Year 2, Month 2, Day 20: I’m Too Young To Marry

The Tulsa Beacon’s publisher is Charles Biggs. He writes a long screed on why global warming is bunk a: because it’s snowing, and b: because scientists aren’t willing to give out certificates of causation. And Al Gore is fat, most likely. He finishes with some unrelated jokes, of which this one was the best:

• There was once a man from the city who was visiting a small farm, and during this visit he saw a farmer feeding pigs in a most extraordinary manner.

The farmer would lift a pig up to a nearby apple tree, and the pig would eat the apples off the tree directly. The farmer would move the pig from one apple to another until the pig was satisfied, then he would start again with another pig.

The city man watched this activity for some time with great astonishment. Finally, he could not resist saying to the farmer, “This is the most inefficient method of feeding pigs that I can imagine. Just think of the time that would be saved if you simply shook the apples off the tree and let the pigs eat them from the ground!”

The farmer looked puzzled and replied, “What’s time to a pig?”

Because Tulsa is part of Oklahoma, I added “James Inhofe” to the tags. Sent February 11:

Dear Mr. Biggs,

May I try?

Let’s start from the beginning. Picture a puddle of water on a hot sunny day. It disappears quickly, doesn’t it? That’s because it evaporated, which means the water turned into water vapor and became part of the air. Air with a lot of water in it is “humid.” Now, what happens when it’s really, really humid? It rains, of course — but only if it’s above freezing. And when it’s below freezing? Well, you know the answer: it would snow. Heavily. You can’t have precipitation without humidity, and you can’t have humidity without evaporation, and you can’t have evaporation without heat.

The term “climate change” is now preferred to “global warming” simply because it is a better description of people’s experience. Ask around; everybody’s talking about the weather (including you!). Big heat waves in Europe, droughts in South America, huge floods and a cyclone in Australia, lots of floods in Pakistan, a massive, paralyzing blizzard in the US. Sure, all of these things have happened before. But never all at once, which is why it might be a good idea to listen to what people who study the climate closely have been predicting about atmospheric CO2 and the greenhouse effect. Since the 1950s, by the way.

Mr. Biggs, you’re wrong about climate change — but I really liked your joke about the pig.

Warren Senders

And a day and a half later, he wrote me back:

Mr. Sanders,
You may be right and I could be wrong. Words have meaning. We just set a record for snowfall AND record low temperatures in Oklahoma. And yet many people (you not included) cling to global warming and that’s what they teach in science classes in high school.
I think you may give mankind too much credit for affecting the weather. A volcanic eruption can affect weather patterns for years and yet we still can’t predict accurately if it will rain Tuesday.
Thanks for your thoughtful remarks.
Charles Biggs

I haven’t responded yet, but I will.

Kudos to anyone who can identify the provenance of the headline.

Month 3, Day 30: Time Quotes Inhofe. WTF?

Here’s an article at Time Magazine about yet another relatively trivial error in the IPCC report. Naturally, in an effort for “balance,” the author includes statements from James Inhofe.

The faux controversy over relatively minor errors and inept analogies in the IPCC report serves only to confuse members of the public who aren’t paying attention. The overwhelming consensus of scientists is that global warming is real and that it’s largely caused by human beings. When print and broadcast media routinely issue daily corrections over far more egregious misstatements of fact, the notion that a 3,000 page scientific report has mistakes in it should be unsurprising. Scientists are human, and they make mistakes; science itself, however, is a method of addressing error and misconception. Our media routinely treat scientific statements as somehow equivalent to statements of opinion, as witness Abend’s readiness to include statements by James Inhofe in her article. The Oklahoma Senator knows nothing of science, basing his arguments on things he wishes were true (AGW is a fraud, the Rapture is imminent, etc.) rather than on verifiable facts. For those of us who can comprehend the warnings of the scientific community, Inhofe is absurd at best and malevolent at worst. He has no business in a serious discussion of the most important existential threat humanity has ever faced.

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 21: Setting The Wreckers Straight

Figured I’d send this one off to the Boston Herald. They haven’t printed anything of mine yet, of course, but I figure it does them good to hear from those of us on the Side of the Light. And you can’t go wrong trashing Jim Inhofe. That guy gives lying, hypocrisy and stupidity a really bad image.

Predictably, snowfall in Washington sets Republican politicians off on another round of climate-change denial. James Inhofe and his ilk would like us to believe that global warming doesn’t exist, that humans aren’t responsible, that localized cold and snow disprove it, and that in any case, doing something about it would cost too much and disrupt Americans’ God-given right to convenient, unthinking consumption. Wrong on all counts: worldwide measurements show indisputably that our climate is heating up, and ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing this. A warmer global climate means weirder local weather, including things like blizzards in Washington and Texas along with record highs in Greenland and Europe.

The sociopolitical effects of climate change include massive economic disturbances, “water wars,” and millions of climate refugees. It’s obvious that the cost of addressing the crisis is trivial compared to the cost of failure. Obvious, that is, to anyone except Senator Inhofe and the rest of the G.O.P.

Warren Senders

Have you written a letter recently? Why not?

As always, feel free to use one of mine.

Month 2, Day 17: More Hatin’ on Inhofe

Continuing with the “97” theme for today’s letter, which will go off to the Boston Globe.

This one is a pretty standard unfurling of my general talking points. I’m trying to have one or two genuinely creative letters a week, with the rest being permutations and combinations of the themes I’m recycling. Since yesterday’s letter went to Inhofe’s flunkies, I figured I’d go on dumping on him for another day or so.

By now it’s utterly predictable: more snow will bring Republican climate-change “skeptics” out in full force. Sure enough, James Inhofe has built an igloo in front of the U.S. Capitol with a sign on it mocking Al Gore. Since Washington is the only place in the world that counts, Inhofe doesn’t care that the Winter Olympics had to import snow, or that temperatures elsewhere in the world are at record highs. The Oklahoma Republican refuses to admit the existence of a slowly unfolding disaster that will dwarf any crisis humanity has ever confronted. If ninety-seven out of a hundred inspectors called a restaurant unsanitary, you’d be crazy to eat there. If ninety-seven out of a hundred counter-terrorism experts told you that Al-Qaeda was planning a major operation, you’d be crazy not to take it seriously. But if ninety-seven percent of climatologists say that global warming is a real and present danger, they are mocked and derided by G.O.P. denialists. Our grandchildren will not be kind to the memory of Senator Inhofe and his ilk.

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 16: To The Dwarves Who Attend The Evil Buffoon

A DailyKos diarist named “Historian” produced a wonderful piece a few days ago, called “Ninety-Seven”. I admired it greatly, and wondered about incorporating parts of it into one of my letters. This is the first pass, and I decided to send an email/fax/letter directly to the Evil Moran himself, James Inhofe. Or, rather, to the people who answer his email, read his faxes, open his envelopes.

Because I figure my letter will never reach him, but it might actually get read by a human in his office. And who knows? Somebody might actually do some thinking. Stranger things have happened, albeit not very many.

Dear Staffers in Senator Inhofe’s Office —

Let’s say a hundred health inspectors went over a restaurant. And ninety-seven of them said, “This food is unsafe; it’ll probably make you sick.” Would you eat there?

Or let’s say you were buying a house, and a hundred home inspectors looked at it — and three of them said, “It’s probably okay,” while the other ninety-seven said, “This building is definitely unsafe.” Would you buy the house?

Or let’s say you found a lump. And a hundred oncologists looked at it. And ninety-seven of them said, “It’s cancer. Let’s get started on treatment.” Would you get started on treatment, or would you go with the three who said, “Maybe not?”

Or let’s say you’re the President, and a hundred C.I.A. counter-terrorism experts came to you…and ninety-seven of them said “Al-Qaeda is going to carry off a major operation,” while three of them said “It might not happen.” Would you put our national security system on high alert?

I’m asking you this question rather than Senator Inhofe himself, because I don’t believe this letter will reach him…but there’s a chance one of you will read it, and perhaps wonder:

Given that the answers to the first four questions are pretty obvious, why is it that when ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change, Senator Inhofe is so strongly in favor of doing nothing?

He wouldn’t want to eat tainted food, or buy a house that was going to fall down around him, or ignore a cancer diagnosis…or put the nation at risk by ignoring a warning of a terrorist attack. Would he?

Then why is he putting our nation (and our planet) at risk now?

And, more to the point, why are you helping him do it?

Our grandchildren will not be kind to the memory of Senator Inhofe and those who assisted him.

Just ask yourself this question: What if the ninety-seven percent of climatologists are right?

Think about it. Please. For all our sakes.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders