A scientist from the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University slammed conservative conspiracy mongers like Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh for urging people not to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Matthew. The right wing, he said, has reached a "new low" by hyping the idea that people will be safe in their homes as the giant storm comes ashore.
"It's absurd," said researcher Michael Mann, Media Matters reported on Friday. "People could die."
Mann appeared on Sirius XM's The Michael Smerconish Program and blasted the wrong-headed notion that the National Hurricane Center has hyped the storm as being stronger than it is in order to push a political agenda.
"So we're politicizing everything else in the 2016 cycle, we may as well politicize the storm, is that it?" asked Smerconish.
"Well, I’m afraid that's the way it appears now," Mann said. "We’ve gotten to the point where critics of the president, the critics of taking action on climate change have decided they’re going to deny that hurricanes exist, or at least are as strong as we’re measuring them to be, to support this narrative of anti-science and climate change denial. And it’s just, it’s absurd, it’s insulting, and as your callers mentioned, it dismisses the great loss of human life that we've already seen happen with latest storm Matthew."
Before making U.S. landfall, Hurricane Matthew killed more than 400 people in Haiti, causing massive property damage and decimating the island's already fragile economy.
"Rush said yesterday it's in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change which they can desperately continue trying to sell," Smerconish said. "Your response to that quote is what?"
"It's breathtaking," said Mann. "The idea that the National Hurricane Center which has no other agenda other than to predict the trajectory and intensity of these storms and help the public deal with the information that they provide in forming emergency evacuations, the idea that they would somehow, first of all, be able to manipulate the data that comes out of their dropsonde -- they send these instruments down into the center of the hurricane and they measure the various variables, atmospheric variables, including windspeed and pressure and humidity and everything else -- and that raw data is actually available to the public. They distribute it almost immediately."
He continued, "So to believe that NOAA, the National Hurricane Center is somehow manipulating the information about the intensity of these storms would require a conspiracy of epic proportions where somehow they would literally in real-time be editing the dropsonde data in such a way as to change the picture that the data is presenting. It's just absurd, and it represents a new low, in my view, of denialism."
"I get it, I understand that they find devastating hurricanes and the trend towards more devastating hurricanes inconvenient because as the public understands it, climate change is actually impacting them in a direct way, in a way that they feel, of course, the issue is likely to gain greater resonance with the public. And many of these folks -- Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge -- have long been advocates for a conservative agenda of inaction and denial on climate change. And it’s just, it’s really sad that it's gotten to this point, it’s dangerous," he said.
"I mean, people could die because of the misinformation that folks like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge are putting out there. It’s critical that people understand the threat that these storms represent, particularly the storm surge," he said.
Fortunately, Matthew looks like it is moving away from shore and losing strength, but Mann said he finds the misinformation campaign downright disgusting.
(T)o be telling the public that they don't have anything to worry about, that the data's being manipulated, that’s literally a threat to human life," he said. "And it's not just disgusting, it's unsupportable."
Watch the video, embedded below via Media Matters: