Bacteria to blame for global warming?

Nifty little hoax doing the rounds


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.


Other stories you might like

  • Colocation consolidation: Analysts look at what's driving the feeding frenzy
    Sometimes a half-sized shipping container at the base of a cell tower is all you need

    Analysis Colocation facilities aren't just a place to drop a couple of servers anymore. Many are quickly becoming full-fledged infrastructure-as-a-service providers as they embrace new consumption-based models and place a stronger emphasis on networking and edge connectivity.

    But supporting the growing menagerie of value-added services takes a substantial footprint and an even larger customer base, a dynamic that's driven a wave of consolidation throughout the industry, analysts from Forrester Research and Gartner told The Register.

    "You can only provide those value-added services if you're big enough," Forrester research director Glenn O'Donnell said.

    Continue reading
  • D-Wave deploys first US-based Advantage quantum system
    For those that want to keep their data in the homeland

    Quantum computing outfit D-Wave Systems has announced availability of an Advantage quantum computer accessible via the cloud but physically located in the US, a key move for selling quantum services to American customers.

    D-Wave reported that the newly deployed system is the first of its Advantage line of quantum computers available via its Leap quantum cloud service that is physically located in the US, rather than operating out of D-Wave’s facilities in British Columbia.

    The new system is based at the University of Southern California, as part of the USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center hosted at USC’s Information Sciences Institute, a factor that may encourage US organizations interested in evaluating quantum computing that are likely to want the assurance of accessing facilities based in the same country.

    Continue reading
  • Bosses using AI to hire candidates risk discriminating against disabled applicants
    US publishes technical guide to help organizations avoid violating Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Biden administration and Department of Justice have warned employers using AI software for recruitment purposes to take extra steps to support disabled job applicants or they risk violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Under the ADA, employers must provide adequate accommodations to all qualified disabled job seekers so they can fairly take part in the application process. But the increasing rollout of machine learning algorithms by companies in their hiring processes opens new possibilities that can disadvantage candidates with disabilities. 

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the DoJ published a new document this week, providing technical guidance to ensure companies don't violate ADA when using AI technology for recruitment purposes.

    Continue reading
  • How ICE became a $2.8b domestic surveillance agency
    Your US tax dollars at work

    The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has spent about $2.8 billion over the past 14 years on a massive surveillance "dragnet" that uses big data and facial-recognition technology to secretly spy on most Americans, according to a report from Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology.

    The research took two years and included "hundreds" of Freedom of Information Act requests, along with reviews of ICE's contracting and procurement records. It details how ICE surveillance spending jumped from about $71 million annually in 2008 to about $388 million per year as of 2021. The network it has purchased with this $2.8 billion means that "ICE now operates as a domestic surveillance agency" and its methods cross "legal and ethical lines," the report concludes.

    ICE did not respond to The Register's request for comment.

    Continue reading
  • Fully automated AI networks less than 5 years away, reckons Juniper CEO
    You robot kids, get off my LAN

    AI will completely automate the network within five years, Juniper CEO Rami Rahim boasted during the company’s Global Summit this week.

    “I truly believe that just as there is this need today for a self-driving automobile, the future is around a self-driving network where humans literally have to do nothing,” he said. “It's probably weird for people to hear the CEO of a networking company say that… but that's exactly what we should be wishing for.”

    Rahim believes AI-driven automation is the latest phase in computer networking’s evolution, which began with the rise of TCP/IP and the internet, was accelerated by faster and more efficient silicon, and then made manageable by advances in software.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022