Climate

The Senate’s Top Climate Denier Redefines Chutzpah

CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), shown here, is an outspoken denier of climate science and chairman of the Senate's environment committee.

The traditional definition of chutzpah involves a guy who kills his parents, then pleads for mercy because he is now an orphan. The modern definition of chutzpah involves … Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

The chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has an Earth Day (!) op-ed arguing we should embrace carbon-free nuclear power because of the threat posed by global warming. You remember Inhofe, the guy who called global warming a hoax, the guy who for over a decade has trashed climate scientists, such as James Hansen, whom he called in 2006 a “NASA scientist and alarmist.”

Apparently, however, Inhofe no longer sees Hansen as radioactive. He writes, without a trace of irony:

James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in 2013 that ‘continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.’

How cool is it that Inhofe is now apparently on board with top climatologist Hansen on the urgent need “to avoid dangerous climate change” by accelerated deployment of zero-carbon technologies? Presumably he’ll soon be on board with Hansen’s call for a high and rising carbon dioxide fee (returned to the public as a dividend), and a World War II scale effort to return CO2 levels back to 350 parts per million from their current level of 400 ppm (and rising 2+ ppm a year).

As an aside, what’s holding nuclear power back is its exorbitant price. Indeed, just this week a panel of experts unanimously agreed that nukes have all but priced themselves out of the market. Perhaps Inhofe should have supported the climate bill that came out of the House of Representatives in 2009, since its carbon pricing mechanism would have been nuclear power’s best chance at a resurgence.

As for Inhofe’s bromancing of Hansen, I suspect it is unrequited, but then they say politics does make for strange bedfellows. Or at least for new definitions of chutzpah.