Arctic Ocean ice melted at a record rate this summer because of climate change, but the world’s most famous global-warming denier-U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe-continues his campaign to protect the interests of the oil and gas industry at the expense of the environment.
Inhofe has also aroused some interest in what he might have in mind in the future when it comes to his attempts to get people to actually believe global warming is a giant hoax created by a secret conspiracy of leading world scientists.
Let’s first consider the recent Arctic ice records. According to news stories, the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. reported that only 24 percent of the Arctic Ocean was covered in ice at one point this month, the least amount ever recorded. The previous low was 29 percent in 2007.
Melting Arctic ice will lead to high seas and changing weather patterns, including more severe weather events, and could eventually be catastrophic to some coastal communities because of lost land and property. Climatologists believe man-made carbon emissions produced by fossil fuels-oil, coal and natural gas-contribute heavily to global warming.
Along with the intense melting of the Arctic ice cap, this summer has seen record temperatures throughout the U.S.-July was the hottest month on record-and an extended drought throughout the Midwest, which have been tied to global warming. The massive West Nile virus outbreak in the country this summer has also been blamed on global warming.
The signs, then, point in just the opposite direction of Inhofe’s years-long effort to discredit climate science. Inhofe has published a book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, which outlines his unscientific and radical views about climate change.
This summer, as far as I can tell, Inhofe has been relatively quiet on the new signs that global warming is a serious issue, just regurgitating his old positions. His official web site, for example, doesn’t yet address the issue of record Arctic ice melting. (He did participate in a debate about global warming on the Senate floor.) Perhaps, he’s been too busy trying to stop same-sex marriages at military facilities to respond to evidence that seemingly refutes his arguments about global warming, but his constituents deserve a straight-forward explanation if only because he has spent so much time and energy on the issue.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City native Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, brought up Inhofe in a recent debate with Scott Brown, the Republican incumbent. (I recently wrote about Warren here.) According to ThinkProgress, this is what Warren said:
Sen. Brown has been going around the country, talking to people, saying, you’ve got to contribute to his campaign because it may be for the control of the Senate. And he’s right. … What that would mean is if the Republicans take over control of the Senate, Jim Inhofe would become the person who would be in charge of the committee that oversees the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s a man that has called global warming ‘a hoax.’ In fact, that’s the title of his book.
That’s a convincing argument, but it also points out how much Inhofe has become a symbol of scorn throughout many areas of the country and even the world. It was notable that Brown distanced himself from Oklahoma’s Senator by telling Warren, “You’re not running against Jim Inhofe . . .,” and then extolling his own bipartisanship.
Inhofe has received $511,250 in campaign contributions since 2007 from the oil and gas industry, which explains, to a certain point, why he fights against any federal regulation that might be based on environmental concerns. But Inhofe has taken his anti-environment fight to a polarizing extreme that doesn’t benefit the state’s long-term interests and, in fact, brings us ridicule at every turn.