Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading and one of the study's five authors, told the daily in a story published Friday that he suspects intolerance of dissenting views on climate science prevented his paper from being published. Bengtsson and four other scientists submitted the study for publication in Environmental Research Letters, a highly regarded journal. One peer reviewer asked to evaluate the paper by the journal wrote "It is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of 'error' and worse from the climate skeptics media side."
A spokesman for IOP Publishing, which publishes the journal, insisted to the Times that, despite the anonymous reviewer's admission, the paper's rejection was not politically motivated. "This was peer-reviewed by two independent reviewers, who reported that the paper contained errors and did not provide a significant advancement in the field, and therefore failed to meet the journal's required acceptance criteria."
The Times story comes two days after Bengtsson submitted his resignation to Britain's Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London-based think tank which challenges policies advocated by climate change activists. Winner of the 51st IMO prize of the World Meteorological Association (a U.N. agency), and former director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Bengtsson's defection to the group prompted vitriolic backlash from his colleagues, described in his resignation letter.
"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," he wrote.
"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."
Lord Nigel Lawson, founder of GWPF, expressed his regret at Bengtsson's departure, calling the reference to McCarthyism "fully warranted."