Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Senator James Inhofe is, as you may be aware, the nation's foremost Congressional climate change denier. He revels in the role, mocking Al Gore at every chance he gets, belittling climate scientists, and vociferously insisting global warming is the greatest hoax ever to be perpetrated on the American people. So you can't help but derive a little schadenfreude from Mr. Inhofe's recent respiratory illness, which he contracted from swimming in Grand Lake, OK, where "sustained high temperatures" had fostered the rise of a particularly toxic bloom of blue-green algae.
As Reddit puts it, "Global warming bites back ..."Okay, so clearly, that's not exactly accurate -- global warming didn't necessarily have anything to do with Grand Lake being so abnormally hot for such an abnormally long period of time that it was choked with disgusting, sickness-inducing toxic algal blooms. But it certainly means that such blooms will likely continue to pop up in the future, with increasing frequency.
The Atlantic explains why this is bad news for anyone and anything that happens to be fond of lakes or other freshwater bodies:
Sustained high temperatures have also prompted a bloom of toxic blue-green algae in local swimming areas and water supplies. The AP reports the algae, which gives lakes "a split pea soup" appearance, can affect the nervous system and liver, "resulting in weakness, muscle tremors and death." It can also contaminate marine life harvested for human consumption. Authorities blame 28 days of 100-plus degree heat, stagnant water, and evaporation -- the "perfect formula" for algae growth.On our current emissions path, scientists predict that we're in for much more of this kind of sustained hot weather -- and more ugly algal blooms. Those blooms not only disrupt ecosystems, but they're bad for business as well: the region's tourism industry has essentially shut down after the senator's algae incident got wedged in the news cycle.
Of course, I'm glad that Mr. Inhofe has recovered from his illness, and I'm not wishing serious sickness on anyone. But suffice to say that it's an irresistible bit of poetic justice that the man who has dedicated himself to damning his home state to such extreme conditions has now sampled firsthand the very real impacts that doing so will bring...