Watch: Congressman Makes “Completely Wrong” Claim About Temperature


At a congressional hearing Wednesday on the Obama administration’s climate-change policy, most Republicans steered clear of global warming denial. But not David McKinley. The West Virginia Republican insisted that “over the last 40 years,” there has been “almost no increase in temperature, very slight.”

Scientists disagree. Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, called McKinley’s claim “completely wrong.” Michael Mann, the Meteorology Director at Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, called it a “flat-out falsehood.” Mann explained that “global mean temperatures have warmed at an average rate of roughly 2 [degrees Fahrenheit] per century over that time frame.”

Indeed, this NASA chart of annual global temperatures shows dramatic warming over the last 40 years:

McKinley’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests for the source of his temperature claims.

During the hearing, McKinley also argued that Arctic sea ice has “actually increased by 60 percent.” That’s a reference to the fact that less ice has disappeared this summer than during the record-setting 2012 melt. Skeptics have cited this in suggesting that the dangers of climate change are overstated, but the fact is that the current Arctic sea ice extent is well below the 30-year average.

Moments after McKinley spoke, Democrat Henry Waxman called McKinley’s statements “incredibly inaccurate.”

“I think this illustrates why we need a committee where we bring in the scientists,” said Waxman. He added, “We need scientists to come in here and talk about science.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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