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Hurricane of misinformation

Right-wing media representatives in the US have been rightly criticised for peddling dangerous misinformation about Hurricane Irma.

“There is a desire to advance this climate change agenda,” suggested Rush Limbaugh. “And hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it.”


Limbaugh – no scientific expert, to our knowledge – suggests that he understands what the information, and related devastation, is all about.

“In hurricane tracking and hurricane forecasting I’ve been able to spot where I think they (the left) might be playing games,” he said. “Because it’s in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes.”

“Because then they can blame it on climate change,” he continues, “which they can desperately continue trying to sell.”

Apart from the fact that this view is patently ridiculous, it’s dangerous. So says Michael E Mann, a respected climatologist and geophysicist, and currently director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.

“Listeners in Irma’s path could well perish,” wrote Mann on Twitter, “because of Mr Limbaugh’s dangerously misguided rhetoric.”

Brian Kahn, a journalist at Climate Central, having previously worked at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, was similarly scathing.

“Imagine being OK putting people’s lives at risk to push an insane conspiracy theory. Congrats, you are Rush Limbaugh.”

It’s irresponsible for any high-profile commentator to peddle nonsense. It’s irresponsible, and incredibly dangerous, for anyone with a media platform to promote and politicize potentially fatal misinformation about extreme weather. Those taking any notice of the likes of Limbaugh may put themselves in serious danger.

As ever, it’s best to stick to impartial experts, and plain English facts.

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