Bracing Dilemma

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(”My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”—U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe)

Given that The Oklahoman editorial page tells us today that we “should brace for another long, hot summer,” I think it’s only fair to call for the newspaper to provide more journalistic scrutiny of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s crusade against global-warming science.

My last post pointed out that after recalculating data national weather experts found that last summer in Oklahoma was the hottest ever recorded in the country. Ever. That hottest summer’s relationship to global warming may or may not be explicit, but rising global temperatures, the melting of the Arctic ice cap and, yes, widespread scorching weather in the United States last summer demand more local journalistic critiques of Inhofe’s claim that global warming is a hoax.

If we all have to brace ourselves, can’t The Oklahoman at least hold Inhofe accountable?

The likelihood of that happening is slim given the newspaper’s genuflecting support of the fossil fuel industry, a main source of man-made carbon emissions that has turned up the planet’s heat, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pointed out. My argument also goes for the Tulsa World, which supported Inhofe in his last reelection bid.

A recent Salon.com article, titled “Denying global warming, despite no actual expertise,” could start as a good reference point. In the article, writer Bill McKibben points out how wacky the entire anti-global warming science movement remains, and that, of course, includes Inhofe.

McKibben writes about “Lubos Motl, a Czech theoretical physicist who has never published on climate change but nonetheless keeps up a steady stream of web assaults on scientists he calls ‘fringe kibitzers who want to become universal dictators’ who should ‘be thinking how to undo your inexcusable behavior so that you will spend as little time in prison as possible.’”

McKibben also points out Motl’s recent remarks about Norwegian killer Anders Breivik:

Motl said that, while he supported many of Norwegian gunman Anders Breivik’s ideas, it was hard to justify gunning down all those children — still, it did demonstrate that “right-wing people… may even be more efficient while killing — and the probable reason is that Breivik may have a higher IQ than your garden variety left-wing or Islamic terrorist.”

What does this have to do with Inhofe? Well, as McKibben tells us:

If your urge is to laugh at this kind of clown show, the joke’s on you — because it’s worked. I mean, James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who has emerged victorious in every Senate fight on climate change, cites Motl regularly . . .

Later in the article, McKibben points out, “There aren’t many senators who rise with the passion or frequency of James Inhofe but to warn of the dangers of ignoring what’s really happening on our embattled planet.”

The point is simply that the Inhofe-led movement that argues global warming is some type of scientific, left-wing conspiracy has no real intellectual basis for its argument. The movement is damaging to the planet, and it hurts Oklahoma’s national and global image. Local journalists here should hold Inhofe accountable to his claims and contrast them with accepted science, especially if the state truly becomes an epicenter and major example of global warming.

This is one way a 2008 Tulsa World editorial praised Inhofe as it urged his reelection: “Over the years his constituent services efforts have drawn rave reviews from Oklahomans his staff helped navigate a too-often frustrating federal bureaucracy.”

That might be true, but Inhofe’s real legacy remains the “hoax” movement and the $491,000 he’s received since 2007 from the oil and gas industry in campaign contributions that has helped create and sustain it.