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God, Climate Change, and James Inhofe

J. Mijin Cha

Oklahoma is suffering through an extended heat wave with temperatures topping 100 degrees or more every day since July 18th. The heat is so bad that it’s starting to melt street lamps in Stillwater. As the state suffers from extreme heat, its senior senator remains one of the leading climate deniers. Senator James Inhofe recently wrote, The Great Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens your Future, where he argues that  his climate denying is biblically inspired because only God can change the climate. The problem, of course, is how to use facts to argue with faith?

Senator Bernie Sanders directly took on this challenge on the floor of the senate and specifically called out Inhofe’s false statements. Sanders whole speech is worth reading but a few highlights include refuting the claim that the “real scientists” say global warming is a hoax, showing that the planet is not cooling, but instead, there is a real warming trend, and pointing out the savings to be generated by cutting emissions. Sanders also stated the real problem with Inhofe's statements: When Inhofe spreads these myths, the Republican party listens and then nothing gets done in Congress.

In fact, this is a pattern we have seen over and over. Congress seems incapable of passing any kind of meaningful climate bill, and worse, is doing its best to dismantle the few programs that encourage renewable energy development. At the same time, scientific studies have proven that climate change makes extreme weather, including extreme heat, far more likely. The nation is swamped in oppressive heat waves, record-breaking wildfires, and extreme drought. Decision-makers are pushing extreme energy, like fracking and tar sands, which will all increase greenhouse gas emissions, instead of investing in renewable energy and a clean economy.

We’ve talked about the challenges and difficulty of climate messaging before and it is a difficult to try to use facts and rational thinking to combat emotions and faith. But,the fact remains that investing in renewable energy, promoting energy conservation, and taking other steps to limit our greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to stop the worst impacts of climate change from occurring. By saying that God is the only one that can change the climate, Inhofe is deliberating dismissing the ability of humans to make any impact- and that is dead wrong. There are many things we can do, we just have to make our policymakers do them.