Unethical Quote of the Week: Rush Limbaugh

“Speaking of global warming…which has now been proven to be a hoax”…”

—-Rush Limbaugh, riffing today on his radio show regarding the evils of liberals from Obama to Bloomberg.

No, actually, Newsweek is now a hoax.

Actually, Newsweek was the hoax.

This an outright ethics foul, even if Rush believes it. If he doesn’t believe it, it’s a lie. If he does believe it, it is still a reckless, incompetent and irresponsible thing to say to millions of listeners who trust him to tell them the truth.

Global warming, or climate change, is not a hoax. Its exact extent may not be known, or as conclusively known as some scientists and commentators claim. It may be difficult to measure, and the historical data it is being measured against may be flawed. Its researchers may have biases, and have strayed too far over the line into advocacy. They may also have been too willing to stifle dissenting voices in the scientific community. How serious global warming will be, when its effects will be fully felt and how long it will last are all matters of projection and speculation, subject to error. Projections have been, and will continue to be, unreliable, and arguably, too unreliable to justify costly public policy measures. Remedies are speculative, and cost-benefit ratios are in doubt.

It is also true that many of the most vocal and visible supporters of the most dire projections by climate change researchers, as well as the most vociferous attacker of climate change skeptics, literally don’t know what they are talking about. Their fervor is driven by ideology and faith rather than actual expertise and scholarship, and anything they say on the subject should be given no weight whatsoever. This groups includes journalists, columnists, bloggers, celebrities, academics not in the sciences, public officials and leaders, including, depressingly, Barack Obama, whose State of the Union speech comments on climate change were outrageous and irresponsible:

“But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.  Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend.  But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense.  We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.” 

Yes, we can choose to believe that global warming had nothing to do with Sandy, because there is absolutely no evidence that it did. Here is an expert,Dr. Martin Hoerling and no global warming skeptic, specifically declaring what Obama claims to be “the overwhelming judgment of science”—that Sandy was not a freak occurrence—is just not true. He was interviewed by NPR’s Robert Seigel, after a typically inflammatory quote from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:

SIEGEL: And, first, broadly speaking, did you see this gigantic storm as something caused by changes in climate?

HOERLING: No. By and large, this is a storm that comes rarely but has come before. It’s interesting. You can go back sometime, a storm that some call the Long Island and Norfolk Hurricane of 1821. And the storm surge at the Battery was greater than the one, Sandy, that happened just Monday evening.

SIEGEL: But for a lot of us laymen, there is at least a strong impression that extreme weather events are just happening more and more frequently. Is there actually a profusion of extreme weather events? And should that be more problematic than the causality of one particular storm or another?

HOERLING: There are certain extremes for which the data indicate, pretty unequivocally, that climate change – the warming of the planet – is causing them to increase in frequency. Most noteworthy are heat waves, record daily temperatures that are eclipsing previous record values. And that’s entirely consistent with a planet as a whole that’s moving toward warmer conditions.

SIEGEL: But hurricanes?

HOERLING: No.

SIEGEL: There is no correlation, you’re saying.

HOERLING: No, there isn’t.

So yes, climate change is being hyped, it is being used for fear-mongering by Obama and others, its effects are being misrepresented intentionally and out of ignorance, and this increases the skepticism of people like Rush Limbaugh. Nevertheless it is not a hoax, and it certainly has not been proven to be a hoax.

Rush saying this as fact, when it is at best an unsupported opinion, reminds me of when my crazy 8th Grade history teacher announced that it was “a proven fact” that President Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor to be bombed so we could enter World War II. When that little “fact” came out of my mouth at dinner when I was asked, “What did you learn in school today?”, my Dad spit his milk into the air. That same teacher told us, as fact, that “the U.N is a debating society” and that Jack Kennedy was an agent of the Vatican. But he was only misleading about 90 kids total, and they were easily put straight. Rush has an audience of millions, and they take what he says as gospel. He can do real damage by misleading them, and did in this case.

Note: The most balanced and thorough climate change resource I know of,  for those who want to review all sides of the issue, is here.

_________________________

Source: The Weekly Standard, NPR

62 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

62 responses to “Unethical Quote of the Week: Rush Limbaugh

  1. jj

    You can pretty much have your pick of issues that Rush Limbaugh is horribly wrong with, but in this case I would say that President Obama is just as unethical.

    Aside from legislation on CAFE what has the president accomplished?
    Battery Technology development from a Federal funding perspective, has been a horrible failure. There are too many billions mispent to cover here.
    Photovoltaic development has been eviscerated by Chinese flooding the market selling at a loss to gain market share.
    Solar Thermal Power Plant development is crawling along.. For anyone who bothers to read the fine print, a considerable amount of energy from these solar plants is being supplied by Natural gas boilers.
    Coal is providing a smaller % of electrical ouput due to economic reasons, as fracking has made natural gas a cheaper choice.

    So apart from all the rhetoric, the President has missed on a golden opportunity to do what the government does best: basic research.. Instead of new battery technology, he cuts checks to poorly managed companies and local governments… Instead of fdeveloping new solar technogolgy he watches China flood and sink US companies.

    Rush Limbaugh may be a blowhard, but Obama is a blowhard with my checkbook.. Unacceptable.

    • I don’t think Rush can be dismissed as a blowhard. He is capable of very discerning observations and criticism. In this case, however, he flat-out misrepresented the facts.

      I think the President’s misstatement was bad as well, but it doesn’t make Rush any better, and it’s irrelevant to the Unethical Quote of the Week. There wasn’t a competing Obama quote. Gore, Pelosi, and plenty of others have been highlighted here for their own climate change whoppers—none of which gives Rush leave to say something is ‘proven” when it is not.

      And yes, nothing that is a prediction,pr a projection, is ever “proven” until it actually occurs.
      Ask the Washington DC weathermen.

  2. I get thoroughly frustrated in this debate.

    It’s like the argument between pro and anti abortion crowds they start from separate premises.

    The climate change argument ends up being an argument (once polarization occurs) between people who say “climate IS changing and it is Mankind’s fault” and people who say “climate is NOT changing and mankind never could change it”

    This polarized continuum doesn’t allow for people who say “climate is changing, but it isn’t caused by us, and there is probably very little we can do about it but anticipate its effects on global food availability ” (like me).

    When you hear Rush’s crowd get ahold of any evidence against “man-made” global warming: the term “man-made” often gets dropped in the narrative to become an attack against global warming in general.

    Of course based on polarization of views by ideologues as I’ve noted in posts many times before, anyone who does not espouse the evil man evil capitalist source of global warming is immediately vilified with vitriol. This tends to push guys of my opinion away.

    • ByTheFarmstead

      Climate changed many times in the Earth’s history before us and probably will after. We are in an interglacial period and should end up warmer than now as part of the cycle. At worst we influence it, but if we stopped everything we do that is considered bad, it will keep changing anyway. It’s hubris and fear mongering, Mother Nature will do what she damn well pleases.

      • I can agree with that.

        • The global climate continues- as it always has- to be in a state of dynamic equilibrium. Its like a pendulum swinging but always, in the end, coming to a straight down position. Sometimes it’s swung seriously one way or the other, too, as the result of geophysical and extrterrestrial influences- including some interludes where the earth was frozen or tropical from pole to pole. All we short lasting and ALL occurred long before the time of Man.

          When we talk about Global Warming today (or Cooling… or the all-encompassing Climate Change) what we’re involved with is a long term game by journalists to sell magazines, professors to reel in government grant money, politicians looking for an ax to grind for THEIR careers’ sake and authors who want to sell books. Like flying saucers and invading aliens, this has proven a good schtick. But, as with both, when it comes to hard evidence beyond the superficial or short term, both issues come up lacking. Therefore, when one is heavily committed to such a false prophecy and enjoying its benefits personally, the inclinatiion is to extend it by any deceptive means.

          This is the rather long story of climate change. Back in the 1970s, popular magazines were howling about the return of the Ice Age. Then it was Al Gore and global warming. Guys like author Paul Ehrlich were in on BOTH. Thousands of columns, reports, books and broadcasts later (usually repetative and all based on dubious science at best), it’s come down to the same thing: dynamic equilibrium. The climate swings one way or another to a limited degree because of the same old factors. The human factor is miniscule.

          It remains a good money making scheme, all right. But that’s about the extent of it. Fortunately, some scientists and commentators are honest and forthright enough to come forth and tell it so. They should be congratulated. Likewise, those climate hucksters who have used this false issue for profit or political influence should be condemned. Fraud is fraud. And Global Warming is fraud on a massive scale.

    • This polarized continuum doesn’t allow for people who say “climate is changing, but it isn’t caused by us, and there is probably very little we can do about it but anticipate its effects on global food availability ” (like me).

      There is one thing we can do about it.

      We can set off all of the atomic and hydrogen bombs in the world all at once. This has been conclusively proven to reduce the world’s temperature.

      The study that proved this, the TTAPS study, is the most important scientific paper since Einstein’s “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”.

  3. The data is inconclusive where it exists at all; the conclusions are wrong; the hypothesus is positively Protean, to say nothing of being unprovable; the barriers and lines between science, faith, and politics are being erased; and the men who keep it held up in the public eye (and keep the nay-sayers tucked neatly in the hall closet) are the ones filling their pockets and padding thier prestige as they convince people that the sky is falling. But Rush is committing the Ethical foul by calling it a hoax.

  4. brian

    One type of hoax from wikipedia is:
    Hoaxes formed by making minor or gradually increasing changes to a warning or other claim widely circulated for legitimate purposes

    In this context it seems to fit with your, ‘ Its exact extent may not be … as conclusively known as some scientists and commentators claim’, ‘So yes, climate change is being hyped, it is being used for fear-mongering by Obama and others, its effects are being misrepresented intentionally and out of ignorance’, and ‘Its researchers have … strayed too far over the line into advocacy’. I would agree with you had Rush said that the theory of man made global warming has been debunked, or been proven to be incorrect.

    • That would make Rush’s statement deceit, however. When someone says X has been proven to be a hoax, one is making it comparable to the Piltdown Man, the Fiji mermaid and the Hitler diaries. Resorting to a tangential definition that is not how a word is commonly understood to justify its midleading use is pure Clintonism, and classic deceit. Bill could point to authority that in some circles, sex doesn’t mean oral sex. But Bill meant people to hear the word as it is generally meant, and so did Rush. There is just no question about it. The claim that Climate change is a massive hoax is a commonly expressed opinion on conservative talk radio. Saying it is a proven fact, however, charges over the line.

      • You might say he overstated his case, Jack. But there have been a number of cases (such as the infamous East Anglia University or at the UN luau in Durban) where it’s been pretty well proven that this global warming crusade is fuelled mainly by those who have something to gain and who are not above “stretching” (or downright inventing) the research aimed at supporting their position. And then there’s Algore!

      • brian

        It could be deceitful, I would need more context of the Rush quote which I don’t have, admittedly because I have not sought it out. On the other hand, parts of the man made global warming science clearly, and provably, were a hoax. Falsified data and cherry picked models create exactly the type of hoax I referenced.

        • Don’t play the context game, please. I gave the context. The statement is unequivocal. He said global warming had been proven to be a hoax. That’s an assertion, not an opinion. It’s not deceit. It’s a lie.

          • brian

            The statement is not unequivocal as ‘global warming’ is hardly unambiguous.

            • Again, that’s deceit. The first meaning of global warming is “the globe is warming.” If you say “global warming is a proven hoax,” you mean that it has been proven that the globe is not warming. If you mean something else, it’s not up to everyone else to read your mind.

              • brian

                If the first meaning of global warming is ‘the globe is warming’ then the past 10 years, even from your Forbes link, show it’s false. The little blue line drawn in the short time horizion, 10 years or so, is flat (sorry a line with a slope of .002 is flat in my book when you have error unshown).

                Or go to wikepedia:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

                First graph to the right shows 5 year averages declining for the last 10 years, and this one at least shows error bars.

                The fact remains, the term ‘global warming’ is not unambiguous.

                • No, the Forbes link does not show that, and that is not the conclusion of scientists. “The linear trend (the blue line) over the past decade is relatively flat, but in fact it still exhibited a warming trend, despite the temporary cooling forces that are masking the overall warming. As the British Met Office noted this week, in a reply to a misleading claim that the warming had stopped: “what is absolutely clear is that we have continued to see a trend of warming, with the decade of 2000-2009 being clearly the warmest in the instrumental record going back to 1850.”

                  That means that while a given year may drop to a level of ten years earlier, the trend is clear. The argument you are making is just a bigger version of citing heat waves as “proof” of global warming.

                  And the fact remains “global warming has been proven to be a hoax” is false, any way you slice it.

                  • brian

                    Without error bars on the graph from the forbes link the linear trend is not distinguishable. As I said, a best fit with a slope of .002 when error bars are larger then your slope does not show anything. In fact it shows the trend in the last 10 years is ambiguous, it’s neither up nor down with any certainty.

                    My point remains ‘global warming’ is not unambiguous, so without the context of the Rush quote I can’t say if it’s deceitful. There has been hoaxes within the scientific community which studies global warming. No, I don’t think the entire anthropomorphic climate change theory is a hoax.

                    If the entirety of the Rush comment was the one sentence quote you provided then I agree it’s false. But If there was some other context to the discussion then I can’t comment on it because he could have been discussing portions of the climate change science which actually was a hoax.

                    • No, there were no other comments specifically about global warming as context. That was why I flagged it. It was a throw-away parenthetical assertion as if “everyone now knows” that it is a proven hoax. That makes the comment sinister, like a discussion in which Jimmy Carter is mentioned and the speaker says, “who, as has now been proven, was an agent of the KGB.” Really? That’s true? Rush was talking about Bloomberg’s nanny state legislation, blocking sugary drinks, and comparing it, briefly, to anti-coal legislation and other global warming “fixes”.

  5. I’m wondering what change to the “ethicalness” of Rush’s statement there would be if he was not talking about generic “climate change”, and instead speaking about the issue so near and dear to Al Gore’s wallet heart – man-made Global Warming?

    • Still a lie. The case for man-made global warming has not been “proven to be a hoax” either.

      • Well, that’s not quite true… CO2 has risen since the who scare began, and yet over the last decade global average temps have completely ceased their increase.

        That would rather put the lie to “we cause global warming”, since the entire hypothesis is “higher CO2 causes higher temps”.

        • No, in fact THAT”s not true—there has been warming over the past decade, and the claims that there hasn’t is in the same category as a Nancy Pelosi saying that she “saw” global warming. Forbes and many other have explained the misunderstanding.

        • If the hypothesis “higher CO2 causes higher temps” is a lie, I really need to have a word with the authors of the Earth Science textbooks I used in middle school.

          • Well, since CO2 has continued to increase, and global temps have not increased, that would suggest there is not a relationship between the two, wouldn’t there?

            If X is true, then Y will occur – if Y does not occur, X must not be true.

            • brian

              Correlation is not causation, it works both ways. If CO2 goes up and temps increase that alone does not mean the CO2 increase caused the warming. Likewise, if CO2 goes up and temps don’t go up it does not prove CO2 is safe.

            • In fact temperatures have increased, as Jack has tried to explain to you above. So I won’t concern myself with the inaccuracy of your data. I’ll instead ask this: Do you know something about carbon dioxide that the entire scientific community doesn’t know? Have you discovered that contrary to the known laws of nature, the gas does not actually trap infrared radiation? If so, why are you wasting your time here discussing temperature measurements when you could be off irreversibly revolutionizing the fields of chemistry and physics?

              You see, regardless of the petty fights over the particulars, the basic notion of anthropogenic climate change is based on two simple premises: 1) A greenhouse effect exists in the Earth’s atmosphere.
              2) The post-industrial world has caused the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere to rise considerably.

              Which one of those is wrong? Does elementary Earth Science not understand how the climate works? Do fossil fuels not really release carbon dioxide? Or is the greenhouse effect somehow totally unaffected by the quantity of greenhouse gasses? It has to be one of the three; otherwise it doesn’t matter how many errors you think you can find in the projections and calculations of climate scientists, because you’re still ignoring basic logic.

              If I don’t get a response, I’ll assume you’re off presenting your paper on the newly discovered heat-neutralizing effects of carbon dioxide.

          • My other problem with the AGW crowd is the fact that not once have their models been correct – you take them and if you fill in historic data, you don’t even get numbers CLOSE to what TODAY should be, so why would anyone believe they are predictive of the future?

            The whole “global warming /climate change cause more/fewer hurricanes/blizzards/tornadoes/droughts/whatever” is equally stupid. One year they claim one thing, the next they claim the opposite, and when you point out that they have taken a stance that is fully 180 degrees from what they said only months ago, you’re some kind of cross-burning, ignorant redneck.

            • Well- and speaking as a devil’s advocate, here- I can say that carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas” insofar as it does tend to trap heat to a degree. So does methane. Water vapor does, too! The fact remains, though, that these gases are but traces in the atmosphere. Argon is more prevalent! Also, the three gases I mentioned are in a continual state of recycling by various biological and chemical reactions. If CO2 were anything like the heatmonger that the Gorists claim, Mars would be like Miami! Then, when the dire prophecies of acocalypse did not occur (and show no signs of occurring), that’s when the “cover stories”- each wilder than the next- started issuing forth. Loss of face and of revenue was the motive. THIS is where the hoax lies. Deliberate and ongoing. Limbaugh might have overstated in a blanket statement, but he was essentially correct.

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