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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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The coerced consensus

Lennart Bengtsson's treatment shows how climate sceptics are silenced

My Thunderer column in the Times on the bullying of a distinguished climate scientist for having the temerity to advise those who doubt the speed of climate change:

[update: links repaired below]

Lennart 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 (more on Aayan Hirsi Ali here).

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.

 

More on this story here:

http://climateaudit.org/2014/05/16/iop-expecting-consistency-between-models-and-observations-is-an-error/

 

Appendix:

Examples of the threatening and blackballing of scientists, reporters and editors in the Climategate emails:

  • Phil Jones writes to University of Hull to try to stop sceptic Sonia Boehmer Christiansen using her Hull affiliation. Graham F Haughton of Hull University says its easier to push greenery there now SB-C has retired.( 1256765544)
  • Michael Mann discusses how to destroy a journal that has published sceptic papers.(1047388489)
  • Letter to The Times from climate scientists was drafted with the help of Greenpeace.(0872202064)
  • Mann thinks he will contact BBC’s Richard Black to find out why another BBC journalist was allowed to publish a vaguely sceptical article.( 1255352257)
  • Tom Wigley says that von Storch is partly to blame for sceptic papers getting published at Climate Research. Says he encourages the publication of crap science. Says they should tell publisher that the journal is being used for misinformation. Says that whether this is true or not doesn’t matter. Says they need to get editorial board to resign. Says they need to get rid of von Storch too. (  1051190249)
  • Ben Santer says (presumably jokingly!) he’s “tempted, very tempted, to beat the crap” out of sceptic Pat Michaels. ( 1255100876)
  • Tom Wigley discusses how to deal with the advent of FoI law in UK. Jones says use IPR argument to hold onto code. Says data is covered by agreements with outsiders and that CRU will be “hiding behind them”.( 1106338806)
  • Santer complaining about FoI requests from McIntyre. Says he expects support of Lawrence Livermore Lab management. Jones says that once support staff at CRU realised the kind of people the scientists were dealing with they became very supportive. Says the VC [vice chancellor] knows what is going on (in one case).(1228330629)
  • Rob Wilson concerned about upsetting Mann in a manuscript. Says he needs to word things diplomatically.( 1140554230)
  • Briffa says he is sick to death of Mann claiming his reconstruction is tropical because it has a few poorly temp sensitive tropical proxies. Says he should regress these against something else like the “increasing trend of self-opinionated verbiage” he produces. Ed Cook agrees with problems.( 1024334440)
  • Santer says he will no longer publish in Royal Met Soc journals if they enforce intermediate data being made available. Jones has complained to head of Royal Met Soc about new editor of Weather [why?data?] and has threatened to resign from RMS.(1237496573)
  • Reaction to McIntyre’s 2005 paper in GRL. Mann has challenged GRL editor-in-chief over the publication. Mann is concerned about the connections of the paper’s editor James Saiers with U Virginia [does he mean Pat Michaels?]. Tom Wigley says that if Saiers is a sceptic they should go through official GRL channels to get him ousted.(1106322460) [Note to readers - Saiers was subsequently ousted]
  • Later on Mann refers to the leak at GRL being plugged.( 1132094873)
  • Jones says that UK climate organisations are coordinating themselves to resist FoI. They got advice from the Information Commissioner [!]( 1219239172)
  • Mann tells Revkin that McIntyre is not to be trusted.( 1254259645)
  • Jones says in a HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL email that he and Kevin will keep some papers out of the next IPCC report.( 1089318616)
  • Tom Wigley tells Mann that a figure Schmidt put together to refute Monckton is deceptive and that the match it shows of instrumental to model predictions is a fluke. Says there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model output by authors and IPCC.( 1255553034)
  • Grant Foster putting together a critical comment on a sceptic paper. Asks for help for names of possible reviewers. Jones replies with a list of people, telling Foster they know what to say about the paper and the comment without any prompting.(1249503274)
  • Briffa discusses an sceptic article review with Ed Cook. Says that confidentially he needs to put together a case to reject it ( 1054756929)
  • Ben Santer, referring to McIntyre says he hopes Mr “I’m not entirely there in the head” will not be at the AGU.( 1233249393)

And here is what a climate scientist, Michael Schlesinger, wrote to Andy Revkin of the New York Times shortly afterwards:

Andy:

Copenhagen prostitutes?

Climate prostitutes?

Shame on you for this gutter reportage. This is the second time this week I have written you thereon, the first about giving space in your blog to the Pielkes.

The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists. Of course, your blog is your blog. But, I sense that you are about to experience the 'Big Cutoff' from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included. 

Copenhagen prostitutes? 
Unbelievable and unacceptable. 

What are you doing and why? 

Michael