James Inhofe

04 February 2007

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), famous for referring to global warming as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and calling the EPA a "gestapo bureaucracy", recently had some crazy things to say about global warming and the IPCC AR4.


I was on a program yesterday with Art Robinson. He was one of the scientists in the Oregon petition, 17,800 scientists, that said that, yes, we understand that we are going through a warming period, but it's not due to manmade gases. And this is ten years after they came out with their report, and nobody ever talks about that.
Wrong. The Oregon Petition, circulated in 1998 to oppose the Kyoto Treaty, was not signed by "17,800 scientists." The petition was available online for anybody to sign. You could indicate an advanced degree, if you chose to do so, or none at all. There was extremely lax oversight as far as verifying the credentials of those who signed the petition, too. Some of the signatories included Star Wars characters, Dr. Gerri Halliwell (the Spice Girl, who did not personally sign the petition and is not really a doctor), and Redwine, PhD (see pdf at p. 152). Scientific American investigated the Oregon Petition in 2005 and concluded that the number of climate scientists was approximately 200, most of whom either didn't know what they were signing or no longer support the contents of the petition 10 years later. That is a far lower number than the 17,800 James Inhofe cited. (Note: This isn't all that was wrong with the Oregon Petition. It was also sent out to scientists all over the country accompanied by a paper made to look like an official report from the National Academy of Sciences, leading the NAS to publicly disclaim any involvement with the petition)

Inhofe went on:
M. O'BRIEN: That's James Hansen, one of the leading climate scientists. He says it's crystal clear. What do you say?
INHOFE: I'd say that that's James Hansen, who is paid $250,000 by the Heinz Foundation. I think he'd say almost anything you ask him to say.
my favorite quote of all the people who were on the side of saying manmade gas caused global warming was a socialist in France. He's a geophysicist named Claude Allegre (ph). He's a member of both the French and American Academy of Sciences. He says, "The cause of global warming is unknown. The proponents of manmade catastrophic global warming are being motivated by" -- and listen to this, Miles -- "money."
Given that Inhofe has reveived more than $1 million from the energy and natural resource sector since taking office, it seems odd that he would insinuate that the world's scientists are being motivated by money.

Plus, that is a pretty sweeping accusation to make. It's unclear whether Inhofe thinks that scientists are consciously misrepresenting the science in order to make a profit, or if he thinks that they are just subconsciously interpreting the results in a way that benefits their research programs. The implications, given his specific mention of James Hansen, is that this is a conscious plot by an international cabal of greedy climate scientists. Regardless, the accusation that the idea is motivated by money seems pretty careless. Here is a list of some highly respected scientific organizations that have acknowledged significant anthropogenic global warming:
I find it hard to believe that all of the scientific organizations whose expertise bears on this subject are motivated, consciously or subconsciously, simply by making money.

It didn't stop there. Inhofe went on with what I anticipate will be a popular talking point in the coming weeks:

Now, you won't get the report from scientists probably until May or June. But this summary is all you're going to look at. You're never going to talk about anything else.

And that's -- and let me just read to you to show you that I'm right on this thing. On page four, it says, "Changes in scientific work to ensure consistency with the summary for policymakers will ensure."

These are politicians, these aren't scientists.
Wrong again. The Summary For Policymakers was written by scientists. The drafting process is summarized here and here. Basically, it was written and edited by hundreds of scientists. The lead author of each of the 11 upcoming chapters was well represented during the drafting process. If the author of a section was unhappy with how the SPM treated their area, they would raise their objections and the changes would be made. It was a very thorough process with scientists all over the place. To suggest otherwise just makes Senator Inhofe look bad. But I'm sure that this ridiculous meme will be picked up and repeated ad nauseum.

As far as the quote Senator Inhofe mangles from the Appendix of the report (near the bottom of p. 4), that simply says that the changes in the clarity of the language agreed upon at the SPM panel will be used in the forthcoming individual chapters (it takes a long time to proofread 1,600 pages). The science will not change or be altered to fit the SPM. James Inhofe inserted the word "science" into that quote even though it never appears in the original. The real quote says: "Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the panel shall be those to ensure consistency with the Summary For Policymakers or the Overview Chapter."

All in all, I am very happy that this guy isn't the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works anymore.

One more. In 2006, Inhofe gave a speech on the Senate floor where he pointed to a picture of his family and stated:
"... my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I'm really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we've never had a divorce or any kind ofhomosexual relationship."

Congratulations, Senator Inhofe!


Twilight said...

It's so good to read this post!

I live in Oklahoma, and I just cannot understand how the good people of this state ever voted into office such a dreadful senator. I think his credibility now is slim to negligible !

Tessa said...

Good for people to know.