Scientists have been accused of confusing their role as impartial observers with green activism after a paper challenging predictions about the speed of global warming was apparently "suppressed" because it was seen as “less than helpful.”
One of the world’s top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer denounced it as “harmful”.
Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading and one of the authors of the study, said he suspected that an intolerance toward climate change scepticism was preventing his paper from being published.
“The problem we have now in the scientific community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of climate activist,” he told the Times.
Bengtsson has claimed he has been subjected to what he described as McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics because of his views and resigned from the advisory board of Lord Lawson of Blaby’s climate sceptic think-tank this week.
In his resignation letter he described “enormous group pressure” which had become “unbearable.”
Bengtsson’s paper suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its landmark report last September, and recommended that more work be carried out “to reduce the underlying uncertainty”.
But a scientist asked by the journal to assess the paper under the peer review process wrote concluded: “Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate sceptics media side.”
A spokesman for the journal said the research was rejected for publication because two independent reviewers found errors in the paper and that the work did not represent a “significant advancement” in the field.
He said: "As a consequence the independent reviewers recommended that the paper should not be published in the journal which led to the final editorial decision to reject the paper."
Lord Nigel Lawson, the former Conservative chancellor and a high-profile opponent of climate change mitigation action has agreed that Professor Bengtsson’s reference to McCarthyism were “fully warranted.”
Contrastingly, the IPCC report starkly warned that climate change is fuelling war, hastening natural disasters, causing the extinction of species and threatens to drag societies back into poverty.
The report claimed that no one is immune to the impact of climate change and said "now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse" for inaction to tackle the threat.