This week, a renowned climate scientist and research fellow at the University of Reading in the UK was treated to the same sort of emotional blackmail doled out to Galileo in the 17th century by the Roman Catholic Church for publishing theories that disputed the sanctioned scientific views of that day.
Lennart Bengtsson has a long and distinguished career in the mainstream of climate science. The 79-year-old meteorologist has published some 225 peer-reviewed articles and was Head of Research for the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting) from 1975-1981 and Director from 1982-1990. He also was Director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg from 1990-2001 and from 2008 was Director of the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland.
However, Bengtsson has long questioned why climate models are not able to accurately predict the climate. In an interview with Hans von Storch, Bengtsson said that he is concerned that the global temperature rise of only about 1-1/3 degrees Farenheit since the end of the 19th century doesn’t match the large increase in greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels.
Climate models don’t match the real world
It is an established fact that the Earth’s average temperature has not risen at all in the last 17 years.
Bengtsson is concerned that the United Nations’ IPCC group, which regularly puts out reports on the sad state of the world’s climate, is not paying enough attention to this fact, nor to the lack of ocean surface warming and the increases in Antarctic sea ice in the last several years.
Furthermore, he told von Storch, he began to be dismayed by the way the science behind the IPCC report was being used to advance a purely political agenda.
In fact, President Obama’s newly released National Climate Assessment report relies heavily on the IPCC report. The NCA will be the basis of the EPA’s upcoming regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, which is expected to cause the price of energy to skyrocket, and in the process, cut quite a few jobs.
Climate science ‘not ready for prime time’
This “dramatic makeover of the power industry” based on a science that is not yet well understood is exactly what has Bengtsson worried. “Climate science must be focused to understand such matters much better and for this reason it is appropriate to have an open mind and not follow the IPCC as believers of a religious faith,” he told von Storch.
His doubt and questions eventually led him to join a think tank called the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which the mainstream climate science community regards with disdain, though its members come from every flavor of the political spectrum.
Though he doesn’t agree with all the scientists at GWPF, Bengtsson said he believes there should be a variety of opinions aired about such a complex system as the Earth’s climate. And furthermore, he is interested in the group’s desire to use science to help society adapt to changes in climate that occur in the future, such as, for example, using nuclear energy to replace fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, the collaboration was short lived. Within a week after his announcement, Bengtsson wrote an email to the GWPF to resign his new position, due to the vicious backlash he received from the mainstream climate science community. In it, he wrote:
“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….
It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy.”
One of the most striking claims Bengtsson made is that “the pressure had mainly come from climate scientists in the US,” and specifically a scientist who works for the U.S. Government, who insisted on removing his name from a paper co-authored with Bengtsson.
This “My Way or the Highway” approach reminds me of what President Obama, incidentally the head of the U.S. Government, expressed this past week, when he said, “We’ve still got some climate deniers who shout loud, but they’re wasting everybody’s time on a settled debate.”