back to article Bacteria to blame for global warming?

Researchers from the University of Arizona's Department of Climatology, and the Department of Atmospheric Physics at Gothenburg University have published research they believe will overturn the consensus view that man's activities are causing global warming. They also make some rather astonishing claims that they had been …


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  1. breakfast Silver badge

    Mud in the water

    Good work for picking up on this. A whole lot of less informed outlets would probably have published it verbatim.

    Whether it is a harmless joke or not is another matter. There is an extensive and extremely well funded and connected industry dedicted to denying the scientific facts of climate change. Taking their cue from the Intelligent Design/Creationist lobby they aren't aiming to disprove the scientific consensus, they just need to muddy the water enough that they can allow allow political interests who don't really want to have to act if they can avoid it an excuse to do nothing. If they sow enough doubt that thinking, rational, people can consider the case for anthropogenic climate change "not proven" by paying people to put their case everywhere that user generated content exists then every new seed they plant, no matter how tenuous, is going to be seized on by a lot of people who don't do their research and are impressed by published papers and academic departments, even ones that do turn out to be absolutely fictitious.

    It is very hard for someone who always tells the truth to win an argument against someone who always lies.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Every Urban-Myth has an agenda…

    I imagine that anti-green corporate interests are circulating this urban-myth as a FUD campaign against global warming mitigation...

    I'm annoyed when friends and workmates circulate these things. Recent examples - the racist (and discredited) "Romanian ATM jostle" warning email that went around earlier this year, and the outdated (by two years) warning about the fake couriers who supposedly charge you £15 when you call them about the non-existent parcel.

    Do they get tabloid journalists to write these things on their days off! Some of them are suspiciously well-crafted...

  3. Dogbyte

    Turned out nice again...

    Oh Mr Wu, what shall I do?

    I've got those hoax-reporting, global-warming blues.

    The demob coat and the ukulele case please...

  4. Kane
    Thumb Up

    For a hoax....

    ...this one sounds reasonably well thought out. Bravo gentleman!!

  5. Dr Stephen Jones

    While the real hoax is...

    ... getting people to believe that humans are primarily responsible for recent increases in global temperatures.

    So Albert Gore III gets a Nobel Peace Prize for the nine (count 'em) hoaxes in his movie - and poor old "Wu" is presumably now a fugitive?

  6. Paul Kinsler

    apologies for pedantry...

    but "Researchers [...] have published" would usually mean that the work was published in a journal (or perhaps a preprint server, at least). Although miscellaneous webpages are indeed publishing in a generic sense, they are not publishing in the sense of scientific usage.

    And if the webpage has now vanished, shouldn't that be "researchers have recently withdrawn ..."

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Given the choice...

    ... between believing Al Gore or fake paper, I think I'll trust the paper...

    ..."Hand me my Bacteria hunting rifle, son!".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Troll of the Century!

    Spectacularly good troll, and will bring us all pleasure for many years to come as we use it to bait the global warming deniers who will happily leap on anything that appears to back their preconceived notions. Ten out of ten!

  9. breakfast Silver badge

    @Dr Jones and AC...

    I was convinced by the overwhelming scientific evidence of manmade climate change but your ad hominem attacks on Al Gore have shown me the error of my ways. Congratulations on your persuasive and in-depth arguments, you must have been quite the delight of your respective college debating teams.

  10. Stuart Van Onselen
    Thumb Down

    @"Dr" Stephen Jones


    9 over-reaching assertions in a presentation that makes dozens of assertions that were *not* rejected, is not the same as "9 hoaxes". Typical FUD - Clinging to only those facts that support your case, and then exaggerating those facts to a ludicrous degree.

    How do you face yourself in the mirror? And where are you going to spend your 30 pieces of silver?

    When the entire ecosystem is fucked beyond repair, and billions are dead, are you and your ilk going to say "Sorry!"? Or are you figuring on being dead by then?

    BTW, even if you are really a Doctor (of what, pray tell?) putting it in your screen name is pretentious as all hell, and is a clear attempt to add the appearance of authority to your ramblings,

  11. Keith Turner
    Paris Hilton

    It's a viral advert?

    S'obvious innit.

    It was placed on the net by a company that sells anti-bacterial products.

    Next, the T.V. ads

    "Now, not only can you be assured that all your kitchen is clean - AND it smells great - NOW you've done the cleaning you can put your feet up and be proud you've also helped save the planet"

    (all our products are biodegradable, just that it may take a few million years)

  12. Marcus Vowell

    It's amazing...

    How both sides of this debate say the same thing: "Those who (claim/deny) that humans are the cause of global climate change are relying on pseudoscience to lead people away from the established scientific fact that the reverse is actually the truth."

    Though I rarely see any of this "established scientific fact" from either side. Except for that "hockey stick" graph, but that's been debunked.

    This has become a war of belief, not science.

  13. Bloody_Yank

    Great work El Reg

    You guys continue to impress me with the depth / breath of your reporting.

    Going well beyond the headlines to understand and de-bunk BS like this. Thus helping us help those poor souls who get these asinine emails sent to them from the climate change deniers.

    I apologies in advance for all the American idiots whos blind hatred of Al Gore blinds them to anything that he champions or supports. The good news is that they represent less than 25% of the American public .... similar number those who still worship El Presidente Bush

  14. TS

    So where is

    Where is the wikipedia article collaborating this article? It must be there and it must be true!

  15. Mark

    "Dr" Jones

    So where's your paper on the subject?

    I suspect you haven't read the IPCC report but you HAVE watched "The Great Global Warming Myth".

    And for the anon coward, in case you weren't bein just silly, there are other papers (and lots more, with people who will answer you writing them) saying that AGW is right.

    so you'll be believing them, then, right?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try this for a [BBC, science] hoax

  17. Mark

    @Marcus Vowell

    The debunking of the hockey stick has been seriously debunked.

    I guess that, although you "don't know" who's right, you didn't bother to check whether the hockey-stick-debunkers were right...

  18. Paul Kinsler

    @Marcus Vowell

    "This has become a war of belief, not science."

    This is inevitable when the majority of people are either unwilling to look at the science, and generally incapable of understanding it properly even if they did.

    Thus there is a belief-war between those whose beliefs are informed by the scientific consensus on climate-change, and those informed by other interests

    Perhaps at best "other interests" means non-consensus climate science, usually it refers to a narrow self-interest, propaganda from commercial interests, or ignorance.

    So now choose your side in the belief war. But just because YOU are fighting a belief war does not mean that the scientific consensus is based on such beliefs.

    Please learn to separate the science from the (depressingly) necessary propaganda battle and politics necessary to get anything sensible done.

  19. J

    And El Reg takes down another site is not accessible right now (server not found). Seems like a bit more than the paper has been pulled... Or the site is flooded with Reg readers.

    I can see people quoting this "paper" from now on, though.

    bloke 1: "Hey, take a look at this whole issue of Nature on climate change..."

    bloke 2: "Nah, it's all due to the bacterial farts! Haven't you heard of the Uni. of Arizona's Dept. of Climatology paper?"

  20. David Wilkinson
    Thumb Down

    I make a habit of looking into these studies

    The "real" studies are often as bad as the fake ones.

    Every once in awhile just try to read the original.

    An study will conclude by saying that although due to the sample size the increase of X due to Y fell was withing the margin of error and therefore statistically insignificant.

    Then some bureaucrat will take change the title to "Link found between X and Y" and add a paragraph at the beginning and the end that contradicts the actual conclusions.

    My favorite is the the study PETA uses to argue that dairy products cause calcium depletion.

    The actual showed that when you increase you dairy intake at the expense of other foods more rich in calcium (kale for instance) you end up with less calcium.

    The women in the study were vegans and they went from excellent bone calcium to err.. excellent bone calcium by adding dairy products.

    That's like saying that because athletes who replace two hours of running with one hour of running and one hour of walking will end up weaker. Therefore out of shape people should avoid walking!

    Frankly I found the studies that are 100% made up less offensive than the onces that misrepresent actual scientific findings. :(

  21. CoZmo

    a .info domain?

    you should know better...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Global Warming deniers can debate climate change all they want. It has been pretty much proven that it is down to mankind. What they seem to not realise is that the consequences of getting it wrong are too serious to twat about pumping greenhouse gases into the environment.

    There is a separate point though: THE OIL IS RUNNING OUT. This is not in denial by anyone, the American oil companies are shitting it and wanting to extract oil from everywhere (polar regions etc), the European oil companies are rebranding to energy companies and some aren't doing a half bad job of developing alternative methods of obtaining energy - mainly leccy. If we don't stop using oil at the rate we are doing, we're all fucked. So even if you are a man-made global warming denier, you should still stop using oil.

  23. Marcus Vowell


    Well, for starters, here's a paper debunking the hockey stick graph.

    Seems rather compelling to me. Can you produce a scientific paper that refutes what these guys say? If so, tell me what it is, because I do want to read it. That's my point. It's not enough to say, "That was refuted." Where? By whom? I've cited a source for my claim. Can you for yours? I honestly hope so, because, like I said, I'd like to read it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Marcus Vowell - Debunking the debunkers

    2006 report of the US National Academy of Science:

    "The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world".

    UCAR - The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research:

    "Also, recent "corrections" to the Mann et al. reconstruction that suggest 15th century temperatures could have been as high as those of the late-20th century are shown to be without statistical and climatological merit. Our examination does suggest that a slight modification to the original Mann et al. reconstruction is justifiable for the first half of the 15th century (~ +0.05°), which leaves entirely unaltered the primary conclusion of Mann et al. (as well as many other reconstructions) that both the 20th century upward trend and high late-20th century hemispheric surface temperatures are anomalous over at least the last 600 years. Our results are also used to evaluate the separate criticism of reduced amplitude in the Mann et al. reconstructions over significant portions of 1400-1900, in relation to some other climate reconstructions and model-based examinations. We find that, from the perspective of the proxy data themselves, such losses probably exist, but they may be smaller than those reported in other recent work. " (February 2006)

  25. Paul Kinsler

    @Marcus Vowell -- debunking the hockey stick

    This "debunking" article article appeared in Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L03710. I would guess that the two Comments on this article, one by Huybers (L20705), the other by von Storch and Zorita (L20701) might be regarded as refuting it.

    The Huybers ends:

    [13] In summary, [the paper] show that the normalization employed by MBH98 tends to bias results toward having a hockey-stick-like shape, but the scope of this bias is exaggerated by the choice of normalization and errors in the RE critical value estimate. Those biases truly present in the MBH98 temperature estimate remain important issues, and corrections for these biases will be taken up elsewhere.

    Of course the original authors reply, as is customary, and address (some of) the points made by Huybers, and von Storch and Zorita.

    I think the only thing a non specialist in the issues under debate (involving data analysis) can conclude is that the both the hockey stick _and_ the "debunking" are disputed.

    I presume Marcus Vowell is a non specialist.

  26. Ian Sneyd

    Stifled debate...

    I don't particularly care if they think it's "beyond doubt" that humankind is responsible for global warming because the whole point of scientific research and theory is that you are supposed to try and debunk your own theories, that's how you get closer and closer to the truth.

    Any "scientific" group who get so stressed about being questioned are by their actions behaving more religious than scientific.

    I haven't made up my mind personally as both arguments seem flawed but in the interim I will choose a green option if it's available and not stupidly more expensive.

    I will stay inland and never buy property in a flood plain, I will use biodiesel in my cars (though apparently that will make the 3rd world poorer), I will use the motorbike to travel into city centres, in fact generally speaking I will continue to live my life normally but take a little bit more care for the future... After all, some of the alarmists say we're already past the tipping point so we could be screwed either way, have a nice weekend everyone!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Marcus

    Unless one is well versed in a specific field, citing scientific papers back and forth is useless since one will not have any kind of overview of the subject and the overall consensus in the field. For starters, I personally don't know enough statistics in order to tell if the analysis performed in the paper McIntyre & McKitrick is better or worse than the one in the original article. Perhaps you do.

    New Scientist ran a pretty good feature on climate myths. Two of the entries discussed the hockey stick:

    "The 'hockey stick' graph has been proven wrong"

    "The great hockey stick debate"

    The whole feature can be accessed at the page below. May I suggest it as further reading.

    Climate change: A guide for the perplexed

  28. Graham Marsden

    Bunk or not...

    I'm fed up with "it's bunk"/ "no it's not" arguments.

    The *fact* is that, as a society, we are using too much energy in an inefficient manner and that *cannot* carry on.

    We need to find more energy efficient methods of powering our civilisation before it's too late.

  29. Brad Arnold

    Debunk this: drastic emissions cuts will warm us up resulting in catastrophe

    It is unintuitive, but people who advocate only drastic cuts in emissions are as bad as global warming deniers-both would result in catastrophe.

    It is very unlikely that a growing population with rapidly expanding economies will cut their emissions so fast and drastically that abrupt climate change or runaway global warming will be avoided.

    Furthermore, the argument over who will pay to rebuild our energy infrastructure is creating political gridlock.

    Yet, the most ironic is that any drastic emission cuts will result in short term warming, and only result in cooling in the long term.

    Our emissions do emit tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases that warm us up, but they also pollute sun dimming pollution that cools us down. The sun dimming pollution only stays in the air a short time, whereas the greenhouse gases stay in the air a long time.

    We are now heating up at 0.2 C/decade (per IPCC), and if the rate of warming exceeds 0.4 C/decade all ecosystems will be quickly destroyed (per Leemans & Eickhout 2004). If emissions were to be drastically cut, the short term warming could easily exceed 0.4 C/decade, causing abrupt climate change and catastrophe.

    On the other hand, I suggest we remove the CO2 from the air using the low cost method of "biosequestration."

    Read my blog at for more information.

  30. Mark

    @Ian Sneyd

    Yes, proper skepticism is the way to get rid of the errors in your thought. However, we get the same reheated or crap each and every time

    1) It's the Sun, Stupid (duh, the warm glowy bright thing I see out the window???)

    2) The middle ages were warmer (In europe Eu!=World)

    3) Dinosaurs didn't have SUVs (so, SUVs weren't the problem THEN)

    4) CO2 is CAUSED by temperature rises (in the past, boy, in the past)

    5) It's too late (so what's the problem in slowing down? It's all futile now anyway, so it keeps us busy)

    6) Volcanoes do more than humans have in their entire history (only in eruptions that wiped out 90%+ of the life on earth. They aren't doing it now).

    and so on.

    The original hockey stick debunk was GOOD. It showed that proof wasn't necessarily as good as it seemed. So they had a look and worked a little more on it, while others used different anlogues to historical and current temperatures to see if they agreed. It did. But people are STILL brining the same argument to the table because all they know is

    1) It's not MY fault! Don't blame ME!!!

    2) Someone once claimed that the hockey stick was wrong, so it must be wrong

    not a great help.

  31. Mark


    Sweden have half the per-capita production of CO2 than the UK (and we have a MUCH lower figure than the US per capita). Yet Sweden is as "advanced" as us and are further north (so more lighting and heating needed).

    So we can halve our CO2 here in the UK and be on the same level (or better, because we don't need as much light and heat) as Sweden.

    So halving is entirely possible. The US could do much more.

    Does half or less CO2 production sound like a drastic cut? But I've just shown it's possible.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Its a conspiracy!

    I imagine that this faux paper will be quoted as evidence by someone not only due to its conclusions that its not OUR fault but also as the EVIL does (New world order / CIA / Federal Government / UN / The Queen / Commies / Al Qaida / Bin Laden / The still alive Sadman Insane (the killed a look a like apparently) in his WMD store) successfully suppressed the information to keep you compliant.

    Cue USA Talk Radio will now and for ever more be a flutter with conspiracy chatter using this as evidence.

    Truth has nothing to do with opinion and there no suck thing as hoax.

  33. Ian Sneyd


    You mean you get the same re-heated crap REPORTED all the time, I'm sure you meant that applies to both sides of the argument......

    or Mark, you are as evangelical as the others I have already mentioned...

    I must say I like the sound of finding a way to lock up additional carbon rather than just drop emissions, now that's what I call scientific debate ;-)

  34. rasputinsDog

    Climate models

    The same models used to predict tomorrows weather are the same ones used to predict what the climate is going to do in a hundred years. What is the accuracy rate of your local weatherman? It would take Deep Thought to take into account all the factors that could effect the climate over a hundred years. I have studied climate change and I have read the UN report. I still don't find substantial evidence to support anthropogenic global warming.

  35. Michael Nielsen
    Thumb Up

    Climate chang

    The problem is that those who favour anthroprogenic global warming, insists on only looking at changes over a millenia, which does provide some compelling indications that humans might infact be a cause, however looking at the long term data, from the ice cores, etc, the reverse relationship between CO2 and heating seems to be indicated. It is fine an well saying that was then, and this is now, unfortunately that does not hold, any climate model must hold for both situations.

    All the results I have seen so far, supporting either side, have been heavily modified, and manipulated to support what ever argument they try to present, but none of the conclusions seems to correlate well will with the long term and short term data.

    Remember that a using a millenia of information in the earth's climate, to predict long term trends, is like examining the position, and speed of a car in a microsecond, and try to predict where it would be in about 1 hour time. The further you extrapolate, the more factors are important, and the more inaccurate your extrapolations become.

    To my mind, looking at the climate debate, the pro anthroprogentic mob, use personal attacks against the anti anthroprogenic mob, rather than sciencetific fact, this then means the science is gone, and it is all down to religion.

    My personal conclusion about the whole debate is, that both sides might be right, but more likely the truth is somewhere between the extremes (anti vs pro), it is likely that we have an effect, but what that effect is, is unfortunately far from proven. Citing that the majority of sciencetists have reached concensus, is highly bogus, as science is not concensus, but fact based, and going back through history once the overwhelming concensus said the earth was stationary, and everything moved around the earth, did the concensus make it more right? It was the few who challenged established theory, who were infact right, though they suffered the same personal attacks as the current opponents to the consensus climate people.

    More to the point, and what is scientifically proven is, that we are using non-renewable resources, and consuming them at an ever increasing rate, sooner or later we will run out, and that will cause a catastrophy - economic, as well as socially, therefore we need to go the 'green' route to make sure that our society can survive. So no matter which side is right in the climate debate, we do need to change.

    However the main barriers for going green is not the individual humans, the drivers and owners of SUV's or what not, but rather the governments, who at the moment all are singing 'green is good', but doing 'down with green'.. You can see that some countries have huge blanket energy duties (in the name of green politic), which unfortunately means that green energy actually becomes signficantly more expensive than non-green, thus pushing the poore consumers away from the 'green' energy.

    I saw an example of this, when a danish farmer showed he could produce green bio fuel for diesel cars, at about 30 pence a liter, however the government demanded that he pay duties, which caused the price for the bio fuel to become 1 pound a liter, at a time, when the non-renewable mineral fuels cost only 0.9 pounds a liter.

    The politics needs to be changed, but the change needs to be based on provable, incontravertable facts, such as the necessity for renewable energy, to overcome the time when our oil reserves are depleted, these facts are easy to understand, and will sway more, than the highly contraversial climate debate, which 99.9% of the population doesn't understand. Other arguments such as the political, which is dependence on the middle east for energy price stability, is also an angle.

    All of these will achieve the same.

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