U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe-and by extension the fossil fuel industry in Oklahoma-has been remarkably quiet about a new scientific report showing the acceleration of arctic ice melting.
Inhofe is infamous throughout the world for denying the link between global warming, which leads to melting ice, and manmade produced carbon emissions. He once called the threat of global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” and he has obsessively attacked but failed to refute the scientific evidence about climate change. But so far he’s remained mum on the most recent information. Maybe he’s had an epiphany. (Just kidding.)
Some might ask why a senator without a major scientific background and from a relatively small state that has its own specific problems relating to poverty, health and infrastructure would make global warming such an overriding issue. The answer to that is Inhofe has received copious amounts of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. According to OpenSecrets.org, from 2005 to 2010 Inhofe received $459,750 from oil and gas interests, and he has taken $1.2 million from oil and gas interests since 1989.
As essentially a paid spokesperson for the oil and gas industry, then, it was surprising Inhofe didn’t go on the attack after an executive summary of the ice melting report was released last week. The summary says arctic ice melting is growing much faster than 2005 predictions. The melting will lead to rising sea levels and could eventually be catastrophic.
Inhofe, of course, is a member of the Republican Party, which is consistently campaigning to make severe reductions in Medicare and Social Security to, in essence, save them for the generic, always-cited “grandchildren.” (The GOP strategy is to ruin the programs right now for the grandchildren.) But what’s going to happen to our grandchildren when there’s a massive displacement of populations throughout the world because of rising sea levels.
The bottom line is this: We live in the latter stages of the oil era. Rising gasoline and fuel our prices will force us to turn to renewable energy sources in the future, but it will probably take at least one catastrophic event related to rising sea levels before the world acts aggressively to limit carbon emissions. Historically, Inhofe is on the wrong side of the issue, and his outrageous claims make the state seem like a bad actor on the world stage. He’ll probably weigh in on this new information soon, but he doesn’t speak for everyone here.