The Friday Rush: Braggadocio

Reportedly forthcoming chimes of wedding bells aside, the past couple of weeks have been rather audacious in Rush Limbaugh's "universe of reality." Yes, Limbaugh's “universe of reality” : the alternate plane of existence in which one man's breathless rantings have the power to reprobate an established field of science.

This is in reference to what many on the right have dubbed “Climategate,” a controversy that erupted a few weeks ago when stolen emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) were posted on the Internet. Conservatives subsequently distorted and misrepresented those emails to allege a massive conspiracy of climate scientists undermining the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is caused by man. While Rush Limbaugh hasn't been on the forefront of climate skeptics doing the grunt work of pouring over the thousands of emails, he has been leading the charge -- as he usually does -- in over-the-top rhetoric.

And “over-the-top” might actually be an understatement in this case. Playing some sort of god-like figure in his own deluded mind, Limbaugh has gone on to literally cast judgment on who he thinks should live and who should die. Last week, Rush proclaimed that scientists involved in the global warming “hoax” should be "drawn and quartered."

On Monday, Limbaugh compared scientists, international organizations, and figureheads of the climate change debate to terrorists. Because, you know, a community of scientists in pursuit of truth in the natural world and people who blow other people up are pretty much the same thing. Or at least that's so in Limbaugh's “universe of reality.”

Here's the truth. The emails in question did not in any conceivable way show that the field of climate science is a hoax. But don't take my word for it.

Despite Limbaugh's repeated claims to the contrary, a recent editorial in Nature concluded:

Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real -- or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails. [emphasis added]

Many concur. NASA's Gavin Schmidt said, “There's nothing in the e-mails that shows that global warming is a hoax.” Limbaugh's climate blogger nemesis at The New York Times, Andrew Revkin, agreed: "[T]he hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument" of manmade global warming. A number of scientists have made similar statements to boot.

The stolen emails have resulted in a variety of smears and misleading claims among conservatives. But contrary to what you might have heard, the emails do not prove that climate scientists were trying to silence dissenting research published in peer-reviewed journals; contrary to a smear conservatives have also recently pushed, CRU also did not destroy raw climate data on which global warming theory is based.

So there you have it. Limbaugh's cries of "hoax!" are just hot air. Also, the sky is blue.

Meanwhile, something interesting happened on Rush's show this past Monday. After spending days criticizing CRU for apparently trying to keep some of its data under wraps, Rush was confronted by a caller who pointed out that the Bush administration had suppressed an EPA report which had concluded that “the government should begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions because global warming posed serious risks to the country,” as the Associated Press reported.

Never one to take kindly to those who point out his flaws in front of his “millions” of listeners, Limbaugh berated the caller as a “menace” for bringing up such a point. But in the midst of this abuse, Rush further demonstrated his own hypocrisy.

Take a listen to Limbaugh's almost poetic response to the caller. Claiming that there is no data supporting global warming for the Bush administration to have suppressed, Limbaugh simultaneously maintained that the Bush administration was doing us a favor by suppressing data that supported global warming:

LIMBAUGH: There is no manmade global warming. Do you understand that? There was nothing to suppress. Anybody that suppressed data that said there was manmade global warming was doing us a favor. They knew it was a hoax, and they were not spreading lies.

If it hadn't already happened, this is where Limbaugh's entire “argument” (I use that word generously) that the hacked emails prove global warming is a “hoax” would have fallen apart. But it only further proves that Limbaugh will rationalize away any pesky facts that don't fit the narrative that he's constructed for his personal “universe of reality.”

Rush Limbaugh's crusade against climate change science can be reduced to this notion: that he is trying to assert that he is more knowledgeable and informed than a legion of scientists who have devoted much of their lives to studying the field of climate and earth sciences, when he is but a mere dilettante of scientific study with less than a college education.

A generous word to describe where Limbaugh's ego has led him would be braggadocio. A more accurate label would be to call him a fraud.

All in all, Limbaugh's “universe of reality” can best be described as "just a couple notches above what hell must be like."