Global Warming

Can Oklahoma Even Prepare For Global Warming?

A Global Warming by David Jacobs on Flickr The Commons

As I mentioned in my last post, a scientific argument has been made that global warming has exacerbated the rainfall amounts leading to recent destructive flooding in Oklahoma and Texas.

Even Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” has weighed in with this tweet, “Billion$$ in damage in Texas & Oklahoma. Still no weather-caster may utter the phrase Climate Change.” Other weather experts have discussed the issue publicly as well.

Basically, the air is warmer so it can hold more moisture. This has led to record rainfall amounts and major flooding in Oklahoma. In a more technical sense, El Niño, a part of a warm ocean band in the Pacific Ocean, is strengthening right now. Global warming exacerbates its effect, which has brought rain and misery here to Oklahoma. Global warming isn’t necessarily causing the rainfall. It’s just making it more extreme.

Many right-wingers, of course, dismiss this basic fact, but it’s really fundamental and not difficult to understand. For years, climatologists have warned that global warming will create severe weather events. What’s difficult for some to grasp is that these weather events can be dramatically oppositional. Thus, years of crop-destroying drought can be suddenly replaced with a month or two of crop-destroying rain. The POINT is the extreme swing in weather conditions.

What the global warming deniers will argue is that those of us who believe in basic science blame every major event on climate change. This generalization is simply not true. The deniers often lack a larger perspective. There’s been excessive rainfall in Oklahoma and Texas this month, but there’s also been a major heat wave in India at the same time. My point is that global warming is a planetary phenomenon and should always be considered in that context. At the same time people are suffering here because of flooding, people are suffering elsewhere in the world because of heat and lack of rainfall.

The cause of rapid and increasing global warming, according to the vast majority of climate scientists, is manmade carbon dioxide emissions created by the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and gas. This accelerates the greenhouse effect in which planet surface radiation is re-radiated back to the surface by the upper atmosphere. This acceleration heats up the planet to dangerous levels, leading to arctic ice melting and rising sea levels. This impacts weather patterns, creates weather catastrophes and threatens coastal communities through erosion.

Human inaction on significantly decreasing carbon emissions is now a given as long as politicians such as Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe have major influence on the issue, and increasingly climatologists are taking a preparedness stance. In other words, extreme weather events are obviously in our future so how do we prepare? Is it even possible to prepare?

Bill Nye gets it right. I’ve heard no real, extended discussion of global warming from our local television weather forecasters during the recent stormy weather. In a weather-extreme place like Oklahoma, this is unfortunate and tragic.

Oklahoma Heavy Rainfall Most Likely Exacerbated By Global Warming

Rain 2 by suika

Manmade global warming, according to one science writer, has exacerbated the extreme rainfall in recent days here as many state leaders remain in denial about the effects of carbon emissions on the environment.

Perhaps “remain in denial” is an understatement. Oklahoma is the home state of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who thinks the idea of humankind’s impact on the climate is a “hoax” and that only a God could be responsible for major shifts in weather patterns. Inhofe now heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt continues to fight the federal government over its mandate to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Pruitt has taken a lead role in fighting new rules by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions.

The drilling for and the burning of fossil fuels is, of course, sacrosanct in Oklahoma, and the oil and gas industry is a major part of the state’s economy. Both Inhofe and Pruitt are tied closely to the industry. Oil baron and billionaire Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Oklahoma City’s Continental Resources, led Pruitt’s most recent reelection campaign. Inhofe has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his political career dating back to 1989.

That influence creates a type of “official” scientific denial that truly threatens the planet. The extreme weather in Oklahoma, which is almost certainly going to become more extreme in coming years, is actually a small development in the larger climate-change reality that includes rising sea levels that threaten to destroy coastal communities.

A recent article written by Senior Science Writer Andrea Thompson in Climate Central about recent heavy rain in Oklahoma pointed out, “Because warmer air has a greater capacity to hold on to water, there’s more moisture available when rains fall. Even in places that are expected to become drier overall in a warming world, when it does rain, it’s more likely to be in concentrated bursts.”

That warmer air, according to the article, is because of the “unabated buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Scientists who study global warming have said for years that the planet will experience more extreme weather events as the world grows warmer because of carbon emissions. The record rainfall here recently, and the rain deluge in neighboring Texas is an example of that weather extremism. The rainfall here and in Texas has led to deaths and the destruction of property.

So fossil fuels have brought Oklahoma a new reality, which includes almost daily earthquakes caused by the injection wastewater disposal well process used in fracking and now record rainfall that leads to destructive flooding.

Given the extreme weather, the earthquakes and politicians such as Inhofe and Pruitt, Oklahoma has become a glaring symbol of the cost of scientific denial in the fossil-fuel age, which will be a blip in world history if the planet survives.

Fallin Disregards EPA Rules

Calfing Glacier - Global Warming? By Len “Doc” Radin

Gov. Mary Fallin’s so-called “executive order” last week that informs the federal government Oklahoma will not comply with Environmental Protection Agency rules is yet another example of how she and her fellow Republicans disregard the environment here.

Our planet is facing a major crisis because of global warming caused by manmade carbon emissions. Rising sea levels due to the melting of planet’s ice caps already threaten some coastal communities, but here in land-locked Oklahoma we don’t care, right?

At issue are new EPA rules that seek to curb the carbon emissions at coal-fired energy plants in Oklahoma and elsewhere. These rules, supported by the federal Clean Air Act, aim to cut carbon emissions from energy plants 30 percent by 2030. The rules are hardly draconian and would help the planet, and we do live on a “planet,” not just in Oklahoma.

Here’s part of Fallin’s Obama-bashing statement about the her actions:

President Obama and the EPA are fighting a politically charged war against utility consumers across the country. While the environmental benefits of these regulations will be minimal, the economic devastation of these overreaching and unrealistic regulations will be very real. The order I signed today makes it clear the state of Oklahoma has no intention of implementing new regulations that run directly contrary to the interests of our citizens and our state. We will continue to stand up for Oklahoma families and businesses by fighting this overreach and bad policy in court.

How is disregarding environmental devastation not standing up for Oklahoma families? Fallin’s statement seems backwards to me. The idea that utility rates will soar because of the new rules isn’t feasible because government heavily regulates energy plants, which is a good thing. If rates do skyrocket, it will be because regulators and lawmakers here let that happen, not because we have a cleaner planet.

Fallin’s order also asks Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to “take such action as is necessary to enforce the rights of the State of Oklahoma and its citizens from such federal actions as may impact the freedoms of its people.” In other words, sue the federal government again and again, which is Pruitt’s trademark.

Oklahoma’s ongoing war with the federal government during the Obama era has done nothing for this state in real, tangible terms. It has only cost taxpayers money because of senseless and theatrical lawsuits.

All this anti-federal government nonsense might make some people here feel good momentarily, but it’s dumb and makes the state look bad to the rest of the world. Let’s hope we can restore some sense of reality to our state government here in the future.

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