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 scientist” Roger 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.”