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Monday, February 27, 2012

Chris Mooney: James Inhofe Takes the Climate Conspiracy Theory to New Heights—While His Home State Reels from Record Heat

James Inhofe Takes the Climate Conspiracy Theory to New Heights—While His Home State Reels from Record Heat

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by Chris Mooney, DeSmogBlog, February 27, 2012
James Inhofe, Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has a new book out. It is entitledThe Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.
I have not read it yet. So I cannot say much about its contents, but I can say this: The title suggests that Inhofe, like Rick Santorum, is endorsing the global warming conspiracy theory. Indeed, where Santorum only muttered the word “hoax” without a great deal of elaboration, it looks like Inhofe is going to put some real meat onto those paranoid bones.
Let me once again reiterate why the global warming conspiracy theory is, well, just plain ridiculous.
To believe that global warming is a “hoax,” or that there is a “conspiracy,” you must believe in coordinated action on the part of scientists, environmental ministers, politicians, and NGOs around the world. It won’t do just to situate the hoax in the United States and its own scientific and NGO community, because the idea of human-caused global warming is endorsed by scientists, and scientific academies, around the globe.
Any one of these could blow the whistle on the so-called “hoax.” That this has not happened either means there is no hoax, or that the degree of conspiracy and collusion—among people who are notoriously individualistic and non-conformist, by the way—is mindboggling. We're talking about some serious cat-herding going on.
Oh, and by the way: You also have to believe that the colluding hoaxers have nefarious objectives—basically, they want to kill capitalism and strangle economies. This is even less plausible.
In other words, there is no hoax, and to believe in one is to be a conspiracy theorist. Inhofe himself uses the word “conspiracy” in his subtitle, so I do not think it at all unfair to describe him in this way. Either he is actually right in  his claims—not likely—or else he's conjuring a conspiracy where none exists. It's that simple.
I point this out, incidentally, because I am continually amazed that our national discourse basically shrugs at conspiracy theories. That's saddening evidence that we live in an “anything goes” political culture that has become unmoored from reality.
And how did this happen? Here’s a hint: Inhofe will debut his book on Fox’s Sean Hannity program tonight.
Let me end this post with a dose of reality. Inhofe, the climate conspiracy theorist, not only hails from but represents the state of Oklahoma. Here is what has been happening, climatologically, to Oklahoma lately, according to NOAA and other sources:
* The summer of 2011 was the hottest summer on record for the state. According tothe Oklahoma Climatological Survey, “Oklahoma experienced the hottest summer of any state since records began in 1895 with a statewide average of 86.9 degrees.”
* July 2011 was the worst. Says the Oklahoma Climatological Survey: “July’s average temperature was 89.3 degrees, becoming the hottest month for any state on record, besting over 67,000 other months.”
* August also fried Oklahoma, and was the hottest August on record.
* This, of course, caused serious damage and monetary losses: “Agricultural damage alone from the drought and related heat has been estimated as high as $2 billion.” 
From the perspective of Inhofe’s constituents—say, an Oklahoma farmer—the global warming conspiracy sounds like an intellectual dalliance that the state simply cannot afford.
[By the way, here’s a great graphic from Grist showing eloquently why the global warming conspiracy theory makes no sense. I don't think the fossil fuel conspiracy theory makes sense either, by the way, but that's a tale for another time.]

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