In small talks on conferences, once in a while you hear colleagues complain about negative reviews of their articles on climate submitted for publication in scientific journals; reviews which have an overtly political touch. Recently, Hans von Storch and I submitted a short meeting report to a leading science journal and received a review which we want to put up here on klimazwiebel for discussion. In our opinion, the reviewer demands revision of our article on basis of political and not scientific criteria.
The editor of the journal confirmed the opinion of the reviewer and wrote: “In my view, two major revisions are acquired (sic). One deals with some statements that either need editing or deleted. Please see the enclosed review for suggestions on how to revise the text”. In order to have our piece published, we deleted the indicated statement, because it was not really relevant for the meeting report. But we did so in bewilderment; a similar statement about the same meeting already was published for example in a Nature editorial. While we were accused of supporting a politically motivated agenda, we have the feeling that at least in this case the review process itself is politically infiltrated. But please judge yourself:
The authors provide a more or less boiler plate meeting report that would otherwise be acceptable for publication (…) were it not marred by a few inflammatory and unsupported statements.
If the authors want to publish this in a premier, high-profile members journal such as (this one, W.K.), the offending language must be dealt with in a satisfactory manner.
The piece contains the innuendo-laden statement:
"It takes transparency, collaboration with other disciplines, and well-targeted information to regain public trust and to give adequate policy advice"
That statement betrays a biased and ill-informed perspective on the part of the authors. Saying that climate scientists need to "regain publish trust" is to buy into the flawed premise that it has been lost. While the purpose of agenda-driven attacks against climate science over the past two years no doubt had the intent of trying to undermine the public trust in the science, careful polling by experts such as John Krosnick of Stanford University show that there has been no erosion of public trust, despite the best attempts of climate change deniers and media outlets that have fostered the false narrative. See e.g. http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2010/0322climate.shtml
The above statement also is built on the flawed premise that (a) climate science has not bee transparent. In reality, the climate science community has undertaken
measures over the past 10 years that go well beyond the degrees of disclosure found in other areas of science (consider for example the fact that the enormous archives of model output that serve as the basis for the IPCC model projections are available to the public, and many climate models can be downloaded for free). The statement also falsely implies that there is a lack of "collaboration" with other disciplines, when by many measures, climate science is the most multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas in science today.
In short, the statement quoted above is so fundamentally flawed in its underlying assumptions that it must simply be eliminated for this article to be suitable for publication in (…).
The same is true of the later sentence:
"(Meeting participant's name, W.K.) demonstrated the difficulties of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a situation where science is misused to depoliticize politics and in turn becomes politicized."
Who is (XXX, W.K), and why do readers need to be informed of his misguided views of the IPCC. The statement, again, must be stricken.
I believe the meeting report will be suitable for publication contingent upon the mandatory removal of the two offensive statements noted above.