The Scientific Activist

What they clearly lack in substance, they attempt to make up for in style, but global warming denialists certainly aren’t winning any points for class. In a September 25th speech in the Senate, Crazy Ol’ James Inhofe–who once called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and who ironically serves as the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee–attacked The New York Times’ esteemed environmental reporter Andrew Revkin for what else but his new children’s book The North Pole Was Here. “So here we have a very prominent environmental reporter for the New York Times,” said Inhofe, “who is promoting aspects of global warming alarmism in a book aimed at children.”

I haven’t read Revkin’s book, since I don’t really read too many children’s books these days, but it appears to be far from “global warming alarmism”. Instead, the book appears to educate its readers by giving them a historical and scientific perspective on the North Pole, communicated through the tale of his recent trip there. In the process, he also takes the opportunity to draw his readers’ attention to the issue of global warming and its devastating implications for the North Pole and the rest of the globe. Regardless, Revkin is a talented environmental reporter–someone with much more credibility on the issue of global warming than Inhofe–and I generally find his articles informative and nuanced. He has even taken on the issue of global warming alarmism himself. Therefore, he seems like an unlikely target for conservatives.

Or, rather, he would seem like an unlikely target, had he not been the one who back in February brought to the mainstream media my findings of Bush political appointee and NASA science censor George Deutsch lying on his resume, leading to Deutsch’s subsequent resignation. I’m sure he didn’t win any friends in the Republican Party for that one.

Fortunately, as Revkin himself points out, others have stepped up to defend him, including, among others, Josh Tulkin of It’s Getting Hot In Here and Matthew Nisbet of Framing Science. Also, fortunately as well and as Inhofe complained about in a speech three days later, the media didn’t roll over and start parroting his wild allegations. Boo hoo.

When a global warming denialist with a clear political agenda holds more sway on global warming than an objective and well-informed reporter, then I’d say we have a problem. On the other hand, since Inhofe has reduced himself to venting about children’s books on the Senate floor, maybe things aren’t looking so bad.