It's Earth Day, a day on which people around the world put “environmental concerns front and center” to help build “a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.” But for the right-wing media, Earth Day signifies something else entirely: The opportunity to engage in another round of conspiracy theories, anti-science claims, and unwarranted attacks. Here's how they are celebrating this year:
1: Claiming That Earth Day Will Lead To Death Panels
Rush Limbaugh celebrated Earth Day by inventing a new and extremely bizarre conspiracy theory: Earth Day has prompted the government to tell people to ignore food expiration dates, which will lead them to “ration” health care and eventually lead to “death panels.”
On the April 22 edition of his show, Limbaugh berated the U.S. Department of Agriculture for trying to limit food waste by providing consumers with a tool educating them on the types of foods that have incorrect or overly cautious expiration dates. Limbaugh went on to claim that the government will eventually use expiration dates to ration medicine and health care, and that “there are going to be death panels.” He concluded: “All of this has as its root, Earth Day.”
2: Linking Earth Day To A Convicted Murderer
Right-wing websites National Review and Townhall thought it was important to “remind” their audiences about the story of Ira Einhorn, who claimed that he was the co-founder of Earth Day and was convicted for murder several years later. Both outlets stated that Einhorn “composted” his girlfriend. Though Einhorm participated in the first Earth Day, leaders and organizers of the original 1970 Earth Week Committee of Philadelphia have made clear that Einhorn inappropriately disrupted the event and played no role in organizing it.
3: Broadcasting A Climate Denier's Anti-Science Claims
The Wall Street Journal featured an online video interview about Earth Day with climate change denier Nigel Lawson, who is the founder and director of the UK-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organization with ties to a fossil fuel-funded think tank that was launched to exploit the manufactured “Climategate” controversy. Wall Street Journal columnist Simon Constable asked Lawson if journalists should approach their Earth Day reporting with “skepticism.” Lawson agreed, claiming that there needs to be a “debate” on climate change and adding that the globe is “warming very, very little at the present time, if at all.” Lawson asserted that climate change is a “new religion, which is extremely damaging,” to which Constable nodded in agreement, saying, “extremely damaging, new religion, thank you very much.”
4. Equating Environmentalism With Communism
Conservative media love pointing out that Earth Day falls on the same day as Vladimir Lenin's birthday, and to Rush Limbaugh, this means that Earth Day is “rooted in an anti-capitalist political belief.” On the April 17 edition of his show, Limbaugh explained to a caller that Earth Day has a “political objective,” which is to convince people to “accept all tax increases to fix the damage that you've caused.”
Limbaugh added that the name Vladimir “is Russian for 'Lord of the earth,'” and concluded: “The whole point of Earth Day is political. It's part and parcel of the environmentalist wacko ecosystem.”
(Rush Limbaugh has the same birthday as Rob Zombie but we're not making any comparisons here.)
5. Troll, Snow Trollers, Troll
We keep breaking heat records -- the globe just experienced its hottest March, hottest quarter-year, and hottest calendar year on record -- but that's not stopping conservative media from pointing to any amount of snow to try to debunk global warming.
This year's Earth Day was no different: the Drudge Report, a highly influential conservative news aggregator, promoted the following headline on the top of its site: “EARTH DAY: SNOW SHOWERS!” Drudge linked to a weather forecast article from MLive Media Group, which predicted snow showers in West Michigan (but made no mention of Earth Day).
6: Mocking Poor Countries
To highlight what The Daily Caller dubbed “Earth Day Heroes,” the publication listed the ten countries with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions and derisively included captions highlighting their poverty.
The Daily Caller wrote: “Instead of blaming carbon 'criminals,' maybe Earth Day should celebrate carbon heroes.” Some of the article's captions included: “Up to 40 percent of Guineans suffer from chronic malnutrition” ; “These simple huts are the only thing 40 percent of the population can afford since they live on less than $1.25 a day” (Lesotho); and “With a nominal per-capita GDP of $475, donkeys are often the best means of transportation people can afford” (Eritrea).