How Oklahoma is doing its part to destroy mankind

Ignorance and snowballs

Before we get into the Sooner State’s role in the end of civilization, a word about social media.

For me, the best thing about it — Facebook, particularly — is “meeting” passionate, committed, intelligent people with whom I can share like-minded points of views and senses of outrage, if not an actual bagel or ballgame. One such person is John H. Richardson, former writer at Esquire, who, incidentally, was one of its jewels — along with Tom Chiarella and, of course, the soul of the place, Mark Warren — that Hearst inconceivably let walk away.

But I digress.

Back in 2015, John wrote a piece for the magazine on climate change (When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job) which was both harrowing and enlightening, unraveling the work of Jason Box, Professor in Glaciology at The Geologic Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), formerly at Ohio State, who got into some trouble for being — wait for it — honest.

As a leading climatologist who spent many years studying the Arctic at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State, Box knew that this breezy scientific detachment described one of the nightmare long-shot climate scenarios: a feedback loop where warming seas release methane that causes warming that releases more methane that causes more warming, on and on until the planet is incompatible with human life. And he knew there were similar methane releases occurring in the area. On impulse, he sent out a tweet.
“If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.”

“The problem,” John wrote, “was that Box was now working for the Danish government, and even though Denmark may be the most progressive nation in the world on climate issues, its leaders still did not take kindly to one of its scientists distressing the populace with visions of global destruction.”

It’s been two years to the day since that piece came out — do yourself a favor and read the whole thing — and as I was re-reading it this weekend, it dawned on me that Box, along with the other prominent scientists John interviewed who disagreed with Box’s doomsday assessment, even though there was no dispute over global warming and its potential devastation, had one thing in common: they all would have been fired by this man:

The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.

That’s EPA Director Scott Pruitt, from Oklahoma, where in his former corporate lap-dogging life, he was the state’s attorney general and where he did outstanding stenography work for Devon Energy.

“Outstanding!” William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt’s office. The attorney general’s staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature. “The timing of the letter is great, given our meeting this Friday with both EPA and the White House.”

So, I wrote John, told him how infuriated I was after reading his original story — and this was before Trump was elected — but now, after the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, how I was ready to punch someone in the kidneys.

He wrote back.

I hear you, brother. If you want to get more depressed, read NY mag’s climate story this week.

What? Things are worse?

They’re worse.

From The Uninhabitable Earth in New York Magazine by David Wallace-Wells

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

That’s the lede — the fucking lede.

And this is Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe about to throw a snowball on the senate floor with the rebuttal.

“God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

It gets worse. It always gets worse.

From NASA last year.

Our planet’s preliminary February temperature data are in, and it’s now abundantly clear: Global warming is going into overdrive.

So, who’s the leading candidate to head NASA in the Trump Administration?

Why this guy, of course

Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with sun output and ocean cycles.

That’s Oklahoma 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine, who’s neither a scientist, nor an engineer, but did once lose $14o-thousand running the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. TASM and NASA both have Science in their names, though, so there’s that.

Moving on.

Because Oklahoma legislators know that education is the key to differentiating fact from fairy tales, they’re going to make sure the state’s children, between 4-day school weeks and bonehead pieces of legislation like this, don’t get any.

Senate Bill 393 in Oklahoma, for example, would permit teachers to paint established science on both evolution and climate change as “controversial.”

Come for the sunsets; stay for the stupid.

Let me conclude with this

“I haven’t seen the reports that would get me to believe that anything’s different from the patterns that we had that we’ve gone through the time of records. All of our records we’ve hit in heat waves, look at them. They’re in the 1930s. Dust bowl happened way before your and I’s time. And the cycles we had, we had cold winters growing up and we’ve had mild winters growing up.”

That’s Oklahoma 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin, a plumber by trade, trying to string words together, explaining how his understanding of global warming is markedly different than your, John H. Richardson’s and I’s is.

Oklahoma, where wind, reason, common sense, textbooks, scientific integrity, the future of a generation, and the possessive pronoun come sweepin’ down the plain and into the warming ether, where they all die miserable, forgotten, preventable deaths.

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