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Beware of bad science reporting: No, we haven’t killed 90% of all plankton

Enlarge / Plankton are under real threat as our oceans warm and acidify, but they’re not all gone yet. (credit: tonaquatic/Getty Images)

For the past few days, it has been hard to look at social media without coming across a scary-looking report from the Scottish newspaper The Sunday Post. “Scots team’s research finds Atlantic plankton all but wiped out in catastrophic loss of life,” reads the breathless headline. The article claims that a survey of plankton in the ocean found that “evidence… suggest[s] 90% has now vanished.” The article then goes on to predict the imminent collapse of our biosphere.

There’s just one problem: The article is utter rubbish.

The Sunday Post uses as its source a preprint manuscript—meaning it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet—from lead author Howard Dryden at the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey.

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