CC: Scientific Journals 'Censoring Debate On Global Warming'
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LEADING SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS 'ARE CENSORING DEBATE ON GLOBAL WARMING'
By Robert Matthews
May 1, 2005
Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from
researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable
wisdom over global warming.
A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether
climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of
human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication,
Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.
Radcliffe on Sour power station with Dr Benny Peiser (inset). He disagrees
with the pro-global warming line
A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by Science
and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of global warming,
said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own research which
raised doubts over the issue.
The controversy follows the publication by Science in December of a paper
which claimed to have demonstrated complete agreement among climate experts,
not only that global warming is a genuine phenomenon, but also that mankind
is to blame.
The author of the research, Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of
California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since the
early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either explicitly or
implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.
Dr Oreskes's study is now routinely cited by those demanding action on
climate change, including the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the
Government's chief scientific adviser.
However, her unequivocal conclusions immediately raised suspicions among
other academics, who knew of many papers that dissented from the pro-global
They included Dr Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty at
Liverpool John Moores University, who decided to conduct his own analysis of
the same set of 1,000 documents - and concluded that only one third backed
the consensus view, while only one per cent did so explicitly.
Dr Peiser submitted his findings to Science in January, and was asked to
edit his paper for publication - but has now been told that his results have
been rejected on the grounds that the points he make had been "widely
dispersed on the internet".
Dr Peiser insists that he has kept his findings strictly confidential. "It
is simply not true that they have appeared elsewhere already," he said.
A spokesman for Science said Dr Peiser's research had been rejected "for a
variety of reasons", adding: "The information in the letter was not
perceived to be novel."
Dr Peiser rejected this: "As the results from my analysis refuted the
original claims, I believe Science has a duty to publish them."
Dr Peiser is not the only academic to have had work turned down which
criticises the findings of Dr Oreskes's study. Prof Dennis Bray, of the GKSS
National Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, submitted results from an
international study showing that fewer than one in 10 climate scientists
believed that climate change is principally caused by human activity.
As with Dr Peiser's study, Science refused to publish his rebuttal. Prof
Bray told The Telegraph: "They said it didn't fit with what they were
intending to publish."
Prof Roy Spencer, at the University of Alabama, a leading authority on
satellite measurements of global temperatures, told The Telegraph: "It's
pretty clear that the editorial board of Science is more interested in
promoting papers that are pro-global warming. It's the news value that is
He said that after his own team produced research casting doubt on man-made
global warming, they were no longer sent papers by Nature and Science for
review - despite being acknowledged as world leaders in the field.
As a result, says Prof Spencer, flawed research is finding its way into the
leading journals, while attempts to get rebuttals published fail. "Other
scientists have had the same experience", he said. "The journals have a
small set of reviewers who are pro-global warming."
Concern about bias within climate research has spread to the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose findings are widely cited
by those calling for drastic action on global warming.
In January, Dr Chris Landsea, an expert on hurricanes with the United States
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, resigned from the
IPCC, claiming that it was "motivated by pre-conceived agendas" and was
A spokesman for Science denied any bias against sceptics of man-made global
warming. "You will find in our letters that there is a wide range of
opinion," she said. "We certainly seek to cover dissenting views."
Dr Philip Campbell, the editor-in-chief of Nature, said that the journal was
always happy to publish papers that go against perceived wisdom, as long as
they are of acceptable scientific quality.
"The idea that we would conspire to suppress science that undermines the
idea of anthropogenic climate change is both false and utterly naive about
what makes journals thrive," he said.
Dr Peiser said the stifling of dissent and preoccupation with doomsday
scenarios is bringing climate research into disrepute. "There is a fear that
any doubt will be used by politicians to avoid action," he said. "But if
political considerations dictate what gets published, it's all over for
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