A Republican lawmaker is calling for an investigation into whether a U.N. panel "cooked the science" on climate change following the publication of more than 1,000 private e-mails that global warming skeptics say proves the threat is overstated.
Sen. James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, told the Washington Times in a radio interview Monday that he will press for a probe into whether the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not."
"This thing is serious, you think about the literally millions of dollars that have been thrown away on some of this stuff that they came out with," the Oklahoma Republican said.
Inhofe's call is being driven by reports that hackers last week broke into the electronic files of the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, one world's most prominent climate research centers, and posted e-mails in which scientists discussed global warming research and dismissed climate change skeptics.
The skeptics have now seized upon the e-mails as proof that the scientific data have been manipulated to make it appear as if humans are causing global warming. But the researchers reportedly say that the e-mails have been taken out of context and simply reflect an honest exchange of ideas.
"If these e-mails show there is collusion between scientists, a manipulation of raw temperature figures and pushing out scientists in the process, that would undermine the IPCC," Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for Inhofe, told FoxNews.com.
The controversy arrives less than a month before a global climate change conference in Copenhagen and as climate change legislation stalls in the Senate where it is likely to remain stuck until next year.
The House narrowly approved a bill earlier this year. But the EPA has already begun moving toward regulating greenhouse gases that it considers pollutants and this latest development could undermine the process, Dempsey said.
Inhofe hopes to hold a hearing before the 11-day conference starts Dec. 7, he said.
"Everyone appreciates the EPA endangerment findings is based on the IPCC, " Dempsey added.