Who needs scientific evidence on climate change when you can distract the world with shiny new conspiracies?
Here we go again. The latest IPCC report, the US National Climate Assessment report, and a report published by US military researchers all recently warned us yet again about the risks associated with human-caused climate change. While the planet continues to warm, ice continues to melt, and sea levels continue to rise, the conservative media are trying to distract everyone from these scientific realities with a shiny quarter named Lennart Bengtsson.
Bengtsson is a meteorologist at the University of Reading, who recently decided to join a charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The GWPF is known for downplaying the risks posed by human-caused global warming with shoddy scientific arguments, then arguing against taking any meaningful action to address the problem.
The GWPF has called the IPCC a "deeply discredited organisation" and worse, and has accused climate scientists of being delusional or liars. The group also recently set up a new campaigning arm, which would be free from charity regulations requiring that any information they put out is fair and as accurate as possible.
Thus it was not surprising when Bengtsson's scientific colleagues were unhappy with him joining this organization. Some of those colleagues allegedly told Bengtsson that they did not want to publish research with him due to his association with this political group, which seems entirely understandable. However, in response to these alleged reactions from his colleagues (Bengtsson did not respond to requests for additional details), Bengtsson wrote in his resignation letter to the GWPF,
"I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy."
To be clear, this situation bears no resemblance to McCarthyism in the United States, which involved aggressive government investigations and questioning of people suspected of having ties to Communism. For more accurate parallels in climate science today, look instead at Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's witch-hunt of Michael Mann or the Climategate inquiries directed at Phil Jones. A few colleagues withdrawing support and co-authorship with Bengtsson pales in comparison.
A few days later, Bengtsson told Rupert Murdoch's The Times that a peer-reviewer comment recommending rejection of a paper he co-authored mentioned how the 'skeptic' media would react to the study. The Murdoch media and other conservatively biased news outlets went berserk, with stories in Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The Mail Online, The Telegraph, The Times again, The Mail on Sunday, The Australian, and Drudge, inventing conspiracy theories involving censorship of 'inconvenient research'.
Bengtsson's submitted paper had made the case that the Earth's climate sensitivity to the increased greenhouse effect is relatively low by comparing the results of several previous studies, but had not made the case well. The journal in question, Environmental Research Letterspublished the full comments from the reviewer in question, showing that the recommendation to reject the paper was because,
"The overall innovation of the manuscript is very low … The paper does not make any significant attempt at explaining or understanding the differences, it rather puts out a very simplistic negative message giving at least the implicit impression of "errors" being made within and between these assessments,"
Comments from a second reviewer were even more brutal. This is precisely the purpose of peer-review – to filter out papers that aren't sufficiently accurate or don't add anything significant to our scientific understanding. Environmental Research Letters is a high-quality scientific journal with a 65% rejection rate. For examples of innovative research in this area, see our discussions of recent papers by NASA'sDrew Shindell and Texas A&M's Kummer & Dessler.
Written By: Dana Nuccitelli
continue to source article at theguardian.com