Bureaucrats at the American Physical Society (APS) have issued a curious warning to their members about an article in one of their own publications. Don't read this, they say - we don't agree with it. But what is it about the piece that is so terrible, that like Medusa, it could make men go blind?
It's an article that examines the calculation central to climate models. As the editor of the APS's newsletter American Physics Jeffrey Marque explains, the global warming debate must be re-opened.
"There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution. Since the correctness or fallacy of that conclusion has immense implications for public policy and for the future of the biosphere, we thought it appropriate to present a debate within the pages of P&S concerning that conclusion," he wrote.
American Physics invited both believers and sceptics to submit articles, and has published a submission by Viscount Monckton questioning the core calculation of the greenhouse gas theory: climate sensitivity. The believers are represented by two physicists from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who state that:
"Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality."
But within a few days, Monckton's piece carried a health warning: in bright red ink.
The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions.
Not so much Medusa, then, as Nanny telling the children what not to think.
"The first sentence is nothing more or less than a deliberate lie," writes Professor John Brignell on his Numberwatch blog. "The second is, to say the least, contentious; while the third is an outrageous example of ultra vires interference by a committee in the proper conduct of scientific debate."
Monckton has asked for an apology. In a letter to the APS President Arthur Bienenstock, he writes:
"If the Council has not scientifically evaluated or formally considered my paper, may I ask with what credible scientific justification, and on whose authority, the offending text asserts primo, that the paper had not been scientifically reviewed when it had; secundo, that its conclusions disagree with what is said (on no evidence) to be the "overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community"; and, tertio, that "The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions"? Which of my conclusions does the Council disagree with, and on what scientific grounds (if any)?"