Matt Ridley: This Bullying Of Climate Sceptics Must End
When did demonising your opponents become so acceptable?
nnart Bengtsson is about as distinguished as climate scientists get. His decision two weeks ago to join the academic advisory board (on which I also sit, unremunerated) of Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation was greeted with fury by many fellow climate scientists. Now in a McCarthyite move — his analogy — they have bullied him into resigning by refusing to collaborate with him unless he leaves.
The GWPF aims to ensure that the climate-change debate is more balanced. Its members are not “deniers”, yet as Lord Lawson said in a recent speech: “I have never in my life experienced the extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification that I, along with other dissenters, of course, have received for my views on global warming and global-warming policies.”
Professor Bengtsson’s resignation shows that the alleged “consensus” on dangerous global warming involves suppressing dissent by academic bullying. He emphasises that there is no consensus about how fast and how far greenhouse warming will go, let alone what can be done in response.
Evidence of such bullying emerged in the “Climategate” scandal of 2009, where some climate scientists’ emails revealed them to be ready to threaten and blackball colleagues, reporters and editors who expressed sceptical views. I talk frequently to scientists who are unconvinced that climate change is even close to being the world’s most pressing environmental problem, but who will not put their heads above the parapet for fear of what it would do to their careers.
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.
Or consider Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman who suffered genital mutilation, attempted forced marriage, attempted assassination and double exile for her views. The offer of an honorary degree from Brandeis University on the anniversary of the Boston marathon bombings (committed by Islamists) was withdrawn after pressure from its women’s studies department.
Professor Bengtsson’s persecution shows precisely why independent think-tanks such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation are essential. Truly, the old joke is becoming ever more true: what’s the opposite of diversity? University.