Climate Deniers Peddled Conspiracy Theories as Millions Prepared for Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew wasn't an ordinary storm. It killed more than a thousand people in Haiti and at least 20 in the U.S. Its trail of widespread devastation was shocking and it will take the affected regions time to recover.
But while 1.5 million people were being asked by Republican governors to head to safety for the fear for their lives, Drudge wondered if the government was lying to its people to "make an exaggerated point on climate." During the time when hurricane-related reported deaths in Haiti jumped from 20 to more than 300, Drudge questioned National Hurricane Center's data in a now-infamous tweet. Several people (such as Jason Samenow of WaPo and Libby Nelson of Vox) wrote against his outrageous claims for not only trying to score cheap political gains but also putting lives in danger.
Without having any other evidence to disprove the solid climate science linking Hurricane Matthew to climate change, the denial community has been repeating one fact ad nauseam—the arbitrarily defined "major hurricane drought." It's a classic case of cherry-picking data that trivializes the lives disrupted and lost by major storms like Matthew, Sandy and others.
While the U.S. has been fortunate that no hurricane has made landfall in the past decade as a Category 3 or higher, the fact remains that hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin has increased since the 1970s. And there is also increasing evidence of landfalling typhoons in Asia have become more intense over the last four decades due to warmer waters. Politifact has a great article on this subject.
From the time it became apparent that the hurricane will seriously impact the U.S., everyone swung into action. Experts sought to look for climate signals to understand in advance what potential impacts might be. Governors announced states of emergency and mandated evacuations. Climate deniers peddled conspiracy theories.
While most stocked up on food and water, deniers were content with tin foil.