Climate bullying echoes the expulsion of Mitch Taylor from Polar Bear Specialist Group

A lone polar bear walking on ice [Kathy Crane (NOAA) photo].  We'll call this a metaphor for the expulsion of Mitch Taylor from the PBSG after the Group switched from emphasizing unregulated over-hunting as the primary threat to polar bear conservation to global warming.

Kathy Crane (NOAA) photo

Swedish meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson today declared his resignation from the Academic Advisory Board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which he joined only three weeks ago, because of bullying by his colleagues. His email letter reads, in part:

“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.”

See WUWT for the email in its entirety, GWPF response, and other reactions (and more here).

Absolutely shameful. Alas, the reprehensible behaviour displayed by Bengtsson’s colleagues also goes on within the polar bear research community: those that refuse to parrot the “consensus” are quickly punished.

Remember Mitch Taylor and his expulsion in 2009 from the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group? His “crime” was objecting to the PBSG using weak evidence about future threats of global warming to have the conservation status of polar bears changed to ‘threatened’ even though populations were currently healthy. Details below for those who don’t know the story, or have forgotten.

I covered this in an earlier post (Dec. 26, 2012):

Over-hunting was the reason the PBSG had been formed in the first place. By their own admission (Derocher et al. 1998:37), “a primary goal of the Agreement [signed by all Arctic nations in 1973 to protect the polar bear] was to limit the hunting of polar bears to sustainable levels.”

It appears to me that when the PBSG did not have the evidence to support listing polar bears as Vulnerable under the re-vamped IUCN criteria in 1996 (version 2.3) – because they were doing so well – the Group simply switched the primary threat from unregulated over-hunting to future global warming. Their reasons for seeming to prefer “Vulnerable” over “Least Concern” are not stated explicitly.

It also appears that no one at the time undertook the due-diligence one would reasonably expect from such a group to investigate the science behind Hassol’s glossy synthesis report. Hassol’s report for policy makers contained no references, so anyone wishing details would have had to consult the original document upon which it was based.

The fact that long-time core PBSG member Mitch Taylor eventually did check the underlying basis for the claims made – and found it wanting – is to his enduring credit as a responsible scientist. But it cost him: the Group tossed him out, as of the 2009 meeting (see details here and Nova 2009, pdf below). As Andrew Derocher (outgoing chairman of the PBSG) informed Taylor by email,

for the sake of polar bear conservation, views that run counter to human induced climate change are extremely unhelpful.

Nothing I heard [from the rest of the Group] had to do with your science on harvesting or your research on polar bears - it was the positions you’ve taken on global warming that brought opposition [to his inclusion as a core member of the PBSG, as of 2009].” [my bold]

See the whole post here.

Derocher, A., Garner, G.W., Lunn, N.J., and Wiig, Ø. (eds.) 1998. Polar Bears: Proceedings of the 12th meeting of the Polar Bear Specialists Group IUCN/SSC, 3-7 February, 1997, Oslo, Norway. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge UK, IUCN.

Nova, J. 2009. Exile for Non-believers. SPPI original paper, September 2009.,

back up pdf here: Nova_Exile_for_non_believers_2009

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