Professor Judith Curry, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, said it had the potential to do as much damage to climate science as the ‘climategate’ scandal, where the University of East Anglia was accused of manipulating data and attempting to suppress critics.
In the past year the journal has also been criticised for promoting a paper which suggested that 97 per cent of climate change studies supported the hypotheses of man-made global warming.
Richard Tol, professor of economics at the University of Sussex, said the calculations were flawed and the study should be retracted.
Prof Tol, who refused to sign a recent Intergovernmental Pancel on Climate Change (IPCC) report because it was too alarmist said: “Environmental Research Letters is known for making politically inspired decisions. They are very green, and not the scientific journal that they claim to be.
“There are few people with as much credibility as Lennart Bengtsson. His integrity is beyond doubt.”
The paper by Prof Bengtsson, of Reading University, challenged findings by the IPCC that the global average temperature would rise by up to 4.5C if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to double.
It suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than has previously been claimed.
Yesterday the Institute of Physics (IOP) which publishes Environmental Research Letters released full details of the review in an attempt to stem the criticism.
Dr. Nicola Gulley, Editorial Director at IOP Publishing, said the paper was pulled because ‘it did not provide a significant advancement in the field.’
“Far from hounding ‘dissenting’ views from the field, Environmental Research Letters positively encourages genuine scientific innovation that can shed light on complicated climate science,” she said.
However it emerged that one reviewer had admitted that its ‘potential impact’ on the climate science was ‘high’ but was worried it would have a ‘strongly negative’ effect.
Last night Professor Bengtsson, said: “I do not believe there is any systematic “cover up” of scientific evidence on climate change or that academics’ work is being “deliberately suppressed”, as The Times front page suggests.
"I am worried by a wider trend that science is being gradually being influenced by political views. Policy decisions need to be based on solid fact.
“I was concerned that the Environmental Research Letters reviewer’s comments suggested his or her opinion was not objective or based on an unbiased assessment of the scientific evidence.
"Science relies on having a transparent and robust peer review system so I welcome the Institute of Physics publishing the reviewers’ comments in full.
"I accept that Environmental Research Letters is entitled to its final decision not to publish this paper – that is part and parcel of academic life. The peer review process is imperfect but it is still the best way to assess academic work.
“I was surprised by the strong reaction from some scientists outside the UK to joining the Global Warming Policy Foundation this month. I had hoped that it would be platform to bring more common sense into the global climate debate."
“Academic freedom is a central aspect to life at University of Reading. It is a very open, positive and supportive environment to work in. I have always felt able to put forward my arguments and opinions without any prejudice.”
Prof Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate and Culture at King’s College London, said:” This episode tells us a lot about how deeply politicised climate science has become, but how some scientists remain blind to their own biases.”
Prof Joanna Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said:"It is regrettable that perceived political stances on the climate issue are apparently so affecting academic activity."
Source: The Telegraph | 16 May 2014