WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Inhofe, considered the leading skeptic in Congress that human activity is causing global warming, wants an investigation into whether some of the leading scientists on the topic manipulated data to inflate the problem.
The Oklahoma Republican sent letters to numerous scientists at U.S. universities and to government agencies asking that they retain documents related to files stolen last week from a computer server at the Climatic Research Unit in England.
E-mails exchanged between scientists who worked on climate change reports were posted on the Web after the server was hacked. Documents also were taken from the server and posted. Inhofe and others who have challenged the scientific consensus on global warming say the e-mails show scheming to alter data on the climate or to present it in such a way as to support the theory of human activity raising the earth’s temperature.
Some of the scientists’ research is used by the influential United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"The stakes in this controversy are significant, as it appears that the basis of federal programs, pending EPA rulemakings and cap-and-trade legislation was contrived and fabricated,” Inhofe said Tuesday. "Moreover, it appears that, in an attempt to conceal the manipulation of climate data, information disclosure laws may have been violated.”
Inhofe is the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which, despite a Republican boycott, recently approved a bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Inhofe said he hopes Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who is chairman of the committee and a leading proponent of cap-and-trade legislation to reduce carbon emissions, will have hearings to investigate whether scientists were trying to fit their data into a preconceived outcome.
Scientists deny charge
In news accounts about the leaked e-mails and documents, some of the scientists involved denied manipulating the data and said the messages were being misinterpreted.