Last Thursday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told “a conference of global warming skeptics” at the Heartland Institute “that the fight against climate change is really about global control with little accountability.” Inhofe, the chair of the Senate environment and public works committee, is probably Congress’s most well-known climate change denier. He has claimed that human-caused climate change is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Earlier this year, Inhofe attempted to debunk the fact that climate change is real by throwing a snowball on the Senate floor.
Timothy Cama (The Hill)
The Heartland Institute, along with the Heritage Foundation, gave Inhofe the Political Leadership on Climate Change Award for his work against environmental policies.
In presenting the award, Jim DeMint, a former Republican senator and now president of Heritage, said Inhofe “has championed an ethic of rational conversation and conservatism that we must preserve our environment for the sake of people, not hurt them by entertaining ill-conceived doomsday prophecies which are neither honest nor scientific.”
Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian reported that Inhofe “took a star turn…at the Heartland Institute, whose conferences function as a hub for climate deniers.” In his acceptance speech, which opened the annual convention, Inhofe praised the institute’s members, saying they “are on the right side of the Lord on all of these things,” and God “will richly bless you for it.” Inhofe also suggested that Pope Francis should refrain from sharing his thoughts on the subject of climate change.
The senator, in the company of friends and fellow disbelievers, handed out a page of 12 talking points for those confronted by evidence of climate change. He urged Heartland activists to go out and fight against what he called “the myth of global warming”.
He stood by his claim that climate change was a hoax, he told reporters later, even though it is not. The pope could do little to change his mind, he said – although the Catholic leader’s position on climate science certainly seemed to be a sensitive point for Inhofe.
“Everyone is going to ride the pope now. Isn’t that wonderful,” he said. “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours.”
Goldenberg added that Inhofe also said: “I am not going to talk about the pope. Let him run his shop, and we’ll run ours.”
According to Cama, Inhofe distributed the handouts to attendees to “help them rebut many of the arguments for why climate change is real and caused by humans, a position that 97 percent of climate scientists agree on.” Inhofe said, “These are old arguments that have been refuted over and over again…pointing specifically to arguments that ice in Antarctica is retreating and that the polar bear population is declining.”
Goldenberg noted that over the course of his political career, the oil industry has donated more than $2 million to Inhofe’s campaigns. She added that the Oklahoma senator reprised the snowball stunt “with an image repeating over and over on the screen behind him.”
Back at the hotel full of deniers, Inhofe – after essentially telling the pope to butt out of his business – could not resist trespassing on that of the Vatican. Calling on those at the Heartland Institute to fan out and fight the Environmental Protection Agency rules for carbon pollution on power plants, due to be finalised this summer, and other environmental measures, he said: “If we do it as a team you will be doing the lord’s work, and he will eventually bless you for it. Amen.”
It appears as if Inhofe is trying to get out there ahead of the Catholic pontiff on the subject of climate change. The pope is expected to release “an unprecedented encyclical on the subject of the environment” later his week. John Vidal of The Guardian said, “Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality in a letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Thursday.” Vidal added that Pope Francis “is expected to argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds.” Vidal continued by saying that the “much-anticipated message, which will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops, will be published online in five languages on Thursday and is expected to be the most radical statement yet from the outspoken pontiff.”
Vidal said that the encyclical “is certain to anger sections of Republican opinion in America by endorsing the warnings of climate scientists and admonishing rich elites…” He added that the pope “is expected to repeat calls for a change in attitudes to poverty and nature.”
Last year, the pontiff told a meeting of social movements, “An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it…I think a question that we are not asking ourselves is: isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature? Safeguard creation because, if we destroy it, it will destroy us. Never forget this.”
I’m with the pope on this one. How about you?
Jim Inhofe Says The Pope Shouldn’t Talk About Climate Change (Huffington Post)
FURTHER READING (FLOWERS FOR SOCRATES)
Will Climate Change Denier James Inhofe Become Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee When Republicans Take Over the Senate in January? (With a Colbert Report “I’m Not a Scientist” Climate-Change Deniers Video)