CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. David McKinley expressed doubt about widely agreed upon facets of climate science on Wednesday, earning stern rebukes from the U.S. Secretary of Energy as well as his Democratic colleagues on the House subcommittee on Energy and Power.
"The CO2 levels are undeniably increasing. Some scientists and climatologists have concluded that CO2 levels coincide with temperature increases," McKinley said, going on to say that this may not be the case. "Over 40 years, there's been almost no increase in temperatures, very slight."
McKinley, a Republican representing Northern West Virginia, was speaking at a House subcommittee hearing on climate policy with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.
His statements drew an immediate response from Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the committee.
"I just thought the statements that the gentleman from West Virginia read to us were incredibly inaccurate and contrary to what everybody in the scientific community has said to us," Waxman said, "We need scientists to come in here and talk about science."
One of those scientists, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a theoretical physicist, also criticized McKinley's remarks.
"This decade is the warmest decade in recorded history," Moniz said. "The issues in terms of risk of climate change are not based upon models . . . the anthropogenic changes from CO2 are clearly of a scale that has long been expected."
McKinley cited data showing that there is now 60 percent more ice in the Arctic than there was at this time last year, when ice levels hit a record low.
However, levels of Arctic ice are still substantially below historical averages. As of this week, there were about 1.5 million square kilometers less Arctic ice than there has been, on average, for the past 30 years, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, a research center at the University of Colorado.
McKinley and others pointed to a recent slowdown in temperature rises over the past several years as evidence that man-made greenhouse gas emissions might not be contributing to climate change.
Moniz pointed to a study in the journal "Nature," published in August, showing the slowdown to be a product of short-term weather trends.
"Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La Niña-like decadal cooling," that study concluded. "The multi-decadal warming trend is very likely to continue with greenhouse gas increase."