During the initial manuscript submission, H. Harde suggested five potential reviewers. Most if not all of them are prominent individuals advocating that currently raising CO2 concentrations would be natural and not related to human influence.
All five suggested potential reviewers were invited by the Editor to provide formal reviews on the submitted manuscript. Two of them accepted the invitation and suggested ‘major revisions’ and ‘minor revisions’, respectively. Both reviewers asked the author for more clarity and better presentation, style and language; none of them raised any concern about the scientific content of the manuscript.
So, the editor didn’t bother to select reviewers outside of the list provided by the author. I actually think it can be useful for an editor to see a list of potential reviewers. However, they really should have their own sense of who would be a suitable reviewer, and not simply select from the list provided by the author. I also don’t think I’ve ever submitted a paper and provided potential reviewers; I tend to think it’s the job of the journal to work out who should review a submission.
The editorial then goes on to say
The journal editor offered Harde the opportunity for a formal Reply to respond to Koehler et al.’s Comment article. However, after external expert reviews, the Reply by Harde to the Comment by Köhler et al. (2018) was rejected because it did not add any significant information to the argument put forward in the original paper.
I must admit that I feel slightly uncomfortable about this, as I do tend to think an author should be allowed to reply. On the other hand, the original paper was clearly nonsense, so a response is unlikely to be any better.
Ultimately, the editorial decision was that the original Harde paper should not be retracted, as no unethical action was found. I mostly agree with this. I think that papers should really only be retracted if there is evidence of plagiarism, or fraud. Unless requested by the author, I don’t think that a paper being wrong is a reason for retraction. The editors have also decided that authors can no longer submit suggestions for potential reviewers. Although a list of potential reviewers can be useful, this seems sensible to me. A journal should have a database of potential reviewers and if they can’t find a suitable reviewer for a paper, that might suggest that the paper is not really suitable for that journal.