Hoax bacteria study tricks climate skeptics

OSLO (Reuters) - A hoax scientific study pointing to ocean bacteria as the overwhelming cause of global warming fooled some skeptics on Thursday who doubt growing evidence that human activities are to blame.

Laden with scientific jargon and published online in the previously unknown “Journal of Geoclimatic Studies” based in Japan, the report suggested the findings could be “the death of manmade global warming theory.”

Skeptics jumped on the report. A British scientist e-mailed the report to 2,000 colleagues before spotting it was a spoof. Another from the U.S. called it a “blockbuster.”

Blogger skeptic Neil Craig wrote: “This could not be more damaging to manmade global warming theory ... I somehow doubt if this is going to be on the BBC news.”

It was not clear who was behind the report, which said bacteria in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans emitted at least 300 times more carbon dioxide than industrial activity -- a finding that, if true, would overturn the widely held view of scientists that burning fossil fuels are the main cause of warming.

But scientists knocked the report down.

“The whole story is a hoax,” Deliang Chen, professor of Meteorology at Gothenburg University in Sweden, told Reuters. He said two “authors” listed as from his University were unknown.

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Editing by Michael Winfrey, Reuters messaging: