Last week, 47 senators launched a failed assault on science, supporting Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) resolution to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers the public health and welfare. The EPA finding was based on decades of science, synthesized during the Bush administration by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the U.S. Global Change Program. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the leading denier in the Senate of the threat of climate change, justified his vote for the Murkowski resolution by claiming the science is just a United Nations conspiracy:
“We all know now that the IPCC, which is the United Nations, their science has all been debunked.” [Americans for Prosperity event, 6/9/10]
“The Climategate scandal forced open the inner sanctums of the IPCC, and the public finally saw the political science the body had produced.” [Senate floor, 6/11/10]
This weekend, catastrophic rainfall devastated Oklahoma with floods, leading “authorities to declare a state of emergency in 59 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties”:
Oklahoma City Micronet (OKCNET) reports that a rainfall observation of 10.21″ in OKC has exceeded the 1-in-500 year rainfall total for a 12 hour period. Moreover, the 9 inches that fell in 6 hours meets the requirements for a 1 in 500 year flood event.
Evacuations are under way in some Oklahoma City neighborhoods, Mayor Mick Cornett said Monday. People there are dealing with vicious flash-flooding and scattered power outages as more thunderstorms head their way. The National Weather Service said almost 10 inches of rain fell between 2 and 11 a.m.
The IPCC report, which Inhofe says is a sham, warned of the coming floods caused by the rise in global temperatures:
Over the 20th century, based on changes in sea surface temperatures, it is estimated that atmospheric water vapour increased by about 5% in the atmosphere over the oceans. Because precipitation comes mainly from weather systems that feed on the water vapour stored in the atmosphere, this has generally increased precipitation intensity and the risk of heavy rain and snow events. Basic theory, climate model simulations and empirical evidence all confirm that warmer climates, owing to increased water vapour, lead to more intense precipitation events even when the total annual precipitation is reduced slightly, and with prospects for even stronger events when the overall precipitation amounts increase. The warmer climate therefore increases risks of both drought − where it is not raining − and floods − where it is − but at different times and/or places.
“Heavy downpours are now twice as frequent as they were a century ago,” the U.S. Global Change report states. “Projected changes in long-term climate and more frequent extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, and heavy rainfall will affect many aspects of life in the Great Plains.”
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