Rush Limbaugh spins a web of conspiratorial nonsense about Hurricane Irma

Rush Limbaugh comes out against computer models

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 6, 2017 9:17AM (EDT)

Rush Limbaugh   (Getty/Ethan Miller)
Rush Limbaugh (Getty/Ethan Miller)

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh went on a prolonged rant on Tuesday about the media's coverage of the recent hurricanes — and suggested that Irma, the category 5 storm headed towards Florida, is being blown out of proportion.

After claiming that "everything is politicized" in our current culture, Limbaugh argued that even hurricanes were being subjected to politics. He proved that point by bashing the scientific consensus about man-made global warming.

Climatologists have argued that, while it's difficult to tell whether Hurricane Harvey would have happened without global warming, man-made climate change significantly exacerbated the storm.

"You have an abundance of people who believe that man-made climate change is real. And they believe that Al Gore is correct when he has written — and he couldn’t be more wrong — that climate change is creating more hurricanes and stronger hurricanes," Limbaugh claimed. After insisting that Harvey was the first hurricane to hit in 12 years, and that hurricanes haven't been more true or frequent recently, Limbaugh asserted that the media works together with businesses which can sell survival supplies in order to make money during hurricanes.

Let’s take south Florida television, for example. There is [a] symbiotic relationship between retailers and local media, and it’s related to money. It revolves around money. You have major, major industries and businesses which prosper during times of crisis and panic, such as a hurricane, which could destroy or greatly damage people’s homes, and it could interrupt the flow of water and electricity. So what happens?

Well, the TV stations begin reporting this and the panic begins to increase. And then people end up going to various stores to stock up on water and whatever they might need for home repairs and batteries and all this that they’re advised to get, and a vicious circle is created. You have these various retail outlets who spend a lot of advertising dollars with the local media.

The local media, in turn, reports in such a way as to create the panic way far out, which sends people into these stores to fill up with water and to fill up with batteries, and it becomes a never-ending repeated cycle. And the two coexist. So the media benefits with the panic with increased eyeballs, and the retailers benefit from the panic with increased sales, and the TV companies benefit because they’re getting advertising dollars from the businesses that are seeing all this attention from customers.

Limbaugh also said that the government is in on this too — and so are the meteorological models.

Now, my theory — and it’s only a theory — is that because of the biases, because of the politicization of everything, because you have people in all of these government areas who believe man is causing climate change, and they’re hell-bent on proving it; they’re hell-bent on demonstrating it; they’re hell-bent on persuading people of it. So here comes a hurricane that’s 10 to 12 days out, and here come the initial model runs, and if it’s close — sometimes it’s not close, sometimes the hurricane will turn to the north out in the mid-Atlantic and there’s no way you can fake that. But if, if they are going to approach a hit on the U.S., you will note that early tracks always have them impacting a major population center.

But, if the models turn out to be right, Limbaugh may have a lot of crow to eat. Because, on one hand, he said that the models don't know where it's going to go, even though the models say exactly where it's going to go.

My prediction of where it was gonna go was not shown on but two or three outlying models. The point is, we still don’t know where it’s gonna go. The Sunday impact in south Florida is to be Sunday, so that’s six days, five days. They still can’t tell us. And not that they should be able to. I mean, these things, there’s too many variables, atmospheric conditions, sea surface temperatures, and unknown. There’s just no way to predict where these storms are gonna go until probably the day before. (interruption) What do you mean, we’re sitting ducks? What, are you in Key West? You’re not a sitting duck unless you’re in Key West. What do you mean? Why are you a sitting duck? What are you talking about?

In true Rush Limbaugh fashion, the conservative host closed out his monologue with a racist punch. "So Harvey, Irma, Jose. Hurricane Jose. Yeah, wait ’til La Raza hears about that. Of course, depending on where it hits, they might support it."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Global Warming Hurricane Harvey Hurricane Irma Rush Limbaugh