Environment

The Results Are In: The Number One Lie of the Year Is...

Politifact says that climate denial irks its readers more than anything else.

Republished from EcoWatch.

The Tampa Bay Times launched its PolitiFact feature in 2007 to fact check claims made by politicians, candidates and special interest groups. At the end of every year, they name their Lie of the Year. 2014’s “exaggerations about ebola” is surely a worthy contender.

But they also let their readers vote, and their readers clearly don’t care for climate deniers. Their Lie of the Year in a landslide is “global warming is a hoax.” It was picked by 31.8 percent of the respondents, with the second biggest “lie”—John Boehner’s claim that there has been a net loss of people with health insurance because of Obamacare—only snagging 18.8 percent. In close third place, with 17.8 percent of the vote, was a claim by Russ Girling that “The State Department says the 42,000 jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline are ‘ongoing, enduring jobs.'” Who is Russ Girling? Why, he’s the CEO of TransCanada, the company that wants to build Keystone XL.

That means nearly 50 percent of PoliticFact’s readers found anti-climate positions to be the most significant falsehoods in the public discourse.

The specific “global warming is a hoax” statement PolitiFact used as its hook to debunk climate deniers in general was made by Louisiana congressional candidate Lenar Whitney, who enjoys being called “the Sarah Palin of the South.” Washington Post writer David Wasserman called Whitney “the most frightening candidate I’ve met in seven years interviewing congressional hopefuls.” “It’s tough to decide which party’s worst nightmare she would be,” he said.

One look at her five-minute campaign video on global warming will probably have you agreeing with Wasserman.

“Recently I said something very provocative,” Whitney says in her video. “I said that global warming is a hoax. Naturally, liberals in the lamestream media became unglued and attacked me immediately. But as George Orwell wrote, ‘In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.'”

She calls global warming “the greatest deception in the history of mankind,” saying “Energy security is real, global warming is not. It is merely a strategy designed to give more power to the executive branch while increasing taxes in a progressive stream to regulate every aspect of American life.”

PolitiFact didn’t find a lot of “truth” in her video.

“We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve fact-checked climate change denial claims and found them to be False or Pants on Fire,” it wrote. “But given that it’s still being talked about, we thought it was worth reviewing the evidence again. Whitney’s video offers some specific pieces of evidence that are in need of debunking.”

“We talked to several climate scientists who said Whitney’s claim was ‘laughable,’ ‘deeply misguided,’ ‘uninformed,’ ‘disgusting’ and ‘absurd’,” said PolitiFact before laying out the case for human-caused climate change that is familiar to most people without their heads in the sand. It tore apart such claims as “Any 10 year old can invalidate their thesis with one of the simplest scientific devices known to man: a thermometer. The Earth has done nothing but get colder each year since the film’s [An Inconvenient Truth] release.” PolitiFact points out that she is holding a medical thermometer, not a weather thermometer. She also said polar bears are being forced out of their habitats by overpopulation and that extreme storms were becoming less frequent.

PolitiFact rated her claims “Pants on Fire.” Whitney was defeated in November.

Anastasia Pantsios is an Akron, Ohio-based writer, researcher and photographer who has covered hard news with a focus on election and women’s issues, music, the arts and culture.