Silly Climate Study Hoax

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. 

  • Waired

    Its seems you are right, even the web site itself is odd not only the study, there is only link to the current issue and does not mention the older ones at all. Also digging further we see that it has just been recently created:

    Created On:02-Nov-2007 14:50:19 UTC
    Expiration Date:02-Nov-2008 14:50:19 UTC
    Registrant Name:Hiroko Takebe
    Registrant Organization:Dr Hiroko Takebe
    Registrant Street1:Climatological Department, Okinawa University

    It also seem to be administered by a totaly different person which is in the UK: (these is the same data for the billing of the website)

    Admin Name:David Thorpe
    Admin Organization:David Thorpe
    Admin Street1:Cyberium
    Admin Street2:
    Admin Street3:
    Admin City:Machynlleth
    Admin State/Province:Powys
    Admin Postal Code:SY209HA
    Admin Country:GB
    Admin Phone:+44.1654761590
    Admin Phone Ext.:
    Admin FAX:
    Admin FAX Ext.:

    a little digging about him leds us to his blog at (

    And check what his blog says about him:

    David T
    Location: Machynlleth, Powys, United Kingdom

    David is a prize-winning novelist and environmental journalist. His book series Hybrids – for teens and young adults – is published by HarperCollins. He is also a designer and runs his own company, Cyberium.

    If you look the name, place, country and email of the admin of the site, they coincide quite well with this guy.

    Going back to the web site, there is a link to the editorial of that issue which states:

    “In any other field a revelation of this importance would be greeted with tremendous interest by scientific colleagues. If corroborated by further investigation it is likely to have been rewarded with the highest scientific honours: it is no exaggeration to state that this is Nobel Prize material. Instead, attempts to publish this paper have been met with fear, hostility and a closing of ranks. Before approaching this journal, Daniel Klein and colleagues sent their paper to 43 peer-reviewed learned publications. All 43 rejected it. In no case could they provide a scientific justification for their decision. The editor of one very eminent journal told Klein and his colleagues that they were “criminally irresponsible” in seeking to have this material published.”

    Probably hopping that someone will pick up this info and say that nobody wanted to publish it because its a conspiracy or something along the lines. Also the other articles listed (but not linked) seem way to odd to be realistic.

  • Mike M.

    I peruse the Google Blog search+global warming every day. Today I’ve seen three skeptic sites (yours included) that received this hoax and promptly dismissed it. Now I find some obscure blogger trumpeting how the skeptics were fooled by this hoax…
    Hence we can see a motive for it’s creation. Bait for us foolish skeptics. Remember, the alarmists believe we are all mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, bible-thumping cavemen because we don’t toe the line. Weak effort but typical.

  • morganovich

    why do you say that most of the CO2 looks to be caused by man?

    one could just as easily argue that it has a great deal to do with warmer temperatures and oceans outgassing. the lag of CO2 rises behind temperature increases in prior periods is quite clear in the vostok cores.

    and there is considerable reason to doubt the baseline CO2 levels apparent in vostok as the ice coers may not be a closed system. the pressure, freezing process, and variable permeabilities of gases may be an artifact of the system and not the atmosphere.

    the long stable co2 levels shown in ice cores are contradicted by numerous direct measurements and proxies (stomatal frequency etc). CO2 may have been quite variable over time, even recent time.

    Chemical analysis of 90,000 direct measurements (as opposed to proxies such as ice or fossils) performed according to well understood measurement methods by nobel prize (not the peace prize) winning scientists and published in 175 technical papers has led to a chart that looks more like this. (complied by Ernst-Georg Beck 2006a, 2006b, 2007) Odd that a time such as 1820, when it was dramatically colder than now should have higher CO2 levels than currently prevail. This further throws into question the legitimacy of CO2 as the primary climate driver. Also odd is that the IPCC would reject such direct measures in favor of ice core proxies. Of interest, the average across this period is 335ppm

    see pages 4 and 5 for good charts.

    given your skepticism of the “all climate change is caused by the greenhouse” argument i am surprised you are accepting the “all the CO2 rise is from man” argument. i’m interested to hear why you have done so.

    thanks and keep up the interesting work.

  • flashgordonnz

    Maybe the believers are still smarting over the dihydrogen monoxide prank: