The Sciences

Glenn Beck: idiot

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitOct 26, 2007 4:22 PM


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Man, I hate being forced to insult someone. But he brings it on himself: Glenn Beck is an idiot. He is a right-wing blowhard who talks endlessly about stuff he doesn't have a clue about. A web search on him will yield endless idiotic rants where he is precisely wrong (his penultimate latest was claiming that people who hate America -- meaning progressives -- were getting their houses burnt in California. That dope doesn't even know how conservative San Diego county is, let alone understand just how truly offensive such a statement is on its own merits). So now he is pontificating on global warming and the SoCal fires. And what does this brain trust have to say?

BECK: We'll tell you the truth. We'll tell you the things that are politically incorrect. I'll go on and I'll tell you the fires have very little to do with global warming, if anything. The globe was the hottest in 19 -- was it 1934, Stu [executive producer Steve "Stu" Burguiere], or '37? -- '34, 1934 was the hottest year. A stat, by the way, that was, I believe, intentionally distorted by the guy the left holds up as the scientist on global warming. America's temperature peaked in 1934. Since 1934, the hottest year on record was 1998. It has not gotten warmer since 1998. That's a fact. Now, why are these fires burning out of control? Al Gore and everybody else will have you believe that it is all about global warming. Well, really? A one-degree temperature change that happened at the first part of the century, not in the last part of the century, at least most of it, and a temperature change that hasn't changed since 1998 is causing superfires in California and only California? Only America? It's in the American borders. How is that possible?

His first statement is wrong, right off the bat: it's nowhere near the truth. First, 1934 was the hottest year in the US, not globally. Second, as I discussed extensively on this very blog, 1934 was just barely hotter than 1998, the second hottest year on record (again, in the US, not in the world). The difference is so miniscule that they can be considered to be tied. Third, that stat was not intentionally distorted by James Hansen (the scientist he mentions obliquely). There was some recalibration done on the temperatures, and the numbers get shuffled around a bit. Not terribly much, in fact, and the overall conclusions on global warming don't change. Fourth, the fluctuations in temperature year-to-year are large, so you can't simply state that it hasn't gotten hotter since 1998. That's meaningless. You need to look at longer trends. Fifth, while the one degree rise in Fahrenheit has been going on for the past century, in fact the temperature has spiked upward since about 1980. That's obvious from this graph (x-axis is years since 1880):

So in fact, Beck is wrong again: the majority of the rise in temperatures in the US has been over the past few decades. Sixth, no real scientist is saying that global warming is causing these fires. What it's doing is setting up conditions where things like this are more likely. Global warming affects global weather patterns, and it's the Santa Ana winds that turned these fires from a nuisance into a killer. I'm not saying that GW is the trigger here; I'm saying that things will get wonkier from here on out. Count on it. Glenn Beck has an astonishing record of saying astonishingly stupid things. He said this particular garbage on his radio show. I'm not surprised; AM radio is loaded with talk shows that spew nothing but hate, lies, distortions, and intolerance (I am only intolerant of willful ignorance and willful distortion of reality). But he also has an hour-long program on CNN every day! Why the heck does CNN give him any air at all? I don't like to call people names, but Beck is given a national audience, and his intellectual capacity is clearly such that he shouldn't even be allowed to rant in public parks to passing squirrels. I've had enough of such idiocy, especially on matters of what is in fact and in deed life and death.

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