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Senator Inhofe disputes link between heat wave, droughts and climate change
By Randy Krehbiel, World Staff Writer
Published: 8/7/2012 2:25 AM
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe downplayed the latest claims by climate-change activist James Hansen on Monday, calling the National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist an extremist in his own camp and admonishing the press "to be balanced in its representation" of Hansen's claims.
Hansen released a paper Monday that he says backs up his assertion that last year's record heat and drought - and the accompanying forest and range fires - in Oklahoma and Texas were related to manmade climate change.
Hansen argues that incidents of extreme heat have become more common in the past 30 years, which would be consistent with his theory of climate shift.
"Hot summer anomalies occur when and where weather patterns yield an extended period of high atmospheric pressure," Hansen wrote. "This condition is amplified by global warming and the ubiquitous surface heating due to elevated greenhouse gas levels, thus increasing the chances of an extreme anomaly.
"Yet global warming also increases atmospheric water vapor overall, causing, at other times or places, more extreme rainfall and floods, consistent with documented changes over Northern Hemisphere land and the tropics."
Hansen is the latest climate-change advocate to make the searing heat and cloudless skies over middle America for the past 15 months a focal point for their arguments.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held its first hearings on the matter in more than three years last week, and Inhofe twice came under fire on the Senate floor for his insistence that climate change is a hoax.
As if to get in one last shot before the current five-week recess, Inhofe filed a bill late last week that, among other things, would eliminate federal funding for all climate-change research and activities.
On Monday, Inhofe cited one of Hansen's most steadfast opponents, Alabama State Climatologist John Christy.
Christy, Inhofe said, "disputed the link between man-made global warming and heat waves in Oklahoma, testifying that instead of saying that this summer is 'what global warming looks like,' it is 'scientifically more accurate to say that this is what Mother Nature looks like.'"
Even among climate-change believers, Hansen has been criticized for his activism and what some believe is an overstatement of the threat from climate change.
"Many in the media will no doubt latch onto Hansen's alarmism because he is going well beyond what any other scientist will claim," said Inhofe. "At a recent conference call held by Climate Communication between scientists and reporters, even some of the most committed alarmist scientists would not directly make that link or say if any percentage of today's warm temperatures could be attributed to man-made causes."
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