Get ready for at least two more years of political blustering and stunts over climate change from Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who is expected to become chair again of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the EPW Committee, has wasted no time getting back into his contentious groove, and, in his new position, he will have no problem getting all the media attention he craves. This week, for example, he lambasted President Barack Obama for signing an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. It was widely reported.
According to Inhofe, the agreement is a “non-binding charade” and vows to fight the White House on new rules governing polluting emissions from power plants in this country. Inhofe is infamous for calling global warming a hoax and a left-wing conspiracy among scientists.
Of course, Inhofe misses the point that the agreement is supposed to be viewed on the world stage as a important symbolic gesture. How we monitor and measure a decline in carbon emissions over the years will always be problematic. What’s important is that there’s a discussion among important world leaders about climate change. For example, the agreement has spurred new discussions among Canadian government officials about curbing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a news report. That’s one of the points of such agreements between countries.
Under the agreement, the United States would reduce its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. China would cap its emissions by 2030 and commit to generating 20 percent of its energy from non fossil fuels sources by 2030.
China and the United States account for 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The agreement is ambitious, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be implemented in good faith. Any reduction in carbon emissions would be good for the planet. Right now, global warming threatens the world’s eco systems, and, in the future, rising sea levels due to climate change could wreak havoc on major coastal cites throughout the world. This could lead to major population migrations and severely depressed economies never experienced before.
It’s no secret that Inhofe will stand in the way of progress on reducing carbon emissions. As I have written before, most media outlets when reporting on Inhofe’s latest rage against Obama or environmentalists or climate scientists fail to note that he has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his political career, according to OpenSecrets.org. Inhofe is a de facto spokesperson for fossil-fuel profiteers and represents a state that is experiencing a major energy boom because of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The fact that Inhofe’s financial ties to the oil and gas industry often go unmentioned is a testament to how the corporate media has complacently accepted and implicitly endorsed the role of big money in our political process.
I expect a political correction on a national level in the 2016 elections. Starting in 2015, however, Republicans will control the Senate and House for two years, and they are indicating they plan to block and stonewall any White House proposals, even to the point of shutting down the government. Inhofe will be a part of this onslaught when it comes to climate change. It’s apparent already the Republicans will overreach and remind voters of the George W. Bush presidency, which was a debacle of right-wing extremism, but that’s not going to make it any easier to stomach.
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.
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.