While Moscow bakes in record temperatures and Muscovites die off in record numbers from carbon monoxide released in massive forest fires, it is time to give some recognition to those people who helped bring this about. I’m talking about the global warming deniers, the ones who insist ”nothing is going on here and we should all go back to business as usual.”. In this crowd a few people stand out for egregious and willfully dangerous ignorance, and I want to nominate two who deserve special treatment. I think these two merit something really long lasting named after them, and since global warming has the potential to wreak damage lasting for millennia, we have some interesting titles to hand out.
Let’s start with one of the great deniers of all:
Sen. James Mountain Inhofe
Republican Sen. Inhofe is the most prominent and vocal global denier in the Congress. He has made it a matter of campaign pride to denounce global warming scientists, and he has used his position as a U.S. senator to block meaningful legislation dealing with global warming. In a Senate speech, he proclaimed: “I have offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax. That conclusion is supported by the painstaking work of the nation’s top climate scientists.” None of the scientists he has named as part of his compelling evidence enjoys even a moderately respectable reputation within the scientific community, and some of them have since distanced themselves from the Inhofe campaign of denial.
Inhofe has said that global warming is “the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state.” He has described the US Environmental Protection Agency as ”œthe Gestapo”, and accused its head of being a traitor to the US. He has opposed any bills that would fund global warming research, but he has been eager to use his influence as a senior Republican senator to attack anyone who fosters ”œthe Big Lie”, as he calls it. This March he called for criminal investigations of 17 American and British scientists caught up in a phony controversy over climate study data manipulation.
A man who touts his ignorance of any and all environmental matters deserves a testimony to his monumental stupidity and blindness to reality. I suggest those scientists studying the mass extinction of species that appears to be underway band together and agree to refer to this event as the Inhofe Mass Extinction. The last mass extinction on the planet occurred 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs were wiped out. The current mass extinction is happening even faster, according to a survey of 400 leading biologists commissioned by the American Museum of Natural History. Already at least 10% of plant species are on the verge of extinction, and within 30 years these scientists estimated one-fifth of all living things will disappear from the earth. The devastation caused by overheating of the oceans and a change in oceanic salinity has already contributed enormous stress on many fish species, especially those whose numbers have declined by 90% or more due to over-fishing. Dr. Richard Leakey calls this the ”œSixth Extinction”, following the previous five mass extinctions in earth’s 4 billions years of history. The difference is this mass extinction is entirely man-made, due to global warming, pollution, excessive harvesting of food species, habitat loss, and a general inability by humans to do anything about the problem. One reason for this is that people like James Inhofe go beyond denial and traffic in junk science, belligerent attacks on honest scientists, and consistent attempts to confuse the public. How fitting, then, it would be to memorialize Sen. Inhofe with the Inhofe Mass Extinction appellation. This is a man who should go to his grave knowing for however long humans will continue to exist on this planet, his name will be associated with one of the most catastrophic events to occur on earth.
Lee R. Raymond
Lee Raymond likes to go about his work quietly. For 12 years as Exxon/Mobil’s CEO he kept his name and face out of the news, and not many people had ever heard of him until he retired with a generous pension plan worth $400 million. Even then, his role in the global warming ”œdebate” was unknown until a few years ago, when Exxon/Mobil confirmed reports indicating that for at least twenty years the company secretly funded over 40 think tanks, private scientists, and research foundations to produce reports denying global warming or any linkage of fossil fuels to carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere.
There were, in fact, hardly any scientific deniers of global warming who did not receive funding from Exxon/Mobil, which spent millions every year quietly fostering in the public mind a ”œdebate” among scientists as to what was going on with the climate. The goal was not simply to debunk global warming, but to confuse the public. As Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, put it, once the public believes science is united in agreement on global warming, the game is over. Republicans were urged by Luntz to talk about ”œclimate change” rather than global warming, and ”“ surprise, surprise! ”“ Luntz received payments from Exxon/Mobil for his work. Many of the 40 organizations receiving annual payments from Exxon/Mobil were set up by Exxon/Mobil for the purpose of attacking global warming, and most of these organizations received almost the entirety of their funding from the oil company.
Since retiring from Exxon/Mobil, Raymond sits on the corporate boards of several prominent organizations, like JP Morgan Chase, and he is also Vice Chairman of the American Enterprise Institute, the leading right-wing think tank that consistently tries to prove scientists are of mixed opinion on global warming. His malign influence at Exxon/Mobil continues to this day; the company admitted that in 2009 it was still funding many of the global warming think tanks it has supported for over twenty years.
As we have no particular name associated with the greenhouse effect that is a consequence of global warming, I suggest scientists honor Lee Raymond by hereafter calling it the Raymond Greenhouse Effect. After all, who on this planet has contributed more to carbon dioxide buildup than Lee Raymond, not merely as the CEO of the biggest oil producer in the world, but especially as an insidious source of propaganda from the ”œother side” of the debate. Lee Raymond took away 20 years of precious time when scientists and politicians could have been working together, taking global warming seriously, and creating serious solutions when they might have mattered. Instead we seem destined now to activate the trip wire that moves the earth’s climate to dramatically higher and drier levels, for the next 100,000 years or more. Thank you Lee Raymond. For all your efforts to operate in secrecy, how appropriate it will be for those who follow us to know of you and your contribution to the Raymond Greenhouse Effect..
Can you think of any more truly evil people who have actively fostered global warming for their own stupid or greedy reasons? What is the best way to reward them with an eternity of shame?