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The Roundup

While One Climate Change Skeptic Converts, Inhofe is Steadfast

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Posted 08.01.12

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe made a bold statement during his opening remarks at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on climate change today, the Tulsa World reported: “The global warming movement has completely collapsed.”

Photo courtesy Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

His claim comes on the heels of the so-called “conversion” of one of the country’s leading climate-change skeptics, Richard A. Muller. Muller penned an OpEd for the Sunday edition of The New York Times, writing that, not only does he believe in climate change, he believes it’s man-made.

Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

According to Inhofe, though, global warming is a tired rouse by liberals designed to impede economic growth. From the World:

“We’ve been through this now for the past 3½ years and the results are clear,” said Inhofe. “President Obama’s green energy agenda has been a disaster. The time has come to put these tired, failed policies to rest and embrace the US energy boom so that we can put Americans back to work, turn this economy around, become totally energy independent from the Middle East, and ensure energy security for years to come.”

On Monday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at Inhofe, telling his fellow senators, “The bottom line is that when Senator Inhofe says global warming is a hoax, he is just dead wrong, according to the vast majority of climate scientists.” The Burlington Free Press reported:

“Sen. Inhofe has some very radical views regarding global warming, and I believe he is dead wrong and dangerously wrong on this issue,” Sanders said in a speech from the Senate floor. “Because many Republicans follow Sen. Inhofe’s lead, it means we are making very little progress here in Congress in combating what most of the scientific community sees as a global environmental crisis.”

According to the paper, Sanders said he thinks Inhofe’s beliefs are sincere but based on bad science. The Huffington Post pointed out, though, the senator “is known for receiving significant campaign contributions from oil, gas and electric utility companies. Between 2007 and 2012 Inhofe received just over $500,00 [sic] from oil and gas companies — including $44,600 from Koch Industries — and nearly $200,000 from electric utilities, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

The Los Angeles Times noted that Muller’s reverse course on climate change gives global warming added legitimacy when you consider its source: “Muller is a long-standing, colorful critic of prevailing climate science, and the Berkeley (Earth Surface Temperature) project was heavily funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which, along with its libertarian petrochemical billionaire founder Charles G. Koch, has a considerable history of backing groups that deny climate change.”

From Muller’s NYT OpEd:

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

According to the L.A. Times, Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, said “Muller’s conversion might help shape the thinking of the ‘reasonable middle’ of the population ‘who are genuinely confused and have been honestly taken in’ by attacks on climate science.”

Sanders worried that some of those “taken in,” especially Republican policymakers, have been so at Inhofe’s behest. “For better or worse, when Sen. Inhofe speaks, the Republican Party follows,” Sanders said, according to HuffPo. “And when the Republican Party follows, it is impossible to get real work done in the Congress.”

And Inhofe’s theory on global warming, as quoted by the Burlington Free Press, is one we hear repeated in Oklahoma, despite this (and last) year’s record-breaking heat.

“It has become something of a religion to say that the world is coming to an end,” Inhofe said. “The world is not coming to an end. We’re going through a cycle. We’ve had these cycles before. It gets colder and warmer and colder and warmer. God is still up there.”

Holly Wall, News Editor