I have been using the Resist Bot to write faxes to my congressional representatives every time I’m outraged by something congress or the White House does – so nearly daily for the last 133 days. Today, I wrote a fax to my senator Jim Inhofe, who is one of the most noted climate deniers in congress. His ‘Snowball’ speech was a particular low point in the American political speech craft.
I try to keep the word-count short in these faxes in the hopes that maybe one of Inhofe’s staffers will actually read it and put another tick in the column of angry correspondence. Here’s the text of today’s fax and a sentence-by-sentence set of supporting notes:
I teach history. John Tyndall discovered greenhouse gases in 1859. Charles Keeling published his work on the Keeling curve in 1958. President Nixon recognized the threat of climate change. I had to stop including the ‘Snowball Speech’ last year, because my students said I was straw manning the climate-denier cause by featuring extremist, absurd arguments. This speech and our state are already being included in history books as the rearguard of an already decided debate. Your continued denial of plain fact (just visit any coastline in America) encouraged the Trump administration along a path to global destruction. You clearly feel no shame, but you will be remembered as a laughing stock in your own time and one of the great threats to our world.
“I teach history.” I got my PhD in History of Science from OU in 2013 and have taught history of science courses since I was a graduate student. I’ll be teaching an intro course this fall and will include a unit on climate change.
“John Tyndall discovered greenhouse gases in 1859.” Tyndall started studying the Greenhouse Effect in 1859 and published on it in May of that year. Here’s a short, 3-page paper on his work from the Royal Meteorological Society.
“Charles Keeling published his work on the Keeling curve in 1958.” Charles Keeling began measuring the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 1957 and published his results in 1960 showing the seasonal variations and year over year increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. When he began measuring it, there were 310 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. The Keeling Curve twitter account now shows there are 410 parts per million. This ted talk by former NASA scientist James Hansen clearly describes why this is so horrific:
“President Nixon recognized the threat of climate change.” Here’s an internal White House memo from the Nixon administration acknowledging the existential threat that climate change posed for the US.
“I had to stop including the ‘Snowball Speech’ last year, because my students said I was straw manning the climate-denier cause by featuring extremist, absurd arguments.” My students recognized that Inhofe’s argument from a snowball is such a logical fallacy that it’s nonsensical. They thought that I was prejudicing the argument by presenting the history of science and the current scientific consensus and juxtaposing it with this nonsense. The problem is, there are no real scientists arguing against the science. You have to turn to politicians and their buffoonery if you want to present any argument against climate change.
“This speech and our state are already being included in history books as the rearguard of an already decided debate.” In a survey level Introduction to Anthropology, the authors Robert Jurmain, Lynn Kilgore, Wenda Trevathan, Russell L. Ciochon, Eric Bartelink call the speech “a cheap shot based on ignorance” (p. 496).
“Your continued denial of plain fact (just visit any coastline in America) encouraged the Trump administration along a path to global destruction.” Here’s an article from one Florida newspaper detailing the problems already occurring due to rising sea levels and what various Florida towns are doing about it. Here’s a similar NY Times article.The Washington Post wrote about Inhofe’s influence on the Trump administration in April. This week Inhofe wrote a letter with 21 GOP senate cosigners urging Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“You clearly feel no shame, but you will be remembered as a laughing stock in your own time and one of the great threats to our world.” My namesake, Jon Stewart, literally made a laughing stock out of Inhofe:
Salon’s scathing op-ed, entitled The twisted morality of climate denial: How religion and American exceptionalism are undermining our future, demonstrated the threat of Inhofe’s views. Wendy Lynne Lee’s recent book Eco-Nihilism: The Philosophical Geopolitics of the Climate Change Apocalypse is a monograph length exposition of the threat posed by Inhofe (mentioned 43 times in the book) and his ilk.
I know my fax will get tossed in a pile or straight into the trash, but I want some record that even here in Oklahoma, we know that what Inhofe and our current government are doing is wrong. If my curation of a couple of articles and videos can help people recognize the long history of our understanding of climate change and the existential threat that climate-deniers like Inhofe pose, all the better.