“The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hates being fact-checked and she hates the president. She really hates being compared to the president.
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So the New York Democrat probably won’t be a big fan of an article CNN published Thursday that casually fact-checks her dubious claim about climate change right alongside his. The authors, Weekly Standard fact-checker Holmes Lybrand and CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller, presented the two leaders as opposing extremes in the debate over the earth’s rising temperature.
Ocasio-Cortez, they noted, earnestly declared in an interview Monday that “the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”
A day earlier, Trump joked in a tweet about the cold weather in Washington, DC, that it would be nice “to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!” the authors recalled.
Lybrand and Miller decried both statements as inaccurate and antithetical to constructive dialogue, noting each has served as rhetorical fodder for “the other side.”
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Ocasio-Cortez’s overblown warning, they speculated, may have been referring to a major Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from last October, which predicted that global temperatures would rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 14 degree Fahrenheit, between 2030 and 2052. Climate scientists have identified the 1.5-degree increase as the threshold at which there is no turning back the damage to the planet.
However, that would not actually be the end of the world, as Ocasio-Cortez claimed ― not even close. Rather, the report warned that if humans do not find a way to slash their reliance on fossil fuels ― 45 percent by 2030 and essentially to zero by 2052 ― the world may become less hospitable to their current way of life, with higher sea levels, hotter heat waves, and more extreme disasters.
In other words, if the scientists are right, if human life continues as is, and if a technological solution is not found, people are going to pay a price, which the report set at $54 trillion.
The authors did not mention that the IPCC report also found it would take between $51.2 trillion and $122 trillion just in energy spending by 2050 to have any hope of keeping the world’s temperature from hitting the 1.5-degree increase ― a dubious investment. Also, even the most ambitious imaginable version of the amorphous Green New Deal touted by Ocasio-Cortez would have little impact, since the United States accounts for only about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
As far as Trump’s tweet, the CNN article made the point that the president was “conflating weather and climate,” as he has done many times before. You can’t look out the window and see the climate, which is the long-term average of weather conditions across the globe. The five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2014, the authors pointed out.
So who’s the worse confabulator overall?
But Ocasio-Cortez has spouted plenty of falsehoods, too, including repeatedly misrepresenting her background and baselessly accusing the Pentagon of misplacing the equivalent of America’s annual GDP. When she has been called on her bullshit, she has lashed out at her critics and the media, and then evinced outrage that anyone would liken her to the president she wants to impeach ― denouncing such comparisons as “false equivalency.”
Thank you for sharing @washingtonpost’s rubric!
Except the standard for “4 Pinocchios” just says: “Whoppers.”
That’s it. “Whoppers.” As an official fact checking standard.
Cheeky, but really not okay to be held to a jokey standard when 45 is advancing conspiracy theories. https://t.co/eNw4e8jhIu
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2019
Beyond her populist left-wing politics, what really makes Ocasio-Cortez obnoxious to her critics is that ― while Trump is open about being a results-oriented operator (“I alone can fix it.”) ― she has presented herself as a kind of moral crusader. So much so that she explicitly told CNN’s Jake Tapper earlier this month that she should get a pass on the facts because she’s “morally right.”
The typically pugnacious culture warrior has yet to respond to the CNN fact-check.