Spinning a conspiracy theory that puts his listeners’ lives at risk, hate radio merchant Rush Limbaugh argued that government warnings of life-threatening heat are “playing games”:
They’re playing games with us on this heat wave, again. Even Drudge. Drudge getting sucked in here. Going to be 116 in Washington. No, it’s not. It’s gonna be like 100, maybe 99. A heat index, manufactured by the government to tell you what it feels like when you add the humidity in there.
“We have this every year,” Rush claimed, after arguing that former vice president Al Gore could cancel the heat wave by scheduling a “global warming conference.”
Limbaugh is dangerously wrong.
This record-shattering heat wave is part of a year of extremes, with a winter and spring of record precipitation in the northern half of the country, and record drought and heat in the southern half. The record warmth baked the Great Plains, and is now expanding over the flood-soaked ground of the Midwest and Northeast, drenched by record precipitation over the winter and spring. That added moisture is creating the uniquely dangerous heat wave hitting the East Coast.
The record precipitation feeding the steam heat now is part of a long-term trend of increasing precipitation caused by greenhouse pollution. The record snows were mocked by climate deniers like Limbaugh and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), whose family built an “igloo for Al Gore” on the National Mall.
The combination of heat and humidity in the heat index is no government conspiracy — researchers have found that sickness and mortality go up sharply when the heat index gets above 95.