Uncritical News Media Gave Blanket Coverage To Flawed Climate Paper

From the GWPF:

A week ago, we were told that climate change was worse than we thought. But the underlying science contains a major error.

Independent climate scientist Nicholas Lewis has uncovered a major error in a recent scientific paper that was given blanket coverage in the English-speaking media. The paper, written by a team led by Princeton oceanographer Laure Resplandy, claimed that the oceans have been warming faster than previously thought. It was announced, in news outlets including the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Scientific American that this meant that the Earth may warm even faster than currently estimated.

However Lewis, who has authored several peer-reviewed papers on the question of climate sensitivity and has worked with some of the world’s leading climate scientists, has found that the warming trend in the Resplandy paper differs from that calculated from the underlying data included with the paper.

“If you calculate the trend correctly, the warming rate is not worse than we thought – it’s very much in line with previous estimates,” says Lewis.

In fact, says Lewis, some of the other claims made in the paper and reported by the media, are wrong too.

“Their claims about the effect of faster ocean warming on estimates of climate sensitivity (and hence future global warming) and carbon budgets are just incorrect anyway, but that’s a moot point now we know that about their calculation error”.

And now that the errors have been uncovered, Lewis points out that it is important that the record is corrected.

“The original findings of the Resplandy paper were given blanket coverage by the media, who rarely question hyped-up findings of this kind. Let’s hope some of them are willing to correct the record”.

Nicholas Lewis: A major problem with the Resplandy et al. ocean heat uptake paper (pdf)

See the update here, part 2:

Resplandy et al. Part 2: Regression in the presence of trend and scale systematic errors

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Zig Zag Wanderer
November 7, 2018 8:29 pm

“The original findings of the Resplandy paper were given blanket coverage by the media, who rarely question hyped-up findings of this kind. Let’s hope some of them are willing to correct the record”.

Ha ha!

That was funny as. Thanks, I needed a laugh!

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
November 7, 2018 8:50 pm

Why so funny?

Andrew Burnette
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
November 7, 2018 9:05 pm


Reply to  Alan Tomalty
November 8, 2018 7:05 am

The idea that the media would have any interest in correcting their mistakes.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
November 9, 2018 5:18 am

so funny because these literature-trained msm female science reporters have probably dedicated a not inconsiderable part of their studies to the genres ‘vampires and wolfsmen novels’.

E J Zuiderwijk
November 7, 2018 9:12 pm

Another fail of the ‘peer review’ process.

Reply to  E J Zuiderwijk
November 8, 2018 5:52 am

nope….this is the way peer review is supposed to work
The fail is when people think peer review means it’s right

Reply to  Latitude
November 8, 2018 8:09 am

Well, yeah, except shouldn’t the errors have been found during the peer review process and not after the paper was released?

Reply to  JohnWho
November 8, 2018 8:13 am

nope…..sometimes if it’s obvious, mostly no

…it has to go through peer to be released so other people can trash it, beat it up

…and yes, other people that agree with what’s said…will cite it out the wazoo and totally ignore faults

Reply to  Latitude
November 8, 2018 6:20 pm

Not when the errors are that obvious. Based on what you are saying, all peer reviewed papers can have major errors and that is fine. If so, why bother with peer review in the first place? Plus, this is supposedly the “best” journal in the world.

Reply to  JohnWho
November 9, 2018 7:22 am

Peer review is just a quick sanity check. As in “could this paper make sense? Not does it make sense? Peer review does not catch or correct errors in calculations. We expect far more from peer review than it can deliver because the climate faithful have spent the last few decades elevating peer review to a gold standard; which it can never be.

Reply to  E J Zuiderwijk
November 8, 2018 1:57 pm

Another reason, ‘peer reviewers’ should be identified!

‘Peer reviewers’ share a significant portion of responsibility for corruption of science.

November 7, 2018 9:49 pm

And the circus continues……

Reply to  Mike
November 8, 2018 10:20 am

The clowns were sent in early.

November 7, 2018 10:48 pm

So. We’ve seen the struggle of “scientists” – benefiting from billions of dollars annually – to “discover” or invent grounds to keep the same ole rrrrrrr-religion alive! Because the narrative of alarming AGW must LIVE!

How many times now? One-dozen? One and a half-dozen? Is it two-dozen attempts? Or more? How many times are they recycling broken hockey sticks and selling us the same scheme over and over again?

Is anybody keeping a list of resurrections of the narrative like this one? Just when something close to falsification seems at hand? (Or else when a major “climate” conference is close? And the recipients need a hockey stick around to wave in from their funders?)

Reply to  Orson
November 8, 2018 7:06 am

Trolls and true believers will be siting this paper for years to come.

Roger Knights
Reply to  MarkW
November 8, 2018 8:00 am

Just as some of them cite Marcott (sp?).

Coeur de Lion
November 7, 2018 11:49 pm

Just been to the Council of British Archaeology (Wessex) conference. god we are lucky to be in the Holocene. I fear a Yoinger Dryas soon. Or MIS 13.

November 8, 2018 12:48 am

More on ocean heat content


November 8, 2018 1:04 am

Jordan Peterson has recently given a talk at the Cambridge Union where he gave a brilliant response to a GWW’s question about global warming.
The relevant part starts at 20.29

Reply to  StephenP
November 8, 2018 1:42 am


Thank you so much for that, utterly BRILLIANT.

I’ll watch the rest of the video later, when I stop watching his answer to the AGW question.

“Low resolution thinking” so nicely categorises the climate change orthodoxy and my contention (as a layman) over the last couple of years has been to allow developing countries to solve their poverty problems. That means encouraging them to use fossil fuels to get them into the 20th Century never mind the 21st Century.

And burning coal instead of tree’s? Well gee whizz, why is that such a challenging concept for the climate faithful?

Sorry, I could go on……….Like many realistic scientists who understand the nature of science Peterson has his head firmly screwed on.

Reply to  StephenP
November 8, 2018 2:20 am


Sorry, one last thing pertinent to Peterson’s answer to a stupid question from a stupid child: according to the WHO 120,000,000 people will die in developing countries by 2050 (32 years away) as a direct result of inhaling the toxic fumes from burning wood for heating and cooking.

So if burning wood is the ‘solution’ why don’t they then divert the bio mass going from the USA to the Drax power station in the UK to, say, Africa so they can burn it for electricity there and convert Drax back to coal?

Yet the greens and their acolytes happily condemn sceptics as not caring for humanity and their grandchildren (that is the greens grandchildren) whilst they happily ignore the human catastrophe, happening right now, as a consequence of their efforts to save their grandchildren. What hope do the grandchildren of developing countries have, and what rights do the grandchildren of the greens have over them?

A disgusting, unnecessary tragedy that’ll be reflected in the history books of the future. I just hope the grandchildren of the greens read them and understand the slaughter their grandparents perpetrated in their name.

Reply to  HotScot
November 8, 2018 6:41 am

Can someone please enlighten me on what data (e.g. cause of death on death certificates listed as “inhaling the toxic fumes from burning wood for heating and cooking.”) and methodology WHO used to predict 120,000,000 deaths in the next 32 years? Presumably these deaths will occur mainly in third world countries where cooking and heating by wood is widespread and the reliability of cause of death records in rural areas is questionable, at best. Why should anyone believe this “statistic”?

Reply to  PeterM
November 8, 2018 9:25 am

Climate science does not pass the basics of the experimental method, which is a stated falsifiable proposition, ie, what would prove climate science false? There does not seem to be any, which makes climate science junk science or a religion based on faith.

Reply to  PeterM
November 8, 2018 10:37 am

The models could be off by a factor of ten and still reflect a lot of unnecessary deaths–12,000,000 is many people. Primitive cooking/heating creates high levels of particulates indoors, far beyond what is considered safe outdoors, and often significant amounts of carbon monoxide.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  PeterM
November 8, 2018 12:07 pm


Yes. The “cause of death” is not a cause in the medical sense. First, they estimate the number of people who have died before the age of 86, and then assign multiple causes to the entire cohort. This is known as the global burden of disease exercise leading to their premature deaths. There are about 73 contributors to premature death (defined as dying before the age of 86). How premature deaths get converted into real deaths (in the medical cause sense) is shrouded in more.

They say a person who was theoretically exposed to a number of theoretical pollutants and chemicals and living conditions had their life theoretically shortened by 1.8 years due to air pollution, for example, and another 2.7 years for not being immunized and so on. They then spread all the premature years of death across the 73 contribution causes and publish it. The numbers change every year. That is the GBD exercise – the Global Burden of Disease. It is easy to find one line.

Then there is an IHME exercise which assigns on a proportional bases a single cause of death to everyone in such a way that all the deaths are accounted for on a proportional-cause basis. This exercise has no legitimacy that I can locate because it turns a population cohort statistic into a medical cause of death – which is not legitimate.

It is 100% attribution of a cause of death to based on what is already an attribution for the entire population cohort. Attributing something does not mean it is avoidable. Removing the ‘contributing cause” doesn’t mean something else won’t slip in to replace it.

Thus the claim, forecast, prognostication that 120m people will die from “breathing toxic air” has no basis in epidemiology or public health or medicine. It is the result of a 7-deep modeling exercise that include at last two levels of attribution (not cause).

What the WHO is really saying is that avoiding the contributing causes(s) will avoid the premature deaths, as attributed in the GBD exercise. Unfortunately, attributability (blaming) does not imply avoidability (deliverance). The GBD exercise is for things past – people already dead. We do not know what people will be exposed to in future so we cannot make attributions about them in advance.

Your presumption about 3rd World Countries is incorrect because the EPA says that all air pollution is equally toxic and there is an assumed linear no-threshold effect (LNT) on the human body, everyone on the plant who will die will have died in part because of air pollution. Just because they say so. According to them, Europeans in Europe die from air pollution because they are attributed to have done so.

They are saying that the current estimate of 3.75m people “dying per year” from those causes will continue unchanged for the next 32 years. How do they know that? Well, they don’t, so they are guessing. If it turns out air pollution is not equally toxic, then all the forecasts are wrong. Is there anyone who thinks that all particles and chemicals are equally toxic? Someone does.

When someone says that 100,000 people in your city die from inhaling toxic air each year, ask to be shown the bodies. Habeus corpora

Weylan McAnally
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
November 8, 2018 2:39 pm

I agree with you that all of the estimates of humans dying from theoretical causes are complete bunk. I do have one statistic that is rock solid. I can say with 100% certainty that on a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. Great quote from Fight Club.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
November 9, 2018 4:56 am

Crispin in Waterloo
Thanks greatly for your explanation of the WHO methodology. After reading it I am left thinking that there may, in fact be, an even poorer example of ‘scientific’ analysis than most alarmist climate change studies. You made my day!

Russ R.
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
November 9, 2018 11:26 am

Soooo…If they lived in a bubble, everyone would live forever, or would they die promptly on their 86th birthday? Or anything after 86 is a natural demise, and there is no “exceptionally natural” if you lived to 96.
The thought process here is interesting, because it implies a “step-function” that is based on an average.
It seems they think that dying after 86 is a normal lifespan and dying before that is unnatural. But since it is most likely an average life expectancy, it would be just as normal to die before the average, as after it it.
86 years seems quite old for death in any third world country I have been in. Most people are healthy until their children are old enough to produce children of their own. The grandparents are then helpful in raising their grand children, as their own capabilities to do physical labor diminishes.
It is a cycle of life that seems to run it’s course. As the new generation of children becomes more self-sufficient, the older one is ready to pass the torch on.

November 8, 2018 2:28 am

There is an old saying that today’s news is tomorrows chip wrapper, this comes from the days when taken away chips where wrapped in yesterday’s newspapers.
It is a reflection of the fact that the news moves on and what can be all important today becomes worth little or nothing tomorrow. The authors of this paper knew that and so where well aware that any issues found in it would be ‘yesterdays news ‘ and get little or more likely no coverage by the same press that first give its claims wide coverage .
While from a professional stand point they work in an area where ‘impact ‘ is judge as having far more value than ‘validity ‘ and where even the ‘leaders ‘ of the field get away with the type of mistakes and poor practice that would be unacceptable for a undergraduate student handing in an essay in any other science .
In other words a classic example of climate ‘science ‘ in action , dam the facts , all that matters is the impact it as and does it support ‘the cause ‘

Greg Woods
Reply to  knr
November 8, 2018 2:38 am

‘dam the facts’: Exactly!

Reply to  knr
November 8, 2018 2:41 am

I find that when I talk to people about climate science the hardest thing to convince them of is that it’s bad science. Meaning, it’s basically a bunch of tricks. People can’t fathom that this could be going on and be so pervasive.

So, “he must be getting fake news.”


M Courtney
Reply to  Don
November 8, 2018 5:20 am

One way in is to point to the trend in climate sensitivity uncertainty. It hasn’t reduced in a quarter century.
When you consider that all the inputs have improved:
•Computers have gotten better.
•Satellites have gotten better.
•Buoys have gotten better.
•Climatologists have gotten more numerous

It is obvious that the lack of progress must be due to the scientific process not the inputs. In other words, the science is badly done.

Phil R
Reply to  M Courtney
November 8, 2018 7:40 am

M Courtney,

I believe it’s worse than that. If I remember correctly, the IPCC estimated climate sensitivity is unchanged, or relatively little changed, from that estimated in the Charney, 1979 climate assessment report, or almost 40 years.

M Courtney
Reply to  Phil R
November 8, 2018 8:01 am

Is that the ‘climate sensitivity’ or the ‘uncertainty in the climate sensitivity’?

It’s the fact that they can’t refine their guess that makes it junk science.

Phil R
Reply to  Phil R
November 8, 2018 8:21 am

It’s their estimated change in temperature with a doubling of CO2, which if I understand correctly (good chance I might not) is the climate sensitivity. Quote from the paper:

Taking into consideration all the above direct effects and feedbacks, we estimate (lamda) to be 1.7 ± 0.8 W m-2 K-1 and hence delta-T for doubled CO2 to lie in the range of 1.6 to 4.5 K, with 2.4 K a likely value.

(Sorry, don’t know how to insert appropriate greek letters)

I know there are other recent sensitivity estimates that are lower, but I think the range given by Charney in 1979 is almost the same as the official IPCC estimate after decades of climate modeling. Would appreciate any thoughts or corrections you might have.

Reply to  Don
November 8, 2018 9:19 am

Climate science does not pass the basics of the experimental method, which is a stated falsifiable proposition, ie, what would prove climate science false? There does not seem to be any, which makes climate science junk science or a religion based on faith.

Reply to  Steverino
November 8, 2018 1:05 pm

but actual that is it ‘strength’ has it cannot be ‘disproved ‘ it can make great claims knowing that by playing ‘heads you lose , tails I win ‘ it will always come out on top.
Of course that is not how you do science, where you are expected to ‘prove ‘ your case , but it is not science in the first place, being much closer to religion or politics or sport fanatics, so this is no problem . And when that approach is very rewarded , why should they change ?

Reply to  knr
November 11, 2018 4:59 am

But……Is it getting warmer? Sez who? Mikey’s hockey stick?
The temperature data recorded by the NWS weather station that is nearest to where I live indicates that the hottest period on their record was during the June-Aug months of 1952-1953-1954. (The station was established and began making recorded measurements duting WWII.)
So, that’s not global. Well, Okay, so what?

Reply to  knr
November 8, 2018 5:30 am

I dunno about your first statement, the last time I tried to wrap my monitor around some chips it got the screen greasy.

Reply to  knr
November 8, 2018 7:34 am

In the absence of our usual grammarian, I’ll fill the gap.

“Dam” the facts is appropriate, since Resplandy didn’t allow facts past his barrier designed to present his (pre-determined?) conclusion.

However, I suspect your intent was to state the author’s attitude was “damn” the facts, implying that the applicable facts were to be condemned to perdition (i.e., Hell), where they not only could not impede his progress to the (pre-determined?) conclusion, but also would be tortured for eternity for their temerity in opposing his objective.

Either interpretation is valid, as it appears the author selected only the methods that would support his (pre-determined?) conclusion. Not sure when it happened, but it appears that the current practice is to select the analysis method that best “proves” the desired result. It used to be standard procedure in data analysis to at least attempt multiple approaches to interpret the data, with exactly the objective of ensuring the result was based on the data, not the analysis.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  BullDurham
November 8, 2018 8:39 am

Resplandy is a her.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
November 8, 2018 3:34 pm

That explains a lot!

November 8, 2018 2:41 am

Please tell the author via the contact email in the paper and if they don’t respond, the journal. I always do this with astronomy papers (mostly re comet 67P). About 50% of authors respond. For those that don’t I contact the journal. I have 2 errata to my name, a third possibly pending (reviewer agreed immediately but author wriggled so rhe editor threw it back to me and I’ve not dealt with it yet). One disagreed and we left it at that but new evidence means I can re-challenge. 3 or 4 never replied and I haven’t yet told the journal (so I’m not fully practicing what I’m preaching here- but it’s all unpaid, I have a day job).

Reply to  Scute
November 8, 2018 6:01 am

It was tried, repeatedly, by Nic Lewis. No response.

Reply to  tty
November 8, 2018 10:46 am

“The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind really, really slowly in climate science.” –after Sextus Empiricus, 3d Century Greek philosopher.

November 8, 2018 4:02 am

Fake News, it is all the left has.

November 8, 2018 4:22 am

“The original findings of the Resplandy paper were given blanket coverage by the media, who rarely question hyped-up findings of this kind.”
Yes. I had the misfortune to be in a hospital waiting area with a television on when this item was being covered by the BBC. All the people interviewed accepted that the findings were totally valid. No one was interviewed who questioned anything in the paper. There was the usual blanket question (directed at a believing scientist) about ‘sceptics’ but, of course, he just dismissed such opinions. That’s the problem. The BBC takes a binary view of ‘climate science’. You are either a total believer in everything that any alarmist comes up with or you are a ‘sceptic/denier’ whose views are not worth considering. Nobody is allowed to question the specific claims of any one scientist or paper.

November 8, 2018 4:27 am

The media release must contain a dramatic end of world fear-component, quoting a “prominent somebody”.

It is quickly disseminated to the MSM compliant media, where it’s absorbed by a vast headline-skimming /soundbite-grabbing time-poor audience.

Usually after a time, the suppressed and numerically reduced independent media publish a late retraction or an intelligent response that negates the report.

However, the release has done its job. The horse has bolted and the toothpaste is out of the tube.

November 8, 2018 5:39 am

I read one of the comments in the Washington Post where someone pointed out a link to Judith Curry’s site and Nick Lewis’s findings. The very next comment dismissed it as a coming from a”denier blog” and therefore should be ignored!

This is so illustrative of how this debate often plays out. the media rushes these stories to print and never questions them and never issues retractions when they are found wrong, like in this case. This is despite having reporters who report on climate change as their full time beat.

Then if someone points out a link to the error it’s dismissed as coming from a “denier blog”.
So anyone who demands science be fact checked, reproducible and robust is a “science denier”!

I am really thankful for sites like this where I can see the other side of the story despite what is shown in the mainstream media constantly.

November 8, 2018 5:55 am

AGW is not the only biased news coverage. The fake news Trump talks about is rampant on all subjects. I must specifically search for fox news to even find opinions or articles different from or not posted by MSM outlets which are always listed first on my search results.

HD Hoese
November 8, 2018 7:45 am

“…written by a team led by Princeton oceanographer Laure Resplandy”

I suspect these types of papers are easy to find in lots of places. I’m studying one quite distant from climate, thesis, major professor (fancy long title) and three other authors. Those who used to be in acknowledgments are now authors. Paper digresses in places, advertising for politically correct funding source, games with statistics, some citations distant (some suspect, have not checked), hard to read, too many acronyms, conclusions inadequate, again favoring funding. There are some novel things, hope student realizes, as some used to, about the bias. I recall sitting in the back of the seminar room with some who knew it. One once had to do with deep water coral bleaching. Speaker had little understanding of heat budgets.

Publication by committee, most not really involved. Maybe responsibility needs upgrading, author number limited, but no guarantees there either.

November 8, 2018 8:10 am

Even if the paper had been correct it would still be an outlier and therefore requiring scepticism under normal circumstances. Outlier papers on the more likely, low-sensitivity side (eg. Lindzen) are derided and subject to ridiculous levels of scrutiny but those on the less-likely high-sensitivity side are lauded almost before the ink is dry and given zero scrutiny by the climate clique. Along with routinely adjusting data to match models then pretending that to be proof that their models are somehow less bad, these climate clowns have turned the scientific method upside down.

November 8, 2018 10:09 am

So, now that they better understand the ocean as a heat sink, do they plan to revise the models to show lower temperature rises in the atmosphere? When will these new model runs be available?
Is it possible that the modelers overlooked some other large temperature moderator? Have they even considered the possibility? Do they plan to include such uncertainties in future reports?
If not, the models are of extremely low value, and papers that rely on their projections are of even lower value.

Joel Snider
November 8, 2018 12:18 pm

The simple fact is that the mainstream press doesn’t run a story unless it’s to push an agenda.

November 9, 2018 3:31 am

Resplandy admitted now in public that the uncertainties were underestimated and that there was indeed an error . They are about to “fix it” . Nature also asked Nick Lewis to publish his (correct) finding of the errors .
However like Anthony wrote , the probability is extremely low that the media will publish that their headlines from last week were demonstrably wrong too .

Reply to  TomVonk
November 9, 2018 5:55 am

and do you want to guess which version the IPCC will use in its report and which is be used a unquestionable truth by AGW advocates ?
And what will the authors do about that , keep their heads down or will they put the effort into getting this miss-use corrected .

November 10, 2018 6:03 pm

Hey, serious question here. How many of you “skeptics” actually checked Nic Lewis’ calculations? It’s easy enough to do; the dataset isn’t very big, and the math involved is easily done with free software like R. So, how many of you did it? I’m going to guess the answer is zero because if any of you had, you’d have quickly noticed that Lewis botched his calculation. Here are three versions of the calculation. The first two are incorrect (the first being probably close to what Lewis did), and the third agrees with the original paper.
## The naive thing (probably something close to what Lewis did)
> lm(dapo~year, dapo)
(Intercept) year
4.5436 0.7756

## But that’s wrong because the statistic is _required_ to be zero at t=0, so the intercept term has to be zero.
> lm(dapo~year+0, dapo)

## However, even that isn’t right, because the data have unequal error bars. You have to weight the fit by 1/sig^2
## Also drop year==0 because its sigma is zero, leading to an infinite weight. It’s accounted for by forcing
## the intercept to be zero anyway
> lm(dapo~year+0, filter(dapo, year>0), weights=invsig2)
It is supremely ironic that you excoriate the “mainstream media” for “uncritically” accepting the results of the original paper, when you didn’t even bother to spend five minutes checking Lewis’ work.

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Reply to  rpl
November 11, 2018 7:33 am

Because it is a lie, humans are not causing climate to change and humans can not stop climate from changing. Period. Full stop. Why don’t these idiots go out and get real jobs and do something of actual benefit to their fellow humans, like shoveling pig shyte, something which would be useful to the human race.

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