Global Warming

Exactly Backwards

Image of wind turbines

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.

Inhofe Nemesis: IPCC Warns Global Warming Still Major Threat

Image of Jim Inhofe

The news from a large group of scientists warning of the dire effects of global warming and showing the impact of human activity on climate change didn’t create much of a stir here in Oklahoma.

That’s because this is an epicenter of global warming denial, which includes among its adherents U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. The main basis of the denial is simple, reckless subterfuge: The science behind climate change is actually a global, leftist conspiracy targeting the fossil-fuel industry for extinction. This is nonsense, and it puts us all at risk.

A draft of a report created by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as reported by The New York Times, shows that global warming would push sea levels three feet higher by the end of the century, a catastrophe of epic proportions for the world’s populated coastlines. The draft report also claimed that there’s a 95 percent certainty that carbon emissions produced by human activity are the main cause for the warming, The Times reported.

Scientists have long argued that carbon emissions or greenhouse gases trap heat, which is then radiated back to the earth’s surface. The extra heat leads to the melting of the Arctic ice cap, which raises sea levels. It also causes weather extremes in the form of intensified severe events, such as hurricanes and flooding, that can be highly destructive and expensive. The extra heat also impacts wildlife and the world’s overall eco-systems. It creates new health issues for humans.

The final report, created with the input of more than 800 scientists throughout the world, will be released after an IPCC session in late September, and it’s sure to garner the ire of Inhofe and The Oklahoman. They dismiss climate-change science as alarmist and detrimental to the oil and gas industry. The IPCC won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, along with former Vice President Al Gore, but its critics, such as Inhofe, are relentlessly dismissive of its findings.
Inhofe, who has written a book titled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, just recently criticized President Barack Obama’s so-called “climate change agenda.” In a somewhat rambling media release, Inhofe said:

I also find it quite interesting that to end this week of coincidental events on climate change alarmism, certain liberal media is showing a climate change special with reportedly no interviews from those challenging the theory. There seems to be a coincidental coordination between the White House, the President’s campaign, and the liberal media that is weaving a false and potentially harmful narrative of alarmism. This agenda will leave our nation less secure, less prosperous and less informed.

In other words, Inhofe, who is running for re-election in 2014, has no intention of backing down anytime soon in the face of growing global-warming evidence. He has been supported consistently in his denial efforts by the editorial page of The Oklahoman, which shares with Inhofe the use of the words “alarmists” or “alarmism” when it comes to climate-change science
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The anti-environmental efforts of Inhofe and The Oklahoman are only a blip in the waning decades of The Oil Age. Inhofe’s large campaign contributions from the oil and gas and utility industries show the main reason behind his political motivation. The Oklahoman is now owned by a Colorado billionaire oilman. But how much damage and destruction will humanity have to endure before it wakes up?

The Anti-Environment Agenda

In an editorial this week essentially supporting the use of coal in power plants, The Oklahoman again made unsubstantiated, sweeping claims denying the impact of climate change and global warming on our planet.

Obviously, Oklahoma is known as a fossil-fuel state, and the newspaper is a strong booster of the energy industry and its top executives, but that doesn’t mean it should promote an anti-environment agenda.

The editorial, “President Obama’s carbon tax is sure to hurt consumers” (June 27, 2013), is basically a typical anti-Obama hatchet job that criticizes new federal restrictions on carbon pollution for power plants. The point is that these restrictions will result in higher electricity bills in the future for some customers, especially those served by Public Service Co. of Oklahoma.

Along the hyperbolic way to that conclusion is a lot of Obama bashing and tortuous logic about carbon dioxide emissions and then this gem of reasoned wisdom:

Furthermore, it remains debatable that mankind is causing climate change. The globe hasn't warmed as predicted for more than a decade now, even with emissions increasing.

Now, the use of the word “debatable” here is probably an improvement for The Oklahoman editorial page, but it still underscores the problem. It is in the vested financial interests of the fossil fuel industry to cast doubt on the reasons for climate change for as long as possible. It’s about money. The owner of The Oklahoman is Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, who made his money in the oil business.

Again, for the record, below are some reasons why global warming is extremely real, not debatable, and why it’s important to reduce carbon emissions in this country and throughout the world.

(1) The planet IS getting warmer. Since 1880, when records were first kept, the earth’s surface temperature has risen. Here’s a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chart showing about a 1.3 degree rise, along with the accompanying increase in carbon emissions, since 1880. It is the long-term increase that matters, not necessarily one decade. Let’s not forget, as well, the highest record average temperature in the contiguous United States was recorded in 2012. There are many ways to parse temperature levels.

(2) Carbon emissions, which pollute the planet and raise the overall temperature, continue to increase. (See video above) Just recently, the amount of carbon dioxide in the surpassed the 400 parts per million level, the highest ever recorded. The Oklahoman argues that this country is reducing its emissions while China and India lead the way in increasing emissions. That’s true, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. shouldn’t lower its emissions even more. In fact, the U.S. should lead the way.

(3) There are other signs of climate change beyond the rise in the earth’s surface temperature. These include higher and warmer sea levels, melting arctic sea ice and an increase in severe weather events, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and even the recent tornadoes here in central Oklahoma. Here’s a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) site outlining the evidence for climate change.

The Oklahoman continues to do a disservice to its readers when it casually dismisses climate change to support the financial interests of the fossil-fuel industry, including coal producers. Skepticism can be a good trait, but not when it’s reduced to sweeping generalizations and unsubstantiated claims.

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