(CNN) – One of the world’s leading climatologists Wednesday hit back at charges by U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) that some of the world’s top climate scientists have in effect “cooked the science” and should be investigated by the federal government.
James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an adjunct professor at New York’s Columbia University, said, “I’d love to have an investigation which should include Senator Inhofe, who’s one of the most well-oiled, coal-fired politicians in Washington.”
“He’s very well funded to protect the fossil fuel industry, but he was elected to support the people,” Hansen added in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman strongly supported Hansen saying, “I’d love to see all the e-mails between his office and various coal and oil companies over the last 20 years.”
“We’ll let Senator Inhofe lay all his emails on the table going back and forth between oil and coal companies, and we’ll let citizens and voters decided where the real science is.”
CNN asked Senator Inhofe to join the discussion with Amanpour, but he declined. In a statement to the Senate Environment Committee Tuesday, Senator Inhofe, the ranking Republican, said, “The minority staff found that some of the world’s leading climate scientists engaged in potentially illegal and unethical behavior. In other words, they cooked the science.”
His remarks came after revelations that some climate change data has been based on questionable scientific practices and even errors.
One leading climate change skeptic, Bjorn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center in Denmark, told Amanpour it’s obvious Senator Inhofe has a political agenda and he does not agree with him.
“But I think we need to say if we’re going to re-establish credibility with the climate science, we need to dial back on the scariness and start talking about what the facts are actually telling us.”
The debate over climate change is heating up as world powers prepare for another climate change conference in Bonn, Germany in April – four months after the Copenhagen summit failed to agree binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions which many blame for global warming.
But the United Nations climate chief, Yvo de Boer, last week announced that he will resign at the end of June after four years on the job and what many say is the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen conference.
In his resignation statement, de Boer said, “Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming.”
Hansen had a grim warning about the consequences of inaction on this issue. “If we burn all the fossil fuels, we will hand our children and grandchildren a situation that’s out of their control.”
“We have to be honest about the fact that we have to have a rising price of carbon emissions. We’ve got to put a price on these fossil fuels, because right now we’re subsidizing them.”
Friedman said the world faces a choice. “If we listen to climate change scientists like Dr. Hansen and we prepare for climate change, but climate change does not happen, what happens? We have cleaner air, cleaner environment, We have a more energy-independent economy, new industries, and global impact.”
“If we listen to Jim Inhofe, the climate deniers, and don’t get ready for climate change and climate change comes, we’re a bad biological experiment.”
Lomborg said it’s clear the world is going to see a temperature rise. But he’s skeptical of the way that it’s being communicated and skeptical of the way solutions are being proposed.
“I think fundamentally what’s happened is a lot of people have been pushing to scare the pants off people, to get us to cut carbon emissions, but we haven’t done so”, he said.
“Essentially what we saw in Copenhagen was exactly the failure of that strategy. We need a new and smarter way forward.”
Lomborg added that many climate economists are demanding action that could cost $40 trillion a year – a price that is much higher than most people are prepared to pay.
He said targeted investment is the key to solving the problem. “What we need to do is invest dramatically more, 50 times more than what the world spends now on research and development.”
“That’s cheap and that will actually work. So let’s get off the high horse and actually start working with promises that will function and deal with climate change in the long run.”