Inhofe to Boxer on global warming: “We Won, You Lost, Now Get a Life!”

I had previously blogged on the anti-mature (ante-mature?) antics of the Senator from Oklahoma (see Sen. Inhofe explains he’s going to Copenhagen so that when Sen. Kerry says “Yes. We’re going to pass a global warming bill” then “I will be able to stand up and say, ‘No, it’s over. Get a life. You lost. I won!’ “).  Now this video has been posted:

Seemed like a fitting tribute to Friday’s big story, from the man who, just coincidentally, said on Wednesday in a lengthy speech on the Senate Floor, “I proudly declare 2009 as the ‘Year of the Skeptic,’ the year in which scientists who question the so-called global warming consensus are being heard.”

While I hardly ever agree with Inhofe, there’s no denying that many scientists who question the consensus are finally being heard … thank goodness!

You can find some of those scientists in my category “Uncharacteristically Blunt Scientists.”  See also my 2008 post, “Disputing the ‘consensus’ on global warming.”  Certainly the majority of the scientific observations and studies since the 2007 IPCC report — which is typically labeled the “consensus” since every single member government must approve the summaries word for word, a process that inevitably waters down the language — makes clear global warming is coming faster and harder than the consensus had suggested.  You can find a variety of those studies here and below.

And, for clarity’s sake, yes, I draw a distinction between what I’d call the “basic scientific consensus” that the climate is changing and humans are the main cause and so on  — which is acknowledged by every major scientific body (click here for links) — and the “future impacts consensus” on what the world faces if we stay on our current emissions path, which recent analysis suggests has been underestimated and underanalyzed by the IPCC.   See, for instance, the presentations delivered at the recent “Four degrees and beyond” conference, one of which I blogged on here — UK Met Office: Catastrophic climate change, 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 27°F in the Arctic, could happen in 50 years, but “we do have time to stop it if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon.”

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39 Responses to Inhofe to Boxer on global warming: “We Won, You Lost, Now Get a Life!”

  1. TomG says:

    If he wins, we all lose.

  2. Cynthia says:

    Why exactly are we not “realizing all the warming” yet? I’ve read that the oceans take in about 50% of the CO2 we emit and there’s the aerosol effect. Is this the only reason? Thanks.

  3. Leif says:

    I posted this comment on the related article on CP, it is still appropriate:
    Inhofe says- “No, it’s over. You lost. Get a life. I won!” “You” meaning the struggling masses of the world, the birds and bees, the animals that Noah slaved to save from the “flood,” the fish in the seas, the sparkling rivers that run from snow capped mountains to replenish the forests and fields, the whole shebang, and by “I” he means one old power hungry ego inflated gas bag. Take your pick America…
    Have an IMPACT this week, encourage the President to act on greenhouse gasses at Copenhagen.

  4. paulm says:

    Thats funny 2009 is the year most normal citizens are realizing due to extreme events that Climate Change is real and its going to be a living nightmare.

  5. Cynthia says:

    As usual, deniers do double-speak. The hysteria he mentioned is coming from the fossil fuel industry because they’re afraid of losing billions of dollars. And the greed he talked about is blatantly fossil fuel-based!! He reminds me of my old late alcoholic-uncle!

  6. pete best says:

    The USA has its anti science mob and its quite capable of winning an election and blocking action and it ha done so several times already. Even Bill Clinton did little about it as did Tony Blair here in the UK but both are advocates of the science now and what to do about it so long as it does not cost us our way of life.

    So its democrats who do little (5% of 2005 levels whilst the rest of the world strives for 15% off of 1990 levels) and the republicans who also do nothing and even exacerbate the problem by continuing to be very good to the fossil fuel industry.

    If the remaining reserves of fossil fuels are available (oil and gas might be an isue here) nd grow at 2-3% per annum then its a doubling of usage by 2035-2045 depending on the exavt growth rate to 60 billion tonnes per annum. If we add up all those years of increasing emissions then we are scheduled to release and additional 1.6 trillion tonnes into the atmosphere. 50% absorbtion by the global sinks leaves 800 billion tonnes and it around a 50 ppmv rise for every 200 billion tonnes so thats a 200 ppmv increase over the next 25-35 years to a total of 585 ppmv befpre the middle of the century.

    Just 25/35 years away. If emissions are growing at 2-3% after 2050 then forget it, they need to be in a -7% per annum (-5% cuts and -2% offset of additonal growth)way before then to prevent even higher than the already attained 1.6C of warming that is presently coming at 0.2C per decade.

    If we are truely serious then we can only presently stop that 2%-3% growth rate per annum with alternative sources of energy. Cutting by an additonal 5% on top of that per year is going to be very hard to do. Copenhagen has to be ground breaking in order to meet these needed tagets.

    Few people seem the realise that in all reality 2C is going to happen and we will be lucky to mitigate enough Co2 to prevent 4C. We are using more each year and not less presently. The past decade of global growth was 28%. Recession and then back to it for another decde before the next threat of recession.

  7. Cynthia says:

    Excuse me, but I think that last sentence (in green) should have been “1,000 ppm” rather than 100 ppm.(?!)

  8. caerbannog says:

    Why exactly are we not “realizing all the warming” yet? I’ve read that the oceans take in about 50% of the CO2 we emit and there’s the aerosol effect. Is this the only reason? Thanks.

    When you put a pot of water on the stove, does it boil immediately?

  9. Leif says:

    Cynthia, #2: There are a number of points that can be made to your question and I will try to address only a few. First we are starting from zero and going up and there is a “lag time” in getting so much mass to respond. Think of starting a fire in a large cold stove. Not much satisfaction for a while but hang in there. Second. As you pointed out, the oceans have absorbed a large portion of the GH gasses to date. Google “ocean acidification” for an under reported flip side of our folly. Third, humanity has added, in conjunction to GHG, lots of other stuff to the atmosphere that has a negative impact on warming. Think of agriculture dust, diesel soot, industrial stuff, etc. that settles out and makes your car a mess just sitting still. All this stuff has a shading effect and has been masking the warming of GHG. And finally, just look at the effect that we have had. Arctic ice severely impacted and projected to be gone soon. Glaciers the world over as well. Forests severely stressed by pine beetles, again, GOOGLE. Oceans becoming unlivable to ALL shell producing life. Migratory patterns disrupted. The list goes on and on.
    So nothing personal, but perhaps part of the solution to your question is in the eye of the beholder.

  10. Zan says:

    I’m afraid Inhofe has now ruined the phrase, “Get a Life”, as a riposte to the most unnecessarily nit-picking of flamers, just as Cheney famously soiled “big-time” and “xoxo” for use with loved ones.
    I’ve never actually used it on a flamer, because I think it’s too mean and I also think we should try to remain open to critiques and free speech– but since Inhofe has used it in this way, it feels too dorky to even imagine that once beloved phrase, as he has now demonstrated its potential to be used for evil(not to mention stupid) intent.

  11. Cynthia says:

    Leif, I’ve read about all the things you mentioned and am extremely concerned! I’m a firm believer in AGW– starting reading about it years ago and am astounded by how fast things are building up! However, I keep wondering, “where has all the CO2 we’ve emitted gone to?” (besides the oceans taking in half of it)? Basically, I want to know what to say to deniers (or skeptics)– how to explain the fact that we haven’t realized all the warming yet. I myself am not clear on this issue and so don’t know how to explain it to others.

    [JR: Start here.]

  12. Cynthia says:

    Thanks for the info., Leif. However, I feel there has to be more to it than that.

  13. Zan says:

    Too off-message? OK, I won’t hold my breath.

  14. Cynthia says:

    In the book, “World On Fire”, Senator Mitchell states,

    “…while locked in the Earth’s oceans or it’s biosphere the carbon dioxide… is not contributing to a warmer world. And to that degree the world’s oceans, as the major sink for CO2 are delaying the long-predicted, much-feared green house effect.”

    He also states, “the die back of forests will start to be noticeable after a rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees, then come with a rush…”

    Obviously,this is what scientists are referring to when they say we’re not realizing all the warming yet. However, I thought there was more– some lag other than the oceans! So basically, they’re referring to the run away effects and the ocean lag and the aersol effects (pollution)?

  15. Leif says:

    Cynthia, #10: There is no doubt much more to “it” than that. I tried to address only a few of the most obvious responses to your question in my humble fashion. Many very smart people make a life time study of the effects of our blind experiment with our ecosystem and continue to learn more, as well as refine errant hypotheses, by the day. I feel that is one of the main problems that society has with science. There are many false starts and premises made with any pursuit of knowledge but the only way progress is made is dogged pursuit of the facts. The deniers capitalize on every back step as total misunderstanding and complete disregard for the facts built to date. To the peril of us all…

  16. anon says:

    What about the violation of the Freedom of Information Act consensus?

  17. Cynthia says:

    When scientist say that we’re not realizing all the warming yet, I thought they were referring to certain lags, (like the lag from the oceans) and that once these lags are overcome, then things would change drastically in a very short time.

    When you look outside, it doesn’t look that bad. Recently, I spoke to a lady from Puerto Rico. I thought they would be really concerned about GW since it’s a small island out in the middle of the ocean. She said, “no, we don’t have any climate change.” (Ha!)

    I thought that the reason it’s not that observable to most people was because of certain lags (“we’re not realizing all the warming yet”) But basically, scientists are saying what they’re saying–“we’re not realizing all the warming yet”– and not referring to lags or umbrella effects, which when overcome, will produce drastic, rapid effects?

  18. Cynthia says:

    Thanks, JR! That was what I was looking for!

  19. Cynthia says:

    We’re now at about 387 ppm. It was my understanding (perhaps I’m wrong) that if we actually “realized” this amount of warming, we would be in deep trouble, because thousands of years ago, when there was this much CO2 in the atmosphere, the world was pretty much unihabitable for humans. And I was wondering why we aren’t realizing all this amount of warming at present. That was what I was referring to…

  20. We!?!?

    Just who is the “We” that Inhofe refers to?

    Until he better defines who he represents, by saying “We have won” is disingenuous and deceptive.

  21. GeoDean says:

    Cynthia, #7: You comment points at, what to me, is one of the most convincing arguments for combating the change we are bringing to our climate. The 100 ppm number IS NOT A TYPO. The linked-to article is basically saying that during previous transistions from a glacial to an inter-glacial “climate,” the sea levels rose from 75 – 120 feet and this change was brought about by a change in the CO2 levels of only 100 ppm!

    Prior to the industrial age, when only natural forces are involved, the CO2 levels varied from approximately 180 to 285 ppm over the past 800,000 years, with Ice ages during periods of low CO2 and warm “inter-glacial” periods when CO2 levels were high. We are in a warm inter-glacial period right now. However, mankind has driven the CO2 level from what should be around 285ppm (say 300ppm), to around 387ppm (say 400ppm) today. The changes this additional change in CO2 of only 100ppm will bring about is still not fully known, as these changes (melting of ice-caps, acidification of the ocean, etc.) will continue to develop over the period of many years (10’s or 100’s of years). However, when scientists ask the question, “when was the last time the earth’s atmosphere had a CO2 level of 400ppm?”, they realized they had to go all the way back to the middle Miocene (14-20 million years ago), when global temperatures were 5-10 degrees farenheit warmer!

    That is enough to tell me that great variability in the earth’s climate comes about from a change of only 100ppm in the CO2 level, which we have already done to the atmosphere. Furthermore, we are almost certainly looking at an additional increase in CO2 level of 100-300ppm before this thing is over.

    So, to me, just a broad-brush look at the paleoclimate science indicates that the changes in store for us from a change of only 100-400ppm CO2 will be dire.

  22. I gave a public lecture last Friday evening titled: Global Warming: Separating Fact from Fiction that I have converted into a .PDF file. I have been told that the information is very user friendly so feel free to download and distribute to friends of yours that may be skeptical.

  23. Jay says:

    You know, it’s times like these when being nonreligious really sucks. Being nonreligious, I accept what the best intersubjective (i.e. scientific) evidence tells us about the world, and such a picture, for me, leaves no room for an interventionist God who will save us from ourselves. I want our species and civilization to continue to exist so that we can all experience happiness and minimize suffering. If a climate catastrophe happens, uh, we’re basically screwed. Sorry. It’s very difficult for me to maintain an optimistic disposition toward the future. The only glimmer of hope I have is the unpredictability of technological change. It’s a pretty small glimmer, but I’m desperate.

  24. mike roddy says:

    I am in awe of Senator Inhofe. It’s one thing to be generally considered the Dumbest Senator, but he’s also been named as Most Corrupt and Craziest member of that body in other polls. You cannot earn this recognition just from climate change stances- it derives from his entire body of work.

    This is remarkable, in view of the formidable competition from others such as Jim Bunning from Kentucky or Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas.

  25. Jeffrey Davis says:

    Sea temps are warmest ever.

    Air temps fluctuate: every night they decline 15-20F. Seas hold temps longer so it’s where the long term reservoir of energy exists. Global Warming is the story of oceans warming.

  26. Jeffrey Davis says:

    This is Jim Bunning’s last term. Inhofe will have the arena to himself.

  27. Brewster says:

    Scott (#22):

    It sounds like it would be an interesting article, but it keeps crashing my computer…

  28. Brewster #27:

    Hmmm. It is a 3.6 MB .PDF file. Instead of left-clicking, try to right-click and save target as.

    Some of the info already appears on my Global Warming: Man or Myth? site linked in my name and I will be adding all of the info in that .PDF file on my site in the coming days. I am doing that right now, actually. :)

  29. Leif says:

    Cynthia, #19: One other point that may help in your understanding. In the distant past CO2 changes happened on geological time scales and earth as well as species had 10s of thousands of years to adapt and adjust. We have made the leap of 100 ppm in about 100 years. That is the equivalent of binge drinking a fifth of booze. You can function for a little while but the long term prognoses is dire.

  30. Christophe says:

    Scott, great job on your presentation. Very useful and persuasive. Thanks a lot.

    In fact, thank you to everyone who no doubt spends considerable time and effort to disseminate the truth about AGW, starting with our host here, Joe. For non-scientists like me, it’s absolutely crucial that these sites exist. While at times the frustration and exasperation is palpable (and quite understandable), I am personally fairly optimistic. The forces of the status quo are powerful, but seemingly increasingly marginalized, as if bypassed by the reality unfolding on the ground. The public at large has not caught up yet, but apathy is the norm there, and it goes both way (i.e., most people will go along and adjust, as long as any transition is smooth enough).

    I think the latest dip in public awareness about climate change can be explained in one word: Katrina. People got scared in 2005, but since then we haven’t had a major catastrophe in the US that, rightly or wrongly, can be linked to climate change. It’s a shame that it takes major scares like that to shock people out of complacency, but that’s just the way it is. I think that Obama gets it, and the Energy Secretary is a great man for the job. I’ll personally judge the success of his presidency on that issue above any other.

  31. Jay says:

    Christophe- Let’s hope you’re right. Personally, I have lost much of my confidence in the political process. Even though the Dems control Capitol Hill now, with the current political climate, you have to have a de-facto supermajority to get anything passed in the Senate. And even if there are 60 votes, I don’t know if the bill would limit emissions enough. If the EPA steps in, which is very possible, there might be a significant cut in emissions, but not significant enough. I want to be optimistic, but I want a good reason to be.

  32. Leland Palmer says:

    When Inhofe pulled his boycott, all of the Senators on the Democratic side were ready go, ready to continue debating, ready to offer ammendments – and consider those from the Republicans.

    Really, Boxer kicked his ass. Not because she was out to kick anyone’s ass, but because she graciously and reasonably remained firm in her desire to pass a climate bill.

    Yes, Cap and Trade is too slow. No, it’s not enough. The Senators say this is just a start, and I believe them.

    After Inhofe’s walkout, sentiment on the Democratic side was considering just allowing the EPA to regulate emissions by having them mandate that the emissions must stop. Whitehouse expressed this, for example.

    No, Inhofe did not win. He actually caused enough resentment with his unreason and hardball tactics that influential Senators were at least threatening his side with unilateral EPA regulation.

    As scared as industry is of Cap and Trade, perhaps they should consider what business would be like if they are simply ordered to shut down.

    Perhaps industry would win that fight in the Supreme Court.

    Perhaps not.

  33. mariana says:

    Scott…thanks for the presentation (and your website). I have used your 3 possible conclusions a few times now, and not just in climate science.

  34. May I point out the obvious fact that Inhofe was joking?

    In the video, everyone laughs when he says “the debate is over, we won, you lost” because it is so obvious to everyone that the debate is not over with Inhofe’s side winning – obvious to everyone including Inhofe, or else he couldn’t make this joke.

    [JR: I think your interpretation, which certainly is NOT an obvious fact, might be plausible were it not for the other times that Inhofe has said this. Yes, he is aping himself here, but he is a self-caricature now, so it looks more like they were laughing at him.]

  35. lgcarey says:

    Great job, Scott – very usable.

  36. Gail says:

    “Professor Bob Watson, chief scientist at the department for environment and rural affairs, said a decade of inaction on climate change meant it was now virtually impossible to limit global temperature rise to 2C. He said the delay meant the world would now do well to stabilise warming between 3C and 4C.”


  37. Gail says:

    Cynthia, I was most interested in your quote from George Mitchell’s book, I will have to try to find out what made him write that.

    “the die back of forests will start to be noticeable after a rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees, then come with a rush…”

    As to your Puerto Rican acquaintance, there are signs of climate change everywhere – there have to be. But people don’t want to see. Here in New Jersey, the autumn leaves fell off the trees more than a month earlier than normal. Yesterday, in my backyard I saw a butterfly fluttering from dandelion to dandelion.

    People who don’t recognize the signs of change are either willfully ignorant or they have forgotten, through shifting baselines, what is normal. They don’t see the degradation of their environment.

    It’s hard to take a picture of a bird that isn’t there anymore.

  38. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Consider that the Milankovitch Cycles caused global temperatures to change by 5 Degrees. The amount of forcing from the CO2 we have added over the last 150 years has got to be greater than the Milankovitch forcing.

    We are only just begining to see CO2 sinks filling and the methane from the permafrost.

    I hear scientists being very carefull how they say things: 350ppm on re listening not safe but the most that might be safe, Arctic sea ice free summers within 20 years but no guarantee that they will last that long. The IPCC’s report did not include “changes in the carbon cycle” or dynamic factors in the ice.

    A bit like saying my budget balances if I dont include interest which I excluded from the calculation because I don’t know how they will vary.

    The more I dig the worse the picture appears.

  39. Leif says:

    Cynthia, # 17: Yet another point about your friend in Puerto Rico not noticing the effects of global warming. Puerto Rico is an island nation which means it is surrounded by water which mitigates the obvious effects, along with the fact that the major warming effects are taking place at the poles. I think the same can be said for the majority of people, as they currently live in an artificial environment of heated and cooled homes, cars, offices, cities, etc. and they cannot “see” any impact so… out of sight, out of mind. I live in the Pacific North West and our weather comes off the ocean as well which also make it difficult to see GW impacts. However they are there but far to subtle be noticed at a passing glance. For instance, looking out over the Pacific one sees a beautiful clean, (by in large), expanse of ocean, takes a few pictures and moves on. Below that same “picture” lies a ~7,000 square mile “dead zone” each summer, (complements of GW since 2002), that has starved countless sea birds, and suffocated crabs, fish and food webs. (I am an “x” commercial fisherman and boat builder), Same scene, different picture.