Bengtsson resigns from the GWPF

Lennart Bengtsson this morning sent an email to Benny Peiser and David Henderson of the GWPF and cc to Hans von Storch and myself amongst others in which he announces his resignation from the GWPF. Bengtsson gave Von Storch permission to post the email on Klimazwiebel so apparently the content is no longer confidential. I think it would have been much more professional if there was first an official announcement from the GWPF, but this is as it is now. So here is the email:

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,
Lennart Bengtsson

This is a very unfortunate development. Bengtsson joined the Academic Advisory Council of the GWPF only two weeks ago. Now one wonders what the crimes of the GWPF are? What makes the GWPF so “bad” that Bengtsson is now regarded as so contaminated that co-authoring a paper with him is not acceptable anymore?

I hope Bengtsson will give much more details in the coming days to weeks about what happened exactly. What does he mean for example when he writes “Colleagues are withdrawing their support”?

This is very bad for the trustworthiness of climate science. Over and over again we as a society are told there is a consensus about CO2 and climate, that there is a large majority in the field etc. However what does that all mean if eminent scientists like Bengtsson are punished severely, only for the fact that he joined an advisory board? Why would one trust climate science if such enormous social pressure is going on?

[Updates]

GWPF statement here

Steve McIntyre responds here

Anthony Watts was about to cross post the 1990 interview I posted yesterday. He now did so together with the news about the resignation.

Support letter from David Gee.

Ben Webster in The Times with a reaction from Bengtsson.

Judith Curry’s reaction. Her first 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 Bengtsson, 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.

 

 

Door |2014-05-14T12:24:51+00:0014 mei 2014|Nieuws|196 Reacties

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Arjan
Gast
Arjan

This smells like a set up.

Arjan
Gast
Arjan

Between GWPF and Bengtsson. This is the ultimate way to get attention and discredit climate science in general. Sending an email out in advance to major skeptic outlets is also pointing into this direction. But maybe by being familiar with US political tactics I have become a bit paranoid. Bengtsson as a scientist with a high profile should have seen this coming. People in high positions tend to have many “enemies” and due to the high pressure currently put on climate scientists, they can be extremely sensitive not to be associated with ideas they do not (want) to represent.

cRR Kampen
Gast
cRR Kampen

Considered Arjan’s suggestion, but I don’t buy it. I think Bengtsson was naive in a way and the real reason he quit was him finding himself left alone by his peers.
Hopefully Bengtsson will come up with some examples of the pressure he has suffered. And hopefully he will understand why this happened. To paraphrase that, we mathematicians simply do not look those in the eye who believe Pi is a rational number, for this opinion is synonymous to total incompetence.

Gerbrand Komen
Gast

I can’t believe it. If it is true it is very sad indeed. And unacceptable. We scientists must overcome such craziness.

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[…] dag kommer så nyheten om at Bengtsson er blitt presset til å trekke seg fra sitt nye verv. Han begrunner dette […]

Neven
Gast

Yes, Arjan, you are paranoid. This is McCarthyism and Lysenkoism, pure and simple. 😀 Now one wonders what the crimes of the GWPF are? What makes the GWPF so “bad” that Bengtsson is now regarded as so contaminated that co-authoring a paper with him is not acceptable anymore? I’ve explained this a couple of times on this blog in Dutch. I will now give you the answer in English. The GWPF is a free market fundamentalist lobby group. This in itself I do not find a problem, provided that an organisation is upfront about this. But the GWPF isn’t. It’s… Lees verder »

Neven
Gast

I meant Archibald, not Archer.

Eli Rabett
Gast

Crok, ClimateBall rules are you can’t troll your own blog.

Crowbar
Gast
Crowbar

Neven, Two simple points for you: 1. It was the climate models that predicted the warming and the disasters. They predicted a hot spot. They predicted greater warming at the poles. You got sucked in; so did I for quite a few years. 2. The climate models have hopelessly failed. For 17 years they have failed. There isn’t more extreme weather events… there is simply more outrageous reporting of the regular extreme weather events. Open your eyes and ears… if you can’t see the GIGANTIC conflict of interests in the global warming science juggernaut (as displayed by this one example),… Lees verder »

Neven
Gast

So, basically, what you’re saying, Crowbar, is that there is a 0% chance that AGW might be real and could have serious, costly consequences? Is this what you are saying?

TINSTAAFL
Gast
TINSTAAFL

The fact that the alarmists find the abuse of Lennart Bengtsson perfectly normal and in fact are defending this is typical for the sorry state of affairs in the climatology community. If Neven finds it repulsing to be associated with GWPF, how is it to be associated with the likes of Al Gore who sold his business to Big Oil? Neven first may try to build up a science career like Bengtsson before he’s worth to stand even in the shadow of this man and so are most of his critics.

Neven
Gast

Ok, so you’re blaming the GWPF for stealth advocacy.

You could put it that way.

If you, Pielke and Curry keep saying often enough that the science community is doing damage to itself (because obviously, all tens of thousands of climate scientists have written CAPS LOCK mails to Bengtsson to force him to leave the cigar and port club), it might just come about. But that wouldn’t make it true. It might just be concern trolling.

Neven
Gast

The fact that the alarmists find the abuse of Lennart Bengtsson

Abuse? Evidence, please.

Guido
Gast
Guido

Well, GPWF is not as open minded as they appear if you ask me, just look at the top of their website where a temperature chart of the past decade is shown. What goal does that serve? Not the “restoring balance and trust to the climate debate” message we see on the other side of the image if you ask me. Also, a quick look at news they cover shows a biased viewpoint. That does not mean that it is not important to cover the issues they cover, but don’t claim to be open minded, be honest about this. At… Lees verder »

Neven
Gast

The fact that the alarmists find the abuse of Lennart Bengtsson perfectly normal Yes, I find it perfectly normal to tell a friend or colleague that joining a free market fundamentalist lobby group is a big mistake, and that if he/she (but probably a he, as it’s a club for old contrarian chaps) really does join, I don’t want to be associated with him. Marcel Crok isn’t my friend – although I like him as a person -, but I’m telling him the same thing. You don’t want to associate yourself with GWPF, or Watts, Monckton, Morano and Bastardi, unless… Lees verder »

Neven
Gast

At the same time, if Bengtsson can contribute to restoring balance to the GPWF because of his sensible viewpoints backed up by science then that should be applauded by the community, not rejected.

He would not be asked if this were the case, as the only balance the GWPF wants, is false balance.

Rob v
Gast
Rob v

zero risk

Driving my car there is always the risk of killing an innocent person. Should I stop driving? This could happen to all of us driving a car or a truck or a motor(bike) or a horse or a donkey etc. We were born to walk. Think about that when you need an ambulance.

Greenpeace : “We Know Where You Live”

Boels069
Gast
Boels069

@Neven:
What about the WWF (a free market fundamentalist lobby group)?

cRR Kampen
Gast
cRR Kampen

“I want to see more evidence for that claim as well.” said Marcel Crok, who is today looking for the evidence he wants (it exists in abundance, of course).

cRR Kampen
Gast
cRR Kampen

“Driving my car there is always the risk of killing an innocent person. Should I stop driving?” – or should you quit reckless driving?

Neven
Gast

Driving my car there is always the risk of killing an innocent person. Should I stop driving? No, you should drive within the prescribed speed limits. What about the WWF (a free market fundamentalist lobby group)? I’m not a fan. Big environmental groups are in my opinion part of the system. I want to see more evidence for that claim as well. Marcel, do you know that Dutch advertising slogan for WC-eend? There is plenty of evidence that GWPF is an ideologically motivated lobby group (free market fundamentalism). I think it is also clear to anyone that the organisation is… Lees verder »

Roger Pielke Jr.
Gast

Hi Marcel and Neven, Thanks for soliciting my views on GWPF and stealth advocacy. In short, yes, I think that GWPF is both an advocacy group and also engages in stealth advocacy. It signals this stealth advocacy via its logo (temperature trends) an also its frequent proxy arguments about science, which are really about politics. I don’t think this is a surprise or controversial. I debated Benny Peiser on climate policy in London a few years back and made this same point: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/11/report-from-legatum-debate.html As a lobbying group (in practice, regardless its tax status) GWPF has every right to advance whatever… Lees verder »

TINSTAAFL
Gast
TINSTAAFL

Re Arjan, cRRKampen, Neven conspiracy theories, how about Lennart Bengtsson is funded by the Koch Brothers? @Neven’s smarty-pants question [i]”Abuse? Evidence, please.”[/i], did you actually {i]read[/i] Bengtsson’s letter or only looked at it? @Pielke Jr [i]”Climate politics is fully politicized, so we had all just better get used to this sort of thing as it is here to stay”[/i] Bollocks, science suppose to be the opposite of politics, the beacon of wisdom, the fact that (climate) science has been kidnapped by politics (i.e.IPCC) and subsequently being prosituted by the involved scientists by either monetary or religion reasons is not a… Lees verder »

Bishop Hill
Gast

The trustees of GWPF are:

Nigel Lawson (Conservative), Bernard Donoughue (Labour), Robert Fellowes (Crossbench),
Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, Sir Martin Jacomb, Deputy Chairman of Barclays Bank 1985-93,
Emma Nicholson (Liberal Democrat), Sir James Spooner, Former Director of Sainsbury and Barclays Bank,
Andrew Turnbull (Crossbench), Permanent Secretary, Environment Department,1994-98

Is the theory that these people are all closet “free-market fundamentalists”? Have they all been bought by big oil?

cRR Kampen
Gast
cRR Kampen

Roger Pielke Jr, makes perfect sense. There’s lot in your post I agree with, or have consideration for, even where I don’t show it. Whatever I think of the GWPF’s messages, they have every right to exist. However, “That he was pressured by his peers with social and other sanctions reflects the deeply politicized nature of this issue.” misses the mark somewhat imo. It may be part of the truth, but there is something else and it is worse. Like I paraphrased above: .. we mathematicians simply do not look those in the eye who believe Pi is a rational… Lees verder »

Bishop Hill
Gast

It’s interesting to consider Neven’s hypothesis that one shouldn’t ever associate with “free market fundamentalists”.

Why not?

Shub Niggurath
Gast

I consider individuals who formulate official policy or recommendations to government in their capacity as experts but insert their personal preferences into their official statements, as engaged in ‘stealth advocacy’. Private individuals and organizations promoting their views are not ‘stealth’ advocates. By this slippery logic, no one is immune from being labeled a stealth advocate. It degenerates into a term of abuse.

Roddy Campbell
Gast
Roddy Campbell

Neven to Marcel: ‘I find it very unfortunate that you consciously and willingly are aiding these old, white males in their efforts to maintain the laissez-faire system that brought them their wealth.’ I’ve rarely seen it so clearly expressed that those who object to the GWPF and other libertarian / liberal economics think tanks on climate and related issues – whether the physical science, the impacts science, the policy, the inter-geographical and inter-generational ethics, the importance of GDP versus other things, the economics, the discount rate, the ability to forecast the future, risk, precautionary principle – often / generally /… Lees verder »

Victor Venema
Gast

I have some trouble believing this story. First of all this is not how the scientists I know behave. Personally I have no problem collaborating with a colleague with a weird opinion, as long as the work itself is good. I would expect that most of my colleagues would handle this similarly. My own work on daily station data puts research into trends in extreme weather into doubt. I have met with noting else as support and interest. Only one colleague working on trends in extremes “tried to silence me” by calling me a climate “sceptic”. An awful accusation, but… Lees verder »

Paul Matthews
Gast

I agree with Roger Pielke to some extent, that the GWPF may have an agenda that is not openly displayed. But I don’t think his points are very well argued. The GWPF logo has a temperature graph – but in what way does that indicate stealth advocacy? OK it’s only the last few years. But lots of other organisations have temperature charts on their front pages – NCDC, for example. Are they all signalling stealth advocacy? And it seems a bit strange to say “hiding its politics in science” when the “P” of GWPF is for Policy, and the ‘who… Lees verder »

Brandon
Gast
Brandon

cRR Kampen, “Bengtsson’s peers had acute scientific reasons to withdraw from collaboration with Bengtsson because he joined an explicitly science denying organization.” Your implication is that the science of climate change is indisputable at every level, and anyone who may have a differing opinion is most certainly out of their mind. The only indisputable fact is that CO2 continues to rise and global temperatures warmed for some time with a close correlation. The rest of the science is based on assumptions and theories of the forcing relationship between CO2 and the global climate. That relationship cannot be directly measured or… Lees verder »

cRR Kampen
Gast
cRR Kampen

Like I said, Brandon, climate revisionists like you effectively deny that CO2 is a GHG.

“The fact is that the climate sytem is far more complex than we can completely understand.” – please do not project YOUR ignorance on the subject.

” That relationship cannot be directly measured or modeled precicely.” – please do not rewrite history, I am not fooled and I am not to be forced to forget e.g. Svante Arrhenius.
If you want precision, stay out of science. Do math.

Brandon
Gast
Brandon

Wow. Just…wow.

Roger Pielke Jr.
Gast

Hi Marcel- Thanks, a few responses: 1. If GWPF wants to contribute to the science discussion, then its members should write papers for the conventional scientific literature. Perhaps they have and I am unaware of this. Think tanks often contribute to the scientific literature. I am unaware that GWPF does this. 2. The GWPF seeks to achieve balance by presenting a view that it believes (rightly or wrongly) is under-represented in the climate debate. Good for them. This is a role than many think tanks take on in many different issues. But this is advocacy, clearly. I’m not sure why… Lees verder »

cRR Kampen
Gast
cRR Kampen

Perhaps the GWPF could take note of Pielke Jr.’s fine responses. It would help them, moreover, it might greatly help the climate change & -policy discourse in general.

Chandra
Gast
Chandra

Why not associate with “free market fundamentalists”? The hint is in the name, not the “free market” part but the “fundamentalist”:

• strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline

The idea that one can use some “basic principles” to answer an engineering or scientific question is attractive but in practice there are no such basic principles that allow all societal or moral questions to be answered. Deluded and arguably dangerous are those who think there are.

In the limit pragmatism is always necessary. Ok, call me a pragmatism fundamentalist.

cRR Kampen
Gast
cRR Kampen

To be sure, in the end I think a free market system remains the system best able to cope with, remedy or mitigate results like climate change. Knowledge is better spread, innovation has much better chance et cetera.
It helps to remember once a while what huge environmental damage was done under the Soviet and Maoist regimes, leaving Russia and China paying for that to this day.

Otoh what is called ‘free market fundamentalism‘ I call the Ideology of Plunder. Unfortunately this pseudo-ideology is around in too many places, including today’s Canadian and Australian governments.

Neven
Gast

I also agree with Roger Pielke Jr. with what he says about the GWPF, but this here… That he was pressured by his peers with social and other sanctions reflects the deeply politicized nature of this issue. I’ve also seen it up close and personal with respect to my own work. What Bengtsson has experienced is just hardball politics, which may be contrary to some of the accepted norms of behavior within the scientific community. Climate politics is fully politicized, so we had all just better get used to this sort of thing as it is here to stay. As… Lees verder »

Neven
Gast

It’s interesting to consider Neven’s hypothesis that one shouldn’t ever associate with “free market fundamentalists”. Why not? I don’t see how one can associate with free market fundamentalists unless one is one oneself. Perhaps in some cases it’s possible. But my main point is, and perhaps I haven’t worded clearly enough, that the free market fundamentalists will not come out and say something like: “We propose laissez faire as a climate policy, because we believe in the free market”. Or even better yet have them propose free market solutions as climate policy, like some “alarmists” are doing. But what the… Lees verder »