15 Most Absurd Comments Right-Wing Media Said About Climate Change in 2015
By Kevin Kalhoefer
From Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, to the establishment of the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, to a landmark international climate agreement, 2015 has been full of major landmarks in national and global efforts to address global warming. Yet you wouldn't know it if you inhabited the parallel universe of the conservative media, where media figures went to ridiculous and outrageous lengths to dismiss or deny climate science, attack the pope, scientists and anyone else concerned with climate change, and defend polluting fossil fuel companies. Here are the 15 most ridiculous things conservative media said about climate change in 2015.
15. Fox News Hosts Congratulate Sen. Inhofe for Using a Snowball to Dispute Global Warming
The Feb. 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday aired footage of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor to dispute the scientific finding that 2014 was the warmest year on record. Following the footage of Inhofe's stunt, co-host Tucker Carlson declared, "Well that's Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe using a snowball on the floor of the Senate to make his point about global climate change. The whole country seems to be blanketed in the white stuff. This, during global warming."
The hard-hitting questions Carlson and the other Fox hosts had for Inhofe were why some people are "trying to shut down debate" on the causes of climate change, whether the U.S. should be "nixing" all climate change-related funding, and how Inhofe was able put together such a "nicely packed, well-constructed" snowball.
14. National Review Promotes Absurd Climate Change Chart to Suggest Lack of Warming
National Review tweeted that a misleading temperature chart published by Powerline's Steven Hayward was "[t]he only #climatechange chart you need to see." Hayward wrote that his chart displayed average annual global temperature "with the axis starting not just from zero, but from the lower bound of the actual experienced temperature range of the earth," and claimed, "[i]f this chart were published on the front page of newspapers the climate change crusaders would be out of business instantly."
National Review's tweet was roundly criticized for the chart's obviously misleading scale (with an appropriately scaled y-axis, the chart shows a demonstrable increase in global temperatures), with Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writing that Hayward's re-scaled chart was "so phenomenally stupid that I figured it had to be a joke of some kind." Several Twitter users responded to National Review by jokingly posting examples of similarly misleading charts, including one that the Union of Concerned Scientists described as showing "comfort in the idea that nobody really reads the National Review online."
The only #climatechange chart you need to see. https://t.co/XWPo00GulS (h/t @powerlineUS) https://t.co/QcrN2fCouT— National Review (@National Review)1450128961.0
13. Michael Savage: Pope Francis Has Been "Hand-Selected By The New World Order" And Is A "Danger To The World" For Acting On Climate Change
After the release of Pope Francis' papal encyclical on climate change, which calls for climate action in order to help the world's poor, conservative radio host Michael Savage declared that the pope has been "hand-selected by the New World Order," called him a Marxist and "eco-wolf in pope's clothing," and compared him to the false prophet in the book of Revelation "directing mankind to worship the Antichrist." Savage concluded that "we are living in global tyranny right now."
12. Ted Nugent: Wildlife Populations "Actually Increase" Because Of Energy Development. In a column for The Daily Caller, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent falsely claimed that wildlife populations "actually increase and expand" in areas where pipelines, oil drilling, fracking, coal mining, and other forms of energy production occur. The next day, Nugent posted to Facebook that he wanted to drive "over the rotting corpses" of "algore [sic] & all the pathetic greenies."
11. Mark Steyn Invokes Image Of Terrorists "Sawing Bernie Sanders' Head Off" To Attack Sanders For Linking Climate Change To Terrorism. On the November 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., conservative pundit Mark Steyn mocked Sen. Bernie Sanders' broadly accurate comments linking climate change to the rise of ISIS by declaring: "[ISIS leader] al-Baghdadi will be sawing Bernie Sanders' head off, and he'll be saying as his neck is being sliced, 'If only we'd had an emissions trading scheme.'"
10. Fox's Dana Perino: If You "Really Want To Work For A Green Energy Field," The Place To Go Is Big Oil
During a discussion of values in the workplace on the May 18 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Dana Perino asserted: "Bringing your values doesn't mean you have to compromise yourself, but if you plan to, like, save the world or global warming, and you really want to work for a green energy field, well the place to go is actually to work for Chevron and Exxon. They actually are funding all of the green energy stuff."
9. Gretchen Carlson, Rand Paul Agree: "It's Almost Like They'll Put You In Prison For Challenging ... Climate Change On Campus"
On the November 12 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson agreed with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) when he asserted: "Only certain opinions are acceptable on college campus. So I think we need more robust debate and there really shouldn't be this monolithic—I mean, if you challenge climate change, you know, it's almost like they'll put you prison for challenging the religious dogma of climate change on campus."
8. Following Damning Reports, Fox Business' Bartiromo Praises Exxon: "You Actually Helped Finance Accurate Scientific Research About Climate Change"
Following reports by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealing that Exxon peddled climate science denial for years after its scientists recognized that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo allowed Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to call the charges against Exxon "unfounded" and "without any substance at all." Rather than challenge Tillerson with evidence that Exxon knowingly deceived shareholders and the public about climate change, Bartiromo defended the company during the interview, stating to Tillerson: "You actually helped finance accurate scientific research about climate change."
7. Ben Stein Attacks Global Climate Agreement: "Sav[ing] The Earth ... Is A Ridiculous Goal"
On the Dec. 14 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Cavuto introduced guest Ben Stein by saying "there's a lot" to the Paris Climate Agreement "that Ben Stein hates." Stein responded by asking: "What if man-made climate change is a fraud?" He later called the idea of saving the Earth a "ridiculous goal" and a "specious idea."
6. Breitbart's James Delingpole: NASA, NOAA Scientists Are "Talentless Low-Lives"
On November 30, Breitbart News' James Delingpole wrote a post listing "twelve reasons why the Paris climate talks are a total waste." One of the reasons Delingpole gave was that the "alarmist climate scientists are talentless low-lives who cannot be trusted," citing NASA, NOAA, the Met Office, and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia as examples.
5. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: "We're Kind Of Getting The Benefits Of" Global Warming
During a discussion about the unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast on the December 11 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough remarked: "The past couple of years when people are talking about global warming, I've been like OK, why are we missing out on it in the Northeast? Because, you mean you could look at the planet, it's burning hot everywhere else. But there's this like ice cold blue dot where we all live. So this year we're kind of getting the benefits of it."
4. WSJ Op-Ed Claims Finding That Bacon Causes Cancer Is Part Of Climate Change Conspiracy
The Wall Street Journal published a Nov. 9 op-ed, The Climate Agenda Behind the Bacon Scare, which was co-authored by Jeff Stier and Julie Kelly of the oil industry-backed National Center for Public Policy Research and Heartland Institute, respectively. Stier and Kelly asserted that the World Health Organization's announcement linking red and processed meats to cancer "seems particularly well timed" to coincide with the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris, and baselessly claimed that "[t]he widely publicized warning about meat isn't about health. It's about fighting global warming."
3. Fox News Turned To Disgraced Former FEMA Director Michael Brown To Deny Climate Change, Baselessly Attack FEMA Policy As "Orwellian"
On the May 6 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Cavuto invited Michael Brown, the disgraced former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to attack FEMA for requiring that states applying for disaster preparedness funds produce plans that consider the impacts of climate change. Brown, whose claim to fame is botching the response to Hurricane Katrina, questioned the need for the policy by disputing that "man has much impact" on climate change, and echoed the misleading "climate is always changing" talking point by asserting: "[W]e've always had tornadoes, we've always had floods, we've always had hurricanes, and we're always going to." Brown also described the new FEMA policy is an "Orwellian" ploy meant to force the federal government's "vision of climate change" on to states. Later, Brown admitted on Twitter that he is a "denier" when it comes to climate change.
2. Investor's Business Daily: "EPA Regulations Are 'Jim Crow' Laws Of 21st Century"
Investor's Business Daily published an Aug. 12 op-ed, EPA Regulations Are 'Jim Crow' Laws Of 21st Century, in which a senior fellow at the oil industry-backed Heartland Institute cited a discredited study to falsely attack the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan as harmful to minorities. The headline of the piece was based on a remark by conservative author Deneen Borelli, who called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency climate plan "the green movement's new Jim Crow."
1. After NASA Announced It Found Water On Mars, Rush Limbaugh Said It Was Part Of A Climate Change Conspiracy
Following NASA's announcement that it had found flowing water on Mars, Rush Limbaugh posited that NASA was "making up something that happened on Mars that will help advance their left-wing agenda on this planet," adding, "I would assume it would be something to do with global warming." After his comments were widely mocked, Limbaugh doubled down on his conspiracy theory, declaring that he was being "misquoted ... on purpose" because he was "getting too close to the truth." Limbaugh's original remarks:
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By Brian Bienkowski
Fish exposed to endocrine-disrupting compounds pass on health problems to future generations, including deformities, reduced survival, and reproductive problems, according to a new study.
Low Levels Lead to Generational Impacts<p>Researchers exposed inland silverside fish to bifenthrin, levonorgestrel, ethinylestradiol, and trenbolone to levels currently found in waterways.</p><p>"Our concentrations were actually on the low end" of what is found in the wild, DeCourten said, adding that it was low amounts of chemicals in parts per trillion.</p><p>Bifenthrin is a pesticide; levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol are synthetic hormones used in birth controls; and trenbolone is a synthetic steroid often given to cattle to bulk them up.</p><p>Such endocrine-disruptors have already been linked to a variety of health problems in directly exposed fish including altered growth, reduced survival, lowered egg production, skewed sex ratios, and negative impacts to immune systems. But what remains less clear is how the exposure may impact future generations.</p><p>For their study, DeCourten and colleagues started the exposure when the fish were embryos and continued it for 21 days.</p><p>They then tracked effects on the exposed fish, and the next two generations.</p>
Inherited Problems<p>DeCourten said the altered DNA methylation is one of the plausible ways that future generations would experience health impacts from previous generations' exposure. Hormone-disrupting compounds have been shown to impact DNA methylation, which is an important marker of how an organism will develop.</p><p>"Methyl groups are added to specific sites on the genome, [the exposure] is not changing the genome itself, but rather how the genome is expressed," she said. "And that can be inherited throughout generations."</p><p>In addition, Brander said there are essentially different "tags" that exist on DNA molecules, which tell genes how to turn on and off. She said the exposure to different compounds may be "influencing which methyl tags get taken on or off as you proceed through generations."</p><p>The researchers said the study should prompt future toxics testing to consider impacts on future generations.</p><p>"The results … throw a wrench in the current approach to regulating chemicals, where it's often short-term testing looking at simple things like growth, survival, and maybe gene expression," Brander said.</p><p>"These findings are telling us we really at least need to consider" the next two generations, she added.</p>
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By Laura Beil
Consumers have long turned to vitamins and herbs to try to protect themselves from disease. This pandemic is no different — especially with headlines that scream "This supplement could save you from coronavirus."
Vitamin D<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Called "the sunshine vitamin" because the body makes it naturally in the presence of ultraviolet light, <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/vitamin-d-supplements-lose-luster" target="_blank">Vitamin D is one of the most heavily studied</a> supplements (<em>SN: 1/27/19</em>). <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-12/" target="_blank">Certain foods</a>, including fish and fortified milk products, are also high in the vitamin.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>Vitamin D is a hormone building block that helps strengthen the immune system.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections:</strong> In 2017, the <em>British Medical Journal</em> published a meta-analysis that suggested a daily vitamin D supplement <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583" target="_blank">might help prevent respiratory infections</a>, particularly in people who are deficient in the vitamin.</p><p>But one key word here is <em>deficient. </em>That risk is highest during dark winters at high latitudes and among people with more color in their skin (melanin, a pigment that's higher in darker skin, inhibits the production of vitamin D).</p><p>"If you have enough vitamin D in your body, the evidence doesn't stack up to say that giving you more will make a real difference," says Susan Lanham-New, head of the Nutritional Sciences Department at the University of Surrey in England.</p><p>And taking too much can create new health problems, stressing certain internal organs and leading to a dangerously high calcium buildup in the blood. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 to 800 International Units per day, and the upper limit is considered to be 4,000 IUs per day.</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin D and COVID-19:</strong> Few studies have looked directly at whether vitamin D makes a difference in COVID.</p>
Zinc<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Zinc, a mineral found in cells all over the body, is found naturally in certain meats, beans and oysters.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>It plays several supportive roles in the immune system, which is why zinc lozenges are always hot sellers in cold and flu season. Zinc also helps with cell division and growth.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457799/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies of using zinc for colds</a> — which are frequently caused by coronaviruses — suggest that using a supplement right after symptoms start might make them go away quicker. That said, a clinical trial from researchers in Finland and the United Kingdom, published in January in <em>BMJ Open</em> <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/1/e031662" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">did not find any value for zinc lozenges</a> for the treatment of colds. Some researchers have theorized that inconsistencies in data for colds may be explained by varying amounts of zinc released in different lozenges.</p><p><strong>What we know about zinc and COVID-19:</strong> The mineral is promising enough that it was added to some early studies of hydroxychloroquine, a drug tested early in the pandemic. (Studies have since shown that <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-no-evidence-treatment" target="_blank">hydroxychloroquine can't prevent or treat COVID-19</a> (<em>SN: 8/2/20</em>).)</p>
Vitamin C<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Also called L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C has a long list of roles in the body. It's found naturally in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus, peppers and tomatoes.</p><p><strong>Why it might help:</strong> It's a potent antioxidant that's important for a healthy immune system and preventing inflammation.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong>Thomas cautions that the data on vitamin C are often contradictory. One review from Chinese researchers, published in February in the <em>Journal of Medical Virolog</em>y, looked at <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jmv.25707" target="_blank">what is already known about vitamin C</a> and other supplements that might have a role in COVID-19 treatment. Among other encouraging signs, human studies find a lower incidence of pneumonia among people taking vitamin C, "suggesting that vitamin C might prevent the susceptibility to lower respiratory tract infections under certain conditions."</p><p>But for preventing colds, a 2013 Cochrane review of 29 studies <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">didn't support the idea</a> that vitamin C supplements could help in the general population. However, the authors wrote, given that vitamin C is cheap and safe, "it may be worthwhile for common cold patients to test on an individual basis whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial."</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin C and COVID-19: </strong>About a dozen studies are under way or planned to examine whether vitamin C added to coronavirus treatment helps with symptoms or survival, including Thomas' study at the Cleveland Clinic.</p><p>In a review published online in July in <em>Nutrition</em>, researchers from KU Leuven in Belgium concluded that the <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vitamin may help prevent infection</a> and tamp down the dangerous inflammatory reaction that can cause severe symptoms, based on what is known about how the nutrient works in the body.</p><p>Melissa Badowski, a pharmacist who specializes in viral infections at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy and colleague Sarah Michienzi published an extensive look at all supplements that might be useful in the coronavirus epidemic. There's <a href="https://www.drugsincontext.com/can-vitamins-and-or-supplements-provide-hope-against-coronavirus/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">still not enough evidence to know whether they are helpful</a>, the pair concluded in July in <em>Drugs in Context</em>. "It's not really clear if it's going to benefit patients," Badowski says.</p><p>And while supplements are generally safe, she adds that nothing is risk free. The best way to avoid infection, she says, is still to follow the advice of epidemiologists and public health experts: "Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay six feet apart."</p>
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