EurekAlert withdraws climate change paper
Published Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:06PM EST
A study warning that the planet would warm by 2.4C by 2020, creating deadly consequences for the global food supply, is being debunked as false and impossible.
The study came from a little-known, non-profit group based in Argentina, called the Universal Ecological Fund. An embargoed copy of the study appeared on Eurekalert!, a news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that's followed by many journalists.
The study was picked up by a number of international news organizations Tuesday. But it appears the study's claims were erroneous.
The AAAS says that after receiving complaints that the study's conclusions were impossible, it has removed all references to the study from its website.
"EurekAlert! deeply regrets the accidental posting of an erroneous news release on 18 January 2011," the news service wrote in a notice to journalists who subscribe to the service.
"The news release was swiftly removed from EurekAlert!, and staff are taking steps to set the record straight with all reporters who had seen it."
EurekAlert! notes that it is a non-profit news service that relies on staff members to determine the eligibility of up to 100 news release submissions. These staff proofread submissions for typographical or common-sense errors.
"But we rely mostly on the submitting organization to ensure the veracity of the scientific content of the news release; we try to exclude unreliable information providers on the front-end of our screening process," the notice says.
"…We deeply regret that the system failed yesterday, and we appreciate the help we received from reporters who are now setting the record straight."
The correction came after The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. published a reaction piece to the study. The paper said it had interviewed climate scientists who told them that rapid global warming at the rates projected by the study was impossible.
"2.4 C by 2020 (which is 1.4C in the next 10 years – something like six to seven times the projected rate of warming) has no basis in fact," NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt told the newspaper in an email.
According to The Guardian, the study's lead author Liliana Hisas, who is the UEF's executive director, erred by overlooking how the oceans, which absorb heat, will compensate for global warming by delaying the effects of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
Hisas said she stands by her report's findings, which have been endorsed by Nobel Prize-winning Argentine climate scientist, Osvaldo Canziani.
She said the UEF did not intend to withdraw the report.
"We are just going to go ahead with it. I don't have a choice now," she told The Guardian.
"The scientist I have been working with checked everything and according to him it's not wrong."