Saturday, September 30, 2006

Just who is James Inhofe?

Having read Rob's post here outlining US Senator James Inhofe's skepticism of climate change, I wondered what sort of person undertakes such an incredibly selective review of the climate change literature, and for what reasons? A quick bit of research provided some remarkably predictable conclusions.

Firstly, it is clear that Inhofe revels in being a 'contrarian' in a number of fields, not just climate science. In August this year, for instance, he caused widespread bemusement by describing the situation in Iraq as 'nothing short of a miracle'. But it also became clear that Inhofe is not universally popular. A Google search quickly revealed a number of articles in which the Senator for Oklahoma is variously described as 'the joke from Oke', a 'dangerous neocon', a 'right wing extremist' and, rather amusingly, 'one of the dumbest members of Congress'. A picture was starting to emerge. However, most revealing is the list of industries who support Inhofe with donations. Anyone who has read the various ways in which Exxon and others support the climate change skeptics (see here) will not be surprised to see which industry is in number one spot. You guessed it, Oil and Gas (the full list is here). In fact, since 1989, the Oil and Gas industry has supported Inhofe to the tune of $850,000. Remarkable. Furthermore, much of the research to which Inhofe refers emanates from the 'think tanks' and institutions which are themselves propped up by Exxon and others.

For those who are interested, the RealClimate website provides a mainstream scientific response to one of Inhofe's earlier climate change speeches. Since there was little new in his latest speech, this link addresses many of Inhofe's recent misleading assertions.

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