Thuggish threats, censorship, and intimidation are not supposed to occur in the collegial, hallowed halls of science; differences of opinion on scientific issues are expected to be resolved cordially via argumentation based on research, experimentation, analysis, and presentation of evidence. But things don’t always work out that way, especially when the issue concerned involves billions of dollars in research funding, as well as political policies that would cost trillions of dollars and radically re-engineer global society.
The recent case of meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson (shown), one of Sweden’s leading climate scientists, shows that Climategate-style censorship of skeptics continues. Since mid-May, Professor Bengtsson has been at the center of a simmering scandal that has been the talk of the climate science blogosphere. It has also broken out into a number of mainstream media stories.
In April, Bengtsson accepted an invitation to become a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a British-based think tank that includes many eminent climate scientists. Why would that cause scandal and controversy? After all, many other scientists have also joined various think tanks involved in the controversial anthropogenic (human-caused) global-warming (AGW) debate. Well, the GWPF does not simply regurgitate the latest overheated bloviations of Al Gore, the UN’s IPCC, or the EPA; it has published 15 detailed reports and numerous shorter articles challenging the apocalyptic predictions and hysterical claims of the AGW alarmists. GWPF spokesmen are often quoted in media stories contradicting the prophets of climate doom and gloom.
However, only two weeks after joining GWPF, Professor Bengtsson resigned, citing “enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life.” And in a letter to colleagues, announcing his decision, he likewise alluded to “massive objections from colleagues around the world.”
One of Bengtsson’s colleagues wrote in an e-mail:
Joining this group would be interpreted by the media, the general public and colleagues not, as you apparently intended, as a rational contribution to an important discussion, but as an endorsement by a highly esteemed climate scientist of the political goals of GWPF (including the non-scientific methods apparently applied by GWPF).
It is easy to see why the organized AGW forces would be in a near state of panic over another prominent climate scientist such as Bengtsson joining the “enemy.” Top scientists have been jumping off the AGW bandwagon and have been publicly criticizing the UN’s IPCC process and the atmosphere of dogmatic repression enforced by the “climate science” mafia — even as President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, the United Nations, and the usual MSM talking heads double down on the AGW hysteria. (See: "UN, Obama Flog Global-warming Alarmism — As More Scientists Defect.")
Another colleague wrote to Bengtsson that “name calling, innuendo, political games, character defamation and caricature … are the methods of the GWPF.”
The “name calling, innuendo” charge is particularly risible since it is the apocalyptic warmists — not the skeptics — who have been most notorious at character defamation, equating AGW skeptics with Nazi Holocaust deniers. Some of the prominent AGW alarmists have viciously attacked skeptics as “criminals” and “traitors” who should be banned from the media and the Internet and even “thrown into jail.” (See below.)
On May 30, Professor David Henderson, chairman of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council, posted a lengthy commentary on the Bengtsson resignation affair, providing some of the backstory and details that have been absent from many of the blogs and news stories.
Described by the GWPF as "one of Sweden’s leading climate scientists," Professor Bengtsson is a former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg and has authored more than 220 papers in scientific journals.
He was head of research at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts from 1975 to 1981 and then director until 1990. He is now a senior research fellow at the Environmental Systems Science Centre in the University of Reading in the U.K. He is the recipient of many awards, including the 51st IMO prize (in 2006) of the World Meteorological Organization for pioneering research in numerical weather prediction.
Professor Heinrich Miller of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research told Germany’s Spiegel, "I find the way his colleagues reacted shocking. Apparently there is now pervasive disappointment because a shining scientific example is making his scientific doubts public.” Dr. Miller adds that the Bengtsson case reminds him about how politicians use "dirty tricks" to muzzle opponents.
Miller says that scientists were politicized more than anything else by having to seek a consensus on results for the 5th IPCC report. "Global warming is taken as dogma. Anyone who doubts it is bad," says the renowned researcher, who was branded a "climate skeptic" after questioning the scientific validity of computer simulations.
Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado, says, "Unfortunately, climate science has become very politicized and views that differ at all from those in control of the climate assessment process are either ignored or ridiculed. From my experience, I agree 100 percent with the allegations made by the very distinguished Lennart Bengtsson."
Marc Morano of ClimateDepot says of the attacks on Bengtsson: "They've threatened him. They've bullied him. They've pulled his papers. They're now going through everything they can to smear his reputation. And the ‘they’ I'm referring to is the global warming establishment."
The Climategate e-mails from the University of East Anglia forced even The Guardian, one of Britain’s most rabidly alarmist AGW media platforms, to admit that some of the top climate modelers (particularly Phil Jones and Michael Mann) had shown willingness to use their pull to prevent scientists who disagreed with their alarmist predictions from being published in scientific journals.
The 2009 Climategate e-mails confirmed what critics had been claiming for years. In an April 12, 2006 article for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Climate of Fear,” distinguished climate scientist Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric science at MIT, ran through some of the history of bullying, harassment, defamation, and censorship employed against scientists such as himself, who had been labeled “skeptics” and/or “deniers.” Dr. Lindzen noted, for instance, the bullying tactics of then-Senator Al Gore, who, in 1992, was riding high on the best-seller status of his enviro-jeremiad Earth in the Balance and his “star” appearance at the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Lindzen wrote:
In 1992, he [Gore] ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists — a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.
“Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg,” Dr. Lindzen continued. “In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the UN's World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.”
“And then,” Lindzen noted, “there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom.”
Now the question is, did the global pressure on Bengtsson to resign from the GWPF include censorship by a scientific journal? Prior to joining the GWPF, but after he had expressed doubts publicly, in interviews, about the exaggerated dangers of AGW, this world-renowned expert suddenly found that a scientific article he had authored was not acceptable to the gatekeepers of a major science journal. An article submitted by Bengtsson and associates earlier this year to Environmental Research Letters was rejected for publication because, said the journal’s editor, it did not "significantly advance knowledge of the field." Bengtsson and his co-authors then asked that a shorter version be published as a “Perspectives” piece. This too was rejected by the journal. Details about the journal’s “peer review” process and the alleged “errors” that were objected to in the article by Bengtsson, et al, are still not available.
As was to be expected, the ardent AGW alarmists in the media have been quick to dismiss (if they did not ignore completely) the Bengtsson bullying affair and the alleged censorship. Dana Nuccitelli, one of The Guardian’s most ardent apostles of AGW alarmism, attempted to wave off the controversy over the Bengtsson treatment as a stunt by Bengtsson to politicize science. Nuccitelli wrote:
Along with Richard Lindzen joining the Cato Institute, Bengtsson now gives us two examples of "skeptical" scientists becoming associated with political advocacy groups, and zero examples of mainstream climate scientists joining political organizations. Who is it that’s politicizing science?
Nuccitelli’s charge is laughable, since so many high-profile “climate scientists” pushing the AGW line are also visibly, undeniably activists, advisers, and spokesmen for “political advocacy groups.”
Professor Judith A. Curry, a prominent climatologist and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, called Nuccitelli out on his “zero examples” assertion.
“The ‘zero examples of mainstream climate scientists joining political organizations’ raised my hackles,” she wrote in her Climate, Etc. blog.
“I did a quick search for names of climate scientists (broadly defined) serving on Boards of green advocacy groups,” she said, and then listed a substantial number of them, including James Hansen, Michael Oppenheimer, William Chameides, James J. McCarthy, Mario J. Molina, Daniel Kammen, Jonathan Foley — and many more.
“I’m sure there are many that I missed,” says Professor Curry, “but this quick compilation points out that Abraham and Nuccitelli were mistaken in the Guardian article — participation of leading climate scientists in green advocacy groups is substantial.”
Principle of Reversal
The warmists excel at the principle of reversal, accusing their opponents of precisely what the warmists themselves are most flagrantly guilty. Take, for instance, the charge mentioned above by a warmist that it is the AGW skeptic scientists who employ “name calling, innuendo, political games, character defamation and caricature.” An Internet search will quickly confirm the opposite; it is the alarmists who have carried out a decades-long campaign of name calling, innuendo, and defamation. Finally, some of the victims have had enough and are firing back; but they are not simply name-calling, they are calling out the defamers who are posing as scientists while using political power to suppress scientific challenges to their increasingly discredited theories. As reported recently by The New American, Dr. Roy Spencer, a former senior climate scientist for NASA and currently principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has come out swinging at the “Global Warming Nazis” who are attempting to silence real scientific debate and research.
On July 26, 2007, Senator James Inhofe brought to light an e-mail threat by Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) — an activist environmental group that is supported by the EPA and the U.S. Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture — against Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) to “destroy” his career. Among other things, Eckhart threatened: “If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members.”
The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that reported this abuse by Eckhart then provided links to numerous additional examples of not only threats and vicious, abusive language, but actual examples of scientists being fired or demoted for deviating from mandated AGW orthodoxy. This includes prominent AGW scientists and activists who refer to climate realists as “traitors,” “criminals,” “bastards,” and “deniers,” and who call for international Nuremberg-style trials to prosecute scientists that challenge the global-warming myths. (See also "Silencing the Global Warming Skeptics" for an additional extensive catalog of AGW censorship, bullying, and abuse.
Lysenkoism, Stalinism the Issue, Not “McCarthyism”
Unfortunately, Dr. Bengtsson and many of his supporters (including many conservatives who should know better), in combatting the Big Lie of CO2 villainy and AGW apocalypse, have fallen for an even older Big Lie, that of “McCarthyism.” Bengtsson said that the pressure put on him is reminiscent of the persecution of suspected communists during by Senator McCarthy in the 1950s. This same terminology was picked up by many of Bengtsson’s defenders who echoed the charge that the famous scientist is being lynched in a fit of “climate McCarthyism.”
The problem with these references and analogies is that they are a terrible disservice to Senator McCarthy, to history, to truth, and to justice. Senator Joseph McCarthy was the Left’s and the establishment media’s 1950s equivalent of CO2; he was demonized and vilified beyond anything even remotely resembling reality. Unlike CO2/AGW, communism was (and is) a global threat; and unlike CO2/AGW, global communism killed hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings and enslaved, tortured, imprisoned, corrupted, and impoverished billions more. There is not time or space to deal with this important issue here, but we recommend James J Drummey’s article “The Real McCarthy Record” and M. Stanton Evans’ book Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy.
AGW critics would do well to avoid falling into this trap in the future. They should name the ongoing censorship of AGW critics for what it is: Naziism or Stalinism, or, more specifically Lysenkoism.
As The New American reported back in 2011 ("Lysenkoism" at OSU?):
In the annals of politicized science, Trofim Lysenko provides a supreme example of ignorance and ignominy wedded to power. Lysenko was a two-bit horticulturist who rose to great prominence in the Soviet Union under dictator/mass murderer Joseph Stalin, becoming director of the Soviet Academy of Science's Institute of Genetics. Subjugating science to communist ideology and personal whim, Lysenko succeeded in outlawing biological research that was not in accord with his crackpot notions of genetics.
Lysenko's corollary was the extension of Stalin's infamous purges to the ranks of Russian scientists, many of whom were denounced, demoted, exiled, jailed, tortured — or even executed. After all, these dangerous folks were guilty of the serious thought crime of "deviationism": dissenting from the glorious truths of "the people's science," as defined by the Party and Lysenko. Lysenkoism, obviously, resulted in deep personal tragedy for the scientists directly affected, but it spelled even larger tragedy for Russian science in general and greatly exacerbated the famines caused by Stalin's agricultural collectivization policies. Lysenko's pseudoscience spread to other communist countries and especially enjoyed Mao Zedong's favor in Red China, greatly contributing to that country's Great Famine, which killed at least 45 million Chinese between 1958 and 1962.
Photo: Lennart Bengtsson
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