Global warming research suppressed due to intolerance of scepticism, claims scientist
A professor claims his paper questioning the speed of climate change was deliberately rejected for publication due to intolerance of views seen as “sceptical”
Professor Bengtsson’s paper about global warming challenged the findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
By Claire Carter
16 May 2014
A climate change researcher has claimed that scientists are confusing their role as impartial observers with green activism after his paper challenging predictions about the speed of global warming was rejected because it was seen as “less than helpful.”
Professor Lennart Bengtsson says recent McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics forced him to resign from his post on a climate sceptic think-tank.
The research fellow from the University of Reading believes a paper he co-authored was deliberately suppressed from publication in a leading journal because of an intolerance of dissenting views about climate change by scientists who peer-reviewed the work.
“The problem we have now in the scientific community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of climate activist,” he told the Times.
Professor Bengtsson claims a scientist advised that the paper, which challenged findings that global temperature would increase by 4.5C if greenhouse gases were to double, should not be published in a respected journal because it was “less than helpful.” [To what ‘project’ should it have been helpful in order to have been approved for publication?]
The unnamed scientist, who was asked to peer review Professor Bengtsson’s paper, said in his comments: “Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate sceptics side.” [Do we need a scientific paper to corroborate our belief that scientists are prone to err?]
The paper, co-authored with four other scientists, challenged the findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) but was rejected by Environmental Research Letters published by the Institute of Physics, one of the most highly regarded journals in the area.
Professor Bengtsson said he accepted emissions would increase the global temperature but questioned the rate at which this would take place and suggested more work needed to be done to determine this.
However he said it was unacceptable that a paper was rejected on the basis it might advance the argument of climate sceptics, as he suggested scientists were losing their impartial role.
He added: “It is an indication of how science is gradually being influenced by political views.”
IOP Publishing, which publishes Environmental Research Letters, said the paper was rejected for publication because two independent reviewers found errors and that the work did not represent a “significant advancement in the field.”
Dr Nicola Gulley, editorial director, said the decision not to publish “had absolutely nothing to do with any ‘activism’ on the part of the reviewers or the journal. She said those selected to do the peer review, the referees, were of the “highest calibre and are respected members of the international science community.”
She added: “As the referee’s report states, ‘The overall innovation of the manuscript is very low.’ This means that the study did not meet ERL’s requirement for papers to significantly advance knowledge of the field.
“Far from denying the validity of [Prof] Bengtsson’s questions, the referees encouraged the authors to provide more innovative ways of undertaking the research to create a useful advance.
“As the report reads, ‘A careful, constructive, and comprehensive analysis of what these ranges mean, and how they come to be different, and what underlying problems these comparisons bring would indeed be a valuable contribution to the debate’.
“Far from hounding ‘dissenting’ views from the field, Environmental Research Letters positively encourages genuine scientific innovation that can shed light on complicated climate science.”
Prof Bengtsson, who is a former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, resigned as a member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s academic advisory council this week after spending just a month in the post.
In his resignation letter he described “enormous group pressure” which had become “unbearable.”
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which was founded by former chancellor of the exchequer Lord Lawson, was established because of concerns that government policies to combat climate change may be too radical.
The think tank describes itself as ‘open-minded on the contested science of global warming’.
Lord Lawson has agreed that Professor Bengtsson’s references to McCarthyism were “fully warranted.”