by Ben Webster
08 July 2014
Research that questioned the accuracy of computer models used to
global warming was "censored" by
climate scientists, it was alleged yesterday.
One academic reviewer said that a section should not be published
"would lead to unnecessary confusion
in the climate science community".
"This entire discussion has to
The paper (Assessment
of Bias Assumptions for Climate Models) suggested that
the computer models used by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) were flawed, resulting in human influence
on the climate being exaggerated and the impact of natural
variability being underplayed.
The findings could have profound implications. If correct, they
could mean that greenhouse gases have less impact than the IPCC has
predicted and that the risk of catastrophic global warming has been
However, the questions raised about the models were deleted from the
paper before it was published in 2010 in the
American Meteorological Society’s Journal of
Climate. The paper had been submitted in July 2009, when
many climate scientists were urging world leaders to agree a global
deal on cutting emissions at the Copenhagen climate change summit in
December that year.
Vladimir Semenov, a climate scientist at the
in Kiel, Germany, said the questions he and six others had posed in
the original version of the paper were valid and removing them was
"a kind of censorship".
He decided to speak out after seeing a former colleague, Professor
Lennart Bengtsson, vilified for questioning the IPCC’s
predictions on global warming.
Professor Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading,
resigned from the advisory board of the Global Warming Policy
Foundation, Lord Lawson of Blaby’s climate skeptic think-tank,
in May after being subjected to what he described as McCarthy-style
pressure from fellow academics.
Dr Semenov said some seemed to be trying to suppress suggestions
that the climate was less sensitive to rising emissions than the
IPCC had claimed.
"If you say there are some
indications that the sensitivity is wrong, this breaks the stone
on which the whole building is standing," he said. "People may
doubt the whole results."
Dr Semenov said the reviewers who
objected to the questions were technically correct because they,
"were not explicitly based on our
However, he said:
"We had a right to discuss it... If
your opinion is outside the broad consensus then you have more
problems with publishing your results."
A third reviewer was much more
supportive of the paper, saying its "very provocative" suggestion
that climate models were flawed was "so interesting that it needs to
be discussed more fully".
However, almost the entire paragraph was deleted, along with the
"the average sensitivity of the IPCC
models may be too high".
The journal chose to publish only the
"We would like to emphasize that
this study does not question the existence of a long-term
anthropogenic warming trend during the 20th century."
A spokesman for the American
Meteorological Society said:
"It is a natural part of the review
process for the author to be asked to make changes, edits, and
rewrites... The changes that are made in response to the peer
review ensure that the research results are as accurate as