Manmade global warming, according to one science writer, has exacerbated the extreme rainfall in recent days here as many state leaders remain in denial about the effects of carbon emissions on the environment.
Perhaps “remain in denial” is an understatement. Oklahoma is the home state of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who thinks the idea of humankind’s impact on the climate is a “hoax” and that only a God could be responsible for major shifts in weather patterns. Inhofe now heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt continues to fight the federal government over its mandate to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Pruitt has taken a lead role in fighting new rules by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions.
The drilling for and the burning of fossil fuels is, of course, sacrosanct in Oklahoma, and the oil and gas industry is a major part of the state’s economy. Both Inhofe and Pruitt are tied closely to the industry. Oil baron and billionaire Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Oklahoma City’s Continental Resources, led Pruitt’s most recent reelection campaign. Inhofe has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his political career dating back to 1989.
That influence creates a type of “official” scientific denial that truly threatens the planet. The extreme weather in Oklahoma, which is almost certainly going to become more extreme in coming years, is actually a small development in the larger climate-change reality that includes rising sea levels that threaten to destroy coastal communities.
A recent article written by Senior Science Writer Andrea Thompson in Climate Central about recent heavy rain in Oklahoma pointed out, “Because warmer air has a greater capacity to hold on to water, there’s more moisture available when rains fall. Even in places that are expected to become drier overall in a warming world, when it does rain, it’s more likely to be in concentrated bursts.”
That warmer air, according to the article, is because of the “unabated buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Scientists who study global warming have said for years that the planet will experience more extreme weather events as the world grows warmer because of carbon emissions. The record rainfall here recently, and the rain deluge in neighboring Texas is an example of that weather extremism. The rainfall here and in Texas has led to deaths and the destruction of property.
So fossil fuels have brought Oklahoma a new reality, which includes almost daily earthquakes caused by the injection wastewater disposal well process used in fracking and now record rainfall that leads to destructive flooding.
Given the extreme weather, the earthquakes and politicians such as Inhofe and Pruitt, Oklahoma has become a glaring symbol of the cost of scientific denial in the fossil-fuel age, which will be a blip in world history if the planet survives.