Stupid Things Right-Wing Media Said About Climate Change In 2021
1. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro doesn’t think that 4 degrees Celsius of warming is an emergency
On the April 14 edition of The Daily Wire’s The Ben Shapiro Show, host Ben Shapiro stated that “I do not consider it a quote-unquote ‘emergency’ if the climate were to warm 4 degrees Celsius over the course of the next century. … It’s just a way for them to create a certain level of alarmism that is unjustifiable by the facts on the ground."
It’s a good thing that Shapiro, whose publication is backed by fracking billionaires, has no authority or credibility within the climate science community: 4 C of warming would be literally catastrophic for large swaths of the globe. As The Guardian reported in 2019, at 4 C of climate change, we’d have sea levels that would be around 2 meters higher than today (which would render many coastal areas obsolete), destruction of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, oceanic dead zones, temperatures in the equatorial belt so high that would make for impossible living conditions for most of the year, and the beginning of a potential mass extinction for many species. This is not the first time that Shapiro has said something ignorant about the climate crisis; he once theorized that people affected by rising sea levels could just sell their inundated homes and move.
2. Fox’s Dagen McDowell thinks that cold temperatures in certain parts of the U.S. entirely disprove global warming
Fox News personalities regularly conflate climate withweather, and they generally do it to dismiss global warming. On the April 21 edition of The Five, co-host Dagen McDowell mockingly suggested that “they stopped calling it global warming” because of abnormally cold U.S. temperatures.
In reality, our warming climate has not eradicated cold weather, and in some cases, it has even made
cold weather more severe and unpredictable. Nor have abnormally cold temperatures caused a dent in the Earth’s alarming warming trend, in which the past decade was the warmest on record.
3. Ex-coal lobbyist Steve Milloy lies about warming temperatures on One America News: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average”
On the August 2 edition of OAN’s The Tipping Point, former coal lobbyist and Fox News contributor Steve Milloy stated: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average. … There’s just so much bad information going on around, and you know, you’ve just got to be careful with climate alarmists.”
In reality, the U.S. suffered through its hottest June on record, while it was the fifth-warmest June on record globally (followed by the hottest July ever recorded in earth’s history). Milloy is a longstanding figure in the climate denial community, and viewers have really “got to be careful” with his objectively false information.
4. Fox's Laura Ingraham suggests that climate change is really “about controlling the people” and fearmongers that climate action will lead to pandemic-style lockdowns
On both the May 18 and 19 editions of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham theorized that Democrats will use climate change to control Americans’ lives through pandemic-style lockdowns.
This is a dangerous conspiracy theory being pushed by
prominent climate deniers that has taken hold among far-right media figures. To be clear, the way to fight climate change is not via lockdowns (COVID-19 lockdowns “only marginally reduced greenhouse gas emissions”), but by bringing about systemic change in our energy system and reimagining our economy and the way we live.
5. Newsmax’s Chris Salcedo doesn’t believe in “proof” that CO2 emissions are contributing to climate change
There were multiple times this year when Newsmax host Chris Salcedo went on a perplexing rant claiming there’s somehow no proof that rising CO2 emissions affect temperatures in any meaningful way. On the August 18 edition of The Chris Salcedo Show, Salcedo called global warming a “religion” that “has not been proven through science” before going on to say, “There's no mathematical proof out there that states that X amount of man-made CO2 yields Y amount of temperature change.”
Then on the December 14 edition of his show, Salcedo stated: “From experts I have read and interviewed over the years, I can say that there is no proof that man's C02 emissions are destroying the planet.” Salcedo must be interviewing some pretty fringe climate deniers as “experts,” as there is effectively unanimous scientific consensus that “humans are changing Earth's climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions.”
6. Fox’s Tucker Carlson rants that climate change is somehow a conspiracy to shrink your children
While Tucker Carlson is no stranger to promoting weird conspiracy theories about climate change, one of his segments from June went completely overboard. On the June 22 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the Fox prime-time host accused climate scientists of wanting to use “human engineering” to “make human children smaller than they are now” and thereby reduce their lifetime greenhouse gas emissions: “All we need to do is experiment on human children and we can solve climate change.”
Carlson’s claim was based on a speech given by a bioethicist nearly five years ago. As Gizmodo reported, “The ideas are bad, but they’re utterly fringe. Activists are clamoring for transforming society, not individual humans. You’d never know that from watching the segment, though.” But taking a fringe remark out of context and repurposing it to claim that the government will take over our lives seems pretty on-brand for Fox News.
7. Dennis Prager thinks the simple solution to a warming climate is to just use more air conditioning
Conservative commentator Dennis Prager, who leads a nonprofit online “university” that promotes climate denial, among other conservative talking points, offered his own absurd “solution” to climate change during a talk on September 22: “Did you know that there is a solution to a warm climate? It's called air conditioning. It's very effective.”
Prager’s comments follow a concerning new form of climate denial in right-wing media: acknowledging the climate is changing but claiming there’s nothing we can do to prevent it -- we must learn to live with it instead. In Prager’s case, he suggests that well-off people can just adapt to the warming climate by using air conditioning when it gets hot (which would only increase emissions even further), while those without access to air conditioning will suffer.
8. On Fox News’ The Five, Greg Gutfeld claims that the data to prove climate change is “never there”
On the September 2 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld criticized those who connect climate change to extreme weather events -- specifically to the destructive Hurricane Ida. He stated that the data is “never there,” and that “the severity” of such storms “has been on the decline
For one, science has shown that climate change is affecting hurricanes in a number of ways as storms are dumping more rain, moving slower, and rapidly intensifying -- all hallmarks of Hurricane Ida. Secondly, the data is indeed “there,” as climate models have been correct over the past 50 years. Additionally, Gutfeld talks about “severity” only in terms of decreasing deaths from natural disasters. However, focusing on this statistic obscures the many other reasons that climate change is a serious and deadly threat. As one scientist puts it, “climate change kills, from poor nutrition status and poor health linked to episodes of drought and harvest failures, the spread of infectious diseases, … increasing violent conflict, … and of course the impact of extreme events like tropical cyclones and flash floods.”
9. On Newsmax, Republican commentator Ford O’Connell claims that “climate change is the ultimate Trojan horse for socialism” before stating that the Earth “may or not be warming”
Newsmax had a wild year of promoting climate denial, and right-wing pundit Ford O’Connell’s claim that the Earth “may or may not be warming” on the October 25 edition of American Agenda
Citation From the October 25, 2021, edition of Newsmax's American Agenda
The context behind this segment is noteworthy -- Newsmax was attacking its much larger rival Fox News for “going woke” and “making a permanent hard-left turn” by suggesting that the newly launched Fox Weather streaming service is taking climate change too seriously. In actuality, Fox Weather is just ignoring the issue altogether, but it’s funny to see Newsmax melt down over the fact that Fox is apparently not right-wing enough.
10. On Fox Business, Patricia Lee Onwuka of the Independent Women’s Forum claims that climate change is a “fallacy”
Discussing President Biden’s response to Hurricane Ida on the September 3 edition of Fox Business' Mornings With Maria, right-wing commentator Patricia Lee Onwuka suggested that climate change is a “fallacy” that Biden is using to advance his agenda; she also said that “the facts dispute” the idea that extreme weather events like hurricanes are connected to climate chan
Article reprinted with permission from Media Matters