How science takes a back seat to identity politics in the U.S.
In January 2014, the Eastern and Southern United States were plunged into extraordinarily frigid temperatures that stranded air travelers, stressed power grids, closed schools, and killed more than 20 people. In all, the lives of more than 187 million people (roughly 60% of Americans) were affected by the record-breaking cold. Meteorologists identified the “Polar Vortex” as the culprit; a large cyclone, first studied in 1853, that circles at the poles of the Earth. And, much to their dismay, they watched it become yet another flash point in the rhetorical war over climate change.
Climate change has been transformed into a rhetorical contest more akin to the spectacle of a sports match.
On the one side, Rush Limbaugh called the Polar Vortex an invention of the liberal left to further promote the “global warming agenda.” Fox News referred to it as the “so-called” Polar Vortex and aired multiple pundits claiming that global warming cannot be true because it was so cold. Under a regular blog called “Planet Gore” (named for former Vice President Al Gore), the National Review mocked “alarmists” for a tendency to believe that “There is absolutely nothing that ‘global warming’ can’t be linked to if you try hard enough.” Adding fodder for the war, a Russian research vessel became stranded in the Arctic while studying, among other things, global warming. That led Donald Trump to enter the fray: