Global Warming

Global Warming Matters In Oklahoma

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NASA pointed out last week that the planet has just experienced the hottest six months on record, fanning fears the pace of global warming is accelerating.

The six-month period stretches from April through September. The months April, May, June and August were the hottest recorded for those months in history. According to one meteorologist who writes for Slate, “. . . global temperatures may have already passed a level that human civilization has never experienced.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon last week issued a report outlining how climate change should be a current factor in determining how the United States military should operate. One risk of climate change, for example, is the destabilization of foreign governments because of famine caused by drought or another major severe weather event, which can lead to unrest and extremism.

All this might seem far removed from Oklahoma, but that’s not the case for these following reasons:

(1) Just because it was a relatively cooler summer this year in Oklahoma doesn’t mean that it wasn’t steaming hot in other places on the planet or that overall mean temperatures didn’t increase. It’s the overall, larger frame that counts when it comes to global warming, not the day-to-day weather conditions. These new statistics could portend events and crises that could have a major impact in the state over the long term. Major ecological disasters, for example, could severely impact the world economy, which, in turn, could devastate Oklahoma’s own economy.

(2) Although Oklahoma experienced a relatively cooler and rainy summer, as I mentioned, extreme drought conditions persist in western Oklahoma, threatening water supplies and affecting agriculture. Is this related to climate change or just part of a multi-year cycle? It just makes common sense to at least consider factors such as increasing world temperatures when dealing with this question.

(3) Oklahoma continues to experience a record number of earthquakes, which scientists argue are caused by the injection well process used in the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, drilling method. The burning of fossil fuels, which then become carbon emissions, is at the heart of manmade global warming. So Oklahoma gets it both ways. The release of climate-changing fossil fuels from the ground also threatens the safety and property of Oklahoma residents through the potential of major earthquakes.

(4) U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who is on track for reelection this year in Oklahoma, is one of the world’s most well known deniers of manmade global warming despite the growing evidence that the planet is perilously close to major disasters because of climate change. Inhofe, it should be noted, has received more than $400,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since 2009. Let’s be clear that a vote for Inhofe is a vote for an unregulated oil and gas industry that can do massive damage to the environment without penalty.

Drought and earthquakes here, combined with local political leaders who don’t believe in the scientific method, means Oklahomans have much at stake as the world grows hotter through the carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Given the circumstances, it only makes sense here to increase the development of renewable energy sources that have less of a negative impact on the environment and to ban fracking entirely as some communities across the world have already done.

Global Warming NOT Dictated By Oklahoma Weather

As everyone in Oklahoma enjoys the cooler weather today and tomorrow this summer, it might be a good time to note that both May and June were the hottest months on records for the planet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently reported this information, which has fueled speculation that 2014 may be the hottest year on record, according to a recent story in The Washington Post.

The record-breaking heat, which NOAA says has been caused by hotter ocean temperatures, is yet even more evidence that the planet is getting warmer and that the planet needs to take collective action to reduce manmade carbon emissions.

This should be noted in Oklahoma this rather unusual cool summer because it’s home to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of the planet’s most well known climate-science deniers. Inhofe calls global warming fears a “hoax” or a worldwide conspiracy generated by liberal scientists.

Inhofe just recently stopped a Senate resolution that basically argued climate change is, in fact, a reality. One of those Senators who supported the resolution, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, said Inhofe’s views were an “alternate reality.” According to ThinkProgress, Whitehouse went on to say this about Inhofe arguments: “To say that we have no warming is just not factual.” He also said, “. . . Republicans, they are losing their young voters on this . . .” (See the above video in which Whitehouse responds to Inhofe.)

Inhofe has received $368,500 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since 2009. The burning of fossil fuels, such as gasoline, produces the carbon emissions that have been blamed for manmade global warming. Inhofe’s claim that climate science is a ruse has always been overshadowed by his close connection to the energy industry, which, of course, has a strong political lobby here.

For the most part, the corporate media here has failed to adequately connect Inhofe’s views on climate science with his financial ties to the oil and gas industry. That would be called unbiased journalism, which is rarely practiced here when it comes to the energy industry, especially at the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman.

Inhofe’s views have a trickle-down effect here in Oklahoma and make the issue a political one when it’s really a planetary one. I’m sure some teachers in certain districts are afraid to deal with the issue with students in classrooms in fear of reprisal from conservative administrators. The legislature, for example, often tries to pass bills that claim climate science is “controversial.” Local weather forecasters on television stations in Oklahoma City have consistently failed to address the reality of climate change. The television advertising dollars from the energy industry that support the news stations seal the issue. It’s the ignorance that Inhofe has wrought in this place.

So here’s what Oklahomans need to know today: Just because it’s cool for a few days in the summer in our state doesn’t mean it’s not terribly hot in other parts of the world or that the oceans are not warming.

Inhofe, who is expected to coast to reelection against his Democratic opponent Matt Silverstein, can continue to serve in the Senate perhaps because a majority of voters here can’t accept the idea that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

The fluctuations in the Oklahoma weather don’t disprove global warming. Climate science is based on years of data and on a planetary basis. It’s also based on ocean temperatures and visible, recorded evidence, such as the melting of the arctic ice cap.

Exactly Backwards

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A new study published this week predicts a grim future for the planet because of climate change caused by carbon emissions, but here in Oklahoma legislators are trying to penalize people who use solar panels on their homes.

The far-reaching and massive study, conducted by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warns of the catastrophic consequences posed by global warming, including future famines, population displacement, mass migrations and violent conflict over resources. Poorer countries will likely fare the worst.

The evidence of climate change and global warming, according to the study, is all around us, from melting arctic ice to dying wildlife to droughts to severe weather events. The main cause for global warming remains manmade carbon dioxide emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels.

The dire scenarios outlined by the report will hopefully bolster efforts throughout the world to create cleaner, renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydropower.

Oklahoma legislators, however, aren’t going to let the planet’s survival get in the way of protecting the status quo.

A bill that has passed in the Oklahoma Senate on a 41 to 0 vote would charge people who send electricity back to the grid by the use of solar panels or wind turbines a tariff or surcharge for doing so. Senate Bill 1456 has also passed a House committee on a 7 to 0 vote.

Supporters of the bill claim the extra charges would help utility companies build and maintain the necessary infrastructure to handle the incoming electricity, but it seems terribly counter intuitive to penalize people for using renewable energy given the dire impact of climate change. If anything, utility companies should be rewarding solar users for lessening demand during peak usage times and helping the environment.

The bottom line is that homes and buildings using solar and wind energy threaten the current business model of utility companies, which must change to become both a sole provider and a distributor of electricity. Part of that change is embracing renewable energy.

The bill has it exactly backwards. Solar and wind power users contributing to the grid should get more incentives, not tariffs.

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