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Bacteria to blame for global warming?

Nifty little hoax doing the rounds

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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 warned against publishing their findings, making allegations of "academic intimidation".

Which is particularly interesting*, since there is no Department of Climatology at Arizona University (they have a department for Atmospheric Sciences, but that isn't quite the same thing.) And nor do either of the researchers named as co-authors on the paper, Daniel Klein and Mandeep J Gupta, exist in the university's staff and student contact directory.

The University of Gothenburg in Sweden is similarly lacking a Department of Atmospheric Physics, although it does have a Centre for Atmospheric Science. Again, neither of the "researchers" named on the paper exist on the institution's staff database.

Now, here at El Reg, we like a joke as much as the next guy, especially if he happens to be German. And this is certainly a joke worthy of a mention. For one thing, it is beautifully detailed.

The main claim of the faux article is that there was some research conducted in 2003 that found a "major error" in the underlying calculations of the amount of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere.

The paper claims a scientist called Wu published a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, titled Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide: a major error in the standard model.

This imaginary paper by Wu, the hoax claims, showed that "total emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in this period [the last 140 years] can account for a rise of only 0.3-0.4ppmv - in other words, only one third of one per cent of the total increase".

Mainstream science has not addressed this error, and has tried to sweep it under the carpet, the "authors" assert.

The good news is that the "researchers" have discovered what is pumping all this extra CO2 into the atmosphere. The blame lies not with humanity (Hooray - put in that new Humvee order and club a baby seal to celebrate), but with benthic bacteria.

These little blighters live on the continental shelves of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and because a series of algae blooms have wiped out their natural predators over the last 140 years, they have been enjoying a season of wild prosperity, the paper explains.

These periods of algal bloom, as the palaeontological record shows, have been occurring for over three million years, and are always accompanied by a major increase in carbon dioxide emissions, as a result of the multiplication of bacteria when predator pressure is reduced. They generally last for 150-200 years. If the current episode is consistent with this record, we should expect carbon dioxide emissions to peak between now and mid-century, then return to background levels.

But, you guessed it, Wu (no first name given) published no such paper in Geophysical Research Letters, although 10 articles by various scientists with that name do appear in the journal in 2003. Some of them are even to do with climatology.

The hoax paper was originally posted here, but as of today, seems to have been pulled.

All hail the hoaxer, whoever s/he may be.** ®

*Oh, ye of little faith...
**We've done the whois lookup, but our calls have gone unanswered, and our emails unreturned.

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