Scientists Condemned For Political Bias On Climate Change

  • Date: 16/05/14
  • Ben Webster, The Times

Climate scientists who vilified a colleague for advising a think-tank are “blind to their own biases”, according to a former senior member of the UN’s climate change advisory body.

Mike Hulme, professor of climate and culture at King’s College London, condemned fellow scientists for “harassing” Lennart Bengtsson, and gave warning that climate science had become too political.

Professor Bengtsson resigned this week from the academic advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic think-tank, after being subjected to what he described as McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics.

Professor Hulme, who helped to lead the team that produced the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2001 report, last night broke ranks within the climate science community to defend Professor Bengtsson.

He condemned climate scientists who “believe it’s their role to pass public judgment on whether a scientific colleague should offer advice to political, public or a campaigning organisations and to harass that scientist until they ‘fall into line’.”

He added that the episode said much about how politicised climate science had become and “how some scientists remain blind to their own biases”.

An academic journal yesterday defended its decision to reject a paperco-authored by Professor Bengtsson and four other leading climate scientists. The paper suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC in its report last September. An anonymous reviewer for Environmental Research Letters recommended rejecting the paper and described it as “harmful” because climate sceptics could use it to argue their case.

Nicola Gulley, editorial director at IOP Publishing, which publishes the online journal, said that the rejection was based solely on editorial standards. “The referees selected to review this paper were of the highest calibre and are respected members of the international science community,” she said. IOP declined to name the reviewer.

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