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Denying the Darkness

August 1, 2012

Numbers don’t lie, according to the well-worn truism. Case in point is this scorecard: “Juiced by Climate Change: Extreme Weather on Steroids,” which quantifies the dire changes befalling us. The numbers arrive on a day when Big Oil and King Coal’s puppets-on-a-string Republican senators take part in another Senate hearing to deny the undeniable. It’s easy to imagine the most irrational (criminal?) among them, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, standing outside my burning house and claiming the flames are a) an illusion, b) God’s plan, c) arson caused by a conspiracy of scientists, or d) all of the above.

No doubt Inhofe scoffs at the scientific conclusion that the worst is yet to come. As the New Yorker‘s Elizabeth Kolbert wrote recently, what the planet is experiencing now is the result of manmade greenhouse gases emitted several decades ago. The vastly increased emissions of today won’t wreak havoc until about the time the 2048 Olympics are held. Or should I say if they’re held. What’s ahead when my grandchildren may still be alive? By the end of the century, Kolbert said, it’s possible “we could, without even really trying, engineer the return of the sort of climate that hasn’t been seen on earth since the Eocene, some fifty million years ago.” That’s when Antarctica had tropical weather.

Too bad Shakespeare’s King Lear can’t talk to Inhofe and his ilk in Washington, if he could be heard over the thunderclaps and downpours of increasingly violent storms:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, an germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

Then again, Inhofe would welcome a thunderstorm today in his home state, where in Okmulgee the temperature reached 115 degrees.

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