Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) remarks on climate science and the “very radical views” of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), on the U.S. Senate floor, July 30, 2012.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, the Senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, is a friend of mine. While we have strong philosophical and political differences, we have had a very positive personal relationship since I entered the Senate 5\1/2\ years ago. I like Senator Inhofe, and on occasion, despite our political differences, we have been able to work together as members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, on which we both sit. I especially applaud the Senator for his strong efforts on the recently passed Transportation bill in which he led the effort in getting his fellow Republicans to move forward on the vitally important issue of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure–in this case, roads and bridges.
Unfortunately, Senator Inhofe has some very radical views regarding global warming. I believe he is dead wrong and dangerously wrong on this issue. Not only is he wrong, but because he is the leading Republican on the Environment Committee, his views hold great influence over other Republicans in the Senate, in the House, and across the country. Because many Republicans follow Senator Inhofe’s lead, it means we are making very little progress in Congress in combating what most of the scientific community sees is a global environmental crisis.
I am on the floor today to ask Senator Inhofe to rethink his views on this enormously important issue and to ask my Republican colleagues to do the same. I am asking them to join the overwhelming majority of scientists who have studied and written about this issue in understanding that, one, global warming is real; two, global warming is significantly caused by human activity; three, global warming is already causing massive and costly destruction to the United States and around the world, and it will only get worse in years to come.
Below is the text of Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) July 30, 2012 speech on the U.S. Senate floor denying the evident threat of manmade climate change, even as his state suffers from record drought and wildfires.
Mr. President, first of all, something my friend from Vermont said a minute ago would surprise a lot of people, and that is we are friends. It is kind of strange. People don’t understand being violently opposed to each other in this body and yet also being very close friends. My friend from Vermont has a different philosophy than I do. That is the nice thing about both the House and the Senate. We have people with different philosophies who believe in different things. Somewhere in the midst of this, the truth ultimately does come out most of the time. I think we would probably agree with that.
One thing I like about my friend from Vermont is he really believes and is willing to stand up and fight for something he believes. I am not going to suggest there are hypocrites in this body. I wouldn’t say that at all. When we look around the political scene, we see people who somehow might ingratiate a block of people who are wanting support. Maybe it is for the next election, maybe it is for a cause. That is not the case with my friend from Vermont. He believes in his heart everything he says.
Sometimes I talk to young people who come in as interns. I tell them there are varied philosophies in the Senate and in the House. We have extreme liberals who believe our country should have a greater involvement in the decisions we make. We have conservatives, like I am, who believe we have too much government in our lives as it is. It is a basic difference. But I say to them, even though I am on the conservative side, I would rather someone be a far outspoken liberal extremist than be in the mushy middle and not stand for anything. My friend from Vermont is not in the mushy middle. He stands for something.
It was not too long ago that another friend in his office, his press secretary–we are very close friends–said something, and I don’t want to misquote him. He said, My boss would like to have a copy of your book. I said, Not only will I give him a copy, but I will autograph it for him, but with one commitment, and that is he has to read it. He kept that commitment; I can tell by the things he said.
Let me go over a few things that were said, and I think it is interesting. This Dr. Richard Muller–I can’t recall too much about him, but I do know he was listed among scientists who were skeptics. For the benefit of people who may not know the terminology, I refer to an alarmist as someone who thinks there is great alarm because something is happening and the end of the world is coming because of global warming. Skeptics are those like myself who don’t believe that. He apparently has changed from being a skeptic to an alarmist. I would only say this, and that is my Web site, epw.senate.gov, shows from probably over 12 years ago a list of scientists who are calling me, making statements, and saying that the IPCC–that is the United Nations, and that is what we are talking about. The United Nations came out with a preconceived notion that they wanted to believe a preconceived conclusion. When they did this, the scientists who were included in the process were scientists who agreed with them.
Our guest blogger is Paul Thacker.
Yesterday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) gave the latest version of his global-warming-hoax speech on the U.S. Senate floor. Amid his bevy of references to anti-scientific opinionators, he cited University of Colorado political scientist Roger Pielke Jr., the son of the climate-change denying climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr., to claim that “long term . . . there is no evidence that disasters are getting worse because of climate change.”
Pielke Jr. tweeted in response: “Sounds like here Mr. Inhofe is relying on sound science, r you against that? ;-)”
Despite Pielke Jr.’s “sound science” assertion, his Inhofe-endorsed claim is false, as the eminent climate scientist Stephen Schneider described to me in 2009. Because he had no interest in a “blogging war” with the Pielkes, he didn’t publicly criticize Pielke Jr.’s mendacity.
Two years ago this month, Stephen Schneider died. He was a great man. We could all learn something from him. Over several years, he and I had several discussions by email, person, and phone about how to deal with scientists who willfully distort scientific knowledge. In part, I think these people assault the very foundation of what makes us distinct from other animals: the ability to improve on prior knowledge in science.
During one of our discussions in 2009, I forwarded Schneider a Roger Pielke Jr. claim similar to the one Inhofe cited yesterday. I asked Schneider why Roger engaged in this type of really unprofessional behavior.
Below, you can see Schneider’s reply.
—- Forwarded Message —-
From: Stephen H Schneider
To: Paul D. Thacker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:13 AM
Subject: Re: Why does Pielke continue to prevaricate?
Thanks Paul, I guess, never any fun dealing with Roger Jr. I can’t figure him out, except that one consistent pattern emerges-he is a self-aggrandizer who sets up straw men, knocks them down, and takes credit for being the honest broker to explain the mess-and in fact usually adds little new social science to his analysis. I saw him do it at AAAS four years ago and called him on it afterward and he walked off steamed when I told him he just made assertions and that good scientists show empirical evidence. He is not worth arguing about, frankly.
Moreover, note the sleazy way he said it: no peer reviewed paper showing greenhouse EMISSIONS was causing increased damages. You missed that emissions part and assumed he meant climate change-he probably wanted you to miss it. How can we know which percentage of the damages are due to Ma Earth or due to us-no way to precisely separate them except by detection and attribution studies-which do separate them but not at the scale of a locality with hazardous damages. SO it is a set up. Like saying Katrina can’t be proved related to global warming driven by humans. Of course, warming didn’t make the hurricane, but it’s passing over warmed Gulf certainly had some impact in increasing intensity, but how much of that warming was from greenhouse emissions versus other factors-impossible to say and no one would in a peer reviewed journal. So it is a cherry picked framing that he then uses in broad conclusion form and you fell for it-like most probably would!! If he said there are no papers associating observed WARMING to damages, he’d be destroyed-just see the many examples in IPCC. He is subtly saying nobody did double attribution-see the attached from Terry and me on what that is. It is typical of a trickster and a careerist-which is how I personally see him-and so do most of my colleagues these days who I have discussed it with. Please do not copy or forward this-I am uninterested in a blogging war with either him or his father-as Sr. is wont to do.
PS-On the link you gave in your email is Roger’s fifth point-note the trick:
“5. There are no peer-reviewed papers documenting a link between GHG emissions and the long-term trend in disasters.” This is a statement that nobody published a double attribution study on hazards-he’s close to being right on this trick, but not quite right if you count ecosystems as threatened-like in the attached.
Stephen H. Schneider
Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies,
Professor, Department of Biology and
Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment
Yang & Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building – MC 4205
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Ph: 650 725 9978
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The Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management auctioned a major tract of Wyoming coal to Peabody Energy at a bargain-basement price of $1.10 per ton today. The North Porcupine coal tract in the Powder River Basin went to the single bidder, Peabody subsidiary BPU Western Resources, for $793,270,310.80 for 721 million tons, BLM representative Beverly Gorny stated in a telephone interview. This sale, made under the provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, represents a massive fossil-fuel subsidy based on the assumption that the use of the coal benefits the American public. However, it is likely this coal is intended for the Asian market, where sub-bituminous coal fetches a much higher price. The non-competitive leasing program is under federal investigation.
Moreover, the costs of the carbon pollution from mining and burning this coal were not taken into consideration. The 721 million short tons of sub-bituminous coal in the lease sale will generate approximately 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide when burned. With a modest estimated social cost of carbon at $65 per ton of CO2, the global-warming impacts to society of this lease sale exceed $70 billion—90 times the price paid for the lease. More than 27,000 people signed a Credo Action petition opposing the fire sale of Wyoming’s sub-prime carbon reserves.
The lease sale still has to be approved by the BLM post-sale panel, which rejected Peabody’s original offer of $0.90 a ton for the coal.
Already under fire for his organization’s denial of climate change, Heartland Institute Joe Bast renewed his allegiance to his tobacco sponsors, Altria and Reynolds American International. “The public health community’s campaign to demonize smokers and all forms of tobacco is based on junk science,” Bast writes. His new attacks are raising the pressure on health industry companies such as Pfizer to join the exodus from the Heartland Institute.
Lugar Defeated In Primary By Richard Mourdock, Who Attacked 'Junk Science Associated with Global Climate Change Alarmism'
Clearly, Lugar is out of touch with Hoosier conservatives if he thinks that serving on the board of groups that advocate ‘cap and trade’ carbon tax schemes and the junk science associated with global climate change alarmism is prudent when he represents a state that meets the majority of its electrical needs with coal-fired generators.Following his defeat, Lugar bemoaned the extremism of the Republican Party. “Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change,” Lugar said.
Lugar did not actually have a record of supporting climate legislation. In 2008, he joined the filibuster of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.
The Smarter Safer Coalition, an effort to reform the National Flood Insurance Program by top insurers, environmental organizations including American Rivers, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, Ceres, and the Nature Conservancy, alongside conservative groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Conservative Union, and Americans for Tax Reform
The Green Scissors Campaign, an initiative to reduce anti-environmental government spending with Friends of the Earth and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
According to leaked documents, Lehrer brought about $700,000 a year into the Heartland Institute for his Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, including the majority of Heartland’s corporate funding. The insurers who announced their departure from Heartland include the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, XL Group, Renaissance Re, Allied World Assurance, and State Farm Insurance.
Corporate sponsors of the Heartland Institute who have resisted calls to end their financial support include Microsoft, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Comcast, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Heartland’s seventh climate-denier conference will take place in Chicago in two weeks.
Tim DeChristopher, the climate activist jailed by the Obama administration for disrupting a last-minute Bush administration oil auction, finds his strength by accepting the terrible reality of climate change.
In an interview recorded in May 2011 before his two-year jail term began in July of that year, DeChristopher told environmental activist and author Terry Tempest Williams that he was willing to be Bidder 70 at the Bureau of Land Management auction in Utah – willing to dedicate his life to fighting global warming through nonviolent direct action – the moment he learned that the window had already closed for humanity to avoid all of the terrible catastrophes of climate pollution:
TIM: I think part of what empowered me to take that leap and have that insecurity was that I already felt that insecurity. I didn’t know what my future was going to be. My future was already lost.
TERRY: Coming out of college?
TIM: No. Realizing how fucked we are in our future.
TERRY: In terms of climate change.
TIM: Yeah. I met Terry Root, one of the lead authors of the IPCC report, at the Stegner Symposium at the University of Utah. She presented all the IPCC data, and I went up to her afterwards and said, “That graph that you showed, with the possible emission scenarios in the twenty-first century? It looked like the best case was that carbon peaked around 2030 and started coming back down.” She said, “Yeah, that’s right.” And I said, “But didn’t the report that you guys just put out say that if we didn’t peak by 2015 and then start coming back down that we were pretty much all screwed, and we wouldn’t even recognize the planet?” And she said, “Yeah, that’s right.” And I said: “So, what am I missing? It seems like you guys are saying there’s no way we can make it.” And she said, “You’re not missing anything. There are things we could have done in the ’80s, there are some things we could have done in the ’90s—but it’s probably too late to avoid any of the worst-case scenarios that we’re talking about.” And she literally put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m sorry my generation failed yours.” That was shattering to me.
TERRY: When was this?
TIM: This was in March of 2008. And I said, “You just gave a speech to four hundred people and you didn’t say anything like that. Why aren’t you telling people this?” And she said, “Oh, I don’t want to scare people into paralysis. I feel like if I told people the truth, people would just give up.” And I talked to her a couple years later, and she’s still not telling people the truth. But with me, it did the exact opposite. Once I realized that there was no hope in any sort of normal future, there’s no hope for me to have anything my parents or grandparents would have considered a normal future—of a career and a retirement and all that stuff—I realized that I have absolutely nothing to lose by fighting back. Because it was all going to be lost anyway.
DeChristopher also discussed a 2008 speech by Naomi Klein that noted that Barack Obama’s goals for climate change were centrist, that “even his pie-in-the-sky campaign promises were not enough.” “And so if the center is not good enough for our survival,” Klein argued, “and if Obama is a centrist, and will always be a centrist, then our job is to move the center.” So DeChristopher realized that “you have to go to the edge and push” :
I mean, with climate change, the center is this balancing point between the climate scientists on one side saying, “This is what needs to be done,” and ExxonMobil on the other. And so the center is always going to be less than what’s required for our survival.
Countless lives were saved this weekend by vigilant government officials who warned of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska—states whose politics are dominated by anti-government, anti-science ideologues. Over 100 tornadoes struck down in 24 hours, but only six people died in Oklahoma, Sen. Jim Inhofe’s home state, thanks to warnings from the National Weather Service scientists he has worked to discredit:
The tornadoes were unrelenting – more than 100 in 24 hours over a stretch of the Plains states. They tossed vehicles and ripped through homes. They drove families to their basements and whipped debris across small towns throughout the Midwest. In some areas, baseball-size hail rained from the sky.
And yet, in a stroke that some officials have attributed to a more vigilant and persistent warning system, relatively few people were killed or injured.
Wichita, Kansas, the headquarters of Koch Industries, suffered $280 million in damage from a ferocious twister, but the “ever-increasing government” demonized by the Koch brothers prevented any loss of life.Greenhouse pollution from the fossil fuel industries that control the region’s politics is making our weather more extreme and dangerous. The heat trapped by carbon pollution is powering these earlier and more intense storms with record-warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As Dr. Jeff Masters wrote on Friday:
This is the warmest March value on record for the Gulf of Mexico, going back over a century of record keeping. During the first two weeks of April, Gulf of Mexico waters remained about 1.5°C above average, putting April on pace to have the warmest April water temperatures on record. Only one year in the past century has had April water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico more than 1.1°C above average; that year was 2002 (1.4°C above average.) All that record-warm water is capable of putting record amounts of water vapor into the air, since evaporation increases when water is warmer. Because moist air is less dense than dry air, this warm, moist air flowing northwards from the Gulf of Mexico into the developing storm system over the Plains will be highly unstable once it encounters cold, dry air aloft. The record-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a key reason for the high risk of severe weather over the Plains this weekend.
The League of Women Voters has launched a major, nationwide campaign in defense of the EPA’s work to give Americans clean air. The People Not Polluters campaign asks Americans and their elected officials to join the Clean Air Promise:
I promise to protect America’s children and families from dangerous air pollution. Because toxics and pollutants such as mercury, smog, carbon, and soot, cause thousands of hospital visits, asthma attacks, and even deaths, I will support clean air policies and other protections that scientists and public health experts have recommended to the EPA to safeguard our air quality.
Watch the campaign spot:
LWV is mobilizing its members to tell personal stories of the cost of asthma for children and families, including outreach to vulnerable populations like seniors, Latinos, and African Americans.