Climate change deniers have been getting excited about a recent paper published online titled No Experimental Evidence For The Significant Anthropogenic Climate Change, which goes against the widely accepted scientific consensus on climate change based on many years of climate data.
The paper, yet to be accepted for peer-review but published online on pre-print site arXiv, claims to "prove that the changes in the low cloud cover fraction practically control the global temperature" and the recent United Nations IPCC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) failed to include this. The authors claim that human contribution to global warming, estimated to be around 1°C over the past century, has thus been overestimated and is actually about 0.01°C.
"The IPCC climate sensitivity is about one order of magnitude too high, because a strong negative feedback of the clouds is missing in climate models," the authors of the document write.
"If we pay attention to the fact that only a small part of the increased CO2 concentration is anthropogenic, we have to recognize that the anthropogenic climate change does not exist in practice."
Bold claims, but with one tiny problem: It is, of course, nonsense.
Several news outlets sympathetic to climate change denial picked up the story after it was published by Russia Today, whilst several more mainstream news organizations – most noticeably in countries where climate skepticism is strongest, like the US, Russia, and Australia – covered it with little to no criticism.
The story soon showed up on Fox News, Sky News Australia, Infowars (of course), and Sputnik. It also, thankfully, caught the attention of Climate Feedback, a worldwide organization of scientists that actively debunks unscientific claims about the climate crisis.
"Some news outlets are publishing articles stating that this claim is based on a new 'study'," Climate Feedback stated in a detailed debunking. "If they had contacted independent scientists for insight, instead of accepting this short document as revolutionary science, they would have found that it does not have any scientific credibility."
They were quick to point out what the study is actually based on is unclear, as the paper "provides neither the source of the data it uses nor the physics responsible for the proposed relationship between clouds and global temperature," and the document declares the authors do not consider computer models as evidence.
The scientists and experts the organization asked to review this paper – vital in the peer-review process – list among the many issues the fact that "[the] document only cites six references, four of which are the authors’ own, and of these, two are not actually published." Crucial data sources are not provided, figures used to support their claims are at odds with peer-reviewed studies, and the authors make claims "well beyond the scope of their data, without justification" they concluded.
The paper's authors wrote that "clouds and humidity are causing all the temperature change, but satellite measurements suggest, if anything, the opposite," Mark Richardson of the University of Californa, Los Angeles/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of the experts consulted said, citing his sources like a proper scientist.
That the paper is not scientifically viable has been proven. Of course, any retractions that are published will not be seen by as many people as the original uncritical articles themselves, so the damage has already been done.