Spiegel Sees “Shaken Science”, Collapsed Consensus In The Wake Of The Lennart Bengtsson Mobbing Scandal

Spiegel science journalist Axel Bojanowski at the online Spiegel today features the controversy surrounding the mobbing of distinguished climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson.

The story covers the events leading up to Bengtsson’s resignation from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). Spiegel writes:

The consequences have shocked Bengtsson – and shaken science”.

Concerning the rejection of Bengtsson’s paper by the journal Environmental Research Letters last February, which according to the publisher Nicola Gulley was based on “scientific reasons”, Spiegel quotes Hans von Storch:

‘Scandalous’, Hans von Storch of the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht finds the resaoning behind it: The journal obviously did not go by the scientific norms, but rather political utility.”

The Spiegel article features comments from the other scientists, from the side accused of the bullying. According to Spiegel, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt calls the accusations made by Bengtsson “ridiculous”.

Over all the Spiegel article hardly depicts a science that is settled by a consensus among the experts, but rather portrays one that is bitterly and heatedly disputed. Indeed Spiegel even cites Michael Mann‘s characterization of “Climate Wars”. Spiegel adds: “One Austrian professor even requested the death penalty for climate skeptics.

Clearly climate science is all dispute, and no consensus whatsoever.

The Bengtsson controversy prompts Spiegel to pose a series of questions:

Is their science suffering from peer pressure? Is the pressure from consensus too large? Is criticism being suppressed? At stake is the very credibility of the results of climate change. Can we still trust climate science?”

GWPF accused of being “pseudoscientific”

Spiegel also puts the spotlight on the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the skeptic organization that Bengtsson was pressured to resign from. Bojanowski calls it a “lobby group“, and quotes Swiss climatologist Reto Knutti of the ETH in Zurich who says: “Organisations like the’GWPF’ contribute to turning the scientific debate into a religious war – they spread pseudoscientific reports even though they are on a political mission.”

Spiegel also quotes Jochen Marotzke, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, who accuses the GWPF of cherry-picking science and “mentioning only arguments that serve the purpose.”

According to Spiegel, Myles Allen of the University of Oxford calls the GWPF an organization that pushes an “anti-science-agenda“. Even the “skeptical environmental scientistRoger Pielke junior of the University of Colorado says the GWPF has a political agenda that is “dressed as science“. But Pielke adds that the “GWPF also pursues legitimate targets that a democracy needs to debate“.

“Shocking how colleagues reacted”

On the mobbing and attempted marginalization of Bengtsson specifically, Pielke also comments at Spiegel that he agrees the mobbing-type behavior is a problem in climate science. “My experience is in full agreement with the accusations made by Bengtsson.”

Spiegel writes that Bengtsson also has support, for example, from Heinrich Miller of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute: “I think it’s shocking how his colleagues reacted. Obviously there’s a prevailing disappointment that that a leading figure is making scientific doubt public.” Bojanowski writes that both sides are busily accusing the other of politicizing science.

Near the end, Spiegel writes of how much uncertainty a science can bear and of the lacking consensus.  Bojanowski cites Heinrich Miller:

Climate warming is understood as a dogma, and whoever expresses doubt is evil.”


38 responses to “Spiegel Sees “Shaken Science”, Collapsed Consensus In The Wake Of The Lennart Bengtsson Mobbing Scandal”

  1. William Connolley

    > Heinrich Miller

    His publication record is available, see He’s a distinguished scientist, its easy to see, but alas his distinction is that never in his career has he published a first-author paper. That’s very unusual.

    1. Pethefin

      Poor William, so busy with AGW-damage control theses days that he did not have time to scroll down the impressive publication list before making ridiculous claims. Piece of advice William: calm down, you are only hurting your cause and your own reputation with your behaviour.

  2. Frederick Colbourne

    William Connolley’s publishing record is available too.

  3. William Connolley

    (another one gone into your spam bin; do please fish it out; thanks)

  4. Loodt Pretorius

    Publishing record be damned.

    I am more interested in the list of original patents granted, real stuff, real money, real work.

    1. William Connolley

      Oh, in that case your man has no qualifications at all. So if you were actually telling the truth, you’d now ignore him. Of course, you weren’t telling the truth: you’re just looking for a way to ignore the qualifications of people you disagree with.

      1. Pethefin

        And your qualifications compared withh a German professor are exactly what?

        1. William Connolley

          > your qualifications

          Errm, I’ve already provided a link to my publication record, and to his. Because you people are far too lazy to ever find these things for yourselves.

          I’m afraid I can’t read them for you, though: you’ll have to do that yourself.

          > You are trying to smear a German professor with less than truthfull [sic] claims

          I’ve claimed “never in his career has he published a first-author paper”. If that’s “less than truthful” then rather than simply asserting it with no evidence, you need list just *one* of his first-author papers. I admit, I found it very surprising that he has none; its extremely uncommon even for moderately low-level folk.

          Prove me wrong: if you can, I’ll retract my claim. But if you can’t, you should be prepared to retract your “less than truthful” stuff.

          1. Pethefin

            You just can’t resist can you? Are truly claiming that you could not be bothered to acknowlegde for example this:

            Miller, H. (1967)
            Geologische und glaziologische Studien in der Westantarktis 1964 ,
            Polarforschung, Bremerhaven, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research & German Society of Polar Research, 37 (1/2), pp. 151-155 .

            which in addition is a paper written solo long before you had published anything. Enough of your games, go back playing your Wikigames.

          2. William Connolley

            Well done. You’ve actually bothered to read his publications record; you’ve done better than the rest here. I admit that I’d stopped at the end of the section marked “ISI peer-reviewed”. If you proceed on into the “Peer-reviewed” section, there’s “Miller, H. (2007) Germany’s Scientific Presence post IGY in Antarctica (Atlantic Sector)” (but that’s not science); but after that you can go back to 2004, in Polarforschung.

            So yes: I withdraw my claim. My record is still better than his on this score, though.

          3. Pethefin

            Still playing your games William. Maybe the sloppiness that you finally admit is the reason that you are not a professor, while Miller is. Or could it be that the “record” is quite the opposite than what you claim when it comes to quality of publications? In any case, I have lost interest in debating with you due to the habits that you have displayed here.

          4. DirkH

            William Connolley
            19. Mai 2014 at 23:04 | Permalink
            “So yes: I withdraw my claim. My record is still better than his on this score, though.”

            Inferiority complex.
            Don’t worry, Billyboy: We will always remember you as the most active censor of climate information in the wikipedia.

            It’s such a pity that you were 180 degrees wrong. You could have been such a great person.

  5. The Lennart Bengtsson story | The IPCC Report

    […] thoughtful and balanced article in Spiegel, raising questions and quoting both sides of the debate (partially translated by Pierre […]

  6. Ron C.

    In the comments regarding the Bengtsson incident, we can discern the complete inversion of perspectives.

    The alarmist climate scientists believe that mankind is sleepwalking toward thermalgeddon, and they are the whistleblowers trying to do the right thing. In their context, there can be no sympathy for Bengtsson, since he was aiding and abetting those distracting from their whistleblowing. Similarly, use of FOI and other laws seems to them as attempts to obstruct their noble cause.

  7. John F. Hultquist

    I think I missed the memo where it says a person has to be a multi-first-author-inventor-patent-receiving-renaissance-man in order to make a common sense comment. I see nothing in Heinrich Miller’s statement that would require even the level of knowledge of a high school graduate.

    To make his statement with different words: Allowing for skepticism in scientific issues should not cause alarm among scientists.

    1. John M

      When I was in grad school, it was common for tenured (i.e. secure) professors to list their names last. It was only the insecure junior guys without tenure that had the need to list their names first on their student’s publications.

      Of course, there was the occasional boor, whom I suppose, shared the Stoat attitude…

  8. handjive

    Quote: William Connolley
    19. Mai 2014 at 13:48 | Permalink | Reply
    > William Connolley’s publishing record is available too.

    Yup, sure is:

    It’s a pity that science is settled.

    Antarctic bottom water – cold, dense water that sits in the abyssal zone between 4000 metres and 6000 metres below the ocean’s surface – plays a plays a key role in global water circulation and the transport of carbon dioxide to the deepest layers of the ocean.

    The discovery of a fourth source of deep water is critical to our understanding of Antarctica’s contribution to global ocean circulation, and will improve modelling of its response to climate change, says study co-author Dr Guy Williams, of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Co-operative Research Centre.

    The discovery of a fourth source is like “finding a new component in the engine,” he says.

    Until recently only three sources of the deep waters were known – the Weddell and Ross seas and off the Adelie Coast.”

    Seals or stoats?

  9. Crowbar

    QUOTE: … Swiss climatologist Reto Knutti of the ETH in Zurich who says: “Organisations like the ’GWPF’ contribute to turning the scientific debate into a religious war – they spread pseudoscientific reports even though they are on a political mission.”

    Surely Reto is talking about the UNIPCC there?

    Meanwhile, Mr Connelly disappears after Pethefin’s comment #19.

  10. Colorado Wellington

    Wikipedia should let William Connolley edit an article or two again. For therapeutic purposes. There must be few articles that nobody reads and a few falsehoods can’t do much damage. Maybe the factional conflict in the Cameroon Communist Party in 1979-1984?

    1. DirkH

      You are ill-informed: After losing his admin status and being banned for half a year, Connolley immediately returned to his editing. He is, as always, the top censor of the climate sector in the wikipedia. Climate information in the wikipedia never recovered from his activities.

      1. Colorado Wellington

        That’s awful—I completely missed that. I thought he went through the detox and was able to stay clean. I did not know he fell off the wagon right away. I avoid the junkie scene so I hardly ever go to Wikipedia. I agree that William has primary responsibility for his condition but these guys are a bunch of enablers.

        What a sad outcome for everyone.

      2. Loodt Pretorius

        And we know that there was no scientific consensus about Global Cooling in the 1970s, because he wrote a peer reviewed paper to say so and link to it in his edited Wikipedia pages.

  11. DirkH

    Photovoltaics researchers in Germany, France, Switzerland plan big PV factory; will cost 1 bn EUR, produce 1 GW of modules a year, existing factories only 100 MW to 500 MW.
    Researchers want to build pilot plant near Freiburg; then the real thing on the French side of the border (doubtlessly to exploit the cheap nuclear energy there, though naturally the article doesn’t spell it out.).
    Article from the Prantl-Pravda:

    As to the researchers, the Germans (Fraunhofer) and French (INES) are public sector; the Suisse are only mentioned with a small private sector institute (CSEM). Of course; the Suisse are not members of the EU so they do not partake in the public sector grandezza of the Eurocrats.

    Oh and once the new big factory works solar cells will become much cheaper and everything will be great. It’s intended as a kind of Volksfront factory. Article constantly compares it with the Airbus project. Output will be cheaper than Chinese solar cells, article says.

  12. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

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