Inhofe Plays while the Boxer’s Away
Posted in: Environment
It must be that time of year again.
Just like last year, the Minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Commitee (read James Inhofe (R-Exxon)) has just released another "report" somehow proving that the globe isn’t warming or, if that fails, that humanity has nothing to do with the warming or, if that fails, that it really doesn’t matter or, if that fails, that we can’t do anything about it anyway. [DIGG.]
Let’s make some things clear, we should be outraged about this report. But, perversely, Inhofe and sidekick Marc Morano merit credit for using their positions of power quite effectively to do great damage to our abilities to move toward sensible policies that might actual provide a prosperous and secure future for Americans. Giving credit where credit is due is normally a pleasurable task. …
I am outraged:
- As a taxpayer, that my taxes are used to support such truthiness and distortions.
- As a human being, that such deniers (Roadblock Republicans) are able to stand in the way toward moving the nation and the Globe toward a more sensible energy future.
- And, as an analyst, that such mediocrity and mendacity is allowed to be peddled as a "report" with the imprimatur of the US government and a US Senate Committee behind it.
Giving credit where credit is due is, to me, normally a quite pleasurable task in most cases. Lou Grinzo’s Inhofe Scale captures the delusional nature of the Senator from Exxon.
The Inhofe Scale will be used to measure statements (but most definitely not the speakers who make them) that exhibit a noticeable and willing detachment from reality. The scale is calibrated so that 100 equals the detachment seen in Senator Inhofe’s "greatest hoax", polar bear, and Mars quotations, seen above. Extra consideration is given to positions espoused with an excessively cavalier attitude or downright meanness, and those from people or organizations that have a obligation to get it right.
This past week, Inhofe and his sidekick Marc Morano just released another "report", recycling much of the deception from a year ago and throwing in more material to confuse and deceive, UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims Study: Half of warming due to Sun! –Sea Levels Fail to Rise? – Warming Fears in ‘Dustbin of History’.
Quite sadly, Morano knows how to manipulate the system and gain attention, with a massive spread of such malicious information just before the Christmas break on the Hill, when other members and staff simply are not around to put accurate information out on behalf of the entire committee (rather than simply deceptive truthiness and outright lies from the Minority side).
As with last year, journalists working in the blogosphere are starting the investigative journalism to discover the truth behind the reports claims. For example, Joe Romm at Climate Progress yesterday published a piece with one quoted scientist reacting strongly about how the Inhofe/Morano monstrocity not just misquoted her work, but actually represented it exactly opposite its actual conclusions. The title Joe’s piece is a pretty good summary: Scientist: “Our conclusions were misinterpreted” by Inhofe, CO2 — but not the sun — “is significantly correlated” with temperature since 1850.
From Romm’s piece,
Inhofe staffer Marc Morano not only misstated [the] results but also concluded:
Even if you try to stretch these numbers a little bit — but not unrealistically — you have to become sure that the participants of the Poznan conference are lunatics.
Yes, on the basis of misrepresenting the work of one study, Inhofe’s office calls the climate delegates “lunatics.” But the study showed the exact opposite of what Inhofe’s office said — and the climate delegates are working to stop humanity’s self-destruction, while Inhofe and Morano are trying to accelerate it. So who are the crazy ones here?
[The study author] Eichler replied to my email:
Thank you for informing us about the controversial discussion of our paper in your country. You are totally right that our conclusions were misinterpreted and we are a bit concerned about that.
Quite directly, one of the core studies that Inhofe/Morano cite as the basis for their blaring headlines claiming a debunking of the The Theory of Global Warming actual states the exact opposite of the deception that Inhofe/Morano wish to foster on the nation.
ROMM: Am I correct that your study was NOT saying human-caused emissions were NOT the major factor driving the temperature record in the past century?
EICHLER: Yes, this is correct. We did a strong differentiation between preindustrial (1250-1850) time and the last 150 years. In the preindustrial time we found a strong correlation between the solar activity proxy and our temperature, suggesting solar forcing as a main force for temperature change in this time. However, the correlation between the solar activity proxy and Altai temperature is NOT significant anymore for the last 150 years. In this time the increase in the CO2 concentrations is significantly correlated with our temperature.
The basic points that Inhofe/Morano make are factually untrue. Unlike what they claim
- Seal-level rise is accelerating, not decelerating.
- Solar activity does not explain 50 percent of global warming in recent years (whether 10, 50, or 150 years), even if it is one of many natural factors that explain a portion of the overall climate change pattern. ("solar forcing contributed negligible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100 years." NASA)
And, well, so on …
The audacity of Inhofe’s and Morano’s mendacity can be breathtaking. They seek to overwhelm with quoting large numbers of scientists, knowing that most journalists will run with "650 scientists say" without paying serious attention to who they are and whether they actually say what is suggested. There are many problems with this list, from questions about how many are actually legitimate scientists to whether they are questioning rather specific items rather than the general consensus, to (as per the above) the absolute and blatant misrepresentation of scientists’ work.
- Inhofe’s list included 413 people. (Score one Inhofe; the math helds up. Haven’t counted the 650 probably will add up.)
- 84 have either taken money from, or are connected to, fossil fuel industries, or think tanks started by those industries.
- 49 are retired
- 44 are television weathermen
- 20 are economists
- 70 have no apparent expertise in climate science
- Several supposed skeptics have publicly stated that they are very concerned about global warming, and support efforts to address it. One claims he was duped into signing the list and regrets it.
Let’s take a look at just one case from last year, documented by Andrew Dressler in January 2008:
Meteorologist George Waldenberger is on the list. In response, George sent an email to Inhofe’s staffers that began:
Take me off your list of 400 (Prominent) Scientists that dispute Man-Made Global warming claims. I’ve never made any claims that debunk the “Consensus”.
You quoted a newspaper article that’s main focus was scoring the accuracy of local weathermen. Hardly Scientific … yet I’m guessing some of your other sources pale in comparison in terms of credibility.
You also didn’t ask for my permission to use these statements. That’s not a very respectable way of doing “research”.
Yet, as Dessler notes, “he’s still on the list.”
Should it surprise anyone that Waldenberger is on the expanded list of 650?
And, well, the list goes on …
The problem is that we seem to need to go through them one by one rather than simply recognizing the totality as nothing more substantive than a Nigerian winning lottery email.
So what … Obama is about to be President … So what …
Who cares about Inhofe and Morano? After all, next month, Barack Obama will be President, Stephen Chu will soon after be Secretary of Energy, and the Democratic Party will have nearly 60 Senators. Who cares?
As was shown with the battle over helping the automotive industry survive the economic downturn, Senate Roadblock Republicans are ready to stand up and fight for destructive policies. They are ready to fight against protecting America and Americans. While they will have less power in the 111th Congress, individual Senators can have tremendous leverage over specific items.
And, there remains mass confusion amid the public about the realities of Global Warming and what actions might be required to deal with it. Official-sounding studies, calling into question basic science, will continue to create confusion and (as designed) undermine public support for necessary action. Gullible reporters and even prestigious institutions will help spread this dishonesty wrapped in official impriminateur.
Why does it matter? Because this is a complicated issue and there are people confused about it. Already, the Inhofe / Morano deception has been sent to me over 50 times with questions "what do you think?" and, from those seeking to deny reality, "HA! You’re wrong!" subject lines. Inhofe and sidekick Morano know that it is far easier to perpetuate and mass distribute deception and disinformation than it is to educate and inform people as to the real situation.
Elections should have consequences
And, as to timing, it is greatly regretful that, yet again, the Majority side of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee has allowed Inhofe / Morano to act just on the eve of the Christmas holiday without have a strong and stinging rebuke in hand. Check the Commitee’s website. Where is Senator Boxer’s and staff’s studied response to the Minority side’s dishonesty? When, if ever, will such a retort be put up?
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