Climate change exists, and can be directly linked to the worsening storms our friends down south are facing right now. Hurricane Harvey and the floods it brought with it left large parts of Texas and Louisiana devastated. Hurricane Irma, the strongest Atlantic storm system since 2005, is currently barreling towards South Florida. Meteorologists estimate it is roughly the size of the state of Texas. Instead of providing responsible, informative coverage of this dangerous storm and its predicted path, some reporters, namely right wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, are calling storms like these a “liberal conspiracy” to push a “climate change agenda” and sell more bottles of water. Limbaugh also said that the photos and videos coming out of Texas after Hurricane Harvey were only being used to help “further and create the panic.” The reality is that Rush Limbaugh is lying through his teeth, and lies like his are dangerous. Rhetoric like that encourages people in the path of the storm to not take official warnings seriously, leaving them ill-prepared when the storm arrives or ignoring federal evacuation orders entirely.
Climate change, hurricanes, and the warnings about them, are not “fake news.” Rush Limbaugh should be labeled as a traitor for his dangerous rhetoric, and directly putting his audience's lives at risk. Ignoring science and the clear signs around us, denying that climate change and its effects exist and contribute to these fatal natural disasters should be a criminal act at this point. We can’t sit idly by while Limbaugh and others spread misinformation about these worsening and deadly storms. Hurricane Irma has produced sustained wind speeds of 185 mph, placing it well in the Category 5 classification as it hit the Bahamas. The damage left in it’s wake in Puerto Rico is expected to leave parts of the island without power for months. While the storm will be hitting Florida with slightly less force, evacuations are already underway for coastal areas where the estimated storm surge could reach 12 feet. On Irma’s tail is another storm system, Hurricane Jose, as well as Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico. These storms, along with Hurricane Harvey, have given us multiple unprecedented storms within a two-week period.
To our friends in the paths of these storms who plan on staying put, stock up on food and water, batten down the hatches, and be safe. If you have been given an evacuation order and are able to leave, please follow it. Help spread reliable information if you can, and try and talk some sense into anyone who believes the dangerous lies being spread by Limbaugh and his fans. If you are a climate change denier, or believe it’s all a hoax, you should know Limbaugh admitted yesterday morning that he will be evacuating. These storms are not a joke.