Two weeks ago, the journal Nature made a big to-do about a new scientific study that appeared to show that the world’s oceans were warming at a rate much faster than previously thought. The study suggested that any efforts we were now making to combat climate change would be woefully insufficient to prevent the catastrophic storms, flooding, erosion, and sea-life eradication that would inevitably follow the warming trends. The Earth’s oceans, concluded the mournful scientists, had “absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought.”
Now those scientists are backing away from their dire conclusions.
“Unfortunately, we made mistakes here,” co-author Ralph Keeling told the Washington Post. “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them. I accept responsibility for what happened because it’s my role to make sure that those kind of details got conveyed.”
The scientists, who hail from the Scripps Oceanographic Research Institute, have issued corrections both to Nature and to their own visitors. While the corrections don’t completely invalidate the core claims in the original study, they do show that there is much more room for error when it comes to the conclusions.
Problems with the study were first identified by British researcher Nicholas Lewis. He exposed the study as suffering from a “major problem” in the calculations.
“So far as I can see, their method vastly underestimates the uncertainty,” he told the Post. He estimated that the techniques employed by the scientists might have boosted the central estimate by as much as 30 percent.
The retractions weren’t the only bit of climate change hoaxery going on this week. We also had California Gov. Jerry Brown taking an unnecessary and unfounded swipe at “deniers” in a statement about the wildfires plaguing his state.
“Managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change,” Brown said Sunday. “And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years.”
This is far from the first time that Gov. Brown has linked California wildfires to climate change, but even scientists who believe wholeheartedly in a warming globe say he does not have the evidence to support such a claim. In 2016, University of Colorado climate change specialist Roger Pielke said that the Democrat was engaging in “noble-cause corruption.”
“That is the nature of politics,” Pielke said, “but sometimes the science really has to matter.”