The Times has manufactured an unfounded climate change conspiracy theory


Who needs scientific evidence on climate change when you can distract the world with shiny new conspiracies?

Here we go again. The latest IPCC report, the US National Climate Assessment report, and a report published by US military researchers all recently warned us yet again about the risks associated with human-caused climate change. While the planet continues to warmice continues to melt, and sea levels continue to rise, the conservative media are trying to distract everyone from these scientific realities with a shiny quarter named Lennart Bengtsson.

Bengtsson is a meteorologist at the University of Reading, who recently decided to join a charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The GWPF is known for downplaying the risks posed by human-caused global warming with shoddy scientific arguments, then arguing against taking any meaningful action to address the problem. 

The GWPF has called the IPCC a "deeply discredited organisation" and worse, and has accused climate scientists of being delusional or liars. The group also recently set up a new campaigning arm, which would be free from charity regulations requiring that any information they put out is fair and as accurate as possible.

Thus it was not surprising when Bengtsson's scientific colleagues were unhappy with him joining this organization. Some of those colleagues allegedly told Bengtsson that they did not want to publish research with him due to his association with this political group, which seems entirely understandable. However, in response to these alleged reactions from his colleagues (Bengtsson did not respond to requests for additional details), Bengtsson wrote in his resignation letter to the GWPF,

"I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy."

To be clear, this situation bears no resemblance to McCarthyism in the United States, which involved aggressive government investigations and questioning of people suspected of having ties to Communism. For more accurate parallels in climate science today, look instead at Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's witch-hunt of Michael Mann or the Climategate inquiries directed at Phil Jones. A few colleagues withdrawing support and co-authorship with Bengtsson pales in comparison.

A few days later, Bengtsson told Rupert Murdoch's The Times that a peer-reviewer comment recommending rejection of a paper he co-authored mentioned how the 'skeptic' media would react to the study. The Murdoch media and other conservatively biased news outlets went berserk, with stories in Fox NewsThe Wall Street JournalThe Mail OnlineThe TelegraphThe Times again, The Mail on SundayThe Australian, and Drudge, inventing conspiracy theories involving censorship of 'inconvenient research'.

Bengtsson's submitted paper had made the case that the Earth's climate sensitivity to the increased greenhouse effect is relatively low by comparing the results of several previous studies, but had not made the case well. The journal in question, Environmental Research Letterspublished the full comments from the reviewer in question, showing that the recommendation to reject the paper was because,

"The overall innovation of the manuscript is very low … The paper does not make any significant attempt at explaining or understanding the differences, it rather puts out a very simplistic negative message giving at least the implicit impression of "errors" being made within and between these assessments,"

Comments from a second reviewer were even more brutal. This is precisely the purpose of peer-review – to filter out papers that aren't sufficiently accurate or don't add anything significant to our scientific understanding. Environmental Research Letters is a high-quality scientific journal with a 65% rejection rate. For examples of innovative research in this area, see our discussions of recent papers by NASA'sDrew Shindell and Texas A&M's Kummer & Dessler.

Written By: Dana Nuccitelli
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  1. Oh do come on now, this is just Grauniadist propaganda.

    For the benefit of my American cousins, that’s the affectionate British spelling the Guardian earned for its historically sloppy type setting/spelling. Now, of course, there’s spell chick.

  2. well done scientific community. another dissenter silenced! clearly it’s taken a lot of cooperation from millions of of people worldwide to do this with an unlimited source of fincance and political power but one question. why do you always forget to pay off the right wing media?


  3. Can’t Rupert Murdoch just make us all a big favor and die already. He has probably done more harm than any other individual in recent times. He is greed and corruption personified. A symbol of everything that is wrong with humanity these days. Every breath he takes is a disgrace! No, I don’t feel even slightly ashamed for wishing he would die. In my book people don’t get more despicable than Rupert Murdoch.

  4. In reply to #5 by Víctorak:

    You may have forgotten Dick Cheney.

    Yes, he is a war criminal that should be tried in Hague. I’m disgusted every time I see his ugly face in the news. It’s amazing that a war criminal is regarded as an American hero by many conservatives. But, at least he does not pose a real threat anymore. He is of course rich and as such influential, but in terms of political power he is a nobody these days. Rupert on the other hand is still spreading his evil around the globe. Unfortunately, when he dies he has a horde of bastard children who will continue his despicable legacy.

  5. Okay, nothing new here. Some well paid hacks and their supporters imply a conspiracy of “warmers”. One such hack was James Delingpole completely outwitted here by Sir Paul Nurse. Please allow about 4.5 minutes to watch. Also please allow about 30 seconds for Delingpole to try to give some face saving bullshit !

    Stalin would have admired the man. Now what was the name of that “scientist ” so beloved of Stalin, who thought you could grow corn in the Arctic ? Ah yes, Lysenko ! Well he knew nothing about global warming, but just maybe his predictions about growing corn in the Arctic might prove true. Assuming of course the land isn’t flooded.

  6. The real reason Rupert Murdoch wants to downplay climate change is because he is a reptilian. Reptilians like hot climates, and want this planet for themselves.

  7. In reply to #8 by carl.stanley.315:

    The real reason Rupert Murdoch wants to downplay climate change is because he is a reptilian. Reptilians like hot climates, and want this planet for themselves.

    That’s demeaning to reptilians

  8. In reply to #4 by Nunbeliever:

    No, I don’t feel even slightly ashamed for wishing he would die. In my book people don’t get more despicable than Rupert Murdoch.

    I feel the same way. To me, nothing insults the intellect more than to hear someone say that life is sacred, no matter who’s life it is. The mere fact of being biologically alive doesn’t imply your life is “sacred”. Life is indeed precious but it’s not a “god-given” right, it’s an incalculable privilege. And people who use that privilege to do and keep on doing irreparable harm to other living beings have, in my opinion, forfeited that privilege.

    At times like this, I am always reminded of Aldous Huxley’s poem (Thanks to Richard Dawkins for making me aware of its existence):

    Shame to have ousted your betters thus.

    Taking ark while the others remained outside!

    Better for all of us, forward Homunculus,

    If you’d quietly died!

    The poem, although mentioned by Richard Dawkins, certainly doesn’t apply to him. But I can think of a few to whom it does…

  9. Dying of pancreatic cancer in 1994, in his last interview, screenwriter Dennis Potter told Melvyn Bragg he had christened his tumor Rupert in dishonour of the man.

  10. I don’t agree with Murdock jumping on the bandwagon and trying to make a conspiracy over this but isn’t this is a perfect example of why the AGW theory remains prevalent and mostly unchallenged by working scientists? The massage is, ‘toe the line or risk losing your job’.
    The IPCC models are consistently wrong and constantly project warmer temperatures than are being observed so yes, this meteorologist is correct to question the sensitivity and to propose lowering it. If the IPCC can’t justify their ‘climate sensitivity’ then I guess he would have a hard job changing the dogma.
    As for ‘another dissenter silenced’ just listen to yourself. This is the slippery slope to fascism.

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