“Back to the Bad News” or “How Fox Makes Sh*t Up”

Today I want to tell you about the media’s reporting of a paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, by Professor Zunli Lu of Syracuse University. The study, “An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula,” finds that ikaite crystals have a useful property for studying past climactic conditions.  The crystals incorporate heavy bottom water as they form, and the presence of certain oxygen isotopes indicate whether this formation took place during a warming or cooling period.

The Daily Mail (a British tabloid,) ran a report with the headline “Is this finally proof we’re NOT causing global warming? The whole of the Earth heated up in medieval times without human CO2 emissions, says new study.”

At least The Daily Mail phrased their dubious conclusion as a question–when Fox News summarized the article they did so under the banner “Study Refutes Manmade Warming.”

The good Professor Lu, who must be wishing he had picked another research topic, had this to say:

“Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study “throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming,” completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.”

He added:

“The reporter of that Daily Mail article published it anyway, after we told him the angle that he chose misrepresents our work.”

I wonder if either of the above “news” services ran a retraction?

I’ll throw in five actual facts (not the Fox News kind) about ikaite for free:

1. It is also known as hydrous calcium carbonate.

2. Its chemical formula is Ca CO3 6H2 O.

3. It was discovered in 1962 by Danish mineralogist Hans Pauly, and named after the Ika Fjord in Greenland.

4. Ikaite crystals decompose rapidly into water and calcium carbonate when removed from the water in which they grew.

5. Sometimes known as the melting mineral.


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