Thanks to the rise of Donald Trump, conspiracy theorists are having a moment — and it's now an imminently dangerous one. Right now Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm, is headed toward Florida. The state's Republican governor, Rick Scott, said today that "this is going to kill people," as he asked residents to evacuate. Coastal surges, waves beyond 18 feet, extreme winds, and debris all will threaten lives and property if the predictions of scientists and civil authorities hold up.
But the best facts we have about the storm from professional weather scientists aren't good enough for idiots like Matt Drudge, who is currently tweeting that meteorological reports might all be a government conspiracy to make climate change seem worse.
The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) October 6, 2016
Hurricane Center has monopoly on data. No way of verifying claims. Nassau ground observations DID NOT match statements! 165mph gusts? WHERE?— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) October 6, 2016
Drudge isn't some random conspiracy theorist on Facebook — as the owner and editor of the popular Drudge Report, he's one of the most powerful commentators on the internet.
This is obviously a dangerous message to send to people who might choose to brave a hurricane on suspicion that it might not be as bad as government officials are saying. What's even worse is the fact that he has something in common with the Republican candidate for president, who has called climate change a Chinese hoax.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Conspiracy theorists and climate skeptics are dangerous, and ordinary people will eventually be harmed by their craven attempts to politicize the science of climate change. Even Florida Governor Rick Scott, who appears to be taking the current weather situation seriously, only seems to be convinced about climate threats when the winds are battering his door. Last year, under Scott, Florida reportedly banned state Department of Environmental Protection officials from using the phrases "climate change" and "sea-level rise."
If anything, the government conspiracy we need to be worried about is the one banning good science from public policy.