Regular readers will know that the Hyderus blog worries a lot about climate change: we think it is real and catastrophic . We’re encouraged that President Obama is acting and we hope that China and India will too. We wish that climate change communication had been more successful and we think that reporting often fails to reflect accurately the overwhelming consensus on the reality of global warming. However, being in favour of accurate reporting does not mean that we want to see debate stifled. 

This worrying English translation of a story from Germany’s Spiegel (Europe’s largest news magazine) claims that a scientific journal, Environmental Research Letters rejected an article suggesting smaller-than-anticipated warming effects because reviewers thought that the article was, “less than helpful” and “harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate-skeptic media side.” This is despite the article having been written by a respected climate change scholar.

The same journal has form. This blog post reports a 2013 incident in which the journal declined to publish a comment piece by Prof Richard S J Tol. In his proposed piece, Tol said that some were “concerned about the standards of proof in climate research. [Some people] would emphasise the complexities of the climate system and highlight lack of rigour in peer-review, substandard statistical analysis, and unwillingness to share data,” said Tol in questioning whether another ERL piece had accurately portrayed scientific unanimity on certain scientific questions.

Prof Tol may look a bit odd but he is one of the world’s foremost economists specialising in climate change, an author (contributing, lead, principal and convening) of Working Groups I, II and III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the shared winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007. He was not amused.

Some claim that both sides in the climate-change debate are politicising science and are dominated by tactics that are “dirty, nasty, destructive”.  According to the Spiegel, one Austrian professor has even called for the death penalty for climate change sceptics. 

Lennart Bengtsson / Portrait

Prof Lennart Bengtsson as pictured in Der Spiegel