A leading climate scientist has resigned from the advisory board of a think-tank after being subjected to what he described as “McCarthy”-style pressure from fellow academics.
Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, said the pressure was so intense that he would be unable to continue working and feared for his health and safety unless he stepped down from the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s academic advisory council.
He said the pressure had mainly come from climate scientists in the US, including one employed by the US government who threatened to withdraw as co-author of a forthcoming paper because of his link with the foundation.
Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former chancellor of the exchequer who founded the think-tank because of his belief that the risk from global warming has been exaggerated, condemned the treatment of Professor Bengtsson.
In a letter to him yesterday, Lord Lawson wrote: “I fully understand your reason; but it is an appalling state of affairs, and your reference to McCarthyism is fully warranted.”
Professor Bengtsson, a former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg and author of more than 200 papers, accepted an invitation to join the council less than three weeks ago. His decision significantly enhanced the credibility of the foundation, which announced that “one of Sweden’s leading climate scientists” had joined its council.
Professor Bengtsson wrote in his resignation letter: “I have been put under such an enormous group pressure from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable. It is a situation that reminds me [of] the time of McCarthy.”
He told The Times that the strongest opposition had come from the US. “It was the climate science community in the US which took this very negatively. I think the reason is the very loaded atmosphere in the US… they would like to do something very substantial about climate change.”