In Brief

Scientists 'suppressed' paper over climate sceptic argument

Researcher claims his paper was rejected because it might help climate sceptics advance their case

SCIENTISTS deliberately suppressed research that cast doubt on the rate of global warming because it might be used by climate sceptics to advance their arguments, it has been claimed.

Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, believes his paper was rejected by Environmental Research Letters, one of the world's top academic journals, because of intolerance of dissenting views on climate science.

The paper, co-authored with four other scientists from America and Sweden, was rejected earlier this year after a reviewer privately wrote that publishing it would be "less than helpful".

The unnamed scientist concluded: "Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of 'errors' and worse from the climate sceptics media side."

Bengtsson's paper challenged findings from the UN's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the global average temperature would rise by up to 4.5C if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to double.

The paper suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases and recommended more work be carried out "to reduce the underlying uncertainty".

Following the rejection, Bengtsson said: "The problem we now have in the climate community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of a climate activist."

Bengtsson said he was also forced to step down from the advisory board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic think-tank, after he was subjected to "McCarthy" style pressure from other scientists.

The claims are a stark reminder of events at the University of East Anglia in 2009, dubbed 'Climategate', when scientists were accused of suppressing inconvenient data that did not support global warming predictions, says The Times. They were later cleared, but the IPCC was found to have misrepresented part of their research.

A spokesman for IOP Publishing, which publishes Environmental Research Letters, said that two independent peer-reviews had reported that the paper contained "errors" and "did not provide a significant advancement in the field", therefore failing to meet the journal's required acceptance criteria.

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