Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lennart Bengtsson leaves advisory board of GWPF

In an e-mail to GWPF, Lennart Bengtsson has declared his resignation of the advisory board of GWPF. His letter reads :

"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.
"


I am reproducing this letter with permission of Lennart Bengtsson.

See also an earlier interview with, and an article by Lennart Bengtsson here on Klimazwiebel.

224 comments:

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Anonymous said...

@ Yeph,

ich finde den von Ihnen übersetzten Text in #198 hochinteressant. Der pauschale Vorwurf an die Klimawissenschaftsgemeinde ist von Bengtsson inzwischen viel differenzierter dargestellt worden. Lob für das Verhalten vieler Kollegen in GB, USA und Deutschland, Kritik in ihrem Text an Einzelfällen.

Und die letzte Passage ist besonders aufschlussreich. "Grüne Revolution" heutzutage? Vergleich mit Lenin, Mao und Stalin? Mich erschreckt diese extreme Sichtweise, als guter Demokrat pflege ich andere Mehrheiten zu akzeptieren (und insbesondere als demokratisch legitimiert zu betrachten!). An dieser Stelle wird auch unklar, warum Bengtsson nun der GWPF beitrat: Die hier erwähnten politischen Überzeugungen? Oder wissenschaftliche Gründe? Die Rollen von Klimaforscher und Politaktivist verschwimmen, was gemeinhin hier in der Klimazwiebel nicht gut geheißen wird.

Viele Grüße und danke für die Übersetzung. Ich freue mich, dass wir wieder normal kommunizieren können.

Andreas

Karl Kuhn said...

"An dieser Stelle wird auch unklar, warum Bengtsson nun der GWPF beitrat: Die hier erwähnten politischen Überzeugungen? Oder wissenschaftliche Gründe? Die Rollen von Klimaforscher und Politaktivist verschwimmen, was gemeinhin hier in der Klimazwiebel nicht gut geheißen wird."

We should realise that LB joined the advisory board (!) of GWPF. So I guess he expected to review GWPF publications on climate science. This is completely different from political activism, and fully in line with the code of conduct of a scientist.

Bam said...

The comments from reviewer #2 are now also posted on the IOP homepage. They do not paint a nice picture, for Bengtsson that is.

Key word combinations:
"the manuscript has little to offer"
"only superficially demonstrated possible inconsistencies"
"the authors have inexplicably used the wrong equation"
"there is a troubling shallowness in the arguments"
"The present manuscript is unacceptably unclear"

and to finish it all

"I suspect the answers are really quite mundane, although the tone of the discussion implies otherwise."

Anonymous said...

Ergänzend noch der Link zum IOS-Statement: http://ioppublishing.org/newsDetails/statement-from-iop-publishing-on-story-in-the-times

Weitaus detaillierter, dieselbe Kernaussage.

Bleiben Times und Daily Mail bei ihren Darstellungen?

Bleibt jemand hier bei der Vermutung, das Urteil des ersten Reviewers könnte durch die kritisierte Passage getrübt/beeinflusst gewesen sein?

Andreas

Karl Kuhn said...

Up-front: both reviews are detailed and seem committed to discuss content and not only political convenience, but I have of course no expertise to prove that impression.

Caveat: The fact that a review provides lots of detail about why rejection is recommended does not guarantee that the criticism is valid or fair.

So when reviewers just don't like what you write, they will almost always, behind the screen of anonymity, find reasons to reject your paper. Every publishing scientist knows that. And the ERL editors (who chose the Cook et al. 97% consensus propaganda paper as their best paper 2013) are not unlikely to happily accept the rejection verdict on something inconvenient on climate change.

Karl Kuhn said...

In the Spiegel article on the fear of climate scientists of group pressure, the following paragraph caught my eye:

"Knutti: "Wer politisch links ist, glaubt an den Klimawandel, wer rechts steht, eher nicht." Die Trennung von Fakten und Meinung verschwimme oft, auch bei Wissenschaftlern."

So Knutti states that, after all, political bent determines 'belief in climate change' - leftists do, conservaties rather not. 'Separating facts and opinions often fails, also with scientists.'

Well, this is really a gem, as Knutti admits here that a lot of climate research conclusions are determined by the ideology of the researchers (as it is unlikely that causation goes the other way).

Interestingly, Knutti is a dyed-in-the-wool warmist.

eduardo said...

My impression of the reviews is that review #1, even glossing over the 'political' comment', is indeed slanted. Some of the points raised by the reviewer are rather red herrings (e.g. the first point on the global or non-global coverage); others are too general.
Review #2 is much more detailed, constructive and to the point. I think it is quite informative for the editor. It is also critical with the manuscript and recommends quite major revisions.

But we do not have the manuscript itself, and we do not have the rebuttal by the authors if any.

Anonymous said...

My impression of the reviews is that review #1, even glossing over the 'political' comment', is indeed slanted. Some of the points raised by the reviewer are rather red herrings (e.g. the first point on the global or non-global coverage); others are too general.
Review #2 is much more detailed, constructive and to the point. I think it is quite informative for the editor. It is also critical with the manuscript and recommends quite major revisions.

But we do not have the manuscript itself, and we do not have the rebuttal by the authors if any.

RainerS said...

@189 Lieber Herr Heß, was mich hier gelegentlich irritiert, ist der Mangel an Kontext. Die Klimaforschung ist nun wirklich nicht die einzige Disziplin, anhand derer sich die Interaktion von Single Issue Fanaticsm, Politik und Medien untersuchen ließe. Falls sich jemand für diesen Kontext interessieren sollte, empfehle ich zum Thema Passivrauch http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.de/
, das uralte Buch von Booker/North "Scared to Death" sowie populäre TBs von Dubben/Beck-Bornholdt.
Blogs für weiterführende Lektüre wären http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.de/
von Michael Siegel, der mE einigen Unsinn promotet, aber für Kritik am Mainstream auch schon Prügel einstecken musste.

Bam said...

Dear Eduardo,

There is nothing "red herring" about the comment about global vs non-global. If a paper makes a large deal about discrepancies between the models and the actual observations, it is important to take into account, or at least clearly discuss, the differences in surface coverage, especially after Cowtan & Way showed that the impact of "non-coverage" of HADCRUT and the extrapolation routine of GISTEMP is non-trivial, in particularly in the last decade (fair enough, the latter info wasn't yet available).

Gavin Schmidt's recent paper on model vs observation comparison also shows how the Cowtan & Way correction to HADCRUT makes the discrepancy smaller, moving the original comparison from close to the lower 5% to more around the lower 15%.

eduardo said...

Fyfe et al have considered longer time scales (20 years) and only the common coverage between models and observations. This difference clearly persists and is almost the same as when not considering the different coverage.

It is known that the signal-to-noise ratio in the temperature trend is higher in the tropics so that including the high latitudes diminishes the power of the test by including more natural noise.

But of course, you are entitled to only read only the papers that confirm your expectations. All others are surely wrong.

I still think that reviewer #2 did a much more thorough analysis of LB's manuscript and pointed to traceable weaknesses in the manuscript

hvw said...

Bam & Eduardo,

while your exegesis of the reviews is certainly interesting to read, my best guess about the quality of the paper in question derives from another fact:

The fact that, after the author takes the most extreme step to complain in the Times about his paper being rejected for political reasons, after an act of high-impact whistle blowing that can only be justified if the review process is generally broken and considered un-fixable without alerting the general public, after weighing the damage of putting all his peers under general suspicion against the necessity of this last-resort measure, the author does not make the manuscript available. What does that tell us about the author's own judgement of his work (and his real motivation)?

Of course, maybe the co-authors don't give permission. But how negligent do you have to be to not check this beforehand?

Anonymous said...

@ hvw

Maybe the authors intend to submit the paper to a different journal. Perhaps the have done already.

Nevertheless we should note, that both reviewers independently raised the same main concerns and both opted for rejection instead of "repair!".

I'm curious to know if Bengtsson ist author or coauthor. A coauthor complaining in public... somewhat strange.

Andreas

Karl Kuhn said...

As long as the draft is not available, both experts and laymen can only guess.

Why do so few climate researchers publish their draft beforehand as discussion papers? We economists regularly do that, particularly when the paper is meant to have above-average scientific or political impact. There are many famous economic publications where the community usually just knows the discussion paper, and where the subsequent Journal publication is just a 'duty' that sometimes follows years after the discussion paper has made waves in the community.

Climate researchers should consider this, as it could dramatically improve the credibility of data and methods, and would allow open and transparent discussion from all sides.

hvw said...

Andreas,

Maybe the authors intend to submit the paper to a different journal. Perhaps the have done already.

Of course that is a possibility. But it doesn't really change my judgement: If you publish such a grave and wide-sweeping accusation in the Times, you should have made sure beforehand that you can put the evidence on the table. Apparently is is possible to publish something at arXiv.org and later submit it to a paper journal.

Reading the reviews it also comes to mind that the "message" to the editor, that Eduardo proposed above, which is contained in reviewer 1's "scandalous" half-sentence, could instead have been "This work carries the fingerprint of cargo-science that is mainly motivated by making a particular political impact". Unfair speculations, no? But then, just show it to us :).

eduardo said...

@ 11,hvw

I have to say that I am getting increasingly confused with the noise surrounding this manuscript, and somehow I can understand your position.
On the other hand, your characterisation is for me very difficult to reconcile with the real person LB.

My guess is that something strange has happened that we do not have information about.

Anonymous said...

The editor-in-chief Daniel Kammen seems to be annoyed about the medial noise, Zitat aus http://desmogblog.com/2014/05/18/climate-journal-chief-editor-responds-bengtsson :


"I asked Kammen if Bengtsson and his co-authors were offered the chance to correct the manuscript. He said:

No, the authors were not offered the chance to correct their paper.This paper was rejected due to both factual errors identified in the review process, and an overall assessment - that as Editor-in-Chief I endorse - that the individual flaws were sufficiently significant that the paper was to be rejected.

None of the reports in the mainstream media have explained that in scientific publishing, it is in fact common for journals to reject manuscripts. Kammen revealed that getting a rejection from ERL was in fact the norm, rather than the exception.

Kammen pointed out that Bengtsson himself had said that rejection from journals was “part and parcel of academic life”. Kammen added:

Environmental Research Letters, like many selective journals, rejects the majority of submitted manuscripts. The fact that the story appeared in The Times struck me as highly inappropriate. This rejection was based on problems with the manuscript.

He said the recent news coverage appeared to be an attempt to publish research “via the media” after it had been rejected through the academic peer review process.

He pointed out that even though Bengtsson’s paper had been rejected by ERL, “they are free to submit the paper elsewhere”.


Die von mir hervorgehobene Passage sehe ich anders. Es geht der GWPF nicht darum, das Paper durchzudrücken. Das Säen von Zweifeln an der Wissenschaft über die Medien ist das lohnendere Ziel für die GWPF.

Andreas

Anonymous said...

@ hvw

Reading the reviews it also comes to mind that the "message" to the editor, that Eduardo proposed above, which is contained in reviewer 1's "scandalous" half-sentence, could instead have been "This work carries the fingerprint of cargo-science that is mainly motivated by making a particular political impact".

Genau das war die Botschaft. Dennoch ist sie hier umstritten.

Die eine Seite (sagen wir mal: die der Wissenschaftspuristen) sagt, damit wird der Boden der rein wissenschaftlichen Analyse verlassen, dies kann und soll nicht Thema eines Reviews sein.

Ich verstehe diesen Ansatz und kann die Kritik gut nachvollziehen.

Andererseits verstehe ich auch ihren Standpunkt ganz gut. Skeptische Kampagnen mittels "cargo science" gibt es nun mal. Auch dies gehört nicht in die Welt der reinen Wissenschaft. Wie darauf reagieren? Etwa vorsichtiger sein und im Zweifelsfall ein solches Paper eher ablehnen?

Ein Herausgeber bei remote sensing (oder ähnlich) trat nach einem publizierten Spencer-Paper zurück, weil sein Magazin durch den Vorgang Schaden genommen hat. Hätten er und anderen eine Warnung eines Reviewers bekommen, hätte man vielleicht genauer hingeschaut.

Eduardo würde eher sagen, er achtet alleine auf die Qualität, ihn stören solche Hinweise nur.

Schwierig, ich verstehe beide Seiten. Bin aber hier eher bei Eduardo. Ihre Sichtweise wird hier schön dargestellt:
http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/politicised-science/

Andreas

Bam said...

Eduardo, I do not need to think one second whether Fyfe et al is wrong. It's just not comparable. Bengtsson et al looked at the long-term trend, Fyfe et al refers to the last 20 years where we know there is a significant anomaly. It is of interest to note that this also happens to be the time-period in which the coverage gap of in particular the Arctic has the largest effect on the trend. This suggests, in my opinion, that in the last 20 years or so there is an anomalously large amount of heat going to the Arctic. It's clearly a process the models don't capture quite well, but perhaps it's telling that we've also seen a much larger-than-expected-based-on-models decrease in sea ice in the Arctic over the same time-period.

In the end this means you cannot just conclude that the climate sensitivity of the models is too high.

eduardo said...

Bam,
I am thicker and I always need more seconds to assess a paper.

There are many unclear issues with the hypothesis that the missing heat has gone into the climate system, one is the deceleration of sea level in the last decade, but this is not the post to discuss them.

However, I think you are being inconsistent with the issue of whether reviewer #1 correctly cited Cowan and Way to critisise LB's manuscript: LB looked at the long time scales, as you indicated; Cowan and Way identifies a bias coverage from 2000 onwards. Pre 2000, the HadCRU mean and their corrected series are virtually identical. So if Fyfe et al is not relevant, Cowan and Way is even less relevant in this case.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Hans
"When checking the traffic on Klimazwiebel, I notice that in the last days - when almost all interest was directed towards this post on Bengtsson and his resigning from GWPF - very many klicks come from Ukraine, sometimes the largest number, more than from Germany and from the US. You visitors from Ukraine are most welcome, but I am curious who in your country is at this time so strongly interested in this topic?"

That is because "Bengtssow" is the ukrainian word for Borscht, a russian cabbage soup and the kyrilian keyboard put "w" next to "n".

Hans von Storch said...

Thanks, Georg -this sounds like a plausible explanation. Are there others? Are people that interested and in need of knowledge in Ukraine about Borscht?

S.Hader said...

Hmm, ist das nicht erstaunlich? Je mehr man jetzt über die Beweggründe (wenn auch häppchenweise) von Lennart Bengtsson erfährt, umso ruhiger wird die Diskussion. Das trifft auch für Plattformen wie Primaklima, ScSk oder EIKE zu. Kann es vielleicht sein, dass der erste Eindruck, der nach der veröffentlichten Mail an GWPF entstanden ist, sich nicht so ganz bestätigen konnte? Die damals wagen Aussagen boten vermutlich genügend Projektionsfläche an, um das zu sehen, was man unbedingt sehen wollte. Wer Intoleranz und Mobbing sehen wollte, der konnte es in Aussagen wie "I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days" und "to worry about my health and safety" wiederfinden. Lasst einen renommierten Wissenschaftler eine beiläufige Anmerkung machen, und viele werden sich berufen sehen zu sagen "das habe ich doch schon immer gewusst". Und was lernen wir jetzt daraus? Das Bengtsson in der ukrainischen Sprache so ähnlich klingt wie Borscht. ^^ Na dann, Mahlzeit.

Richard Rider said...

It's better than the "good old days." In the Middle Ages (well, the DARK Ages) these "settled science" protectors of the Global Warming faith would have burned a heretic such as Bengtsson at the stake.

Slowly.

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