course, a host of well-known professional skeptics like the publicity hound Lord Monckton and the fossil fuel-funded Patrick Michaels, but these folks enter the media sphere with a single mission: to claim that currently accepted climate change theories are misguided. Limbaugh and his ilk, on the other hand, are more reflective of the garden variety climate skepticism that permeates the American public, especially amongst conservatives. He's rather unfamiliar with any of the science, but is propelled by a massive, from-the-gut instinct that informs him global warming is a hoax.
He's so convinced that it's all nonsense (and expects everyone around him to be convinced as well), that he believes Mitt Romney's mere acknowledgment that climate change is an issue will cost him the election. After he received word that Romney had indicated he believed climate change was real, Limbaugh pronounced on his show that the former Massachusetts governor could say, "Bye, bye nomination."
A couple days later, Rush doubled down, after MSNBC noted that defying the Limbaughs and Hannitys of the far-right may make him more alluring to moderate voters. In his second rant on the topic, Limbaugh revealed some pretty telling things about the nature of this brand of climate change denial. From the transcript of his radio show on Friday:
First off, he derisively dismisses anyone who believes in climate change to be as clueless as an adult who still buys into fairy tales. Reactionary denialism often starts there, from the gut -- the metaphor doesn't really make sense (does anyone have fun believing in climate change?), but it blunts the need for any critical thinking with an "I'm right" declaration.
RUSH: You know, folks, belief in manmade global warming is a lot like believing in Santa Claus. It's fun. It's fun to believe in it for a while when you're a kid, when you're a child, but it's a costly myth to continue believing in as you grow older -- and it's certainly not the kind of thing any serious political candidate ought to believe in. I continue to be struck by just how imprisoned the so-called informed and educated and smart people among us are. All the people in this sound bite montage that we just played? Some leftist somewhere one day said, "There's global warming," and there is. Don't even question it. It just is. Don't even challenge it as a journalist. You don't even have any curiosity about it. Somebody comes along and asks, "Is it true," and they're an automatic crackpot oddball.
Now, notice: What do you have to do in order to earn the approval of people in the media who will eventually seek to destroy you? You have to adopt their causes, and it really helps you if you take a position opposite me. So now Mitt Romney -- who, prior to this was the laughing stock to many in the media; Mitt Romney, just your typical Republican target. All of a sudden Mitt Romney comes out. "Oh, yeah! The Earth is getting warmer. No question about it. I don't know, I don't know, but we gotta do something about it." I come by and say, "Bye bye, nomination," and all of a sudden Romney is "serious," simply because I said, "Bye bye, nomination," and he has the right view to satisfy the left on this issue, which is nothing more than an issue to expand government raised taxes and to control people's lives.
The tirade goes on to include many characteristics of classic conspiracy theorizing -- a practice commonly engaged in by the most ardent climate naysayers. There's the adamant us vs. them postulating, and the idea that "smart people" have been manipulated or taken as suckers -- and only those who've cracked the code can see the truth.
And it's all entirely framed by political ideology -- as in, 100%. Climate change is synonymous with liberal politics, and the two are inextricable. In Limbaugh's view, the very notion that man is causing the planet to warm emerged from the dark halls of leftist politics -- science, even facts, have nothing to do with it.
Rush Limbaugh will never believe in climate change. Not even as global temperatures continue to rise, as floods and droughts become more extreme, or as scientific evidence grows even stronger. Nothing will change his mind; he's too wedded to an ideology that leaves no room for a dangerous phenomenon that the free market might not be able to handle on its own. One that may require a minor change in consumption habits, that may give credence to those abominable environmentalists. So, along with many other naysayers who lack the benefit of such a massive megaphone, he'll continue to shout about how the whole thing is a hoax.
But slowly, as those facts become clearer to everyone else, people will stop listening.