The War On Free Speech: Professor Lennart Bengtsson And The McCarthy-Style Witch Hunt On Dissenting Scientists
IF you value free speech, you’ll be interested in the news that sceptical views on man-made climate change are being squashed. In echos of the “Climategate” scandal at the University of East Anglia, these new allegations are that a paper by Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, was censored because it contested the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the global average temperature would rise by up to 4.5C if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to double.
He tell the Times: “The problem we now have in the climate community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of a climate activist…It is an indication of how science is gradually being influenced by political views. The reality hasn’t been keeping up with the [computer] models. Therefore, if people are proposing to do major changes to the world’s economic system we must have much more solid information.”
Professor Bengtsson and four scientists from America and Sweden submitted their research to the Environmental Research Letters. The publication rejected it after one assessor called it “less than helpful”. This editor added:
“Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate sceptics media side.”
Bengtsson has many supporters. One is David Gee, a former geology professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, who notes:
“The pressure on you from the climate community simply confirms the worst aspects of politicised science. I have been reprimanded myself for opposing the climate bandwagon, with its blind dedication to political ambitions.”
IOP Publishing, which publishes Environmental Research Letters, has replied:
“Two independent reviewers . . . reported that the paper contained errors and did not provide a significant advancement in the field, and therefore failed to meet the journal’s required acceptance criteria. As a consequence, the independent reviewers recommended that the paper should not be published in the journal which led to the final editorial decision to reject the paper.”
But there is pattern of shutting down dissenting voices. Professor Bengtsson, a former director of the Max Planck Institute, recently resigned his role at the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s academic advisory council. He wrote:
“I have been put under such an enormous group pressure from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable. It is a situation that reminds me [of] the time of McCarthy.”
The Times noted in April 2014:
The BBC should also give less airtime to climate sceptics and its editors should seek special clearance to interview them, according to the Commons Science and Technology Committee. Andrew Miller, the committee’s Labour chairman, said that appearances on radio and television by climate sceptics such as Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, should be accompanied by “health warnings”.
This chimes with the Green Party leader who was reported to having opined that the “scientific debate on climate change is over” and “any cabinet minister or government adviser who does not agree with the ‘scientific consensus’ about climate change should be removed from office”.
Matt Ridley pouts it well:
What is going on in academia when demonising and silencing your opponents has become so acceptable? It’s not just climate change. The nature-nurture debate is also policed by zealots, although less so than in the 1970s when any mention of genes and behaviour led to accusations of fascism.