It’s only fitting that as an editorial in The Oklahoman pointed out that Oklahoma’s cool weather in April was “news that a climate change zealot won’t want to hear,” scientists were reporting the average daily level of carbon dioxide in the air in the world was at its highest level in three million years.
Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas, and its growing levels in the atmosphere have been blamed for global warming and climate change.
In a May 10 editorial brief titled “Cool to conclusions” in its weekly Scissors Tale column, The Oklahoman reported the rather unremarkable news that last month was the seventh coolest recorded April in the state’s history dating back to 1895.
“We won’t extrapolate from this data to support a conclusion that global warming is over or that this will be one of the coolest summers on record,” the editorial claims, and then goes on to criticize anyone who brings up the recent temperature record breaking summers as evidence of global warming.
“It would be nice if the zealots wouldn’t leap to conclusions based on those summers,” according to the commentary, “or last year’s Superstorm Sandy or any other weather phenomenon that’s cashed in like a lottery ticket to score a political point.”
So, in essence, the editorial IS using a particular weather event to criticize those concerned about climate change, which is the same thing as using a weather event as evidence to argue global warming is simply a mythology embraced by, to use its own word, “zealots.” The editorial does exactly what it says it won’t do, which makes its writer as much as a zealot as anyone else.
The disingenuous rhetoric comes with a heaping dose of faulty logic. The seventh coolest April in one state hardly compares with the fact that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States or the fact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently reported that ocean surface temperatures last year off the Northeast coast in this country were the highest in 150 years.
The editorial also doesn’t refer to the actual math of global warming, which can be viewed in these charts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Two other subjects The Oklahoman will always omit from any discussion of climate change is the fact the world’s best known global warming denier, its own home-state darling U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, has received at least $550,000 in campaign funding from oil and gas companies since 2007 and the fact the newspaper itself is currently owned by Philip Anschutz, a Colorado billionaire, who became rich decades ago by drilling for fossil fuels.
All the omissions and faulty logic come just as scientists reported that the average daily carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is now at 400 parts per million, the highest in at least three million years. The measurements come from scientific instruments in Hawaii and have been compared to carbon dioxide levels in trapped air bubbles in ancient Antarctic ice.
According to a New York Times article, scientists didn’t mince words about the significance of the finding. “It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” one scientist said. The impact of carbon emissions on the climate continues to be one of the planet’s largest problems.
So let’s be clear: Global warming is a scientific issue and fact, not a bipartisan debate, and no one weather event can determine much of anything. Long-term climate patterns, which now include a series of unusual weather events through the years, high carbon dioxide levels in the air, warming sea temperatures and melting Arctic ice indicate we face a problem. The Oklahoman does a great disservice to its readers and the broader community here in its discussions of global warming when it simply engages in rhetorical hyperbole by calling people zealots, making false comparisons and omitting crucial information about conflicts of interest.