NY Times understated Inhofe's views on global warming

In an article discussing potentially competitive 2008 Senate elections, The New York Times understated Sen. James Infohe's views on global warming, reporting that Inhofe “has said that its effects are exaggerated.” In fact, Inhofe has repeatedly referred to global warming as the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and reportedly compared Al Gore's global warming documentary to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

A March 7 New York Times article discussing potentially competitive 2008 Senate elections understated Sen. James Inhofe's (R-OK) views on global warming, reporting that Inhofe “has said that its effects are exaggerated.” In fact, Inhofe has repeatedly referred to global warming as the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and reportedly compared former Vice President Al Gore's global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics, May 2006), to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Indeed, in a January 6, 2007, editorial, the Times referred to Inhofe as “the Oklahoma Republican who regards global warming as an elaborate hoax drummed up by environmentalists and scientists in search of money.”

In a "Synthesis Report," the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated:

There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.6

Most of the observed increase in globally-averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gases] concentrations.7 It is likely there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctica).

The authors of the IPCC report stated that the phrase “very high confidence” translates to an “at least 9 out of 10” chance of being correct, and “very likely” translates to greater than 90 percent probability.

Inhofe on global warming

In an October 9, 2007, press release, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) announced that Inhofe is number one on its 2008 “Dirty Dozen” list of legislators it is targeting for defeat in November. LCV senior vice president Tony Massaro was quoted as saying in the release, “Our future will be significantly impacted by how we work to fight global warming, yet Senator Jim Inhofe won't even acknowledge that global warming exists.” Massaro added: “During his tenure in Congress, Senator Inhofe has made it his mission to vote against commonsense solutions to global warming and our nation's energy challenges, earning an abysmal 5 percent lifetime LCV voting score and a place on our 'Dirty Dozen' list.”

Indeed, in a July 28, 2003, statement on the Senate floor, Inhofe, then chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, asserted that he had learned five things from the scientists and economists he talked to about global warming, including that “the claim that global warming is caused by manmade emissions is simply untrue and not based on sound science” and that “CO2 does not cause catastrophic disasters. Actually, it would be beneficial to our environment and the economy.” Inhofe continued:

INHOFE: With all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? I believe it is.

And if we allow these detractors of everything that has made America great, those ranging from the liberal Hollywood elitists to those who are in it for the money, if we allow them to destroy the foundation, the greatness of the most highly industrialized nation in the history of the world, then we don't deserve to live in this one nation under God. So I say to the real people: Wake up, make your voice heard. My 11 grandchildren and yours are depending on you.

In a January 4, 2005, floor speech, Inhofe reiterated:

INHOFE: As I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, “much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science.” I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” a statement that, to put it mildly, was not viewed kindly by environmental extremists and their elitist organizations. I also pointed out, in a lengthy committee report, that those same environmental extremists exploit the issue for fundraising purposes, raking in millions of dollars, even using federal taxpayer dollars to finance their campaigns.

As the blog Think Progress noted, on the July 20, 2006, edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, Inhofe claimed that “all of the recent science ... confirms that I was right on this thing. This thing is a hoax.” Also, during an interview on the November 28, 2006, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Inhofe asserted that there is no “relationship between manmade gases and global warming.” Inhofe has also falsely claimed that "[i]t was warmer in the '30s than it is today" and baselessly asserted that “it was warmer in the 15th century than it is today.”

Inhofe on the “big lie” of global warming

Further, Inhofe has reportedly compared those who believe that global warming is a manmade problem with the Nazis. In a July 14, 2006, article, The Albuquerque Tribune reported:

[Sen. Pete] Domenici [R-NM] said he's not interested. But if Domenici is indifferent, Sen. James Inhofe is downright hostile Inhofe is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has authority over the environmental areas not covered by Domenici's committee.

The Oklahoma Republican compares “An Inconvenient Truth,” which he doesn't plan to see, to Adolf Hitler's book “Mein Kampf.”

“If you say the same lie over and over again, and particularly if you have the media's support, people will believe it,” Inhofe said.

Similarly, as Think Progress noted, in a July 22, 2006, article, the Tulsa World reported:

Indeed, Inhofe insists that he feels even stronger about taking on what he sees as the current hysteria about global warming than he did several years ago when he first uttered that now-famous hoax statement.

In an interview, he heaped criticism on what he saw as the strategy used by those on the other side of the debate and offered a historical comparison.

“It kind of reminds ... I could use the Third Reich, the big lie,” Inhofe said.

“You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that's their strategy.”

Inhofe's committee

During his tenure as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Inhofe repeatedly called people who shared his views on global warming to testify at Senate hearings. In a December 7, 2006, article, the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

The views of the witnesses at Wednesday's hearing held few surprises. Two of the witnesses, David Deming, a University of Oklahoma geophysicist, and Dan Gainor of the Business and Media Institute, have written opinion columns praising Inhofe's skepticism on global warming. A third witness, paleoclimate researcher Bob Carter of Australia's James Cook University, has penned scathing critiques of Europe's efforts to curb greenhouse gases.

The views of witnesses picked by the minority side were just as predictable. Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at UC San Diego, is the author of a study that found there is almost unanimous consensus among scientists that humans are the primary cause of rising temperatures. Another witness, Daniel Schrag, a geochemistry professor at Harvard University, has published research suggesting that rising carbon dioxide levels are contributing to hurricanes and more severe weather.

Similarly, an August 5, 2003, New York Times article reported that “Inhofe convened a hearing on Tuesday that focused on the work of the small core of researchers who insist that there is no evidence for human-caused warming of any import."

Inhofe and the Republican staff of his committee have also produced several reports supporting his position on global warming:

  • In a January 30 report titled "Polar Bear Extinction Fears Debunked," the minority staff of the committee claimed that "[s]cientists and recent studies cast doubt on man-made melting of Arctic."
  • In a September 2004 report to Inhofe titled "Political Activity of Environmental Groups and their Supporting Foundations," the majority staff asserted that "[t]oday's environmental groups are simply political machines reporting millions in contributions and expenditures each year for the purpose of raising more money to pursue their agenda." The report noted that several of the organizations cited curbing global warming as one of their priorities.
  • In a report titled "The Facts and Science of Climate Change," Inhofe expanded upon his July 2003 Senate floor speech, concluding: “With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it.”

From the March 7 Times article:

In Oklahoma, environmental groups are raising money to support Andrew Rice, a young state senator hoping to use Senator James M. Inhofe's views on global warming -- he has said that its effects are exaggerated -- to galvanize voters and deny Mr. Inhofe a fourth term.

Among those sending Mr. Rice money was Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar, an advocacy group in California.

“When you look at what's happening in Congress right now, the magic number is not 51, it's actually 60,” Mr. Browning said. “There has been a bunch of very important legislation from an environmental perspective that Republicans have successfully filibustered.”

In an interview, Mr. Rice said: “What I find among swing voters statewide is it's time for change. Inhofe has been in there too long. They really don't care whether I am a Democrat or a Republican.”

Republicans say Mr. Inhofe, 73, is a sure thing.