A couple of weeks ago, Nature magazine published a study on ocean warming by scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In the study, the scientists claimed that the Earth’s oceans have absorbed 60% more heat than they had previously thought. The folks at Scripps said this meant that the oceans were warming faster, and the earth was going to accelerate warming as a result.
The study authors derived a new method for measuring how much heat is being absorbed by the oceans. They measured 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. They then assumed that these gases contributed to the “greenhouse” effect, and were causing the global temperature to rise. They found that the warming “is at the high end of previous estimates” and suggested that as a result, the rate of global warming itself could be more accelerated.
The results, wrote the authors, may suggest there is less time than previously thought to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
This conclusion seemed pretty definitive, and garnered a ton of media attention.
Except, there seems to be a problem with the data. Imagine that!
Scripps has issued a statement that it cannot stand by the assertions made in the study because their work contained inadvertent errors that made their conclusions seem more certain than they actually are.
In other words, they screwed up the math because they didn’t account for the variability and uncertainty in their data. Let me put it another way—You know how hurricane forecasters are really sure to give you a Cone of Uncertainty when predicting landfall. Well, the climate alarmists at Scripps failed to do that. Their study comes off as really too certain about ocean warming.
Not long after the study was published, and independent scientist named Nicholas Lewis published a pretty lengthy blog post taking issue with the study’s methodology and conclusions. In an interview, Lewis said “So far as I can see, their method vastly underestimates the uncertainty, as well as biasing up significantly, nearly 30 percent, the central estimate.”
Biasing up the central estimate by 30%. Oh, that doesn’t sound like this is strictly by the scientific method. And it’s not the first time the climate alarmists have faked the data, either.
However, it does seem to be the first time that someone who caught the mistakes didn’t get crucified by the alarmists and their media enablers.
It certainly is the first time that errors were acknowledged so quickly and a study withdrawn as a result. Good on Scripps and Nature for that.
Maybe the retraction can bring some more debate to this topic. It’s a well-known falsehood that 97% of scientists believe in global warming. That myth has been debunked as readers of this blog know.
Is the climate changing? Yes. The climate has been changing since the Earth cooled enough to have an atmosphere. It’s in a constant state of flux.
Are humans having an effect on the climate? Not known, and certainly not a consensus. In February of 2018, a new study was published by different scientists at Scripps Institution that the Sun (you know, that big bright ball of fire in the sky) was entering a period of quiet sunspot activity. This period typically lasts about 50 years.
When the Sun enters what’s called a Maunder Minimum of sunspot activity, less UV radiation reaches the Earth. As a result, the Earth cools off a few tenths of a degree. This phenomenon has been known for a couple of hundred years, and can be reliably predicted.
So, 50 years of global cooling should be able to blunt any kind of warming out there, right?
And this is the kind of debate I want to encourage on this topic. On one hand you had an alarmist study (that had to be retracted because the scientists faked the data). On the other, you have a counter argument that offered some geologic and other data to support their hypothesis.
In the meantime, I am going to keep buying both sweaters and tank tops, just to cover my bases.
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