Screwball With Snowball

Image of Jim Inhofe with the words The Greatest Hoax

Last month, Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe held up a snowball on the Senate floor as indisputable proof that not only was the northeast United States enduring a bitter cold winter but also that global warming was simply a myth.

Indeed, the northeastern U.S. has experienced a snowy, cold winter, but new information has recently been released that on a global level, this recent winter—December through February—was the warmest winter ever recorded in history. In fact, the last 12 months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were the warmest ever recorded in history as well.

Inhofe, who believes global warming is actually a left-wing hoax among scientists to lower the profits of the oil and gas industry and that only God can control the climate, looks even more foolish now than he did in February. But Oklahomans are used to these types of Inhofe stunts and have continued nonetheless to send him to office. There is, however, a solid, progressive group of people in Oklahoma who adamantly oppose Inhofe’s sophomoric approach to global warming, which threatens the planet and has been accelerated by manmade carbon emissions.

To repeat: One particular weather event or events in one particular area of the world doesn’t tell us much about climate change, which is measured over decades and even centuries. It’s the steady, long-term trajectory that matters and the larger issues, such as the melting of the arctic ice cap, rising sea levels and consistent weather-pattern changes.

NOAA reported that the world’s air and sea temperatures were a combined 1.48 higher than the national average for the 20th century and the highest ever record. According to NOAA, the states of Washington, California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona were extremely warm this winter and broke records. California, which is experiencing an extreme drought, was especially warm. So while the northeast was icy cold the western U.S. was especially warm. Other parts of the world that experienced warmer weather, NOAA states, were “Central America, northern and central South America, Australia, most of Africa, and much of Eurasia, including a broad swath that covered most of Russia.”

Inhofe, now 80, has based much of his political career on disputing scientific claims that point out the role of carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to power our cars and planes. As a senior Senator and again chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, he’s once again in a position to do much damage to the planet. Actually, bringing melting snowballs to the Senate is only political theater in which Inhofe revels and the local corporate media either celebrates or ignores. Trying to turn back or block rules that would limit carbon emissions is a far more dangerous endeavor.

I will point out again what the mainstream media often fails to note. From 2009 to 2014, Inhofe accepted $454,500 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, according to, and more than $1.7 million from the same industry during his entire career.

Mainstream journalists these days don’t often note when it comes to Inhofe how campaign money buys influence. Perhaps, people just accept now the role of big-donor money in influencing politicians, and maybe Inhofe pulls a theatrical stunt now and then for his sheer enjoyment or out of insecurity as he seeks attention. I don’t know.

I do know Inhofe continues to make Oklahoma look backwards and, even worse, uncaring about the environmental welfare of the plant.

Newspaper Gets Gorey

Image of Al Gore’s office

The Oklahoman editorial board has decided former Vice President Al Gore has a “blood vendetta” because he gave his normal speech warning about climate change and putting a price on carbon emissions.

A snarky mini-editorial that appeared Saturday in the newspaper’s Oklahoma ScissorTales section begins with a typical ad hominem attack on Gore and ends with illogical clichés and basic craziness. The writer was apparently reliving the 2000 presidential election that Gore actually won but was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in George W. Bush’s favor. But what does that have to do with global warming and rising sea levels? Nothing. Editorial writers at The Oklahoman don’t want to deal with science and facts when it comes to global warming.

Gore spoke at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival last week, and, as usual, called for putting some type of price or cost on carbon emissions. He also used apparently the word “punish” when referring to politicians and people who deny scientific claims about global warming. This is Gore’s regular speech about climate change. It’s nothing new as far as I know. The right-wing got stuck on the word “punish.”

But this is the way an editorial writer at The Oklahoman saw it:

It’s been almost 15 years since Al Gore narrowly lost the 2000 presidential election. He continues to demonstrate why that was such a positive outcome. Speaking at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, Gore again displayed the blind zealotry that made him unfit for the presidency.

Well, if we want to relive 2000, let’s remember that Gore received the most votes in the election, and he only lost because the U.S. Supreme Court essentially awarded the presidency to George W. Bush, who later began two long and costly military occupations. Who is the real blind zealot? The environmentalist Gore or the warmonger Bush?

The editorial goes on to note:

. . . instead of urging attendees to develop technology that allows people to shift away from power sources that Gore believes harm the environment, he called on them to pursue a blood vendetta and promote high taxes on working people who can’t afford trendy, niche environmentalism.

There’s much wrong with this sentence. First, it’s highly doubtful an editorial writer for one of the country’s most conservative metropolitan newspapers really wants anyone to “develop” anything that would lower the profits of the oil and gas industry. Second, note the term “blood vendetta.” Isn’t that “overkill” in this case? Newspaper hyperbole is one thing; this rises to another level. Third, what in the world is “trendy, niche environmentalism”? I guess the point is to dish up the tired cliché and stereotypes perpetuated by the right-wing about some mythical elite group of people flying around in their fuel-guzzling private jets while trying to save the environment. It’s not based on reality. It’s a lie. Many, many people from all walks of life throughout the world believe in the reality of global warming and want to do something about it.

What IS the reality is that “working people” will be harmed the most if the world does not get serious about reducing carbon emissions because of human migration from certain areas of the planet that become unlivable and widespread economic devastation. Or do you think it would be wealthy politicians, such as U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who would suffer the most if rising sea levels destroy coastal communities?

Gore, who founded the Climate Reality Project and whose environmental efforts were featured in the 2006 award-winning documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, has the stature, intelligence and experience to speak about climate change and suggest ways in which we might address it. The fact that the right-wingers who oppose him consistently rely on ad hominem attacks and hyperbole is telling.

Instead of attacking Gore and cherry picking his speech, why didn’t the editorial writer try to refute the scientific evidence about global warming and the cause for rising sea levels that have already led to flooding in coastal areas? The answer to that should be obvious.

Grades and Quakes

Image of end racism now by Michael Thompson

Be sure to catch my post this week on The Lost Ogle in which I grade some of the responses to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon racism controversy at the University of Oklahoma.

As you recall, some SAE members were caught on a short video a couple of weeks ago in a racist sing-along on a chartered bus. The song included the n-word and made an implicit reference to lynching.

In the post, I discuss the freedom of speech issue that has emerged from the incident after OU President David Boren expelled two SAE members and ordered a complete eviction of the fraternity house members. Is racist speech affiliated with a public university protected speech? I also have this to say:

By far, the best response, and this included Boren and Striker as well, came from the non-violent protestors that marched on the university campus right after the incident to send the message that racism would not be tolerated. This type of non-violent protest is not only guaranteed by the First Amendment, but also is crucial in advancing the larger awareness about the existence of racism in our culture and in supporting the academic mission of OU or any university.

Also, check out this article in the Tulsa World about the relationship between the dramatic surge in earthquakes in Oklahoma and the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process.

I’ve now written about this issue for years. Scientists and geologists continue to point out the earthquakes are triggered by the wastewater disposal process used in fracking. Now they point out that this process may have “reawakened” underground faults in the state, and that even stronger earthquakes are a possibility here.

What’s important to remember is that the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma rumbled near Prague on Nov. 5, 2011. That earthquake, which caused damage, was measured at 5.6-magnitude on the Richter scale and was later connected to the injection well process by scientists. Note the date.

We’ve been dealing with this earthquake issue for years now, but little has changed in how the oil and gas companies frack and dispose of wastewater. Now there’s a world oil glut, a down-size in the state’s oil and gas industry, which means layoffs and lower tax revenue, and we’re still stuck with earthquakes. Even if a large earthquake—say in the six-point or higher range—doesn’t hit the state, what are the culminating effects of thousands of smaller earthquakes over a several-year period? What about the foundations of buildings and houses? What about the state’s bridges?

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