Is the global-warming establishment suppressing dissent?

Science, most of us learned in school, is a collaborative and ongoing effort to learn the truth through research, hypotheses, testing, and challenge. These days, science appears more to be a belief system in which heretics are summarily dismissed. Such was the case with Lennart Bengtsson, a climate research fellow at the University of Reading, whose heresy was to challenge the anthropogenic global-warming establishment — not by disputing AGW, but to point out the errors in the hypotheses and models and postulate through collected data that the effect was much slower and milder than the IPCC claims. For this, Bengtsson claims his work has been suppressed, and the Times of London has followed up on the story (via Jeff Dunetz):

Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading and one of the authors of the study, said he suspected that intolerance of dissenting views on climate science was preventing his paper from being published. “The problem we now have in the climate community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of a climate activist,” he added.

Professor Bengtsson’s paper challenged the finding of the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the global average temperature would rise by up to 4.5C if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to double.

It suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC in its report last September, and recommended that more work be carried out “to reduce the underlying uncertainty”.

The five contributing scientists, from America and Sweden, submitted the paper to Environmental Research Letters, one of the most highly regarded journals, at the end of last year but were told in February that it had been rejected.

A scientist asked by the journal to assess the paper under the peer review process wrote that he strongly advised against publishing it because it was “less than helpful”.

The unnamed scientist concluded: “Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate skeptics media side.”

The report from the ToL is significant, in part because the skeptic views have largely been covered only by the Telegraph in the UK. In Germany, Bengtsson’s plight drew the attention of the usually AGW-friendly Der Spiegel earlier this week when Bengtsson joined a skeptic think tank:

The debate over climate change is often a contentious one, and key players in the discussion only rarely switch sides. But late last month, Lennart Bengtsson, the former director of the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, one of the world’s leading climate research centers, announced he would join the academic advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

GWPF, based in Britain, is a non-profit organization and self-described think tank. Conservative politician Nigel Lawson founded the organization in 2009 in order to counteract what he considered to be an exaggerated concern about global warming. The organization uses aggressive information campaigns to pursue its goals.

The lobby group’s views markedly differ from those of the UN climate panel, the IPCC, whose reports are the products of the work of hundreds of scientists who classify and analyze vast amounts of climate knowledge accumulated through years of research. The most recent IPCC report states that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are leading to significant global warming, with serious environmental consequences.

Bengtsson was known for maintaining moderate positions even during the most vitriolic debates over global warming during the 1990s.

However, Bengtsson didn’t stick around GWPF for long, after being hounded into resigning within days:

A climate change researcher has claimed that scientists are confusing their role as impartial observers with green activism after his paper challenging predictions about the speed of global warming was rejected because it was seen as “less than helpful.”

Professor Lennart Bengtsson says recent McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics forced him to resign from his post on a climate sceptic think-tank.

The research fellow from the University of Reading believes a paper he co-authored was deliberately suppressed from publicatoin in a leading journal because of an intolerance of dissenting views about climate change by scientists who peer-reviewed the work. …

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which was founded by former chancellor of the exchequer Lord Lawson, was established because of concerns that government policies to combat climate change may be too radical.

The think tank describes itself as ‘open-minded on the contested science of global warming’.

Lord Lawson has agreed that Professor Bengtsson’s reference to McCarthyism were “fully warranted.”

The only criteria that should be used to publish a scientific paper is the science itself, not whether it gives aid and comfort to one’s political opponents. It’s episodes like these, and declarations that the “debate is over” and that every hot summer and brush fire proves AGW but every cold winter is just weather, that have more and more people scoffing at global-warning hysteria. The models produced by the IPCC have not accurately predicted anything as of yet, and Bengtsson’s paper may have an explanation for why. However, those who have a vested interest in pushing AGW want to make sure that no one gets a chance to see it in a peer-reviewed journal, and then will later attempt to discredit Bengtsson for not having published his findings in the traditional manner.

That’s a lot of things … but it’s not science.