The publication of more than 1,000 private e-mails that climate change skeptics say proves the threat is exaggerated has prompted one key Republican senator to call for an investigation into their research.
In an interview with The Washington Times on Monday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced he would probe 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."
"[T]his 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," Inhofe, the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said during the interview.
He added that it was "interesting" that the e-mails surfaced only weeks before an important climate change summit would bring world leaders to Copenhagen.
Fueling Inhofe's concerns is last week's news that a blogger hacked into the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (Cru) and published about 1,000 e-mails and more than 3,000 private documents relating to climate change.
Some of those communications disparaged climate change skeptics and their views, while others contained conversations about how to best portray climate change research.
The scientists have since insisted their e-mails were hardly deceptive and that their words were taken out of context. Still, their assurances have not settled the concerns of their biggest foes -- including Inhofe, who has long maintained global warming is a "hoax."
However, it is not immediately clear what Inhofe hopes to accomplish with his proposed hearing. U.S. lawmakers and scientists routinely cite IPCC evidence when discussing climate change legislation, but Congress can hardly force the United Nations to halt spending on a program over which it has no jurisdiction.
Rather, Inhofe perhaps hopes to deal a symbolic blow to next month's climate change conference, at which IPCC is likely to play a major role.
"The timing couldn’t be better," said the Oklahoma Republican, who previously announced he would attend the December summit as a "one-man truth squad." "Whoever is on the ball in Great Britain, their time was good."