Now that U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn has officially and proudly come out as a global warming denier, it might make sense to remind everyone here that Oklahoma is basically still in a drought possibly exacerbated by climate change.
“I am a global warming denier,” Coburn said in a recent speech to the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t deny that.” The remarks, which came in a multi-topic speech, were reported by the Tulsa World.
Coburn, of course, is a physician, which some might presume would make him prone to at least consider carefully the most prevailing scientific inquiry on the issue, but, as the World reported, he really thinks the planet is in a mini-ice age, an argument reported by Climate Depot, which opposes “laws and policies implemented in a misplaced belief that humans can control or prevent climate change.”
The mini-ice age argument is obscured by record-breaking levels of carbon emissions now in the atmosphere, which through the greenhouse effect can accelerate conditions for recent huge wildfires in the American West and droughts here and in Texas, according to scientists.
It was only last year some scientists concluded ” . . . that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were ’caused’ by global warming, because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming.”
This summer was cooler and wetter in some sections of Oklahoma than the previous two years, but recent reports show that all of the state is now listed as abnormally dry, the Panhandle is listed as in an extreme drought and southwest Oklahoma is listed as in an exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The impact of extended droughts on the state’s agricultural output is an issue as is the state’s water supplies. Summer rains filled up many lakes here, but now warmer and drier weather threaten to reverse some of those gains. How much is climate change to blame?
No one extreme weather event can necessarily be tied to global warming, though a series of extreme weather events over multiple years or even decades can be an indicator of its impact. It’s certainly possible, however, that Oklahoma’s recent problems with drought have been significantly worsened by global warming, as noted previously by scientists. The issue, at the very least, deserves continuous study.
Meanwhile, now that Coburn has jumped on the anti-environmental bandwagon led by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who calls global-warming science a hoax, we can expect little or no widespread discussion of the issue right now here in Oklahoma.