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.