Inhofe and truth

18 April 2005
On 8 April, Senator James M. Inhofe (R. Okla), delivered the first of four speeches on climate change on the floor of the US Senate. A transcript of the speech is not available on his web site, but can be read here.

John Sterman of MIT, who kindly drew my attention to the speech, comments that it has been carefully written.

Sterman is right, but there I think there are some holes. For example, near the top, Senator Inhofe says that "More than 17,000 scientists have signed the Oregon Petition, stating that fears of global warming are groundless".

This looks very much like a reference to a 1998 petition, supposedly signed by 17,000 scientists, which questioned the evidence for global warming.

As I wrote in Globolog a couple of years ago, it later emerged that the petition had been circulated by an obscure organisation based in a shed in the backwoods of Oregon and had nothing to do with the [US] National Academy of Sciences. Signatories allegedly included such authorities on climate change as Ginger Spice, a British pop star, and the doctors from M.A.S.H, a [fictional] TV drama series. (This did not, reportedly, stop Exxon Chairman Lee Raymond referring approvingly to the petition in 2002).

So, is it? Or has there been another Oregon Petition, also signed by 17,000 "scientists"?

As John Sterman says, "the scientific community has a lot of work to do to build public understanding of the science and the degree to which there is uncertainty over it".

Realclimate.org has this analysis of a 4 Jan 2005 speech by Senator Inhofe.

Caspar Henderson

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