Year 4, Month 8, Day 30: And The Countdown Begins!

The Washington Post is moving slowly to atone for decades of George Will columns:

NEXT MONTH, the international arbiter of the scientific consensus on global warming will release its latest evaluation of the state of the research. A few will dismiss the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) findings as overwrought alarmism. But a draft leaked to reporters last week indicates that, for most people, the report will serve as another stern warning about the risks of continuing to pump carbon dioxide into the air.

The scientists are set to claim that the increasing amount of greenhouse gases that humans have emitted into the atmosphere has almost certainly been the chief driver of the warming of the planet over the past half-century, a finding to which they ascribe 95 percent confidence. That’s the level of likelihood researchers typically consider robust enough to justify drawing very strong conclusions.

Grim. August 27:

The question is not whether humanity’s complex industrial civilization has caused a radical reconfiguration of Earth’s climate. That was resolved long ago, and the answer was “Yes”; the IPCC’s new report is just statistical icing on a well-baked cake of certainty. The real question is how long it’s going to take for this new climatic reality to radically reconfigure the attitudes of those with deeply vested financial and political interests in denial.

It’d be nice to think that the encroaching realities of climate change — burgeoning wildfires, rising ocean levels, increasingly severe storms, historically unprecedented droughts — would be persuasive enough. But it is inherent in the nature of paranoid thinking that mere evidence is inadequate. The only way these politicians will change their entrenched anti-science attitudes is for their corporate sponsors to recognize that rejection of climatological evidence will negatively impact profit margins. Civilizational collapse is bad for business.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 8, Day 2: Who Cooda Knowed?

The Silicon Valley Mercury News (CA) reports on the bizarre fundraiser Google hosted for (gasp!) Jim Inhofe:

July 10

Mountain View-based Google is taking some heat for hosting a fundraiser for a U.S. senator who is an outspoken disbeliever in man-made climate change, despite the company’s green rhetoric.

Google’s Washington, D.C., office will host a lunch Thursday, at $250 to $2,500 per plate, to benefit Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., just a month after Google chairman Eric Schmidt said those who deny climate change and global warming are liars.

Climate change activists plan to picket outside in order to “remind people of Google’s professed culture of ethics, environmental stewardship, and respect for scientific truth which help make Google products so popular,” according to a news release. “They’ll also remind people of Sen. Jim Inhofe’s long record of unethical environmental destruction and promotion of anti-scientific conspiracy theories on behalf of the likes of Koch Industries, his biggest corporate funder.”

The protesters say they’ll deliver 10,000 signatures of people from across the nation, calling on Google CEO Larry Page to end his company’s support for politicians like Inhofe.

“We regularly host fundraisers for candidates, on both sides of the aisle, but that doesn’t mean we endorse all of their positions,” a Google spokesperson replied to my email Wednesday. “And while we disagree on climate change policy, we share an interest with Senator Inhofe in the employees and data center we have in Oklahoma.”

This one was easy and fun to write. July 15:

We should be fair to the people who run the world’s most popular search engine.

Perhaps they just didn’t know how to find out about James Inhofe’s obsessive climate-change denialism (“inhofe climate denial” worked pretty well for me). Perhaps they couldn’t find the right search string that would have unearthed the Oklahoma Senator’s gleeful self-description as the number-one “Enemy of The Earth” (“inhofe enemy earth,” in case you’re wondering). Perhaps they’d never noticed that the Center for Biological Diversity last year awarded Inhofe the “Rubber Dodo” award in recognition of his relentless work pushing humanity and countless other species toward what biologists tactfully call an “evolutionary bottleneck” (try “inhofe rubber dodo”).

Or perhaps, given that the Senator’s entire legislative career has consisted of putting his vote up for sale to the highest bidder (“inhofe political corruption”), Google’s executives figured they might be able to simply buy him off. Who knows?

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 3, Day 10: Between Your Ears There’s Just A Great Big Vacu-um

The Washington Post reports on big snows in the West — in Oklahoma & Texas, no less:

Schools and major highways in the Texas Panhandle remained closed for a second day Tuesday. Interstate 27 reopened between Amarillo and Lubbock, about 120 miles to the south, but the Texas National Guard was still working to clear much of Interstate 40 from the Oklahoma border to the New Mexico state line.

Some other roads reopened as sunny conditions began to thaw ice and snow-packed surfaces.

Just a day earlier, whiteout conditions had made virtually all Panhandle roads impassable. A hurricane-force gust of 75 mph was recorded in Amarillo, which got 17 inches. The heaviest snowfall was in Follett, Texas, with 21 inches.

In Oklahoma, 600 snowplows and trucks worked to reopen roads.

Always happy to poke fun at James Inhofe. Sent February 28:

A blizzard? Cue the triumphant shouts from climate-change deniers, as predictable as the weather once was before the metastasizing greenhouse effect began playing havoc with our atmosphere. That it is arch-denialist James Inhofe’s home state that has to cope with tons of unexpected snow adds an extra fillip of irony to the news.

While it’s indeed counterintuitive that a hotter atmosphere can lead to extreme snowstorms, humanity’s intuitions don’t include imaginary numbers, DNA, or radioactivity either (hence the importance of, and the need for, science). Steadily rising global temperatures’ complicated and unobvious effects include heat waves, extreme precipitation, and droughts like the one currently baking Oklahoma’s ground, blizzard or no.

While Senator Inhofe and his denialist fellow-travelers may not grasp how a hotter atmosphere makes once-in-a-century storms more frequent, their rejection of climate science hamstrings our capacity to cope with a national emergency. Ignorance is no foundation for policy.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 22: Admitting Error Would Cause Me To Lose Face. Therefore Global Warming Is A Hoax.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review offers a forum to arch-denialist Marc Morano:

Marc Morano operates, an Internet clearinghouse for information on climate, environmental and energy news. Morano, a former aide to U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., spoke to the Trib on the latest developments in the climate-change debate.

Q: It’s the hottest year on record so far in the Northeast. Must be global warming, right?

A: Globally, it’s not the hottest. In fact, here is the problem: The heat they are touting as proof of man-made global warming is occurring in the continental United States, which is less than 2 percent of the Earth’s surface. So far in 2012, (global) temperatures have been slightly below the average for the last 15 years. So if the Earth isn’t actually in record warmth globally, why are we looking at 2 percent (of its surface) and then trying to draw extrapolations?

Q: Why are we?

A: It’s politics, pure and simple. When James Hansen (director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) announces this week, as he has done in previous years, that we’re having (record heat), it sounds so impressive and scary. It sounds like proof of their theory, except for one problem: The (record) temperatures are within hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit difference between (ordinary) years and the years they are claiming are the hottest years.

Q: So you consider such pronouncements scare tactics?

A: Yes, these are hard-core ideological activists at work posing as neutral scientists. It’s not that Hansen is lying; it’s that he’s excluding any information he doesn’t find convenient. Satellite temperature data for July (indicated the month was the) coolest globally since 2008. So not only was it not impressively warm globally, it was actually somewhat cooler. We are not looking at unprecedented warmth. They (global-warming activists) are cherry-picking.

Assholes. Sent August 11:

Marc Morano, the alter ego of Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, offers a textbook example of projection in his interview with Eric Heyl. Offering no foundation for his accusation that climatologists are “playing politics” in their research, Mr. Morano’s overheated rhetoric implies that such gamesmanship is to be expected from anyone who participates in a discussion of climate change. In other words, it’s not scientists, but Mr. Morano and Senator Inhofe who “play politics” with science.

In March, Senator Inhofe told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that “I was actually on your side of this issue…I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.” The Senator’s reason for changing his mind was fiscal, not factual. By analogy, rejecting your biopsy results because chemotherapy is too expensive may be an understandable first reaction to a poor prognosis, but beating the disease necessarily begins with acknowledging the truth.

Climatologists have delivered their diagnosis. Now it’s time for us to face the facts. Morano, Inhofe and their compatriots in climate-change denial are exemplars of irresponsibility, in the face of a crisis of historic proportions.

Warren Senders


Year 2, Month 10, Day 11: Snicker. Snicker. Snicker. Guffaw.

Heh heh heh (the Oct. 7 Tulsa World):

If Norman wasn’t the place to be for weather research in the south, or even the nation, this announcement today should help.

The U.S. Department of the Interior selected the University of Oklahoma to be one of eight regional climate science centers nationwide, school and Interior officials announced Friday.

The center, which will be housed at the OU Research Campus in Norman, will aim to provide a link between weather and climate projections about how to manage federal lands, natural resources and fish and wildlife, according to a release from the OU College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences today.

“The nationwide network of Climate Science Centers will provide the scientific talent and commitment necessary for understanding how climate change and other landscape stressors will change the face of the United States, and how the Department of the Interior, as our nation’s chief steward of natural and cultural resources, can prepare and respond,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Every once in a while these letters are fun. Sent Oct. 7:

With the selection of the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus as one of the nation’s new climate science centers, the irony is thick on the ground. This news surely sticks in James Inhofe’s craw. After all, the Senator is a man who prefers improbable conspiracy theories to observable realities, and who chooses to go on record as denying the relevance of climate science. Perhaps there will be a dedication ceremony when the new offices are opened. It would be a gracious gesture to invite America’s most famous denialist to the reception.

Perhaps he could say a few words?

Or perhaps he could lay aside his petrol-powered preconceptions and listen carefully to what climatologists are actually saying about the threats we’re all going to face in the coming centuries?

Naaaah. Senator Inhofe listening respectfully to climate scientists? That would be even more unusual than an unseasonal snowfall in Washington, DC.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 19: A Thick Protective Coating

More hilarity on Jim Inhofe’s swimming adventure, this time from the Joplin, MO Globe. They used the same AP feed, so there’s nothing more to add but my letter, sent July 2:

The report on Grand Lake’s algal blooms omitted an important fact: according to an April 4 paper published in the journal Science, the conditions that give rise to the proliferation of the toxic scum are consequences of climate change. BGA loves unstable weather, record high heat, and excess atmospheric CO2 — all of which are results of global warming. This, of course, renders James Inhofe’s ill-fated swim more than a little ironic. The Senate’s top climate-change denier — a man who revels in his “enemy of the environment” status — finally experiences the impact of the greenhouse effect personally. But it will probably take more than exposure to poisonous algae to change Mr. Inhofe’s mind. He’s protected by another sort of green scum: the oil industry money financing his public campaigns against sensible action to deal with the looming climate crisis.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 18: Look Before You Leap!

James Inhofe is still an idiot. Witness, for example, this AP article printed in the Greenfield Reporter (IN):

TULSA, Okla. — Sen. James Inhofe says he believes a swim earlier this week in algae-laden Grand Lake made him ill.

Inhofe told the Tulsa World that he took a routine dive into the lake Monday morning and that night he was “deathly sick.”

Oklahoma authorities warned people Friday against swimming in the lake, saying potentially toxic blue-green algae had been detected. They’ve also advised against water skiing and other activities that would bring people or pets in contact with the water.

The algae would undoubtedly do a better job as Senator. Sent July 2:

James Inhofe’s excellent adventure — diving into Oklahoma’s Grand Lake — wound up making him seriously ill. No wonder: the surface of the water was covered with a blue-green scum which the senator had never before seen, despite decades of living on the lake shore. It’s unsurprising that Mr. Inhofe didn’t look before leaping, since the senator has made a successful political career out of a public contempt for facts, prediction, and analysis. If he’d bothered to investigate the algae, he would have learned it was exceptionally poisonous — up to 18 times more toxic than the warning level used by the World Health Organization. If he uses his convalescence to do some more research, he might learn that according to an April 4 paper in the journal Science, the cyanobacteria that laid him low thrive and flourish in the weather extremes that are a consequence of (you guessed it!) global warming.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 16: Easy Target….

The Tulsa World writes about James Inhofe’s attempt to end the EPA.

Sent April 7:

James Inhofe’s ignorance of science would be hilarious if he were not in a position of significant influence. This self-proclaimed “enemy of the environment” long ago sold his political power to the highest bidder: the big oil industries who have the most to lose from any sort of meaningful climate change legislation. He and his acolytes are hostile to any information that does not fit their preconceptions. Our political process was originally intended to deal with actual verifiable reality, including the consequences of our actions and of our inaction. Political grandstanding unconnected from facts is a prescription for disaster. In reflexively obeying their corporate paymasters, Mr. Inhofe and other members of the GOP undermine their own party’s credibility; their cavalier dismissal of the entire climate science community is grossly irresponsible. With all due respect to the Senator’s fervently held beliefs, waiting for the Rapture cannot substitute for actual fact-based policy.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 15: Soon They’ll Write Legislation By Stirring Bird Entrails With A Stick.

The LA Times reports an extremely welcome piece of news:

WASHINGTON–The Obama administration and its Senate allies beat back a months-long effort by Congressional Republicans to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the heat-trapping emissions most scientists believe is the main contributor to global climate change.

The votes were the culmination of efforts in both chambers of Congress over the last few months to cut back on the EPA’s regulatory powers.

The efforts focus on limiting EPA’s program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles and more recently, stationary sources like power plants and oil refineries, the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

I’ll take what I can get, these days. Sent in a state of extreme exhaustion on April 6:

Most of this country’s citizens recognize that clean air, clean water and resilient regional ecosystems are important and essential components of our national well-being. Sadly, this appears lost on scientifically ignorant GOP legislators whose eagerness to undercut any and all environmental programs seems almost gleefully nihilistic. At a time when the incontrovertible facts of global climate change are accepted by the overwhelming majority of the world’s experts in climate science, Senator Inhofe’s opposition to meaningful action on the reduction of greenhouse emissions is petulant, not principled. Meanwhile, erstwhile climate action advocate Lindsey Graham renounced his principles when he faced the electoral consequences of the tea-party’s anti-reality stance. While the defeat of Republican efforts to gut the Environmental Protection Agency is good news for all Americans, the fact that our politics is massively populated by people who reject scientific evidence when it’s ideologically inconvenient bodes ill for our future.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 22: The Terrible Threat of تغير المناخ

The Newberg Graphic (OR) has a guest editorial with a good strong statement in favor of the EPA’s authority, and a good chastisement of the Republicans’ behavior.

I figured it would be a good idea to provide some additional moral support. This letter’s not as coherent as some; I’m just too damn tired. Sent Feb 13:

The intersection of coal and petroleum money with the electoral process has produced a breed of politicians far more cognizant of the short-term requirements of their cash suppliers than of the long-term well-being of their constituents. While West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller is a Democratic case in point, the majority of anti-environmental voices in Congress belong to Republicans. Less than two months into the 112th Congress, these GOP stalwarts have rejected decades of scientific evidence and publicly insulted EPA Chief Lisa Jackson. The coming decades of climate chaos will bring enormous disruptions to our agriculture, infrastructure, public health and political stability; when we face a threat far greater than any terrorist organization, we need thoughtful preparation and mitigation, not the GOP’s kindergarten-level squabbling. It’s too bad climate change wasn’t represented by a scary dictator and the possibility of an expensive war; the Republican caucus would have been beside themselves with enthusiasm.

Warren Senders