Updated at 3:40 p.m. on Dec. 7.
Should leaders of the world halt efforts to control greenhouse gases until they've investigated recent charges that some scientific studies linking human activity to climate change may have been overstated?
In November, hackers released thousands of e-mails and other documents from a British university that allegedly call into question some of the scientific underpinnings of climate change. Opponents of global warming legislation claim that the e-mails prove that scientists manipulated the data. They want Congress and the EPA to suspend efforts to control U.S. greenhouse gas emissions until the charges are thoroughly scrutinized. However, Jane Lubchenco, a marine scientist who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Congress that the hacked documents "do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus" backing climate change.
The purloined data was released as leaders of the world prepared to meet in Copenhagen to negotiate an international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Is there enough evidence that the science was exaggerated to stop efforts to control greenhouse gases? Or is it an anomaly being used by opponents to slow the momentum for meaningful change?
EPA Formally Declares Greenhouse Gases A Danger
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized its ruling that greenhouse-gas emissions endanger public health and welfare. The decision gives the Obama administration the legal basis to regulate carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Environmentalists and Democrats praised the decision, but critics say the agency should have postponed action until questions were settled about the scientific underpinnings of climate change.
Will the EPA's announcement help President Obama's hammer out a treaty to cut world emissions of greenhouse gases at the ongoing conference in Copenhagen? Will it boost Democratic efforts to pass climate change legislation in the Senate next year?