The University of Queensland has threatened legal action to stop the release of data used in a paper that establishes a 97 per cent scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.
The paper, lead authored by John Cook, has been the subject of debate over its methodology since it was published last year.
The university said yesterday it was prepared to take legal action to protect the privacy of survey participants.
Blogger Brandon Schollenberger said UQ had written to him claiming information he had received was illegally obtained and that the matter had been referred to US law enforcement authorities. If the material were published, UQ said, it would sue for breach of copyright.
The Cook paper said that among research expressing a position on anthropogenic global warming, 97.2 per cent endorsed the consensus.
“Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research,’’ said the paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
UQ’s acting pro-vice-chancellor (Research and International) Alastair McEwan said all data substantiating the paper, Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature, had been published on Skepticalscience.com.
“UQ has therefore published all data relating to the paper that is of any scientific value to the wider community,” he said.
“UQ withheld only data that could identify research participants who took part in the research on condition of anonymity. Such conditions are not uncommon in academic research, and any breach of confidentiality could deter people from participating in valuable research in the future.”
The legal fight comes amid reports in London claiming that one of the world’s top journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as “harmful”.
Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading and one of the authors of the study, told The Times he suspected that intolerance of dissenting views on climate science was preventing his paper from being published.
“The problem we now have in the climate community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of a climate activist,” he added.