Waiting for the Fake News retraction

Peter Bowes

A week or so back, the headlines around the world were all about how it was worse than we thought.

Even here in New Zealand, A Newspaper got on board with the doom and gloom. Quote.

The world’s oceans have been soaking up far more excess heat in recent decades than scientists realised, suggesting that Earth could be set to warm even faster than predicted in the years ahead, according to new research published yesterday. End quote.

Strangely, the media have been very silent about the fact that the “peer reviewed” paper got the maths wrong.  Even when it was pointed out that the data contained in the original paper does not support the conclusions of that scare story, the media remain silent.

The science is all a tad esoteric; rather than actually measuring the temperatures to find out about warming, the research the paper was based on measured gases. Quote.

The new research does not measure the ocean’s temperature directly. Rather, it measures the volume of gases, specifically oxygen and carbon dioxide, that have escaped the ocean in recent decades and headed into the atmosphere as it heats up. End quote.

One scientist, after reading the first page and doing some quick mental arithmetic, thought that the published result did not pass the ‘sniff test’ so he dug into the data to see why.  This is what he said: Quote.

The findings of the Resplandy et al paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media. Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results. Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.

Moreover, even if the paper’s results had been correct, they would not have justified its findings regarding an increase to 2.0°C in the lower bound of the equilibrium climate sensitivity range and a 25% reduction in the carbon budget for 2°C global warming.

Because of the wide dissemination of the paper’s results, it is extremely important that these errors are acknowledged by the authors without delay and then corrected.

Of course, it is also very important that the media outlets that unquestioningly trumpeted the paper’s findings now correct the record too.

But perhaps that is too much to hope for.

Nicholas Lewis 6 November 2018. End quote.

Here is a graph from the paper:

Figure 1. ΔAPOClimate data values (black), the least squares linear fit (blue line) to them, and the linear trend per Resplandy et al. (red line)

Mr Lewis got the data, fed it into a program to get the linear trend and it was different from the trend published.  So he wrote to the authors of the paper:  Quote.

I wanted to make sure that I had not overlooked something in my calculations, so later on November 1st I emailed Laure Resplandy querying the […] trend figure in her paper and asking for her to look into the difference in our trend estimates as a matter of urgency, explaining that in view of the media coverage of the paper I was contemplating web-publishing a comment on it within a matter of days. To date I have had no substantive response from her, despite subsequently sending a further email containing the key analysis sections from a draft of this article. End quote.

While I accept that the Herald writers are not scientists and only parrot what they get over the wires from overseas news sources, one might have thought that there was a little integrity left and a retraction could be printed telling us all not to worry after all.

But no, even on 9 November, well after the research was debunked, the Herald was still promulgating the same doom and gloom error. Quote.

 Now it’s been proven the ocean is absorbing 60 per cent more heat than was thought. Not only does the water temperature go up, the seas become more acidic and currents (and therefore also winds) begin to behave in strange anomalous ways – resulting for example in more frequent and severe hurricanes. End quote.

As mentioned, the science is all very esoteric; those who have a mind to can read it all at Judith Curry’s blog, but the short answer is, when the correct maths is used, is that everything is pretty normal.


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WH is a pale, stale, male who does not believe all the doom and gloom climate nonsense so enjoys generating CO2 that the plants need to grow by driving his MG.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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