Climate Science: No Dissent Allowed

Global Science Report is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science, where we highlight one or two important new items in the scientific literature or the popular media. For broader and more technical perspectives, consult our monthly “Current Wisdom.”

Award-winning climate modeler experiences “a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy”

An interesting juxtaposition of items appeared in our Inbox today.

First was an announcement that Dr. Lennart Bengtsson, former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, had resigned from the Academic Advisory Council of the U.K.’s Global Warming Policy Foundation. What was surprising about this announcement was that it was just announced a week or so ago that Dr. Bengtsson—a prominent and leading climate modeler and research scientist—was joining the GWPF Council. At that time, there was some wondering aloud as to why Dr. Bengtsson would join an organization that was somewhat “skeptical” when it comes to the projections and impacts of climate change and the effectiveness and direction of climate change policy.

During one recent interview Dr. Bengtsson explained:

I think the climate community shall be more critical and spend more time to understand what they are doing instead of presenting endless and often superficial results and to do this with a critical mind. I do not believe that the IPCC machinery is what is best for science in the long term. We are still in a situation where our knowledge is insufficient and climate models are not good enough. What we need is more basic research freely organized and driven by leading scientists without time pressure to deliver and only deliver when they believe the result is good and solid enough. It is not for scientists to determine what society should do. In order for society to make sensible decisions in complex issues it is essential to have input from different areas and from different individuals. The whole concept behind IPCC is basically wrong.

A good summary of the buzz that surrounded Dr. Bengtsson and his association with GWPF is contained over at Judith Curry’s website, Climate Etc.

So why did Dr. Bengtsson suddenly resign? 

Here is the content of his resignation letter, written to GWPF Academic Advisory Council Chairman, Dr. David Henderson:

Dear Professor Henderson,

I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expect[ed] such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc.

I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expect[ed] anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.

[glad you noticed!—eds]

Under these [sic] situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.

With my best regards

Lennart Bengtsson

This letter is stunning in its candor and shows that that all the conspiring and bullying that the was on full display in the Climategate email release continues unabashedly today. 

Aside from a bit of personal embarrassment from particularly bad behavior, by and large the climate science establishment just shrugged its shoulders at the Climategate revelations with a “Yeah, so what?”  That’s a fitting response as they seek to control the scientific discourse when it comes to climate change. Group pressure is an effective means of doing so.

What Climategate taught the bully cohort of scientists was they could continue to bully their colleagues, sabotage their publications, and intimidate journal editors with impunity.  As evidenced from Dr. Bengtsson’s resignation letter, if it has changed at all, the situation in climate science is worse now than it was before the emails were leaked.

Which leads to this email that we got today from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

Anyone thinking that there is an open flow of ideas in climate science is 100 percent wrong.