Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Deja vu all over again - the GWPF is losing friends

Hands up all those who remember Murray Salby?

OK, hand down.

Let me remind you.  Murray Salby was a momentary favourite of the denier crowd because he was a genuine scientist who had come up with a plausible sounding but crackpot theory about climate change or not and then got the sack from his Australian university.

For a few nanoseconds the baying hounds at WattsUpWithThat and other such dens of disinformation kicked up a fuss.  Then Desmogblog found out that Salby had form, had trouble in the States and wasn't telling a coherent story.

Funnily enough, the hounds went and hid.

But now they're back. 

They've come back because Lennart Bengtson, a respected meteorologist approaching the end of his career, has reversed his decision to join the disinformation think tank, the GWPF.  His resignation letter states:
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc. I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.

Under these situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.
At the age of 79, he has earned the right to do what he wants.  But clearly he is concerned about his standing in the scientific community.  And that standing is through the floor. 

"Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship, etc"   Well, what a surprise.  If I had begun to build up something of a career in science and found that one of my colleagues, indeed co-authors, was joining a denier organisation, one that not only pays little heed to science but actively promotes disinformation, I would think twice about wanting to be associated with the accompanying stench of anti-science.  Colleagues withdrawing from joint authorship is a sensible action.  Scientists have ideals and one of those is the search for the truth. 

Just like Salby, the hounds think there is conspiracy afoot.  That's laughable.  I can't see this storm in a teacup lasting.  But that doesn't mean the woodwork is keeping its worms hidden at the moment.  Plenty have come out to play, commenting on Anthony Watts's conspiracy laden article (collage more like).

You can read the comments here (archived).  Read through them if you can be bothered.  We get the usual suspects spouting the usual stuff (eugenics anyone?  Lysenko - tick that one off.) and, as usual, very little critical thinking.

That sort of thing is left to real sceptics.  Sou eviscerates Watts with her usual efficiency.  Stoat has the sitting duck in his sights.  History shows us that scientists going out on a limb risk losing the respect of their colleagues and the active support of the scientific community.  What is the biggest shame is that a respected scientist seems to have been chatted up and persuaded to join an organisation that isn't what it claims it is to help lend it the respectability that it is dribbling away, especially since Richard Tol began to see demons under his bed as well. 

Perhaps this paranoia thing is catching.

In the meantime, does anyone know what has become of Murray Salby?  He doesn't seem to have many friends any more.

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