by Judith Curry
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. – Lennart Bengtsson
The GWPF has announced that Lennart Bengtsson has announced his resignation from the GWPF Advisory Council. From the press release (which I received via email):
GWPF Voices Shock and Concern at the Extent of Intolerance within the Climate Science Community
It is with great regret, and profound shock, that we have received Professor Lennart Bengtsson’s letter of resignation from his membership of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.
The Foundation, while of course respecting Professor Bengtsson’s decision, notes with deep concern the disgraceful intolerance within the climate science community which has prompted his resignation.
Professor Bengtsson’s letter of resignation from our Academic Advisory Council was sent to its chairman, Professor David Henderson. His letter and Professor Henderson’s response are attached below.
Dr Benny Peiser, Director, The Global Warming Policy Foundation
The text of Bengtsson’s resignation letter:
Dear Professor Henderson,
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc.
I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.
Under these situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.
With my best regards
David Henderson’s response:
Dear Professor Bengtsson,
I have just seen your letter to me, resigning from the position which you had accepted just three weeks ago, as a member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s Academic Advisory Council.
Your letter came as a surprise and a shock. I greatly regret your decision, and I know that my regret will be shared by all my colleagues on the Council.
Your resignation is not only a sad event for us in the Foundation: it is also a matter of profound and much wider concern. The reactions that you speak of, and which have forced you to reconsider the decision to join us, reveal a degree of intolerance, and a rejection of the principle of open scientific inquiry, which are truly shocking. They are evidence of a situation which the Global Warming Policy Foundation was created to remedy.
In your recent published interview with Marcel Crok, you said that ‘if I cannot stand my own opinions, life will become completely unbearable’. All of us on the Council will feel deep sympathy with you in an ordeal which you should never have had to endure.
With great regret, and all good wishes for the future.
David Henderson, Chairman, GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council
Die Klimazweibel has a post on this, read the comments. Pielke Jr states:
For experts in the climate issue, there is enormous social and peer pressure on what is acceptable to say and who it is acceptable to associate with. My recent experiences are quite similar to Bengtsson’s:
Unfortunately, “climate mccarthyism” is not so far off. It has been practiced for a while:
The main problem here is not that people have strong views or call people names. It is that the elite in this community – including scientists, journalists, politicians — have endorsed the climate mccarthyism campaign, and are often its most vigorous participants.
Over the long run, of course, good science will win out and policy will muddle through. In the short term however, the community will continue to do itself a lot of damage.
The climate issue is coming to represent a globalized version of the US abortion debates. I tell my grad students that there is no use for policy analysts in the abortion debates. I should follow my own advice!
Also of interest, Marcel Crok refers to a 1990 interview with Bengtsson, excerpts:
Bengtsson believes that climate experts should not pretend to be more knowledgeable than they really are. ‘In case of the greenhouse effect there is an interaction between media, politics and science. Every group pushes the other groups. Science is under pressure because everyone wants our advice. However, we cannot give the impression that a catastrophe is imminent. The greenhouse effect is a problem that is here to stay for hundreds of years. Climate experts should have the courage to state that we are not yet sure. What is wrong with making that statement clear and loudly?’
Bengtsson thinks that the IPCC has been particularly actuated for political reasons. ‘The IPCC prediction that with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere the temperature on Earth would rise by two degrees should be taken with a grain of salt.’
‘If you talk to the greenhouse mafia about these observations, they provide some answers, but those are not real. There is no proper support for the claim that the greenhouse effect should already be visible. It is sometimes stated that the Southern Hemisphere is warming. But there are so few observational sites over there that it is very difficult to draw any definitive conclusions about the temperature in the Southern Hemisphere.’
Bengtsson is not the only climate expert who thinks that much of the excitement about the greenhouse effect is undue. Many of his colleagues have been rather uneasy about what happened after they opened Pandora’s box. They have become afraid, now that politicians, camera crews, pressure groups and environmental departments worldwide have thrown themselves at the climate disaster, to openly state that what they have declared may have been a bit premature.
Bengtsson: ‘Many of us feel rather uncomfortable with much of what has been claimed about the greenhouse effect. No one had been talking about it because temperatures had been slightly on the decline during the last 30 years. Only after Jim Hansen of NASA had put the issue back on the agenda after the warm summer of 1988 has it become part of the political agenda. In itself there is no problem with that. Looking hundreds of years ahead the greenhouse effect could become a serious problem. Some policies are obviously a clever thing to do: save energy, become less dependent on oil, those are good ideas. But one cannot oversell the greenhouse effect. There are many environmental problems that are much more urgent like that of the sulphur dioxide in Eastern Europe.’
UPDATE: GWPF has a new press release on this, with the following statement:
Professor Bengtsson wrote in his resignation letter: “I have been put under such an enormous group pressure from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable. It is a situation that reminds me [of] the time of McCarthy.”
He told The Times that the strongest opposition had come from the US. “It was the climate science community in the US which took this very negatively. I think the reason is the very loaded atmosphere in the US… they would like to do something very substantial about climate change.”
JC comments. I will have much more to write about this in a few days. For now, I will say that I deeply regret that any scientist, particularly such a distinguished scientist as Bengsston, has had to put up with these attacks. This past week, we have seen numerous important and enlightening statements made by Bengtsson about the state of climate science and policy, and science and society is richer for this. We have also seen a disgraceful display of Climate McCarthyism by climate scientists, which has the potential to do as much harm to climate science as did the Climategate emails. And we have seen the GWPF handle this situation with maturity and dignity