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The Greatest Hoax
How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future
by Senator James Inhofe
(Click for Amazon book review)
Sen. Inhofe believes that global warming is a hoax. And Inhofe chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, so his opinion on this topic matters. Accordingly, he was dubbed "The Most Dangerous Man on the Planet" (the title of Chapter Two, which he repeats proudly throughout the book).
Inhofe lays out a complete critique of each scientific point in the global warming debate, by analyzing its politics as well as its science. To summarize, Inhofe claims that global warming science is driven by the desire of its advocates to use an international global warming regime (such as that envisioned by the Kyoto Protocol) to restrict worldwide CO2 emissions, which would override U.S. sovereignty on this issue. The "hoax," according to Inhofe, is that the purpose of global warming advocacy is the international control regime; the concern over global warming is just the means to establish the international regime.
Inhofe gets into the science too -- but mostly he focuses on the politics behind it. In particular, Inhofe claims that the IPCC -- the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the definitive consensus report on global warming -- is politically motivated -- he notes that the IPCC "was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007; it obviously did not win a Nobel science prize" (p. 135). Inhofe's gripe with the IPCC is that the EPA and other policymakers use the political part of the IPCC document -- called the "Summary for Policymakers" -- rather than its scientific parts. Inhofe disagrees with both the politics AND the science -- and he outlines in this book what have become the standard talking points against global warming, from both a scientific and political perspective:
I'd better expose my bias at this point: I hold a Master's degree in Environmental Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, as well as a General Science degree from Brandeis University. I do believe in global warming -- it was the focus of my education -- and I believe it because I have studied the science. Inhofe's scientific rebuttals in this book are thin -- many critics try to argue with Inhofe on that point, and lose, because Inhofe is not trying to win the argument on science. Inhofe's political rebuttals in this book are NOT thin -- he avoids the science because he is not a scientist; and he takes on the politics because he is a politician. Inhofe gets the politics right: as a global warming advocate, I DO believe that an international control regime should override U.S. sovereignty on this issue.
But Inhofe's critical missing component is a mis-analysis of global warming advocate's motivation. We do not want an international carbon control regime for the sake of an international carbon control regime -- nor because we are socialistic, nor because we don't believe in U.S. sovereignty. We want carbon control because we believe that global warming is a serious danger to the future of humanity, and we want an international regime because many senators, led by Inhofe, have successfully blocked the U.S. from taking sovereign action. Many countries DID implement the Kyoto Protocol even without the U.S., but the U.S., as the world's largest industrial-country carbon emitter, is needed for the implementation to be effective. Those countries want the U.S. to comply -- and we global warming advocate want the U.S. to comply -- because the U.S.'s current actions will damage the rest of the world.
Inhofe does not believe that global warming advocates like me are sincere in our beliefs. And that is a core concept of hyper-partisanship: neither side believes that the other side is sincere, and hence there is no room for deal-making nor compromise. The problem in the global warming debate has become the hyper-partisanship, not the science. Before the mid-1990s, when partisanship was lower, global warming advocates came up with a compromise with Pres. George H. W. Bush: use the free market to reduce pollution, both for acid rain (SO2) and for global warming (CO2). Bush Sr. used the term "tradable emission permits" for this plan, and the U.S. implemented SO2 emission permits to reduce acid rain. The program worked, as Inhofe readily acknowledges on p. 51. Unlike SO2 emission permits, to deal with localized SO2 pollution and acid rain, CO2 emission permits require international action because the effects are global. The concept of CO2 emission permits was accepted internationally at the 1992 Rio Summit (which I attended with many NGOs).
So what happened? CO2 emission permits got relabeled as "cap-and-trade" and became a partisan target. If not for the growing partisanship, I suspect Pres. Bush or Pres. Clinton would have implemented in the 1990s many of the "No Regrets" policies from the 1992 Rio Summit -- real research on alternative energy sources; assisting developing countries with clean-burning technology; investment in mass transit. But the hyper-partisanship which began in the mid-1990s politicized global warming, as Inhofe has done. This book serves as a warning -- not as a warning about global warming hoaxes, as Inhofe wants it to be -- but as a warning against hyper-partisanship's result of politics overruling science.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, February 2014
How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future
by Senator James Inhofe.
Page last edited: Jul 26, 2015