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An embarrassment of a senator


Robin Meyers October 3rd, 2012

Is it any wonder that Oklahoma students rank near the bottom of the country in math and science scores? Consider U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who teaches them by example that if someone pays you enough money, you too can ignore the evidence and act like a fool.

Traveling around the county I hear two things about Oklahoma: “Love the Thunder” and “Who is that idiot who thinks global climate change is a myth?”

What would it take to change his mind? Some 26,000 heat records broken this year, epic droughts and deadly wildfires? Or perhaps that dramatic photograph from space recently published in The New York Times showing that 40 percent of the Arctic ice shelf has disappeared since 1979? No doubt he would say, “What else would you expect from a liberal rag like the Times?”

Inhofe is the top congressional recipient of oil and coal industry money. The Koch brothers tell him what to think by purchasing the rights to his mind. In a rare moment of candor, Inhofe once confessed on The Rachel Maddow Show that he first thought global climate change was true — until, that is, he found out what it would cost to fix it. Pay attention, students. Public service can turn you into an industry pimp.

All of this might sound like just another example of why Mark Twain said that there is “no native American criminal class except Congress.” But the stakes are too high now, and Inhofe has found ways to block important legislation on climate change in Congress. This is where my 2-year old granddaughter comes in. She deserves better. Oklahoma deserves better. Why do so many voters in this state continue to act as if there is something endearing about ignorance?

In his new book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, Inhofe claims that his position is biblically based, because only God can change the climate and to think otherwise is human arrogance. Condemning arrogance is a bold move from someone whose family built an igloo near the Capitol to mock Al Gore.

On the Senate floor, he quipped that such a cold day made it hard to believe in global warming. What does that say about us, that Oklahomans continue to elect as our senior senator a man who doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate?

If we want the next generation of Oklahomans to be as smart as the times require, and as bold as the challenges they face, then we need to stop lying to them. Cutting taxes and shrinking government is not the answer to every problem, and the unfettered marketplace cannot solve all the problems of life.

The scientific evidence is overwhelming that, because of the burning of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas effect, we are living in the midst of catastrophic global climate change. It threatens all life on the planet and yet we continue to elect people like Jim Inhofe to tell us what we want to hear, instead of what we need to hear.

Can’t we do better than this?

Shouldn’t we do better than this? Our kids are watching.


Meyers is senior minister of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, and professor of rhetoric at Oklahoma City University.


Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

 
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10.03.2012 at 11:37 Reply

Inhofe isn't gonna be around long enough to be proven wrong on climate change/global warming, so in his mind he's right, and will never be proven wrong.  After all he's 77 years old; that guy's number is gonna come up sometime soon.

If he were in his 30's, he might have a more proactive tact regarding the environment, but I really think he just doesn't care about the next generation.

 

 
 
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