Irony can be so ironic. A day after cancelling his keynote address at the Heartland climate denial conference because he felt “under the weather,” Republican Senator Jim Inhofe today insisted his sickness was due to a toxic algae bloom on the Grand Lake in Oklahoma where he has a home – joking to a local newspaper that “the environment strikes back” and ”Inhofe is attacked by the environment.”
“There is no question,” the Oklahoma Republican said, linking what he thought was a routine dive into the lake last Monday morning to a severe upper respiratory illness.
“That night, Monday night, I was just deathly sick.”
Inhofe and his wife, Kay, have had a home on the lake for decades, and he has never seen that kind of algae in the water previously.
Inhofe’s run-in with algae comes as his state deals with a record-setting heat wave and drought not seen since the 1930’s – creating perfect conditions for blue-green algal blooms that can cause respiratory problems, diarrhea, skin irritation and, in rare cases, death. In Texas, cattle have been dying from drinking blue-green algae that scientists explain have blossomed due to severe drought conditions.
A University of North Carolina researcher described the impact that extreme temperatures exacerbated by a changing climate could have on algae growth:
“It’s long been known that nutrient runoff contributes to cyanobacterial growth. Now scientists can factor in temperature and global warming,” said [Hans] Paerl, who, with Professor Jef Huisman from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, explains the new realization in Science paper.
“As temperatures rise waters are more amenable to blooms,” Paerl said.