Wolfgang Wagner has resigned as editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Remote Sensing, after it published a hotly disputed article challenging claims of manmade climate change.
In his resignation letter, Taking Responsibility on Publishing the Controversial Paper, Wagner said the paper titled On the Misdiagnosis of Climate Feedbacks from Variations in Earth's Radiant Energy Balance by Roy W. Spencer and William D. Braswell is most likely problematic and should therefore not have been published.
Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science, Wagner wrote. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.
The paper, published earlier this year, cited data from NASA's Terra satellite to argue that Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than climate computer models have predicted. The paper became a hot topic of discussion and was an instant hit with climate change skeptics.
Spencer, responding to the editor's resignation, stood behind everything he wrote.
In his response argument posed on his blog, Spencer wrote, It appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC's politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation.
If some scientists would like to demonstrate in their own peer-reviewed paper where anything we wrote was incorrect, they should submit a paper for publication, he wrote.
Though many scientists welcomed Wagner's resignation, they said it was curious that an editor would quit over a paper that has not been retracted.
If Wagner feels he published the article in error, why not simply retract it? Was it really necessary to fall on his sword to make the point that he now feels he made a mistake in publishing the paper? It's a noble gesture, and not unprecedented for editors of climate journals, but is it best for science? RetractionWatch wrote.
According to RetractionWatch, Wagner has said that the journal is not considering retracting the study.
No, neither the publisher nor I have so far considered this, Wagner said. On the one hand, as I wrote in the editorial, formally everything was correct with the review. On the other hand we believe that it is much better to treat this issue in an open and scientific manner. Therefore, the publisher is already working on inviting the science community to respond to this paper.