(I apologize in advance for the following Monday morning meltdown in the last paragraph. But, hey, be sure to catch my Thursday post this week in The Lost Ogle, especially all you zoologists, okapi experts and bat-eared foxes.)
When will U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe call it quits and just stick to basic, local constituency issues?
Oklahoma’s 80-year-old senior Senator is widely and jokingly known around the world for calling the science of global warming a “hoax” and for citing Biblical evidence for his unscientific views.
Now he’s waving around photographs and blasting Russia for its continuing involvement in Ukraine, but the photographs aren’t authentic in the sense in which he presented them, and he simply just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Why can’t he just work at getting more jobs at Tinker Air Force Base or more federal highway improvement money for Oklahoma? Why does he have to present himself on the world stage as some major player in global affairs and the global environment?
Inhofe’s latest embarrassment is outlined here in this excellent article in The New York Times. To simplify it, Inhofe gave a Senate presentation in which he used inauthentic photographs showing Russia’s “current” military involvement in Ukraine. Some of the photographs, which were supposed to prove recent military action, date back to 2008. He also “revealed some apparent confusion about the mechanics of digital photography,” as the article notes. In other words, he didn’t seem to know you could just get on the ol’ Internets by cracky and check out the accuracy and dates and specifics about images or even old timey photographs.
The local media here needs to hold Inhofe more accountable for these types of actions. They hurt our state’s image, and Inhofe, as I mentioned earlier, needs to stick to local advocacy and focus on the smaller things that could benefit the state.
Please, Jim, let other people—even other Republicans—deal with geopolitics and climate change. You’ve had your say. We get it. We know where you’re coming from. Your opinions are obviously OUT THERE already. They are on the Internet, in books, on television, on radio. Stop making the state look so bad. Stop. Please. Stop. I’m begging you. Please.
Scientists have just reported that 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded, providing more evidence that manmade carbon emissions are accelerating global warming and threatening to do more extensive damage to the planet’s ecosystems.
Here in Oklahoma, many people are worried about the world oil glut and lowering gasoline prices, which are already damaging the state’s economy. But it’s precisely the burning of fossil fuels produced in energy states like Oklahoma and elsewhere in other countries that is contributing to the much larger problem—some would argue the world’s greatest challenge—of climate change.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, according to media reports, have concluded the average temperature in 2014 was, respectively, 58.24 and 58.42 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than 1.2 degrees above the twentieth-century average. NOAA reported that nine of the ten warmest years ever recorded have come since 2000.
Meanwhile, scientists reported in September that Arctic sea ice was at its sixth lowest level ever recorded. Arctic ice reflects ice back into the atmosphere cooling the planet. Less ice means a warmer planet.
Scientists throughout the world have long argued that growing carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles and energy plants increase what is known as the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect, a natural phenomenon, is when carbon dioxide, methane gas and water vapor, get entrapped in the atmosphere causing the planet to stay warm.
But too much warmth can cause damage to the environment in several ways: Rising ocean levels caused by melting Arctic ice threatening coastline property, longer and harsher droughts diminishing the world’s food supply, extinction of wildlife disrupting natural habitats and extended heat waves killing people.
Some of those problems have obvious major consequences. For example, rising ocean levels could submerge millions of buildings and homes throughout the world in water, forcing massive human displacement. Droughts kill growing crops and reduce the drinking water supply. Other problems, such as wildlife disruption, which include insects, don’t necessarily have one clear and shared consequence, except in cases like fewer fish, a major world food source.
Republicans, most notably Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, have denied that manmade carbon emissions have contributed to global warming. It’s widely known that Inhofe claims scientists throughout the world are involved in a leftist conspiracy aimed at hurting oil and gas companies and that the warnings of the impact of global warming are simply a “hoax.” He has also argued that only a god could impact the environment in any major way.
“The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He [a god] is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” Inhofe once said in an interview. That’s Inhofe and his wife with Vice President Joe Biden pictured right in a recent Senate swearing-in ceremony.
Inhofe is now chair of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and has announced he will fight to rollback rules by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the environment from pollution while reducing carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, in other Oklahoma-related news, the hydraulic fracturing or fracking boom in this state and others has contributed to a world oil glut that has dropped the price of a barrel of oil below $50, a steep drop from the $100 to $110 a barrel range last summer. This means oil and gas companies here are planning to reduce production, which means fewer jobs and less tax revenue for the state.
So Oklahoma gets it all ways. The fracking bust could very well lead to a major economic downturn in Oklahoma, not experienced since the 1980s. Yet the fracking boom produced more of the carbon dioxide that leads to environmental crises, such as the current extreme drought in western Oklahoman that’s creating a major agricultural and water crisis in the state. Oklahoma also now leads the lower 48 states in the number of 3.0-magnitude or higher earthquakes, which scientists argue are caused by the wastewater injection well process used in the fracking process.
None of this will probably impact Inhofe’s quest to add as much carbon dioxide as possible to the planet’s atmosphere. It’s important to note Inhofe has received more that $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Beyond the oil and gas lobby and conservative media outlets, such as The Oklahoman, there hasn’t been a lot of support for the development that Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is in line to become the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
In fact, the rhetorical response mostly resembles a doomsday movie. Who or what will save us now? President Barack Obama’s veto pen? How much damage can Inhofe do?
Now comes news from an article in The New York Times that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Inhofe’s fellow state Republican, has worked closely with Devon Energy here to criticize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approach to regulating air pollution from natural gas wells.
Let’s deal with Inhofe first. Inhofe, of course, believes that global warming is a grand and elaborate hoax developed by leading climate scientists throughout the world and refutes the idea that manmade carbon emissions are taking the planet to the edge of a great crisis. He’s in line to become chair of the EPW Committee because Republicans will control the Senate starting next year, and he’s the committee’s ranking GOP member.
He’s written the absurd treatise, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Threatens Your Future and has shown up at a climate conference in order to harass its attendees and argue that Hollywood elites are behind the hoax. Inhofe has argued the issue on Biblical terms as well, quoting scripture that he contends shows clearly that only God could impact the climate on a large scale.
In short, Inhofe uses conservative babble and the old GOP tropes, but it’s definitely not rooted in science, which contends the earth is getting warmer, and it’s going to wreak havoc on the planet unless it can be reversed or at least slowed down.
Then there's Barbra Streisand. Yes, that Barbra Streisand.
A recent post by David Corn that appeared on Mother Jones and Huffington Post brings up an encounter the writer had with Inhofe at a 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen. When Corn pressed Inhofe on naming some of the Hollywood elites in cahoots with world scientists in this fictional grand worldwide scam, the Senator named none other than Barbra Streisand, the famous singer and actor.
After Corn’s piece was recently published, Streisand issued this statement:
This would be hilarious if it weren't so frightening. I thank Senator Inhofe for singling me out as a voice against the perils of climate change! But I'm just a small part of millions of voices, who are informed and alarmed, including 97% of all climate scientists! God help us! This man is going to head the Committee on the Environment in the United States Senate. It’s like giving a fox the keys to the chicken coop.
This, then, is the rhetorical “climate” surrounding the 80-year-old Inhofe as he prepares his strategy to fight for the interests of the fossil-fuel industry at the cost of the planet. It’s only going to get worse, and Oklahoma’s image, in particular, will suffer in the process.
Inhofe has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his career, according to OpenSecrets.org. That type of money buys a lot of hot air.
In a somewhat related matter, The Times published a piece last weekend revealing that Attorney General Pruitt sent to the EPA the basic text of a letter written by Devon officials that argued the EPA is overestimating air pollution from natural gas wells.
The letter shows the cozy relationship Pruitt and some other state attorneys general have with the oil and gas industry, according to The Times, but the other issue here is that carbon emissions contribute to global warming. Pruitt and Inhofe obviously side with the oil and gas companies on doing little to nothing to decrease our carbon footprint.