[extropy-chat] FWD (PvT) Leading scientific journals 'are censoring debate on global warming'

Terry W. Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Mon May 2 18:14:35 UTC 2005


Leading scientific journals 'are censoring debate on global warming'
By Robert Matthews
(Filed: 01/05/2005)

Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from 
researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable 
wisdom over global warming.
A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether 
climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of 
human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, 
Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by 
Science and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of 
global warming, said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own 
research which raised doubts over the issue.

The controversy follows the publication by Science in December of a 
paper which claimed to have demonstrated complete agreement among 
climate experts, not only that global warming is a genuine phenomenon, 
but also that mankind is to blame.

The author of the research, Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of 
California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since 
the early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either 
explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly 
dissented from it.

Dr Oreskes's study is now routinely cited by those demanding action on 
climate change, including the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the 
Government's chief scientific adviser.

However, her unequivocal conclusions immediately raised suspicions among 
other academics, who knew of many papers that dissented from the 
pro-global warming line.

They included Dr Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty 
at Liverpool John Moores University, who decided to conduct his own 
analysis of the same set of 1,000 documents - and concluded that only 
one third backed the consensus view, while only one per cent did so 

Dr Peiser submitted his findings to Science in January, and was asked to 
edit his paper for publication - but has now been told that his results 
have been rejected on the grounds that the points he make had been 
"widely dispersed on the internet".

Dr Peiser insists that he has kept his findings strictly confidential. 
"It is simply not true that they have appeared elsewhere already," he said.

A spokesman for Science said Dr Peiser's research had been rejected "for 
a variety of reasons", adding: "The information in the letter was not 
perceived to be novel."

Dr Peiser rejected this: "As the results from my analysis refuted the 
original claims, I believe Science has a duty to publish them."

Dr Peiser is not the only academic to have had work turned down which 
criticises the findings of Dr Oreskes's study. Prof Dennis Bray, of the 
GKSS National Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, submitted results 
from an international study showing that fewer than one in 10 climate 
scientists believed that climate change is principally caused by human 

As with Dr Peiser's study, Science refused to publish his rebuttal. Prof 
Bray told The Telegraph: "They said it didn't fit with what they were 
intending to publish."

Prof Roy Spencer, at the University of Alabama, a leading authority on 
satellite measurements of global temperatures, told The Telegraph: "It's 
pretty clear that the editorial board of Science is more interested in 
promoting papers that are pro-global warming. It's the news value that 
is most important."

He said that after his own team produced research casting doubt on 
man-made global warming, they were no longer sent papers by Nature and 
Science for review - despite being acknowledged as world leaders in the 

As a result, says Prof Spencer, flawed research is finding its way into 
the leading journals, while attempts to get rebuttals published fail. 
"Other scientists have had the same experience", he said. "The journals 
have a small set of reviewers who are pro-global warming."

Concern about bias within climate research has spread to the 
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose findings are widely 
cited by those calling for drastic action on global warming.

In January, Dr Chris Landsea, an expert on hurricanes with the United 
States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, resigned 
from the IPCC, claiming that it was "motivated by pre-conceived agendas" 
and was "scientifically unsound".

A spokesman for Science denied any bias against sceptics of man-made 
global warming. "You will find in our letters that there is a wide range 
of opinion," she said. "We certainly seek to cover dissenting views."

Dr Philip Campbell, the editor-in-chief of Nature, said that the journal 
was always happy to publish papers that go against perceived wisdom, as 
long as they are of acceptable scientific quality.

"The idea that we would conspire to suppress science that undermines the 
idea of anthropogenic climate change is both false and utterly naive 
about what makes journals thrive," he said.

Dr Peiser said the stifling of dissent and preoccupation with doomsday 
scenarios is bringing climate research into disrepute. "There is a fear 
that any doubt will be used by politicians to avoid action," he said. 
"But if political considerations dictate what gets published, it's all 
over for science."

"Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright 1992, Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1 at mindspring.com >
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