With thousands dying from extreme global heat in recent days, and as President Joe Biden announced new executive actions to address the climate crisis, right-wing media figures and climate deniers are downplaying the heat wave and the threat from human-caused climate change.
In Europe, extreme “red” heat warnings were issued in the United Kingdom for the first time, and Wales recorded its highest-ever temperature. Railroad lines, major highways, and airport runways in the U.K. buckled under the extreme heat. Multiple regions of Germany also set all-time highs, as did at least part of Denmark. Over 2,000 people have died in Spain and Portugal due to the extreme heat, which has fueled wildfires there and in parts of France. These record-setting events are not contained to Europe. Parts of the U.S. and Central Asia are suffering from extreme heat as well.
Even though the extreme heat event in Europe is truly exceptional, and its connections to the climate crisis are unquestionable, multiple right-wing media figures used the extreme heat event to downplay and criticize any possible action to address the climate crisis.
Right-wing media also attacked Biden for considering declaring a climate emergency during this deadly heat wave. Instead Biden unveiled much more modest steps to address climate impacts, such as putting $2.3 billion toward community resilience and infrastructure and bolstering offshore wind development. The Federalist falsely declared that “Biden has no right to declare a ‘national climate emergency,’' though The Washington Post explained that such a move would “tap a variety of long-standing emergency authorities under the National Emergencies Act and other laws.” LifeSiteNews fearmongered that the emergency powers would result in “climate lockdowns.” And other right-wing media suggested that there is no crisis at all.
Fox News host Dan Bongino questioned whether the planet is getting warmer and whether humanity played a role in it, asking: “What kind of a dunce believes that? Come on. Is it [the planet] getting warmer? The answer is maybe. … The question isn’t is it getting warmer; the question is what’s human beings' role in it.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/19/22]
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton wrote on Twitter: “There is obviously no ‘climate emergency'.” [Twitter, 7/19/22]
Fox host Tucker Carlson devoted a monologue to undermining the existence of climate change, reducing climate predictions to: “It’s gonna be hot and then it’s gonna rain hard.” “No one really believes in global warming,” he continued, “and that’s why all of the liberals in the United States live on the coasts – because they don’t believe it… The entire theory is absurd and they know it. … The whole thing is a joke.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/20/22]
On Fox, conservative British political commentator Douglas Murray dismissed the urgency of the climate crisis, saying, “Whenever there is not an absolutely vital recent emergency, we can always fall back on – oh and the climate emergency.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/20/22]
Fox anchor Dana Perino asked: “What has changed with the science that would lead a president to need to declare an emergency?” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/20/22]
Fox host Todd Piro said that climate impacts, particularly the ones affecting the most vulnerable communities, did not meet his criteria for an emergency: “While we all love clean air and clean water — I, in fact, use both … this is not an emergency that we need to focus on today. We got a lot of other problems in the world.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 7/20/22]
Fox host Sean Hannity responded to new actions by the Biden administration to address climate change by dismissing the role of human influence over global warming saying, “I think these might be acts of nature, and God, and way out of the realm of something that human beings can prevent.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/20/22]
Climate change denying author Bjorn Lomborg dismissed the dangerous extreme heat event, writing on Twitter: “Standard climate scare.” [Twitter, 7/17/22]
Climate denier Steven Milloy on Twitter dismissed a Washington Post article linking the Europe heat wave to climate change, writing: “Hot in some places. Cool in others. Just weather. Not climate.” [Twitter, 7/19/22]
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade dismissed the dangers extreme heat poses to human health, saying: “Don’t panic. It is summer. If it was December and this was happening, then I would say, this is a little weird. But it's just a little bit hotter than usual.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/20/22]
Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro said on his radio show that the heat wave and wildfires were being reported so fervently because “you always know that it’s the slow season newswise when you start getting weather reports from Europe. … The thing that they will never tell you, the media, is that more people die of cold every year than die of heat every year, but the cold narrative doesn’t tend to play into the climate change narrative that they wish to progmulate.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 7/19/22]
Fox host Jesse Watters dismissed the extreme heat event as regular seasonal weather, saying: “Joe Biden has seen more seasons than a lot of us. He knows that it gets cold in January and hot in July.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/20/22
Watters followed this up with an interview during which an on-screen graphic read: “Dems worried about weather, not real problems.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/20/22]
Fox host Greg Gutfeld said: “We are in a full-blown heat wave hysteria.” He said that while he does believe “it’s getting warmer,” climate advocates should “think about the opportunity cost of all the zealotry. You know? Panic didn’t work.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/20/22]
Right-wing media also attacked the Biden administration for considering a climate emergency declaration
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed on his Infowars show that a climate emergency would be orchestrated by a “scientific global dictatorship whose aim is 90% world depopulation,” and that it would lead to a “dystopia”: “You’re gonna live in a 200-square-foot coffin apartment, you’re gonna be given forced inoculations five, six times a year, you’re gonna be sterilized, you’re gonna be killed.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 7/20/22]
The Wall Street Journal editorial board called a possible emergency declaration “a serious abuse of power.” [The Wall Street Journal, 7/19/22]
Kilmeade called Biden’s executive orders tone-deaf and “agenda-driven,” insisting that they “will do nothing but hurt the price of oil and gas.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/19/22]
Hannity quoted climate denier Joe Bastardi, saying on his radio show that Democrats’ response to climate change is the “systemic dismantling of the American way of life. It’s not a rational response to a climate crisis.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/19/22]
Hosts of Fox’s Outnumbered claimed a possible climate emergency declaration from Biden “could cause a global depression,” is “suicide,” and is “going to kill the economy.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 7/19/22]