Who Is Hoaxing The Global Warming Skeptics?

Darryl Mason
Saturday November 10, 2007

The news that bacteria in the ocean had been (allegedly) scientifically proven to be the primary cause of global warming, and that this revelation probably spelt the 'death of manmade global warming' came like a gift from the Gods for some global warming skeptics.

Here it was. Finally. Peer reviewed, scientific fact-rich, undeniable proof that the Al Gore approved Global Warming Threat was nothing but a hoax, a lie, a scam.

For days, the new research paper (detailed below) flew around global warming-related discussion boards (includiing that of Fox News host Sean Hannnity) and the revelation of a massive previously unnoticed anomaly that proved it was impossible for man to be responsible for global warming was branded as a heavy weapon against Al Gore cheerleaders.

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But it was all a hoax. A quite basic hoax. The 'scientific study' was a total fraud, and anyone who bothered to visit the 'research site' responsible for the study's publication would have quickly realised they had almost been duped.

Not every, or even many, global warming skeptics fell for this hoax. But enough did for the scam to be used as a means of discrediting the serious skeptics.

The research paper claimed :

...bacteria in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans emitted at least 300 times more carbon dioxide than industrial activity - a finding that, if true, would overturn the widely held view of scientists that burning fossil fuels are the main cause of warming.

The research paper contained a number of charts and graphs to back up their claims. But it was the only research paper published on the home page for the 'Journal Of Geoclimatic Studies', even though it gave the very thin impression it had been publishing for years, and was an established scientific journal.

There are two key questions here.

1) Why didn't the global warming skeptics who took the report as gospel do what they accuse the 'global warming is real' crowd of repeatedly failing to do and study the supposed facts on the 'ocean bacteria' research for themselves, before excitedly forwarding the study to friends and colleagues and leaping onto discussion boards to talk up the 'ocean bacteria is responsible for global warming' claims?

2) Who is responsible for the hoax, and was the hoax released and promoted to discredit global warming skeptics?

The answers to 2) is we're not sure yet, and a definite "Yes".

Here's the news story :

Laden with scientific jargon and published online in the previously unknown Journal of Geoclimatic Studies based in Japan, the report suggested the findings could be “the death of manmade global warming theory”.

Sceptics jumped on the report.

A British scientist e-mailed the report to 2000 colleagues before spotting it was a spoof.

Another from the US called it a “blockbuster”.

Blogger sceptic Neil Craig wrote: “This could not be more damaging to manmade global warming theory ... I somehow doubt if this is going to be on the BBC news.”

“The whole story is a hoax,” Deliang Chen, professor of Meteorology at Gothenburg University in Sweden, told Reuters.

He said two “authors” listed as from his University were unknown.

Here's the hoax report - 'Carbon Dioxide Production By Benthic Bacteria : The Death Of Manmade Global Warming Theory?'

Here's the home page for the Journal Of Geoclimatic Studies.

Note : the above two links are only available now in Google cache. The website has been pulled down. The report is still readable, though the 'too perfect' graphs are probably not viewable.

While the Journal Of Geoclimatic Research gives the impression it is an established journal, the only paper on the site is the hoax, and all the names listed of scientists and researchers pull no hits in Google searches. The researchers and scientists don't exist, though some of the universities and research facilities do.

Here's how the researchers, at the end of the paper, probably fooled so many skeptics, with plenty of humble pleading for The Truth To Come Out Before It's Too Late :

It was not our intention in researching this issue to disprove manmade global warming theory. We have received no funds, directly or indirectly, from fossil fuel companies and have no personal interest in the outcome of the debate.

We simply noticed an anomaly in the figures used by those who accept the "consensus" position on climate change and sought to investigate it. But the findings presented in this paper could not be more damaging to manmade global warming theory or to the thousands of climate scientists who have overlooked - sometimes, we fear, deliberately - the anomaly.

We have found a near-perfect match between the levels of carbon dioxide produced by benthic eubacteria and recent global temperature records. By contrast we note what must be obvious to all those who have studied the figures with an open mind: a very poor match between carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels and recent global temperature records.

Moreover we note that there is no possible mechanism by which industrial emissions could have caused the recent temperature increase, as they are two orders of magnitude too small to have exerted an effect of this size. We have no choice but to conclude that the recent increase in global temperatures, which has caused so much disquiet among policy makers, bears no relation to industrial emissions, but is in fact a natural phenomenom.

These findings place us in a difficult position. We feel an obligation to publish, both in the cause of scientific objectivity and to prevent a terrible mistake - with extremely costly implications - from being made by the world's governments.

But we recognise that in doing so, we lay our careers on the line. As we have found in seeking to broach this issue gently with colleagues, and in attempting to publish these findings in other peer-reviewed journals, the "consensus" on climate change is enforced not by fact but by fear. We have been warned, collectively and individually, that in bringing our findings to public attention we are not only likely to be deprived of all future sources of funding, but that we also jeopardise the funding of the departments for which we work.

We believe that academic intimidation of this kind contradicts the spirit of open enquiry in which scientific investigations should be conducted. We deplore the aggressive responses we encountered before our findings were published, and fear the reaction this paper might provoke. But dangerous as these findings are, we feel we have no choice but to publish.

The wording of the plea for help is quite brilliant, and picks up on the very true claims by credible scientists that defying global warming gospel will get you in trouble.

The fake plea appeals to many of the talking points of hardcore global warming skeptics : that it's a big conspiracy, that adhering to manmade global warming beliefs will destroy economies, that if you are a researcher or scientist and you dare the challenge the 'truth' about global warming you will have your funding cut off and be ostracised, simply for trying to get the truth out.

The hoax worked against some skeptics because it hit every key point that winds up so many global warming skeptics.

What this very simple, but apparently extremely successful, hoax proves is that many so-called global warming skeptics are just as gullible and unwilling to do their own research as those who take the words of Al Gore as concrete fact.

Yes, the climate in certain regions of the world is changing, weather systems are becoming chaotic, global warming is probably responsible, and it is likely mankind has something to do with it - likely, though not yet 100% confirmed - but the arguments and, no doubt, the hoaxes from both sides of the debate will continue for years to come.

There are vested interests on all sides.

UPDATE : A person claiming to be the hoaxer is interviewed :

Why did you decide to construct the fake website? Was it purely a joke or did you set out to make people taking your paper at face value look foolish?

Why did you decide to construct the fake website? Was it purely a joke or did you set out to make people taking your paper at face value look foolish?

Its purpose was to expose the credulity and scientific illiteracy of many of the people who call themselves climate sceptics. While dismissive of the work of the great majority of climate scientists, they will believe almost anything if it lends support to their position. Their approach to climate science is the opposite of scepticism.

Are you surprised at the pick up your coverage has generated?

Not really. Equally ridiculous claims - like those in the paper attached to the "Oregon Petition" or David Bellamy's dodgy glacier figures - have been widely circulated and taken up by the ‘sceptic’ community. But you can explain this until you are blue in the face. To get people to sit up and listen, you have to demonstrate it. This is what I set out to do.

It should be noted that few credible global warming skeptics were taken in by the hoax. Of course, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News' Sean Hannity were, but then they're notorious idiots and suckers for any old kind of garbage - Saddam has nukes, Saddam will nuke the UK, Europe, America, the official story of the 9/11 attacks makes perfect sense, the Iraq War has been a success, and so on.

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