If that caption is confusing, you must consider the source. It comes from a variety of comments by Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma. In an effort to try to understand why climate change and global warming are having such a difficult time penetrating the mind-set of our politicians, I have just read Inhofe’s book, "The Greatest Hoax — How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens your Future (WND Books 2012.)" Before getting into the book with you, I need to make a confession. I try and remain objective when I read something, even if I disagree with its content. In this case I admit that I came to Inhofe’s volume with a clear prejudice. I believe that more than any other person, he bears the responsibility for our failure to move politically on the global warming crisis.
Somewhere deeply buried in Catholic theology is the term, “Invincible Ignorance.” Forgiveness is offered to someone who is simply unable to see the truth, or has never been confronted by it. If they are horribly mistaken through no fault of their own, and just cannot deal with reality, there is provided a bit of wiggle room. Giving him the benefit of doubt, Inhofe may not be evil, but only suffering from invincible ignorance.
The book is a diatribe directed first of all at the world’s scientists, who preponderantly believe that climate change presents the likelihood of a coming worldwide catastrophe. Together with natural atmospheric temperature variations, the major culprit is the burning of fossil fuels, putting millions of tons of CO2 into the air. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is made up of the major scientific minds from over 100 nations, comes in for special ridicule. This UN sponsored body is seen as tool of the small nations which demand that the major polluters seriously admit that they are substantially part of the problem. Equal guilt is assigned to Al Gore with his film and book, An Inconvenient Truth. Special condemnation is given to his once proposed Cap and Trade legislation, which would only marginally reduce the problem.
It becomes clearer in page after page that the reason why for Inhofe any attack on climate change and global warming is disastrous, is their deleterious effect on the economy. Even looking at the scientific evidence is bad for business, and nothing bad for business has any place in the public square. To take the scientific evidence seriously, he claims, would strike a body blow at American industry, our lucrative way of life and our tax structure.
So much for the body of the book — which consumes only the first half of this limited volume. The last half — the Appendices –is given over to a series of puff pieces praising Inhofe, and written by him, coupled with additional attacks on The United Nations and all things liberal.
What makes Inhofe dangerous is the position he holds in the US Senate. With the coming of the new Congress, he again became chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. This means that he rides astride any legislative initiative geared even to think about the issue. The chair of a Senate committee is perfectly placed to block legislation he opposes, as well to advance bills which follow his /her political presuppositions. The chair can refuse to consider any bill, to hold hearings on it, or mark it up. A committee chair can refuse to consider any evidence contrary to his/her stated position. That is the end of the matter. No single majority Senator or group of them would dare try and go around the power of a chair, and no minority Senator has a vehicle for doing so. As long as Inhofe holds the position he does, any concern about climate change is dead, no matter how great a threat it is to human life.
As things grow increasingly desperate, not even someone as wrong as James Inhofe must finally be allowed to prevail. But it would take a popular uprising in Oklahoma politics to bring that result about. That might just happen someday, but by then it might be too late. There are those who believe it is already too late, and the cataclysm is unavoidable.