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On November 1, AFP joined news outlets around the world in covering the release of a major academic paper warning that our oceans were warming dramatically quicker than previously thought.
The study was undertaken by some of the world’s most pre-eminent climate scientists, using state-of-the-art modelling systems reviewed by their peers, and appeared in one of the most prestigious academic journals.
There was just one problem: it was wrong.
Published in Nature, the paper by researchers from the University of California San Diego and Princeton found that ocean temperatures had warmed 60 percent more than current estimates.
They concluded, with no small sense of alarm, that even the most ambitious emissions cuts laid out in the global plan to prevent climate disaster would need to be slashed again by another 25 percent.
Soon after publication, an independent climate scientist—one who has repeatedly voiced scepticism of the consensus that human behaviour is causing global warming—spotted an error in the Nature paper’s maths.
“After correction, the… results do not suggest a larger increase in ocean heat content than previously thought,” Nicolas Lewis wrote on his Climate Science blog.
“Just a few hours of analysis and calculations was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.
“It is very important that the media outlets that unquestioningly trumpeted the paper’s findings now correct the record too. But perhaps that is too much to hope for,” he added…