Senator Inhofe and the difference between science and point-of-view

Fri, 2007-08-03 11:26Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Senator Inhofe and the difference between science and point-of-view

Here's the wiki definition of science, its about as clear as any I've ever seen:

“Science (from the Latin scientia, 'knowledge') is a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as the organized body of knowledge gained through such research.[1][2]”

Someone should send this to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

As most regular DeSmogBlog readers know, Inhofe is a well-known member of the global warming denial movement. Inhofe has gone so far as to claim that global warming “alarmism” is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.

Check out this recent review of a speech Inhofe gave at the National Conservative Student Conference.

According to the review, Inhofe makes the following claims to defend his position on global warming:

“the ground of the climate change debate is starting to shift their way, giving their views more exposure and effect.”

“… referred to a letter 60 prominent scientists sent to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, in which they claimed the Kyoto Protocol of the 1990s was a regulatory measure written out of ignorance and which is now unnecessary based on modern scientific discoveries.”

“…he himself used to tow the global warming line until a few years ago, he said, when he began researching the Kyoto Protocol and its potential economic effects.”

“… too many scientists disagree with the claims that man-induced CO2 emissions are primarily responsible for the phenomenon and that the results are going to be catastrophic.”

“… attributed what he calls the “myth” of global warming to an ulterior power-driven motive.”

We've all heard these claims by Inhofe a hundred times over and they're also the typical arguments made by others in the global warming denial industry.

You'll notice though that nowhere is there a mention of real science. Inhofe's proof lies entirely in the realm of viewpoints, opinion and rhetoric. Look at the first statement: “the ground of the climate change debate is starting to shift their way, giving their views more exposure and effect.”

Inhofe portrays the “debate” around climate change as something that can be shifted towards a particular group's way. Such a shift, Inhofe argues, provides like-minded individuals with more “exposure and effect.” Inhofe's spin-doctor, Marc “swift boat” Morano, then touts a letter by 60 prominent scientists sent to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen as proof that the human-induced theory of climate change is incorrect

This is not science, and this is the problem that science is struggling with today, especially in the United States. Science, in the eyes of Inhofe and many others, is just another viewpoint that can be manipulated, swayed, proven or disproved based on things such as letters or opinion.

Science is a “debate,” but that “debate” does not occur between two pundits on television, neither does it occur between congressmen on opposing sides of the house or in senate committee hearings. This type of “debate” does not acquire knowledge as science does, it merely debates the knowledge we've already acquired.

The “debate” in science (including climate science) occurs in the pages of peer-reviewed scientific journals where the hard work and years of dedicated research by scientists is put to the scrutiny of other scientists, published and then challenged through further research.

This is where new knowledge is acquired.

And as far as the peer-reviewed literature and the research on climate change (the acquired knowledge) it points to something that for various (most unknown) reasons, Inhofe is opposed to. Simple logic would state that a petition, viewpoint or opinion would be wholly inadequate as a means of refuting a scientific conclusion grounded in the scientific method, and standing the test of challenges by alternative hypotheses. And it is.

Unfortunately, Inhofe doesn't and probably never will accept the very simple, very straightforward difference between the two.

Previous Comments

Excellent commentary, though I would say he is playing the typical political game. Not overly shocking, politicians arent known for being overly honest as they seek to remain in power or get into it.

I also liked the analysis, and I think parsing Inhofe’s words is informative. But we shouldn’t follow that path too far because there will always be people who are too unskilled at language or just too plain nuts to represent the majority of any group (even the AGW science denial industry). I don’t feel like I’ve made much of a point, so I’m including this url (more about hoaxes and conspiracy theories!):

http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/08/03/superior.puzzle.ap/index.html

I’m trying out different arguments for”debunking” these guys. Notice I didn’t even mention that Inhofe (R-Exxon) receives the most funding from the oil and gas sector out of all senators. 

I still find myself in a state of shock that this guy is still the highest ranking GOP on the EPW committee. 

There must be something in the water in Oklahoma – or maybe it’s the toxic fumes from all the oil and natural gas they drill in that state – that explains why people there keep voting for nutcases to the US Senate. Forget about Inhofe, who’s totally clueless about the environment.

Consider his seatmate from the state, Tom Coburn; who a couple months back tried to filibuster the Senate from passing a resolution honouring the 100th birthday of Rachel Carson. And ten years ago, he tried to get NBC-TV’s FCC license cancelled because the network aired uncensored Schindler’s List, which Coburn said was pornographic. Seriously.

There are environmentalists in Oklahoma, the most ecologically diverse state in America (11 different terrains, according to the US Land Survey) – they just don’t have the muscle to outvote the whackos, yet.

I wish someone would expose Inholfe properly. I cant believe as a fairly intelligent man that he believes this. Its insane.

Is there any proof that Inhofe once “toed the line” and believed there is climate change from pollution?

I’d be interested in seeing any quotations or reports from those green-grass days.

[x]

In less than a decade, climate change-induced sea level rise could force thousands of people to migrate from some small island developing states (SIDS), according to the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.

The world’s 52 small island developing states (SIDS) increasingly share sea level rise and other escalating environmental threats that are further aggravated by economic insecurities, Achim Steiner added.

What makes this situation even more grievous is that the climate...

read more