Earlier today I was forwarded an email about a climate study. This was supposedly an excerpt:
Anyone who has read, say, one or more scientific papers know that this is not the usual language of academic papers. The first line sounds more like a letter to Penthouse than a scientific paper (you know, the classic "I never thought something like this would happen to me, but last Saturday night…) What caused me to delete the email (fortunately it was still in the trash so I could go back and find these quotes) was the line "findings in this paper could nt be more damaging to manmade global warming theory or the the thousands of climate scientists…" No academic in his right mind would state his/her conclusions in this manner, and even if they did, not editor or advisor would let it slip by.
The premise of the paper was apparently that something other than man (ie bacteria) was creating the CO2 that was causing global warming. But that in fact does not really refute the core of man-made global warming theory. The shakiest part of man-made global warming theory is that CO2 will really cause the dire temeprature rises that are often published (rather than much smaller increases on the order of 1C rather than 5C or more). But the authors were accepting this part, and merely positing that something other than man was causing the CO2 rise. But this makes no sense. The 100 ppm rise of CO2 over the last 150 years may not be all due to man, but its pretty clear a lot of it is. After all, if CO2 has risen from 280 to 380 ppm in the last 150 years, that is a trend that could only go back so far, unless there were such a thing as negative concentrations.
The rest gets even sillier:
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.
That’s the kind of thing you post in your blog, not in the paper itself. Climate does unfortunately see a lot of ad hominem attacks back and forth, but seldom in the academic papers themselves.
So I assumed that it was some ill-concieved hoax by a skeptic, though I could not really understand what point they were trying to make. Positing such a thing, only to have it quickly shot down, could only hurt the skeptic position. If a skeptic made the hoax, it was a stupid strategy. The point is trying to bring clarity and real science back to a politicized scientific debate, and this just does the opposite.
I have therefore come to the conclusion that this hoax is likely the work of global warming catastrophists. My guess is that they wanted to make a point that skeptics were no such thing — that skeptics would bite like a hungry bass at such a lure as long as it supported their position. And certain folks in political circles did so, at least for a few hours. My presumption is that if we had all trumpeted this fake study, then our judgement on other issues would get called into question. My sense is that catastrophists have convinced themselves with their own propaganda that skeptics are all motivated by political and financial agendas. But most skeptics are really interested in the science, and are motivated by the real fear that we are at the cusp of embarking on some really poor, near tragic, policy decisions.
Now, if you really want to have fun, create a similar hoax the other way, supporting catastrophic man-made global warming. You will probably make the NBC Nightly News. It would be fun to try something really nutty and see if people buy it, like saying the oceans will rise 20 feet in the next century… oops, its already been done. Al Gore made that claim, among other truly absurd statements, in his movie An Inconvinient Trust, for which he not only made the NBC Nightly News but he also won an Oscar and a Nobel Prize.