Ocean Acidification: Chicken Little of the Sea Strikes Again

Reef exihbit on ocean acidification.

Image by Tom Clifton via Flickr

Guest Post by David Middleton

Introduction

As global warming morphs into climate change and global climate disruption and anthropogenic CO2 emissions give way to stochastic variability, clouds, the Sun, cosmic rays and our oceans as the primary drivers of climate change, environmental extremists are raising a new CO2-driven ecological disaster scenario to hysterical levels: Ocean acidification. Claims have been made that oceanic pH levels have declined from ~8.2 to ~8.1 since the mid-1700’s. This pH decline (acidification) has been attributed to anthropogenic CO2 emissions – This should come as no surprise because the pH estimates are largely derived from atmospheric CO2 concentrations (Orr et al., 2005). It has also been postulated that anthropogenic CO2 emissions will force an additional 0.7 unit decline in oceanic pH by the year 2100 (Caldeira et al., 2003).

Alarmist organizations like the National Resources Defense Council are hard at work extrapolating these oceanic pH model predictions into ecological nightmares…

Scientists predict the Arctic will become corrosive to some shelled organisms within a few decades, and the Antarctic by mid-century. This is pure chemistry; the vagaries of climate do not apply to this forecast.

OA is expected to impact commercial fisheries worldwide, threatening a food source for hundreds of millions of people as well as a multi-billion dollar industry. In the United States alone, ocean-related tourism, recreation and fishing are responsible for more than 2 million jobs.

Shellfish will be affected directly, thus impacting finfish who feed on them. For example, pteropods—tiny marine snails that are particularly sensitive to rises in acidity— comprise 60 percent of the diet for Alaska’s juvenile pink salmon. And this affects diets farther up the food chain, as a diminished salmon population would lead to less fish on our tables.

Coral reefs will be especially hard hit by ocean acidification. As ocean acidity rises, corals will begin to erode faster than they can grow, and reef structures will be lost worldwide. Scientists predict that by the time atmospheric CO2 reaches 560 parts per million (a level which could happen which could happen by mid-century; we are currently nearing 400 ppm), coral reefs will cease to grow and even begin to dissolve. Areas that depend on healthy coral reefs for food, shoreline protection, and lucrative tourism industries will be profoundly impacted by their loss.

This sounds like a serious threat… As have all of the other alarmist clarion calls to halt capitalism in the name of the most recent environmental cause célèbre. Just to be fair, before pitching Ocean Acidification into the dustbin of junk science along with Anthropogenic Global Warming, let’s look at the science.

The answers to the following questions will tell us whether or not CO2-driven ocean acidification is a genuine scientific concern:

  1. Is atmospheric CO2 acidifying the oceans?
  2. Is there any evidence that reefs and other marine calcifers have been damaged by CO2-driven ocean acidification and/or global warming?
  3. Does the geological record support the oceanic acidification hypothesis?

Is atmospheric CO2 acidifying the oceans?

Before we can answer this question, we have to understand a bit about how the oceans make limestone and other carbonate rocks. The Carbonate Compensation Depth (CCD or Lysocline) is the depth at which carbonate shells dissolve faster than they accumulate. That depth is primarily determined by several factors…

-Water temperature
-Depth (pressure)
-CO2 concentration
-pH (high pH values aid in carbonate preservation)
-Amount of carbonate sediment supply
-Amount of terrigenous sediment supply

Calcium carbonate solubility increases with increasing carbon dioxide content, lower temperatures, and increasing pressure.

SOURCE

What evidence do we have that the lysocline or CCD has been becoming shallower or that the oceans have been acidifying over the last 250 years? The answer is: Almost none.

Pelejero et al., 2005 found a cyclical correlation between pH and the PDO…

Fig. 2. Record of Flinders Reef coral 11B, reconstructed oceanic pH, aragonite saturation state, PDO and IPO indices, and coral calcification parameters. (A) Flinders Reef coral 11B as a proxy for surface-ocean pH (24); 11B measurements for all 5-year intervals are available in table S1. (B) Indices of the PDO (28, 39) and the IPO (27) averaged over the same 5-year intervals as the coral pH data. Gray curves in panels (A) and (B) are the outputs of Gaussian filtering of coral pH and IPO values, respectively, at a frequency of 0.02 ± 0.01 year–1, which represent the 1/50-year component of the pH variation (fig. S2). (C) Comparison of high-resolution coral Sr/Ca (plotted to identify the seasonal cycle of SST) (32), 11B-derived pH, and wind speed recorded at the Willis Island meteorological station (data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology) (40). Note the covariation of wind speed and seawater pH; strong winds generally occur at times of high pH, and weak winds generally occur at times of low pH. All high-resolution 11B measurements are available in table S2. (D) Aragonite saturation state, , where  is the stoichiometric solubility product of aragonite, calculated from our reconstructed pH assuming constant alkalinity (24). (E) Coral extension and calcification rates obtained from coral density measured by gamma ray densitometry (38).

Fig1) Pelejero et al., 2005, "Fig. 2. Record of Flinders Reef coral 11B, reconstructed oceanic pH, aragonite saturation state, PDO and IPO indices, and coral calcification parameters. (A) Flinders Reef coral 11B as a proxy for surface-ocean pH (24); 11B measurements for all 5-year intervals are available in table S1. (B) Indices of the PDO (28, 39) and the IPO (27) averaged over the same 5-year intervals as the coral pH data. Gray curves in panels (A) and (B) are the outputs of Gaussian filtering of coral pH and IPO values, respectively, at a frequency of 0.02 ± 0.01 year–1, which represent the 1/50-year component of the pH variation (fig. S2). (C) Comparison of high-resolution coral Sr/Ca (plotted to identify the seasonal cycle of SST) (32), 11B-derived pH, and wind speed recorded at the Willis Island meteorological station (data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology) (40). Note the covariation of wind speed and seawater pH; strong winds generally occur at times of high pH, and weak winds generally occur at times of low pH. All high-resolution 11B measurements are available in table S2. (D) Aragonite saturation state, , where is the stoichiometric solubility product of aragonite, calculated from our reconstructed pH assuming constant alkalinity (24). (E) Coral extension and calcification rates obtained from coral density measured by gamma ray densitometry (38)."

Is there any evidence that reefs and other marine calcifers have been damaged by CO2-driven ocean acidification and/or global warming?

Using the data from Pelejero et al., 2005, I found no correlation between pH and reef calcification rates…

Comparison of pH to Flinders Reef calcification rate (Pelejer0 et al., 2005)

Fig. 2) Flinders Reef: Calcification Rate vs. pH (Pelejero et al., 2005)

A plot of CO2 vs pH from the Flinders Reef dataset shows no statistically significant correlation between atmospheric CO2 and pH from 1788-1988…

Fig. 3) Fliners Reef pH (Pelejero et al., 2005) vs atmospheric CO2

On top of that… There is solid evidence that elevated atmospheric CO2 levels have actually caused carbonate deposition to increase over the last 220 years (Iglesias-Rodriguez et al., 2008)…
Fig. 4. Average mass of CaCO3 per coccolith in core RAPID 21-12-B and atmospheric CO2. The average mass of CaCO3 per coccolith in core RAPID 21-12-B (open circles) increased from 1.08 x 10–11 to 1.55 x 10–11 g between 1780 and the modern day, with an accelerated increase over recent decades. The increase in average coccolith mass correlates with rising atmospheric PCO2, as recorded in the Siple ice core (gray circles) (26) and instrumentally at Mauna Loa (black circles) (38), every 10th and 5th data point shown, respectively. Error bars represent 1 SD as calculated from replicate analyses. Samples with a standard deviation greater than 0.05 were discarded. The smoothed curve for the average coccolith mass was calculated using a 20% locally weighted least-squares error method.

Fig. 4) Iglesias-Rodriguez et al., 2008, "Fig. 4. Average mass of CaCO3 per coccolith in core RAPID 21-12-B and atmospheric CO2. The average mass of CaCO3 per coccolith in core RAPID 21-12-B (open circles) increased from 1.08 x 10–11 to 1.55 x 10–11 g between 1780 and the modern day, with an accelerated increase over recent decades. The increase in average pre="average ">coccolith mass correlates with rising atmospheric PCO2, as recorded in the Siple ice core (gray circles) (26) and instrumentally at Mauna Loa (black circles) (38), every 10th and 5th data point shown, respectively. Error bars represent 1 SD as calculated from replicate analyses. Samples with a standard deviation greater than 0.05 were discarded. The smoothed curve for the average coccolith mass was calculated using a 20% locally weighted least-squares error method."

And when sudden increases of atmospheric CO2 have been tested under laboratory conditions, “otoliths (aragonite ear bones) of young fish grown under high CO2 (low pH) conditions are larger than normal, contrary to expectation” (Checkley et al., 2009).

A recent paper in Geology (Ries et al., 2009) found an unexpected relationship between CO2 and marine calcifers. 18 benthic species were selected to represent a wide variety of taxa: “crustacea, cnidaria, echinoidea, rhodophyta, chlorophyta, gastropoda, bivalvia, annelida.” They were tested under four CO2/Ωaragonite scenarios:

409 ppm (Modern day)
606 ppm (2x Pre-industrial)
903 ppm (3x Pre-industrial)
2856 ppm (10x Pre-industrial)

7/18 were not adversely affected by 10x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 2856 ppm for blue crab, shrimp, lobster, limpet, purple urchin, coralline red algae, and blue mussel.

6/18 were not adversely affected by 3x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for halimeda, temperate coral, pencil urchin, conch, bay scallop and whelk.

3/18 were not adversely affected by 2x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for hard clam, serpulid worm and periwinkle.

2/18 had very slight declines in calcification at 2x pre-industrial: Oyster and soft clam.

The effects on calcification rates for all 18 species were either negligible or positive up to 606 ppm CO2. Corals, in particular seemed to like more CO2 in their diets…

Fig. 5) Coralline red algae calcification response to increased atmospheric CO2 (modified after Ries eta la., 2009)

Fig. 6) Temperate coral calcification response to increased atmospheric CO2 (modified after Ries et al., 2009).

Neither coral species experienced negative effects to calcification rates at CO2 levels below 1,000 to 2,000 ppmv. The study reared the various species in experimental sea water using 4 different CO2 and aragonite saturation scenarios.

It appears that in addition to being plant food… CO2 is also reef food.

More CO2 in the atmosphere leads to something called “CO2 fertilization.” In an enriched CO2 environment, most plants end to grow more. The fatal flaw of the infamous “Hockey Stick” chart was in Mann’s misinterpretation of Bristlecone Pine tree ring chronologies as a proxy for temperature; when in fact the tree ring growth was actually indicating CO2 fertilization as in this example from Greek fir trees…

Fig. 7) Example of CO2 fertilization in Greek fir trees (Koutavas, 2008 from CO2 Science)

Coral reefs can only grow in the photic zone of the oceans because zooxanthellae algae use sunlight, CO2, calcium and/or magnesium to make limestone.

The calcification rate of Flinders Reef has increased along with atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1700…

Fig. 8) Flinders Reef calcification rate plotted with atmospheric CO2.

As the atmospheric CO2 concentration has grown since the 1700’s coral reef extension rates have also trended upwards. This is contrary to the theory that increased atmospheric CO2 should reduce the calcium carbonate saturation in the oceans, thus reducing reef calcification. It’s a similar enigma to the calcification rates of coccoliths and otoliths.

In all three cases, the theory or model says that increasing atmospheric CO2 will make the oceans less basic by increasing the concentration of H+ ions and reducing calcium carbonate saturation. This is supposed to reduce the calcification rates of carbonate shell-building organisms. When, in fact, the opposite is occurring in nature with reefs and coccoliths – Calcification rates are generally increasing. And in empirical experiments under laboratory conditions, otoliths grew (rather than shrank) when subjected to high levels of simulated atmospheric CO2.

In the cases of reefs and coccoliths, one answer is that the relatively minor increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last couple of hundred years has enhanced photosynthesis more than it has hampered marine carbonate geochemistry. However, the otoliths (fish ear bones) shouldn’t really benefit from enhanced photo-respiration. The fact that otoliths grew rather than shrank when subjected to high CO2 levels is a pretty good indication that the primary theory of ocean acidification has been tested and falsified.

Some may say, “Hey! That’s just one reef! Flinders reef is an outlier!” Fair point. So let’s look at a larger data set.

The January 2, 2009 issue of Science featured a paper, Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef, by Glenn De’ath, Janice M. Lough, Katharina E. Fabricius. This is from the abstract:

Reef-building corals are under increasing physiological stress from a changing climate and ocean absorption of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals from 69 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia. Their skeletal records show that throughout the GBR, calcification has declined by 14.2% since 1990, predominantly because extension (linear growth) has declined by 13.3%. The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400 years.

I have not purchased the article and my free membership to the AAAS does not grant access to it; but I did find the database that appears to go with De’ath et al., 2009 in the NOAA Paleoclimatology library: LINK

Well… I downloaded the data to Excel and I calculated an annual average calcification rate for the 59 cores that are represented in the data set. This is what I came up with…

Fig. 9) Great Barrier Reef Calcification Rate (after De'ath et al., 2009)

It is “cherry-picking” of the highest order, if that last data point really is the basis of this claim: “Their skeletal records show that throughout the GBR, calcification has declined by 14.2% since 1990, predominantly because extension (linear growth) has declined by 13.3%. The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400 years.”

Over the last 400+ years the Earth’s climate has warmed ~0.6°, mean sea level has risen by about 9 inches and the atmosphere has become about 100 ppmv more enriched with CO2; and the Great Barrier Reef has responded by steadily growing faster.

1. Rising Temperature: The Great Barrier Reef likes the warm-up since the depths of the Little Ice Age…

Fig. 10) GBR calcification rate and temperature.

2. Rising Sea Level: The Great Barrier Reef likes the slight sea level rise since the depths of the Little Ice Age…

Fig. 11) GBR calcification rate and sea level.

3. Rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations: The Great Barrier Reef likes the increase in CO2 levels since the depths of the Little Ice Age…

Fig. 12a) GBR calcification rate and atmsopheric CO2.

Fig. 12b) GBR calcification rate and atmospheric CO2 cross plot.

Does the geological record support the oceanic acidification hypothesis?

Average annual pH reconstructions and measurements from various Pacific Ocean locations:

60 million to 40 million years ago: 7.42 to 8.04 (Pearson et al., 2000)
23 million to 85,000 years ago: 8.04 to 8.31 (Pearson et al., 2000)
6,000 years ago to present: 7.91 to 8.28 (Liu et al., 2009)
1708 AD to 1988 AD: 7.91 to 8.17 (Pelejero et al., 2005)
2000 AD to 2007 AD: 8.10 to 8.40 (Wootton et al., 2008)

The low pH levels from 60 mya to 40 mya include the infamous Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). E ven then, the oceans did not actually “acidify;” the lowest pH was 7.42 (still basic).

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was a period of significant global warming approximately 55 million years ago and has often been cited as a geological analogy for the modern threat of ocean acidification. There is solid evidence that the Lysocline “shoaled” or became shallower for a brief period of time during the PETM. Several cores obtained from the Walvis Ridge area in the South Atlantic during Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 208 contained a layer of red clay at the P-E boundary in the middle of an extensive carbonate ooze section (Zachos et al., 2005). This certainly indicates a disruption of the lysocline during the PETM; but it doesn’t prove that it was ocean acidification.

The PETM was a period of extensive submarine and subaerial volcanic activity (Storey et al., 2007) and pedogenic carbonate reconstructions do support the possibility that seafloor methane hydrates released by that volcanic activity may have sharply increased oceanic CO2 saturation.

But… The terrigenous paleobotanical evidence does not support elevated atmospheric CO2 levels during the PETM (Royer et al., 2001). The SI data indicate CO2 levels in North America to have been between 300 and 400 ppmv during the PETM.

So, the PETM may have been an example of ocean acidification… But there is NO evidence that it was caused by a sharp increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

The range of oceanic pH variation over the last 200 years is well within the natural variation range over the last 7,000 years.

Fig. 13) 7,000 years of pH and atmospheric CO2

Some have asserted that there is no geological precedent; claiming atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen faster in the last 150 years than at any time in recent geological history. Ice core-derived CO2 data certainly do indicate that CO2 has not risen above ~310 ppmv at any point in the last 600,000 years and that it varies little at the decade or century scale. However, there are other methods for estimating past atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Plants “breathe” CO2 through microscopic epidermal pores called stomata. The density of plant stomata varies inversely with the atmospheric partial pressure of CO2. Several recent studies of plant stomata from living, herbarium and fossil samples of plant tissue have shown that atmospheric CO2 fluctuations comparable to that seen in the industrial era have been fairly common throughout the Holocene and Recent times.

Plant stomata measurements reveal large variations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations over the tast 2,000 years that are not apparent in ice core data (Kouwenberg, 2004)…

Figure 5.4: Reconstruction of paleo-atmospheric CO2 levels when stomatal frequency of fossil needles

Fig. 14) Kouwenberg (2004) Figure 5.4: Reconstruction of paleo-atmospheric CO2 levels when stomatal frequency of fossil needles is converted to CO2 mixing ratios using the relation between CO2 and TSDL as quantified in the training set. Black line represents a 3 point running average based on 3–5 needles per depth. Grey area indicates the RMSE in the calibration. White diamonds are data measured in the Taylor Dome ice core (Indermühle et al., 1999); white squares CO2 measurements from the Law Dome ice-core (Etheridge et al., 1996). Inset: Training set of TSDL response of Tsuga heterophylla needles from the Pacific Northwest region to CO2 changes over the past century (Chapter 4).

Century-scale fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations have also been demonstrated in the early Holocene (Wagner et al., 1999)…

(Wagner et al., 1999)Fig. 1. (A) Mean SI values (±1 ) for B. pendula and B. pubescens from the early Holocene part of the Borchert section (Netherlands; 52.23°N, 7.00°E) and reconstructed CO2 concentrations. The scale of the section is in centimeters. Three lithological (Lith.) units can be recognized (18): a basal gyttja (=), succeeded by Drepanocladus peat (//), which is subsequently overlain by Sphagnum peat ( ). Six conventional 14C dates (in years before the present) are available (indicated by circled numbers): 1, 10,070 ± 90; 2, 9930 ± 45; 3, 9685 ± 90; 4, 9770 ± 90; 5, 9730 ± 50; and 6, 9380 ± 80. Summary pollen diagram includes arboreal pollen (white area) with Pinus ( ) and with Betula ( ) and nonarboreal pollen with Gramineae (   ) and with Cyperaceae, upland herbs, and Ericales (   ). Regional climatic phases after (18): YD, Younger Dryas; Fr., Friesland phase; Ra., Rammelbeek phase; and LP, Late Preboreal. For analytical method, see (13). Quantification of CO2 concentrations according to the rate of historical CO2 responsiveness of European tree birches (Fig. 2). P indicates the reconstructed position of the Preboreal Oscillation.

Fig. 15) (Wagner et al., 1999) Fig. 1. (A) Mean SI values (±1 ) for B. pendula and B. pubescens from the early Holocene part of the Borchert section (Netherlands; 52.23°N, 7.00°E) and reconstructed CO2 concentrations. The scale of the section is in centimeters. Three lithological (Lith.) units can be recognized (18): a basal gyttja (=), succeeded by Drepanocladus peat (//), which is subsequently overlain by Sphagnum peat ( ). Six conventional 14C dates (in years before the present) are available (indicated by circled numbers): 1, 10,070 ± 90; 2, 9930 ± 45; 3, 9685 ± 90; 4, 9770 ± 90; 5, 9730 ± 50; and 6, 9380 ± 80. Summary pollen diagram includes arboreal pollen (white area) with Pinus ( ) and with Betula ( ) and nonarboreal pollen with Gramineae ( ) and with Cyperaceae, upland herbs, and Ericales ( ). Regional climatic phases after (18): YD, Younger Dryas; Fr., Friesland phase; Ra., Rammelbeek phase; and LP, Late Preboreal. For analytical method, see (13). Quantification of CO2 concentrations according to the rate of historical CO2 responsiveness of European tree birches (Fig. 2). P indicates the reconstructed position of the Preboreal Oscillation.

If the plant stomata data are correct, the increase in atmospheric CO2 that has occurred over the last 150 years is not anomalous. Past CO2 increases of similar magnitude and rate have not caused ocean acidification. In fact, marine calcifers would probably take 3,000 ppmv CO2 in stride, just by making more limestone… Kind of like they did during the Cretaceous…

Fig. 16) East Texas Stratigraphic Column and Creatceous CO2

Once again, we have an environmental catastrophe that is entirely supported by predictive computer models and totally unsupported by correlative and empirical scientific data. We can safely pitch ocean acidification into the dustbin of junk science.

References

Reef data from:

De’ath, G., J.M. Lough, and K.E. Fabricius. 2009. Declining coral calcification on the Great Barrier Reef. Science, Vol. 323, pp. 116 – 119, 2 January 2009.

Lough, J.M. and D.J. Barnes, 2000.  Environmental controls on growth of the massive coral Porites. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 245: 225-243.

Lough, J.M. and D.J. Barnes, 1997. Several centuries of variation in skeletal extension, density and calcification in massive Porites colonies from the Great Barrier Reef: a proxy for seawater temperature and a background of variability against which to identify unnatural change. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 211: 29-67.

Chalker, B.E. and D.J. Barnes, 1990.
Gamma densitometry for the measurement of coral skeletal density. Coral Reefs, 4: 95-100.

Temperature data from:

Moberg, A., D.M. Sonechkin, K. Holmgren, N.M. Datsenko and W. Karlén. 2005. Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low-and high-resolution proxy data. Nature, Vol. 433, No. 7026, pp. 613-617, 10 February 2005.

University of Alabama, Hunstville

Sea Level data from:

“Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago?”, Jevrejeva, S., J. C. Moore, A. Grinsted, and P. L. Woodworth (2008), Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L08715, doi:10.1029/2008GL033611.

CO2 data from:

D.M. Etheridge, L.P. Steele, R.L. Langenfelds, R.J. Francey, J.-M. Barnola and V.I. Morgan. 1998. Historical CO2 records from the Law Dome DE08, DE08-2, and DSS ice cores. In Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A.

Dr. Pieter Tans, NOAA/ESRL (www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends)

Other references:

Royer, et al., 2001. Paleobotanical Evidence for Near Present-Day Levels of Atmospheric CO2 During Part of the Tertiary. Science 22 June 2001: 2310-2313. DOI:10.112

Caldeira, K. and Wickett, M.E. 2003. Anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH. Nature 425: 365.

Orr, J.C., et al., 2005. Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms. Nature 437, 681-686 (29 September 2005) | doi:10.1038

Pelejero, C., Calvo, E., McCulloch, M.T., Marshall, J.F., Gagan, M.K., Lough, J.M. and Opdyke, B.N. 2005.

Preindustrial to modern interdecadal variability in coral reef pH. Science 309: 2204-2207.

Zachos, et al., 2005. Rapid Acidification of the Ocean During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum . Science 10 June 2005: 1611-1615. DOI:10.1126

Storey, et al., 2007. Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum and the Opening of the Northeast Atlantic. Science 27 April 2007: 587-589. DOI:10.1126

Late 20th-Century Acceleration in the Growth of Greek Fir Trees. Volume 11, Number 49: 3 December 2008, CO2 Science

Iglesias-Rodriguez, et al., 2008. Phytoplankton Calcification in a High-CO2 World. Science 18 April 2008: 336-340 DOI:10.1126

Koutavas, A. 2008. Late 20th century growth acceleration in greek firs (Aibes cephalonica) from Cephalonia Island, Greece: A CO2 fertilization effect? Dendrochronologia 26: 13-19.

The Ocean Acidification Fiction. Volume 12, Number 22: 3 June 2009, CO2 Science

Checkley, et al., 2009. Elevated CO2 Enhances Otolith Growth in Young Fish. Science 26 June 2009: 1683. DOI:10.1126

Liu, Y., Liu, W., Peng, Z., Xiao, Y., Wei, G., Sun, W., He, J. Liu, G. and Chou, C.-L. 2009. Instability of seawater pH in the South China Sea during the mid-late Holocene: Evidence from boron isotopic composition of corals. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73: 1264-1272.

Ries, J.B., A.L. Cohen, D.C. McCorkle. Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification. Geology 2009 37: 1131-1134.

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141 thoughts on “Ocean Acidification: Chicken Little of the Sea Strikes Again

  1. Is it any surprise that the religion of CO2 is desperately clawing for solid ground ?

    Be prepared to hear plenty more fear-mongering with regards to ocean acidification and man being the culprit… temperatures will quietly go to the wayside (except short-lived weather anomalies like Russian heatwaves et al) if the temps don’t start climbing by leaps and bounds enough to convince the masses.

    They must keep the faith.

    Why ?
    Cause “baby it’s cold outside” and daddy needs a new form of revenue generation.

  2. A fine post, most of it went over my headbut i did get the gist of it. The one question i have is that the PH level went from” 8.2 to 8.1 since the mid 1700s”, And thier models predict that it will go down a further .7 by 2100, who screwed up the MATH(I can guess the warmist). MODELS=GIGO

  3. Quite so. the Idso’s over at CO2 science, listed in sidebar, have a database on this and very interesting reading it makes too.

    One minor point, the great barrier reef is rather long so one end is in warmer waters with a lower PH and the other in colder water with higher PH: but both ends seem to be doing just fine.

    Which tends to put claims as to adverse effects on corals of increases in temperature or PH or conversely declines in the same into perspective.

    Just another load of alarmist speculation that ignores real world observation.

    Kindest Regards

  4. “Corals, in particular seemed to like more CO2 in their diets…”

    That seems reasonable since modern corals evolved when atmospheric CO2 was about 5x today’s levels.

  5. Much of the hysteria could be avoided if parties on both sides of the climate debate used the same terminology as those who study the soil; more accurate terms that refer to rising or falling pH levels, or a rising or declining alkalinity if the soil, or water, is in fact alkaline, and only using the terms rising or falling acidity when the soil, or water, is actually acidic.
    Using the term “increasing acidity” if the soil, or water, is clearly alkaline is confusing and doesn’t adequately describe the situation of the changes taking place.

  6. Ever time I see fish, I get curious, so I clicked on the JPEG. The picture is of a propaganda exhibit at the Moonbat Bay Aquarium. I guess it is supposed to show how evil man and his CO2 is. I looks like a micro reef tank. I have set up a few of these. I would never put any angelfish or any of their relatives in a reef tank. They eat coral polyps!

  7. The oldest shrimp discovered is 360 million years old and was preserved due to the acidic and low oxygen ocean at the time: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/12/oldest-shrimp-world-oklahoma/

    Certainly, we can cause pressures on organisms much faster than evolution can produce solutions to those pressures, but my point is that an ocean with a pH below 7.0 is not toxic to all shelled life. Metabolic processes enable creatures to repair damage, something Jane Lubchenco was no doubt aware when she gave her ridiculous “acid eats chalk” science fair exhibition to the House Select Committee hearing on the State of Climate Science.

  8. David M: Brilliant. If you care to email me (tcurtin bigblue.net.au) I can send you the full text of De’ath Lough & Fabricius plus my own notes on their serially flawed paper and data (confirming yours in spades).

  9. Moderators or whomever : The AMSU-A satellite data Internet site has been down for some time now. Select a plot and you either get a “No message today” notice or one that says in effect the data has been questionable since mid December and no current posts are being made. What’s going on?

    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/

  10. Of all the possible effects of CO2 emissions this is the one that scientifically is the most probable, until one realizes that corals have survived climates from 180 ppm to 1800 ppm. This would include the associated differences in ocean pH level that go along with it.

    What really kills the shallow water tropical corals (the only kind they care about) is the transition from glacial to interglacial and back again. That is why all the tropical corals alive today are ~9,000 years old. All the older ones died in the last melt water pulse at the beginning of the Holocene.

    John Kehr

  11. Yes, I agree, ocean acidification is the next apocalypse. I saw this coming a couple of years ago. This is the fall-back position.

  12. This post was too long. Are we all gonna die? Just tell me that. Because I’m maxing out my credit cards if we are. I’d prefer to be in Tahiti when the end comes.

  13. I hate to be a poop, but the answer to your questions is:

    1. Is atmospheric CO2 acidifying the oceans?
    2. Is there any evidence that reefs and other marine calcifers have been damaged by 3. CO2-driven ocean acidification and/or global warming?
    4. Does the geological record support the oceanic acidification hypothesis?

    …. “The US EPA believes all of this to be true.”

    EPA is gearing up to use the Clean Water Act to enforce carbon dioxide emissions, which is the “significant deterioration” part of the PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance for Greenhouse Gases.

    This has good background:

    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/03/12/12greenwire-some-see-clean-water-act-settlement-opening-new-4393.html

    …if the US EPA believes it to be so, then it shall be so. Sad but true.

  14. “A few decades” = “Time for me to retire and get out of the way of possible payback” = horizon at which prediction becomes self-interested speculation.

  15. One omission is the definition of pH: A pH of 8.1 sounds very close to 7.0 (neutral), but it is not. pH values are calculated in powers of 10. The hydrogen ion concentration of a solution with pH 7.0 is 10 times larger than in a solution with pH 8.0. The pH of a solution is equal to to the negative logarithmic (base 10) value of the Hydrogen ion (H+) concentration.

    In pure, neutral water, the concentration of hydrogen and hydroxide ions are both (10)^-7 equivalents per liter, and the pH is, accordingly, 7.0

    when the pH is 7 to 14, the solution is basic (alkaline)
    when the pH is 0 to 7, the solution is acidic

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/ph-d_483.html

  16. The oceans are not ‘acidifying’ under any possible scenario.

    They may be becoming slightly less alkaline, but they will never become acidic. There just isn’t enough free carbon available to make enough CO2 to do so. Even if all the fossil fuel ever dreamed about were burnt.

    The dominant chemistry will always be that of a mild alkali. It just might be even milder in future than it is now.

    A better and more accurate term would be ‘ocean neutralisation’. It describes the chemical process more exactly and does not contain the unwarranted bad vibes of ‘acidification’. Which ain’t going to happen.

  17. “A recent paper in Geology (Ries et al., 2009) found an unexpected relationship between CO2 and marine calcifers. (…)”

    It will be fair to quote the title of the study:

    “Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification”
    Link: http://www.whoi.edu/science/GG/people/acohen/publications/Ries_et_al_09_Geology_Mixed_Responses_to_Ocean_Acidification.pdf

    Suggesting that some organisms were harmed and others not by CO2 acidification.

    “7/18 were not adversely affected by 10x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 2856 ppm for blue crab, shrimp, lobster, limpet, purple urchin, coralline red algae, and blue mussel.

    6/18 were not adversely affected by 3x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for halimeda, temperate coral, pencil urchin, conch, bay scallop and whelk.

    3/18 were not adversely affected by 2x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for hard clam, serpulid worm and periwinkle.

    2/18 had very slight declines in calcification at 2x pre-industrial: Oyster and soft clam.”

    Not quite. The study says that most organisms were harmed:

    “In ten of the 18 species (temperate corals, pencil urchins, hard clams, conchs, serpulid worms, periwinkles, bay scallops, oysters, whelks, soft clams; Figs. 1I–1R), net calcification decreased with increasing pCO2 (reduced CaCO3 saturation state). And in six of the ten negatively impacted species (pencil urchins, hard clams, conchs, periwinkles, whelks, soft clams; Figs. 1J–1L, 1N, and 1Q–1R), we observed net dissolution of the shell in the highest pCO2 treatment, for which the experimental seawater was undersaturated with respect to aragonite and high-Mg calcite.”

    And in just 5 there were no effect or benefit:

    “However, in four of the 18 species (limpets, purple urchins, coralline red algae,
    calcareous green algae; Figs. 1D–1G), net calcifi cation increased relative to the control under intermediate pCO2 levels (605 and 903 ppm), and then declined at the highest pCO2 level (2856 ppm). In three species (crabs, lobsters, and shrimps; Figs. 1A–1C), net calcification was greatest under the highest level of pCO2 (2856 ppm). And one species, the blue mussel (Fig. 1H), exhibited no response to elevated pCO2.”

    This post then states:

    “The effects on calcification rates for all 18 species were either negligible or positive up to 606 ppm CO2.”

    Only 5 showed benefit or no effect by reduced aragonite saturation state. The others were harmed. By the way, the aragonite saturation state depend on both the pCO2 and the alkalinity of the water, so there is no unique relationship between pCO2 and aragonite saturation state.

    “Corals, in particular seemed to like more CO2 in their diets…”

    Coral (specifically, temperate coral) showed slight harm (slight, but still harm) until aragonite saturation state dropped below 1,5. Then, the calcification rate drops significantly, more than 50%. This shows that the temperate corals do NOT “seemed to like more CO2 in their diets…”

    “Neither coral species experienced negative effects to calcification rates at CO2 levels below 1,000 to 2,000 ppmv (…)
    It appears that in addition to being plant food… CO2 is also reef food.”

    This, as shown by a critical reading of the paper, is nonsense.

  18. You cannot have warming seas and higher CO2 content without increasing the atmospheric pressure. The solubility of CO2 decreases with temperature at a given pressure. So guys is it more warm or more CO2. One of them is wrong.

  19. An excellent post, David, well done.

    One further bit of information. Coral reefs are plants, so overall they are a net sink of CO2. However, like land plants, part of the time they take in CO2 and part of the time they give off CO2. However, unlike land plants, they are using the CO2 to build their carbonate bodies. Here’s a post of mine on the subject from ClimateAudit 2006:

    Coral reefs, which are the major CaCO3 shell formers, produce CO2. This daily production often drives the pCO2 in the local ocean around the reefs to levels three times the world average … without harming the reef. Go figure.

    Me, I focus on real world evidence, not what “could” or “might” come to pass based what’s happening in somebody’s aquarium “experiments with live organisms”. Here’s some evidence:

    Bessat, F. and Buigues, D. 2001. Two centuries of variation in coral growth in a massive Porites colony from Moorea (French Polynesia): a response of ocean-atmosphere variability from south central Pacific. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 175: 381-392

    So did the “could” and “might” happen in the real world? Well … um … er … no, notat all. Bessat and Buigues found that in the real world,

    “instead of a 6-14% decline in calcification over the past 100 years [as] computed by the Kleypas group, the calcification has increased, in accordance with [what] Australian scientists Lough and Barnes [found].”

    When we look at what happens in the real ocean, coral growth rates have not declined in the last 150 years, despite a large rise in CO2. It’s not clear why. Ugly, I know, but that’s the observation of the real world, and that observation, not the aquarium results, is what our theories have to fit. Here’s some further studies:

    Diurnal changes in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in coral reef water
    Kayanne, H; Suzuki, A; Saito, H
    Science (Washington) [SCIENCE (WASH.)]. Vol. 269, no. 5221, pp. 214-216. 1995.

    Coral reefs are considered to be a source of atmosphere carbon dioxide because of their high calcium carbonate production and low net primary production. This was tested by direct measurement of diurnal changes in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (P sub(CO2)) in reef waters during two 3-day periods, one in March 1993 and one in March 1994, on Shiraho reef of the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. Although the P sub(CO2) values in reef waters exhibited large diurnal changes ranging from 160 to 520 microatmospheres [ppmv], they indicate that the reef flat area is a net sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide. This suggests that the net organic production rate of the reef community exceeded its calcium carbonate production rate during the observation periods.

    Note that the pCO2 (amount of CO2 in the water) varies wildly in the water around the reef, reaching very high values … and somehow the coral keeps growing. This study is particularly interesting in that it shows that global atmospheric CO2 levels are not related to the CO2 levels on any given reef. Global pCO2 is on the order of 300-350 µatm, so this means the local concentration around the reef varies from half of that to nearly double that, and that this high CO2 level is created by the reef itself. I don’t think increasing atmospheric CO2 will affect at least this reef too much … here’s more on the subject.

    Carbon fluxes in coral reefs. I. Lagrangian measurement of community metabolism and resulting air-sea CO2 disequilibrium

    Gattuso JP, Pichon M, Delesalle B, Canon C, Frankignoulle M
    Community metabolism was investigated using a Lagrangian flow respirometry technique on 2 reef flats at Moorea (French Polynesia) during austral winter and Yonge Reef (Great Barrier Reef) during austral summer. The data were used to estimate related air-sea CO2 disequilibrium. A sine function did not satisfactorily model the diel [day/night] light curves and overestimated the metabolic parameters. The ranges of community gross primary production and respiration (Pg and R; 9 to 15 g C m-2 d-1) were within the range previously reported for reef flats, and community net calcification (G; 19 to 25 g CaCO3 m-2 d-1) was higher than the ‘standard’ range. The molar ratio of organic to inorganic carbon uptake was 6:1 for both sites. The reef flat at Moorea displayed a higher rate of organic production and a lower rate of calcification compared to previous measurements carried out during austral summer. The approximate uncertainty of the daily metabolic parameters was estimated using a procedure based on a Monte Carlo simulation. The standard errors of Pg,R and Pg/R expressed as a percentage of the mean are lower than 3% but are comparatively larger for E, the excess production (6 to 78%). The daily air-sea CO2 flux (FCO2) was positive throughout the field experiments, indicating that the reef flats at Moorea and Yonge Reef released CO2 to the atmosphere at the time of measurement. FCO2 decreased as a function of increasing daily irradiance.

    Once again, the finding that the coral reefs are a source of CO2 … since they are a source of CO2, the idea that CO2 will keep them from growing seems doubtful. Of note in this one is that calcification rates are higher when the water is warmer. I note also that the air-sea flux over the reef was positive, meaning that the around the reef, there is more CO2 in the water than in the air.

    Here’s another. Diel means diurnal, although why they don’t just say “diurnal” I don’t know … dang scientists trying to confuse us …:

    Diel variation of TCO2 in the upper layer of oceanic waters reflects microbial composition, variation and possibly methane cycling
    K. M. Johnson1, P. G. Davis1 and J. McN. Sieburth1

    (1) Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island-Bay Campus, 02882-1197 Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA
    Accepted: 10 August 1983

    Communicated by S. K. Pierce, College Park
    Abstract
    Six diel TCO2 cycles determined by infrared (IR) photometry from five drift stations occupied between 24 February and 16 March 1979 in the mixed layer of the northwestern Caribbean Sea are examined. Comparison of TCO2 variation with coincident salinity and O2 variation demonstrated that TCO2 often co-varied with these independently measured variables. During five diel cycles TCO2 variation was characterized by nocturnal production and diurnal consumption. The inverse, diurnal production of CO2, occurred downstream from Misteriosa Bank, whose corals apparently contributed to a water mass having a twofold increase of POC and a sixfold larger population of heterotrophic nanoplankters. For the five diel studies carried out in waters with balanced or nearly blanced heterotrophic and phototrophic components of the nanoplankton, CO2 consumption at constant salinity always occurred between 06.00 and 09.00 hrs. Net uptake often continued through 15.00 hrs, but not always in the absence of significant salinity changes. At constant salinity net O2 evolution never exceeded 0.5 mol l-1 h-1 while net CO2 uptake consistently averaged 3 mol l-1 h-1 for an apparent net production of 36 mg C m-3 h-1, which greatly exceeds the O2 changes and open ocean 14C estimates from the literature. Diurnal consumption was apparently balanced by nocturnal production of CO2 so that no significant net daily change in TCO2 was observed. Departures from theoretical PQ and RQ and the possibility of nocturnal variations in formaldehyde and carbonate alkalinity imply that chemotrophs, both methane producers and methane oxidizers, play a significant role in CO2 cycling. This could be through the metabolism of the nonconservative gases CH4, CO, and H2, and a link between chemotrophy and phototrophy through these gases is hypothesized. These open system measurements were subject to diffusion and documentable patchiness, but temporal TCO2 changes appear to indicate the net direction of microbiological activity and join a growing body of literature showing dynamic variation in CO2 and O2 that exceeds estimates by 14C bottle assays of carbon fixation.

    The study shows that CO2 in the ocean goes up and down because of a host of biological, microbiological, and other processes that include coral reefs. These are among the reasons that aquarium studies don’t cut it for studying these questions.

    In summary, the coral reefs set their own CO2 levels, produce a lot of CO2, consume a lot, and vary the concentration of CO2 around them from 50% to 200% of current atmospheric levels. I’m not concerned about them in re: CO2.

    As a diver, however, I can attest that humans can damage, tear down, pollute, and kill coral reefs in a host of ways … including especially killing the parrotfish, which keep the reef healthy while producing tonnes and tonnes of coral sand that make up the island beaches. A reef without parrotfish is a very sick reef.

  20. “As ocean acidity rises”

    Ocean acidity isn’t going to rise. I know there’s some feathers ruffled over saying ocean “acidification” which doesn’t really bother me because acidification is the proper term but in the case above it isn’t proper to say acidity rises because the ocean isn’t acid and will never be acid. The proper phrase is “as ocean alkalinity declines”. Now I’m bothered by the language used.

  21. What a great post. Most informative and very accessible.

    Now let’s see a post on the “Water is running out” nonsense because quite frankly it is gaining traction amongst the terminally ignorant who are content for others to do their thinking for them.

  22. The last few decades have highlighted the job description ‘scientist’ such that it can be an oxymoron. That many have not been taught the first principles of scientific endeavour, or have chosen to ignore them is obvious. Orwellian scientists with their ‘Newspeak’ have held the world stage and the ears of politicians for far to long.

    The denigration of real scientists trying to find the truth has been blatant and a blight on democracy and freedom. A freedom that millions died for to achieve. This period in history shall be looked back on as one of the dark ages of science, regardless of the many achievements.

    The seekers of truth who post on this site such as David Middleton on this post will go down in history as those who trumpeted the truth from the wilderness. The politically correct, agenda driven useful idiots will not go away easily or quietly. Thankyou to all those who post here for your diligence, the battle has begun and they know not what to do, for they have never been challenged before.

  23. Very good summary of the available knowledge, Dave.

    One point where I di[s]agree: as already discussed in the ice cores / stomata post, stomata data show local/regional CO2 levels, not global, “background” levels. While interesting because of their high frequency response, the absolute values should be taken with caution, as influenced by local changes in vegetation, wind direction,…

    Take e.g. the figure provided by Kauwenberg 2005: the peak CO2 level of 400 ppmv in the stomata reconstruction was around 500 AD, and lower levels of around 280 ppmv around 1,000 AD, but temperatures around 1000 AD (the MWP!) were higher than around 500 AD, which means higher CO2 levels in colder periods and vv. That is not very likely.
    Moreover, even if the Taylor Dome gas diffusion mixing acts as a Gaussian low pass filter (time constant 140 years, see http://medias.obs-mip.fr/paleo/taylor/indermuehle99nat.pdf ), a real sustained CO2 level of over 350 ppmv during 300 years would be clearly visible in the ice core record, but is not. While the ice core CO2 levels are averaged, an averaging doesn’t change the average…

  24. It’s a pity the BBC isn’t a bit more rigorous in its news research. This very subject was a significant news item this morning, along with reference to the claimed effects of rising sea temperature. I can’t find a reference on their website yet.

  25. Brilliant post, I really enjoyed reading it and the accompanying comments.

    Unfortunately, this is real science, so we can be sure it will be ignored or condemned by the ‘climate scientists’ contributing to the next IPCC report/fantasy.

    If man has caused a tiny amount of acidification in the oceans, we need look no further than the huge amounts of nitric and sulphuric acid our industries and vehicles produce.

    Carbon dioxide, or rather its aqueous derivitive carbonic acid are only just acidic, unlike their distant cousins nitric and sulphuric.

    However, where “the acidification of the oceans by CO2″ argument really falls apart is in the numbers:

    The volume of the oceans is ~1,31 billion cubic kilometres – after allowing for their salinity, this represents 1.35 billion billion tonnes. Note: One cubic metre of water weighs one tonne, so one cubic kilometre weighs one billion tonnes.

    Man produces around 27 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, about half, or 14 billion tonnes, end up in the oceans.

    So every year man is responsible for increasing the ocean concentration of CO2 by 14/1.35 billion, or 14/1,350 parts per million, or 0.00074 parts per million.

    So 100 years of today’s CO2 emissions by man will increase CO2 concentrations in the ocean by just 0.07 parts per million, a truly minuscule amount. Even if we assume all this CO2 is concentrated in the top 10% of the ocean, then in this small part of the ocean, CO2 concentrations will increase by 0.7 parts per million.

    I doubt if even Mannian Maths can screw with this number enough to make it significant.

  26. Oops – some Mannian Maths crept into my last post, the numbers should read

    So every year man is responsible for increasing the ocean concentration of CO2 by 14/1.35 billion, or 14/1,350 parts per million, or 0.0104 parts per million.

    So 100 years of today’s CO2 emissions by man will increase CO2 concentrations in the ocean by just 1.04 parts per million, a truly minuscule amount. Even if we assume all this CO2 is concentrated in the top 10% of the ocean, then in this small part of the ocean, CO2 concentrations will increase by 10.4 parts per million per century.

    My apologies for this, maybe I should apply for a job as a ‘climate scientist’ for making this type of elementary mistake.

  27. I found this paper quite informative:

    http://www.tos.org/oceanography/issues/issue_archive/issue_pdfs/22_4/22-4_tans.pdf

    Tans scenario’s predict a maximum decrease of about .3 pH units before 2100 AD assuming large scale exploitation of fossil fuel deposits with gradual pH alkalinity recovery in the following years in Figure 5.

    Meanwhile, diurnal, geographic, and seasonal natural pH changes dwarf these ‘expected’ levels of pH changes, and, in any case, micro-environmental pH changes next to biota actually control pH during biological H ion, CO2, and Carbonate uptake processes.

    Also keep in mind that life is not static. Individual organisms and species have innate mechanisms to deal with environment change both physiological and evolutionary.

    IMO, the ocean acidification meme is simply trash science.

  28. all climate research funding should be like this starting 2011:

    50% of full amount given for the initial research.
    50% of full amount paid only if forecasts and models are proven correct.

    Under this model, British taxpayers would have saved 50% of the millions they spent on the MET office.

  29. “Ocean acidification” leading to coral reefs and shells dissolving, how ridiculous!

    The problem comes from the amounts of dissolved solids.

    See, it happens after the expected return of the possibly-runaway global warming with the melting of all the glaciers on land, all the Arctic ice, the Greenland ice sheet, and the Antarctic ice. This massive infusion of essentially freshwater will unbalance the oceans, as the incoming water will be so relatively pure that it can take up truly massive amounts of minerals. A certain portion of that will be calcium, with a significant portion extracted from the reefs and shells, which will be quite devastating due to the sheer mind-numbing quantities of calcium that’ll be dissolved from them.

    This also constitutes a positive feedback mechanism as removing the calcium from the calcium carbonate will result in carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, increasing the rate of global warming to even more catastrophic levels.

    And that is Chemistry, which is Settled Science™, thus there is an overwhelming scientific consensus, thus there is no debate. It’ll happen. Wait for it. ☺

  30. What really bothers me is how absolutely credulous these eco-zealots are. There is this thing called a “fossil record”. Apparently, there are plenty of shellfish specimens, some of which exist to this day, thriving during periods of time with much, much higher levels of CO2 and much higher temperatures. They really don’t notice the irony when they fail to correlate this with “fossil fuels”.

    As it stands, they are less internally consistent, less accurate in their predictions, and far more willing to deny me my livelihood than the ladies who come to my door every couple of months trying to sell me their religion.

  31. A great post & excellent read!

    jonjermey says:
    January 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm
    “A few decades” = “Time for me to retire and get out of the way of possible payback” = horizon at which prediction becomes self-interested speculation.

    Being a humble Chartered Engineer, but faithful to the use of English language, as we currently live in 2011,(unless the CO2 has affected the chronological process as well), arrogantly assuming that much of the above report was written in 2010, what is the difference between “a few decades”, which could be 3, 4, 5, 6,……..decades, etc. & “mid-century”? I mean to say folks, is somebody twisting words to make a case where none exists? Looks like we’re back to Elizabethan Blackadder & Baldrick calculating that, “some beans, plus some beans, = some beans”! When the language becomes fuzzy, then the report is likewise!

  32. if groups like the NRDC were truly concerned about the environment they would be raising hell over illegal immigration here in the U.S. and the resultant over population which leads to loss of habitat and general environmental degradation. until then i won’t believe anything they say.

  33. Patrick says:
    January 11, 2011 at 2:26 am
    What really bothers me is how absolutely credulous these eco-zealots are. There is this thing called a “fossil record”. Apparently, there are plenty of shellfish specimens, some of which exist to this day, thriving during periods of time with much, much higher levels of CO2 and much higher temperatures. They really don’t notice the irony when they fail to correlate this with “fossil fuels”.

    As it stands, they are less internally consistent, less accurate in their predictions, and far more willing to deny me my livelihood than the ladies who come to my door every couple of months trying to sell me their religion.

    ————————

    You comment on the fossil record isn’t quite correct.

    The PETM saw the mass extinction of benthic foraminifera which coinsided with ocean acidification.

    205 million years ago at the Triassic–Jurassic boundary, a sudden rise in the levels of atmospheric CO2 coincided with a major suppression of carbonate sedimentation, very likely related to ocean acidification

    A similar situation occurred 65 million years ago during the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event. Most of the planktonic calcifying species became rare or disappeared.

    Most of the evidence, reveals that marine calcifiers like corals did not form carbonate reef systems during periods of high CO2 in the past (Veron 2008)

    The fossil record seems to support the idea that ocean acidification is bad carbonate marine life.

  34. kalsel3294 says:
    January 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Using the term “increasing acidity” if the soil, or water, is clearly alkaline is confusing and doesn’t adequately describe the situation of the changes taking place.

    A nice, neutral term would be “neutralization,” but the alarmists don’t want a neutral term, but an alarming one.

  35. I’m no great shakes as a chemist (took chemistry to 1st year university level) still less as a mathematician, but recently I did back-of envelope calculations as to what would happen if all atmospheric CO2 were to:

    a. completely dissolve in the oceans
    b. Form carbonic acid and completely dissociate

    – and I came up with a ballpark figure around pH 5.5 – about 100-1000 times less acidic than vinegar (containing acetic acid), which that senator chappie used to illustrate the shell of an egg dissolving. The pH of rainwater, BTW, is typically around 5.5 if there’s no industrial pollution, in which case it can be somewhat lower (more acidic, say around 4.5).

    However, neither a. nor b. applies. CO2 isn’t very soluble (and most of it, in water, remains as CO2). Also, carbonic acid isn’t a particularly strong acid (not like sulphuric acid, involved in the acid rain scare). Not to mention that what we’re talking about adding to the oceans comes from excess due to anthropogenic sources, not the whole atmospheric burden.

    Oh – and if things did get warmer, of course, CO2 solubility would get less through out-gassing. “Acidification” (what a loaded term as no way is the ocean ever going to pass neutral pH7 and become acid) would presumably be worse in a cooling rather than a warming world, as more CO2 would dissolve.

    The problem for alarmists when it comes to an ocean acidification scare is that the science isn’t that hard to grasp. pH is easily explained (as someone has already done in a brief posting). It’s also easier to make measurements/do experiments WRT effects on living organisms.

    “Acidification” might blossom for a while, but I couldn’t see it flourishing for long. I’d say that an overt switch of emphasis to acidification would in itself signal the beginning of the end for CO2 alarmism.

  36. Excellent and interesting post, thanks.
    Also two comments I found intriguing:

    1) John Kehr says on January 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm
    “What really kills the shallow water tropical corals (the only kind they care about) is the transition from glacial to interglacial and back again. That is why all the tropical corals alive today are ~9,000 years old. All the older ones died in the last melt water pulse at the beginning of the Holocene.”
    Would that indicate that these corals are stenohaline, i.e. the decrease in salinity due to the melt water pulse is the cause for the loss of those corals?

    2) Willis Eschenbach says on January 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm
    “Coral reefs, which are the major CaCO3 shell formers, produce CO2. This daily production often drives the pCO2 in the local ocean around the reefs to levels three times the world average … without harming the reef. Go figure.”
    (See also the rest of this interesting comment.)
    Which begs the question – might it be that dying coral reefs still produce some CO2, thus still increasing the pCO2 in their surroundings – and thus leading AGW researchers to the claim that CO2 increases kill corals?

    It never fails to amaze me how AGW faithful who also profess to love the natural environment seem to have no idea about the biology of said environment, never mind not looking at the fossil record …

  37. Salt water from salt water wells, no matter how high the CO2 levels are, will not drop below 7.4 pH.
    Most labs and grow outs use salt water wells.

    The Waikiki Aquarium published a paper showing that there is no difference in growth rates from corals grown in their well water, pH 7.4 – 7.8, than corals growing on the reef.

    Corals have to make their internal pH less than pH 6.8, or they can’t lay down a calcium carbonate skeleton. At a lower pH, corals just have to work less hard at that.

  38. Coral reefs nasty man made danger on the news this morning, perhaps as a distraction because they’re looking so silly in their about turn from CO2 causing global warming to now causing global cooling.

  39. Overall oceans are not likely to become ‘more acidic’ because of more CO2.

    A vast amount of the ocean beds are essentially made of limestone (though by no means all of course). Simple Chemistry tells us that carbonic acid will dissolve CaCO3 (a solid) to form Ca(HCO3)2 – Calcium bicarbonate, which is relatively soluble. This solution is itself very alkaline: strong base + weak acid = basic solution. Plenty of Calcium ions in solution to form shells.

    Remember that old school test for CO2 – limewater Ca(OH)2 ?
    First the solution went milky as CO2 reacted with Ca(OH)2 to form a precipitate of insoluble CaCO3. Continued addition of CO2 would then cause the milky precipitate to go clear again as a second reaction took place [as above]:
    CaCO3 + H2O + CO2 = Ca(HCO3)2

    So no worries from a little more CO2 unless it be more shellfish! CO2 is a life-giving gas in the oceans as well.

  40. Great post, David Middleton.
    I remember a comment you wrote last spring on the subject of sea level rise, where you looked at the existing data on sea level variations, going back decades, centuries, millenia and so on to increasingly large time frames. It was the most informative data I have seen here to show there is nothing unusual going on with sea levels, and I believe you should make a post of it.

  41. Good synopsis.

    One small comment: CO2 fertilization causing increased growth in Greek pine trees wasn’t “THE fatal flaw” in Mann’s work, it was one of many problems. One of the major problems went in the opposite direction.

    The famous “hide the decline” had to do with removing tree ring series that appeared to show COLDER temperatures after 1960, and then hiding the fact that these records, adverse to Mann’s hypothesis post-1960, had been removed. Why those trees showed less growth post 1960 is something I no longer recall, if I ever knew it, but we need to be certain that we keep the whole picture in mind when we bring up the huge polluted landscape that Mann and company have contrived.

  42. From Peru says:
    January 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm
    “A recent paper in Geology (Ries et al., 2009) found an unexpected relationship between CO2 and marine calcifers. (…)”

    It will be fair to quote the title of the study:
    […]

    The title of the paper is in the references along with the titles of most of the other referenced I cited.

    […]

    This, as shown by a critical reading of the paper, is nonsense.

    If you have a copy of Ries et al., 2009, take a look at Fig. 1, you’ll see that 15 of the 18 species have positive calcification rate responses to out to at least 903 ppmv.

    I did make one error. I listed lobster as not being affected out to 10X pre-industrial CO2. I should have listed lobster with oyster and soft clam in having a slightly negative reaction to 2X pre-industrial CO2. That error is now corrected.

  43. The public are often misled by ocean acidification. Many think that the sea would actually become acidic. Here is what the Warmists at the Catlin Survey have to say on the FAQs page.

    “Why is it called Ocean Acidification? The ocean is alkaline and model predictions suggest it will never become acidic.

    Acidification refers to the process of the lowering of the ocean’s pH on the pH scale. If the ocean’s pH falls it is referred to as acidification regardless of whether the water remains alkaline i.e. above pH 7. To understand this, consider a temperature change of -200C to -100C. The temperature is still warming despite -100C still being below freezing.”

    Here is a fierce response to the Warmists:

    http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm

  44. Correction to my comments on Ries et al., 2009…

    6/18 were not adversely affected by 10x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 2856 ppm for blue crab, shrimp, limpet, purple urchin, coralline red algae, and blue mussel.

    6/18 were not adversely affected by 3x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for halimeda, temperate coral, pencil urchin, conch, bay scallop and whelk.

    3/18 were not adversely affected by 2x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for hard clam, serpulid worm and periwinkle.

    3/18 had very slight declines in calcification at 2x pre-industrial: Oyster, lobster and soft clam.

  45. Philip Foster says:
    January 11, 2011 at 5:49 am
    Overall oceans are not likely to become ‘more acidic’ because of more CO2.
    =======================================================
    It’s pretty much impossible Philip….

    Biological processes have always been fighting the oceans buffer capacity.
    Nitrification and denitrification are the most common, and those processes produce acids or they will not work.
    Those acids dissolve the carbonates and make them available to be put back or replaced in the system.

    Their argument is that the water column will become “less buffered”. In order to believe that, you would have to believe that the oceans will deplete their source of carbonates.

    Carbonates are not used up, carbonates are cycled.

  46. Kudos to Dave Middleton for this excellent article. His real world observations show that CO2 is at worst a non-problem, and that it is very likely a net benefit to marine life.

    Since the rise in CO2 is beneficial and causes no observed harm to the planet, it stands to reason that this molecule, essential to life on earth, is also beneficial to marine life.

    One commentator cites a paper by scientists who accept – and actively seek out – taxpayer funds, which are always available when showing alarming [but actually non-existent] damage due to the latest eco-scare.

    I will take David Middleton’s and Willis Eschenbach’s unpaid analysis over someone feeding at the taxpayer trough any time, because they have no financial motive to misrepresent the issue, as the IPCC, government, and university scientists riding the climate grant gravy train do.

    There is plenty of information here that deconstructs the notion that CO2 is harmful in any way. Carbon dioxide is a harmless and beneficial trace gas. More is better, because the biosphere is currently starved of CO2.

  47. Well, I beg to differ. I just did an experiment and discovered that acid water at a ph of 8.1 can eat away…a bar of soap. Not only do I have this experiment as proof, there are millions of observations made by people around the world that this solution of acid water is capable of eating soap. That’s important. I don’t scrub my body with a bar of clams and oysters. The disappearance of soap is tragic and should be at the top of the concerned citizen’s list of warnings.

    I have tee shirts, caps, and mugs. Save the soap. Send money.

  48. De’ath, G., J.M. Lough, and K.E. Fabricius. 2009. Declining coral calcification on the Great Barrier Reef. Science, Vol. 323, pp. 116 – 119, 2 January 2009.

    Is it me, or do these author names indicate that this whole thing is a put on?

    De’ath maybe should read Death.

    Lough maybe should read Laugh.

    And, Fabricius maybe should read Fabrication.

  49. Philip Foster says:
    January 11, 2011 at 5:49 am
    Overall oceans are not likely to become ‘more acidic’ because of more CO2.

    A vast amount of the ocean beds are essentially made of limestone (though by no means all of course). Simple Chemistry tells us that carbonic acid will dissolve CaCO3 (a solid) to form Ca(HCO3)2 – Calcium bicarbonate, which is relatively soluble. This solution is itself very alkaline: strong base + weak acid = basic solution. Plenty of Calcium ions in solution to form shells.

    Remember that old school test for CO2 – limewater Ca(OH)2 ?
    First the solution went milky as CO2 reacted with Ca(OH)2 to form a precipitate of insoluble CaCO3. Continued addition of CO2 would then cause the milky precipitate to go clear again as a second reaction took place [as above]:
    CaCO3 + H2O + CO2 = Ca(HCO3)2

    So no worries from a little more CO2 unless it be more shellfish! CO2 is a life-giving gas in the oceans as well.

    Don’t forget basalt. Basalts a generally contain ~10% CaO by weight. They are also rich in Mg and Na. Basalt might play an even bigger role than carbonate rocks in buffering the oceans.

    There’s a darn good reason why my wife’s tropical fish tank has chunks of coral and basalt in it.

  50. Excellent article that I will be referring to frequently in the future.

    There are some minor editing glitches, indicated by “///”, that should be tended to:

    Fig. 8) Flinders Reef calcification rate plotted with ///atmsopheric/// CO2.

    So, the PETM may have been an example of ocean ///acdification///… But there is NO evidence that it was caused by a sharp increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

    Plants ///“breath”/// [breathe] CO2 through microscopic epidermal pores called stomata

    IanM

    [Thanks, Ian, fixed -- willis]

  51. Francisco says:
    January 11, 2011 at 6:07 am
    Great post, David Middleton.
    I remember a comment you wrote last spring on the subject of sea level rise, where you looked at the existing data on sea level variations, going back decades, centuries, millenia and so on to increasingly large time frames. It was the most informative data I have seen here to show there is nothing unusual going on with sea levels, and I believe you should make a post of it.

    I don’t think these are quite up to WUWT standards… But you can read them on my blog.

    “Oh say can you see”… 20th Century Sea Level Changes, When Viewed in a Geological Perspective?

    The National Academy of Sciences Forecasts Sea Level Rise of 22 mm/yr…

  52. David Middleton says:
    January 11, 2011 at 6:33 am
    ========================================
    David, add this to your list:

    The Waikiki Aquarium did this coral growth study using their well water, which has a low pH. They found that there was no difference in growth rates “Coral growth rates were near the upper rates reported from the field”

    They were looking at nutrient loads, but using low pH water. That can be turned around to show no difference in low pH water also.

    “The incoming well-water servicing the facility has low pH, crating over-saturation of carbon dioxide.”

    “The well-water has been relatively stable over the past five years in terms of ph and oxygen (pH 7.5 – 7.8, O2 5.0 – 6.7 mg O2 l -1)”

    http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-preview.axd?code=g2554037454q13wp&size=largest

  53. SteveE
    January 11, 2011 at 3:53 am

    This is a bunch of warmist non-sense that is trying to reinterpret the paleo-record in ways that support the greeny political agenda.

  54. David Middleton says:

    “If you have a copy of Ries et al., 2009, take a look at Fig. 1, you’ll see that 15 of the 18 species have positive calcification rate responses to out to at least 903 ppmv.”

    Well in figure 1 we have:

    3 show benefit with lower aragonite saturation state: blue crab, shrimp, lobster

    4 showed a “parabolic” response, with calcification first increasing and then decreasing with decreasing aragonite saturation state: limpet, purple urchin, coralline red algae, halimeda

    1 showed no response to decreasing aragonite saturation state: blue mussel

    10 were harmed by decreasing aragonite saturation state: temperate coral, pencil urchin, hard clam, conch, serpulid worm, periwinkle, bay scallop, oyster, whelk , soft clam.
    Of these last, 4 showed enhanced reduced calcification after a threshold: temperate coral, pencil urchin, hard clam and conch. However, even before that threshold, a slight reduction of calcification still happened

    That is, at best, 7 of 18 showed benefit from increased pCO2 up to 903 ppmv, not 15 of 18.

  55. Around a year ago there was an article on Climate Progress regarding sudden death of coral. With seven megatons of vitriol and 30 tons of bluster, the histrionics leaned toward being afraid of the end of sea life.

    I asked a question why the article not once mentioned the actual level of Ph and the recent ph factor measurements. My question was rapidly deleted.

  56. As I noted previously on David’s post on ice cores, Dana Royer and co-authors (GSA Today, March 2004, pp. 4-10 and Geochimica vol. 70, 2006, pp. 5665-75) note that over most of the last 550 million (not thousand) years, CO2 has mostly been in the range 1000-3000 ppm, and that levels under 500 ppm like the last few million years and the late Carboniferious/early Permian period have generally ben periods of glaciation. They characterize under 1000 ppm as “cool”.

    This implies that life in general and in particular the oceans have done just fine with 1000-3000 ppm. The corals, snails, and oysters have been as happy as the clams, since most of our limestone must have formed under these conditions.

    It’s hard to say what the causality is — does high CO2 cause warmth or does a warm climate cause high atmospheric CO2 as the oceans degas — but it’s worth considering whether 500-1000 ppm might protect us against the otherwise inevitable next ice age, without excessive warming.

  57. According to the Kouwenberg (2004) paper you cite:
    “The extremely low number of stomata per mm needle length in the Tsuga heterophylla record at Jay Bath between 300 and 700 AD does not appear to result from extremely high atmospheric CO2 levels at the time, but coincides with the establishment of the species during a period of major disturbance at the site. The open, exposed setting after this disturbance probably provided highly stressed growth conditions for pioneering, early-successional T. heterophylla trees. Spring water-stress related to low soil temperature, would be the most plausible explanation for an acclimational stomatal frequency response to reduced water uptake. Thus, environmental stress factors associated with early-successional montane habitats show the potential to obscure stomatal frequency changes in response to atmospheric CO2.
    This complication should be taken into account when selecting leaf material from high-elevation sites for stomatal frequency analysis. It is essential to concomitantly analyze the local successional forest developments that correspond to a montane leaf record. For the Jay Bath record, the late-successional closed forest, prevalent at the site from 800 AD until present, indicates that stomatal numbers of Tsuga heterophylla over the past 1200 years are not affected by these extreme growth conditions, and can be relied upon to reflect atmospheric CO2 changes.”
    Best to read the papers first, before borrowing their figures.

  58. How many of the atmospheric models deduct the proportion of CO2 assumed to be acidifying the ocean. If I’m told x amount of CO2 is man made and 10% of that is dissolved in the oceans then are the models run with 90% of x. I doubt it. This magic CO2 can’t be in two places at once.

  59. Willis,
    You said,
    “Coral reefs are plants, so overall they are a net sink of CO2.”

    But my tattered dictionary tells me, after some flipping back and forth, that corals are animals.
    (coral = anthozoan = coelenterate = invertebrate animal)
    Am I missing something? Perhaps “coral reefs” and the basic coral organism aren’t exactly the same thing?
    Thanks, as always, for your posts and comments.

  60. As CO2 is the beginning of an extended equilibrium including carbonic acid, bicarbonate, carbonate, and calcium carbonate, more CO2 will facilitate calcium carbonate deposition. Furthermore, protons (acidity) released by bicarbonate and carbonate cannot affect their own equilibrium—they are part of the equilibrium. Only protons from an outside source can influence the equilibrium. This is high school chemistry ignored by the alarmists entirely.

  61. In Ries et al., 2009, does it say anything about the length of time it took to go from, say 400 ppm to 1000 or higher?

    A gradual change in CO2 levels might have an even more neglible effect as the plants and animals slowly adapt.

    Just wondering.

  62. @From Peru says:
    January 11, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Use you Mk I eyeball filter. Ignore the polynomial trend-lines. Look at the actual ranges of calcification rates at each level of aragonite saturation (CO2). The calcification ranges of all but two increase or at least over-lap with the base case out to the aragonite saturation correlative to a doubling of pre-industrial CO2.

    Ries Fig 1

    I just realized that I was looking at the Ries chart backwards this morning. The modified plots that I made used CO2 ppmv rather than aragonite saturation and reversed the x-axis. Lobsters actually love more CO2.

    Correction to my correction to my comments on Ries et al., 2009…

    7/18 were not adversely affected by 10x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 2856 ppm for lobster, blue crab, shrimp, limpet, purple urchin, coralline red algae, and blue mussel.

    6/18 were not adversely affected by 3x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for halimeda, temperate coral, pencil urchin, conch, bay scallop and whelk.

    3/18 were not adversely affected by 2x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for hard clam, serpulid worm and periwinkle.

    2/18 had very slight declines in calcification at 2x pre-industrial: Oyster and soft clam.

  63. Dan Kirk-Davidoff says:
    January 11, 2011 at 8:48 am
    According to the Kouwenberg (2004) paper you cite:
    “The extremely low number of stomata per mm needle length in the Tsuga heterophylla record at Jay Bath between 300 and 700 AD does not appear to result from extremely high atmospheric CO2 levels at the time, but coincides with the establishment of the species during a period of major disturbance at the site.

    [...]

    For the Jay Bath record, the late-successional closed forest, prevalent at the site from 800 AD until present, indicates that stomatal numbers of Tsuga heterophylla over the past 1200 years are not affected by these extreme growth conditions, and can be relied upon to reflect atmospheric CO2 changes.”
    Best to read the papers first, before borrowing their figures.

    That’s why I did not use the 300 and 700 AD Jay Bath interval when I constructed the comparison of Kouwenberg to Moberg’s climate reconstruction in CO2: Ice Cores vs. Plant Stomata

    Kouwenberg & Moberg

  64. @ David Middleton

    I don’t think you adequately responded to @ from peru’s post.

    I picked the Ries 2009 paper as one of the ones you talked about as a sample. I read it and compared my interpretation of it to how you presented it and now I no longer consider you an unbiased evaluator.

    You conclude:
    “It appears that in addition to being plant food… CO2 is also reef food.”

    Whereas the author Ries concludes:
    “Even those organisms showing enhanced calcification under elevated pCO2 could be negatively impacted by the decline of less CO2-tolerant species within their ecosystems.”

    That is not adequate science journalism on your part. In my opinion, you misrepresented that paper.

  65. Manwichstick says:

    “…author Ries concludes:
    ‘Even those organisms showing enhanced calcification under elevated pCO2 could be negatively impacted by the decline of less CO2-tolerant species within their ecosystems.’ ”

    Key words: “could be”.

    And Manwichstick could be the next big lottery winner, too.

    I liked the graphs in the article. They really tell the story: there is no correlation between CO2 and calcification.

    But there’s no grant money for someone pointing out something so un-alarming.

    “OCEAN ACIDIFICATION!!”

    That’s what brings in the grant bucks.

  66. Smokey says:
    January 11, 2011 at 10:28 am
    Manwichstick says:

    “…author Ries concludes:
    ‘Even those organisms showing enhanced calcification under elevated pCO2 could be negatively impacted by the decline of less CO2-tolerant species within their ecosystems.’ ”

    Key words: “could be”.

    And Manwichstick could be the next big lottery winner, too.

    It reminds me of this AGW meme regarding the ice core CO2 lag time…

    “Does this prove that CO2 doesn’t cause global warming? The answer is no.

    The reason has to do with the fact that the warmings take about 5000 years to be complete. The lag is only 800 years. All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend. The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2, as far as we can tell from this ice core data. “

    The lack of evidence to support CO2-driven warming doesn’t preclude the possibility that it happened.

    I liked the graphs in the article. They really tell the story: there is no correlation between CO2 and calcification.

    [...]

    And when there is a correlation… It’s usually that of more CO2 –> More calcification.

  67. The chemistry of the oceans means that increasing CO2 can NEVER drive the pH below 7.0, in fact it probably can’t get below about 7.4. The reason is that as the pH drops, the ocean more actively dissolves the rocks it is in contact with (i.e. the earth itself), adding cations to the water that neutralize the CO2.

  68. Dave Bob says:
    January 11, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Willis,
    You said,
    “Coral reefs are plants, so overall they are a net sink of CO2.”

    But my tattered dictionary tells me, after some flipping back and forth, that corals are animals.
    (coral = anthozoan = coelenterate = invertebrate animal)
    Am I missing something? Perhaps “coral reefs” and the basic coral organism aren’t exactly the same thing?
    Thanks, as always, for your posts and comments.

    Coral is actually a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals. The coral critters themselves can’t photosynthesize, so they team up with a kind of being called “zooxanthella”. (I guess they don’t mind being called “zooxanthella”, but I would have changed it as soon as I got past Customs and Immigration … but I digress.)

    In any case, the zooxanthella do the photosynthesizing, and the corals do the harmonizing. So is the whole reef a plant or an animal? Well, it’s both, what we used to call a “morphodite” when I was a kid.

  69. Q. Where do freshwater mussels live?

    A. If you said “in fresh water” then you can give yourself a point.

    Q. Are they creatures with a shell?

    A. Evidently not given that fresh water can have a pH as low as 6 without being unusual. (/sarc)

  70. bDavid Middleton says:
    January 11, 2011 at 9:46 am

    “Correction to my correction to my comments on Ries et al., 2009…

    7/18 were not adversely affected by 10x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 2856 ppm for lobster, blue crab, shrimp, limpet, purple urchin, coralline red algae, and blue mussel.”
    In this I have no complaints.

    “6/18 were not adversely affected by 3x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for halimeda, temperate coral, pencil urchin, conch, bay scallop and whelk.”
    Actually pencil urchin, conch, bay scallop and whelk show decreases in calcification. Some conch even show slight negative calcification (i.e. dissolution) at 3x pre-industrial CO2.

    “3/18 were not adversely affected by 2x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for hard clam, serpulid worm and periwinkle.”
    Actually this is true only for serpulid worm. Hard clam and periwinkle show decresases in calcification.

    “2/18 had very slight declines in calcification at 2x pre-industrial: Oyster and soft clam.”
    Actually this happens also for other organisms: whelk, bay scallop, periwinkle, conch (that in some cases turns to dissolution) hard clam, pencil urchin (this last show reduced maximum, not average calcification)

    The spread in the data for a given aragonite saturation is high, even higher than the trends observed for some organisms. This can confuse the reader if he has not extreme attention to the graphs (I personally checked the graphs more than 5 times as I wrote this comment).

  71. To make a review of the results of the Ries et al paper: “Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification”

    3/18 organisms (blue crab, shrimp, lobster) show increased calcification with decreasing aragonite saturation state.

    4/18 organisms (limpet, purple urchin,corallalline red algae, halimeda) show a “parabolic” response: as pCO2 increases, first the calcification increases then, approaching aragonite undersaturation, the calcification decreases. At 10x pre-industrial pCO2, for coralline red algae , the calcification rate is back to pre-industrial values. For Halimeda, it drops by 80%. For limpet and purple urchin, the calcification is still higher than pre-industrial.

    For 1/18 organisms (blue mussel) the aragonite saturation state has no effect.

    For 10/18 organisms, the reduced aragonite saturation state causes a reduction in calcification. Of these , 6/18 organisms (soft clam, whelk, oyster, bay scallop, periwinckle, serpulid worm) show a near linear decrease of calcification as alkalinity drops. The other 4/18 (temperate coral, pencil urchin, hard clam, conch) organisms show a non-linear decrease, that began as a slight decrease and after a treshold at roughly 3-4x pre-industrial pCO2 the calcification rate decreases significantly.

    Of the organisms that show decreased calcification, 6/18 show negative calcification (that is, dissolution): pencil urchin (that begins at roughly 4x pre-industrial pCO2), hard clam (that begins at roughly 3-4x pre-industrial pCO2), conch (that begins at roughly 2-4x pre-industrial pCO2), periwinkle (that begins at roughly 3x pre-industrial pCO2), whelk (that begins at roughly 3x pre-industrial pCO2), soft clam (that begins at roughly 2.5-3x pre-industrial pCO2).

    The results, as the title of the study make clear, show that ocean acidification is neither an “universal killer” nor “reef food”. Instead, some calcifiers win, other lose. As the oceans acidify due to the increasing pCO2, the ecosistems will change, driving some species to extinction, while other will be benefited.

    The problems is that changes due to the CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuels are too fast for ecosystems to adapt, and the demise of some species the rise of some others in a so short times (compared to geologic timescales) could potentially disrupt the ecosystems, with unpredictable consecuences.

    That is the humans determine, with that some species go extinct while others prosper

  72. (continuation)

    That the humans determine, with the CO2 pollution, that some species go extinct while others prosper is to me playing God. And this “games” almost always end in tragedy.

  73. From Peru is under the illusion that CO2 is “pollution.”

    If that is the level of his understanding then he knows nothing about science.

  74. ShrNfr says:

    You cannot have warming seas and higher CO2 content without increasing the atmospheric pressure. The solubility of CO2 decreases with temperature at a given pressure. So guys is it more warm or more CO2. One of them is wrong.

    No…What matters is the partial pressure of the CO2, which increases as its concentration in the atmosphere increases.

    Patrick says:

    What really bothers me is how absolutely credulous these eco-zealots are. There is this thing called a “fossil record”. Apparently, there are plenty of shellfish specimens, some of which exist to this day, thriving during periods of time with much, much higher levels of CO2 and much higher temperatures. They really don’t notice the irony when they fail to correlate this with “fossil fuels”.

    Or maybe they just understand the science better and thus know that the acidification has to do with the rate of rise of CO2 more than the absolute magnitude. The leaching of CaCO3 from the land acts to counter the acidification but, alas, the timescale for this to occur is too slow for the sort of rapid change that we are producing in atmospheric (and ocean mixed layer) CO2 levels.

  75. Smokey:

    High pCO2 is lethal to some species (they lose their shells by dissolution) as shown in the paper that I have discussed above. If something that can cause extinction to some species (actually the worst thing that can happen with a species) is not pollution, then what “pollution” mean to you?

  76. Grumbler says:
    January 11, 2011 at 8:55 am

    How many of the atmospheric models deduct the proportion of CO2 assumed to be acidifying the ocean. If I’m told x amount of CO2 is man made and 10% of that is dissolved in the oceans then are the models run with 90% of x. I doubt it. This magic CO2 can’t be in two places at once.

    While the models are simple, they are not dumb. Well, not that dumb at least. Whatever CO2 goes into the ocean is not counted in the air.

  77. Peru:

    It doesn’t matter what pollution means to me. What matters is the definition of pollution. From my on-line dictionary:

    Pollution: n. The presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects.

    In the concentrations being discussed, CO2 is neither harmful nor poisonous.

  78. Manwichstick says:
    January 11, 2011 at 10:15 am


    You conclude:

    “It appears that in addition to being plant food… CO2 is also reef food.”

    Whereas the author Ries concludes:

    “Even those organisms showing enhanced calcification under elevated pCO2 could be negatively impacted by the decline of less CO2-tolerant species within their ecosystems.”

    Manwichstick, I find David’s statement more supported by the data than Ries’s statement. Ries’s statement is nothing but a an alarmist claim about future possibilites. Let me make my corresponding claim:

    Even those organisms showing enhanced calcification under elevated pCO2 could be positively impacted by the decline of less CO2-tolerant species within their ecosystems.

    My statement is just as likely as Ries’s statement to be true, and neither statement is verifiable. In addition, there is nothing in the data to support either my statement or Ries’s statement. Not one word. He didn’t study that question, he has no data on that question, he presents no authorities on that question. His claim is nothing but a statement about possibilities in a future universe, and as such it is exactly as valid as my statement.

    David’s statement, on the other hand, is supported by the data. Despite claims that coral reef growth would slow with increasing pCO2 in the water, that’s not happening. Instead, coral growth rates seem to be higher with increasing pCO2.

    Call me crazy, but given my choice, I pick folks who base their statements on the data, not on a desire to frighten us with scary scenarios of future imagined problems …

    w.

  79. From Peru says:
    January 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Smokey:

    High pCO2 is lethal to some species (they lose their shells by dissolution) as shown in the paper that I have discussed above. If something that can cause extinction to some species (actually the worst thing that can happen with a species) is not pollution, then what “pollution” mean to you?

    Oh, please. You were doing so well up to that point, with an interesting analysis of the Ries paper.

    However, high nitrogen levels can kill you too, try breathing 98% nitrogen sometimes … but that doesn’t make nitrogen a “pollutant”.

  80. Smokey:

    Did “shell dissolution” isn’t enough harmful to you?

    Maybe you don’t care because you don’t have a shell. Give away your antropocentrism for a moment.

    In the concentrations being discussed, CO2 is neither harmful nor poisonous

    In the concentrations discussed, between 2-10x pre-industrial pCO2, some shelled organisms studied showed reduced calcification and even dissolution. I extracted from the paper this:

    “Of the organisms that show decreased calcification, 6/18 show negative calcification (that is, dissolution): pencil urchin (that begins at roughly 4x pre-industrial pCO2), hard clam (that begins at roughly 3-4x pre-industrial pCO2), conch (that begins at roughly 2-4x pre-industrial pCO2), periwinkle (that begins at roughly 3x pre-industrial pCO2), whelk (that begins at roughly 3x pre-industrial pCO2), soft clam (that begins at roughly 2.5-3x pre-industrial pCO2)”.

    This result is valid for the temperate and tropical ocean. For the cold polar ocean (cold water dissolves CO2 more than warm water), the situation is much worse. A few years ago was believed :

    “Scientists predict the Arctic will become corrosive to some shelled organisms within a few decades, and the Antarctic by mid-century”

    Now it turned that the Arctic is ALREADY corrosive for aragonite-shelled organisms. The “alarmist” predictions were actually overoptimistic. See this paper:

    Aragonite Undersaturation in the Arctic Ocean- Effects of Ocean Acidification and Sea Ice Melt

    http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/pdfs/yamamoto-kawai_aragonite_science2009.pdf

    The abstract says:

    “The increase in anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and attendant increase in ocean acidification and sea ice melt act together to decrease the saturation state of calcium carbonate in the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean. In 2008, surface waters were undersaturated with respect to aragonite, a relatively soluble form of calcium carbonate found in plankton and invertebrates. Undersaturation was found to be
    a direct consequence of the recent extensive melting of sea ice in the Canada Basin. In addition, the retreat of the ice edge well past the shelf-break has produced conditions favorable to enhanced upwelling of subsurface, aragonite-undersaturated water onto the Arctic continental shelf. Undersaturation will affect both planktonic and benthic calcifying biota and therefore the composition of the Arctic ecosystem”

    We are in 2011. The Arctic become aragonite-undersaterated already in 2008.

  81. Joel Shore says:
    January 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    ShrNfr says:

    You cannot have warming seas and higher CO2 content without increasing the atmospheric pressure. The solubility of CO2 decreases with temperature at a given pressure. So guys is it more warm or more CO2. One of them is wrong.

    No…What matters is the partial pressure of the CO2, which increases as its concentration in the atmosphere increases.

    Joel is right, the issue is pCO2, although as you point out the temperature also plays a part.

    Patrick says:

    What really bothers me is how absolutely credulous these eco-zealots are. There is this thing called a “fossil record”. Apparently, there are plenty of shellfish specimens, some of which exist to this day, thriving during periods of time with much, much higher levels of CO2 and much higher temperatures. They really don’t notice the irony when they fail to correlate this with “fossil fuels”.

    Or maybe they just understand the science better and thus know that the acidification has to do with the rate of rise of CO2 more than the absolute magnitude. The leaching of CaCO3 from the land acts to counter the acidification but, alas, the timescale for this to occur is too slow for the sort of rapid change that we are producing in atmospheric (and ocean mixed layer) CO2 levels.

    Or maybe they don’t understand the science better … from Nature Magazine, “Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years” (PDF), here is a graph of geological oceanic pH levels.

    Where is the neutralization by CaCO3 you are talking about? For twenty million years, a third of this record, the pH was way lower than it is today. Was the CaCO3 taking a holiday? …

    w.

  82. Manwichstick – did you read the paper, or did you read the abstract? The abstract bases its conclusion upon the hypothetical situation in which C02 = 10x pre-industrial levels. Strange logic… one might similarly conclude that water is harmful to human beings, since in quantity it can kill.

    More relevant is the response of calcification rates to current or predicted C02 levels – all far less than 2400 ppm – and this is the tack the author here took.

  83. Senior marine researcher has accused Australian scientists of “crying wolf” over the threat of climate change to the Great Barrier Reef,
    ..
    Peter Ridd’s rejection of the consensus position that the reef is doomed unless greenhouse emissions are checked comes as new research on the Keppel group, hugging Queensland’s central coast, reveals its resilience after coral bleaching.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/scientists-crying-wolf-over-coral-e6frg6xf-1225811910634

    Media circus when ships crash into reef and oil spills

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/04/farce-on-the-reef

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/catastrophic_slick_of_hype_detected_on-barrier-reef

  84. Willis Eschenbach said:

    “Where is the neutralization by CaCO3 you are talking about? For twenty million years, a third of this record, the pH was way lower than it is today. Was the CaCO3 taking a holiday?”

    Well said!

    The current CO2 concentrations are unprecedented in the last 15 million years, as is shown also in this article:

    “Coupling of CO2 and Ice Sheet Stability Over Major Climate Transitions of the Last 20 Million Years”

    http://atripati.bol.ucla.edu/23.pdf

    This shows that last time the concentration of CO2 were similar to those of today were in the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum (15 million years ago). Then the condition were:

    “When pCO2 levels were last similar to modern values (that is, greater than 350 to 400 ppmv), there was little glacial ice on land or sea ice in the Arctic, and a marine-based ice mass on Antarctica was not viable. A sea ice cap on the Arctic Ocean and a large permanent ice sheet were maintained on East Antarctica when pCO2
    values fell below this threshold. Lower levels were necessary for the growth of large ice masses on West Antarctica (~250 to 300 ppmv) and Greenland (~220 to 260 ppmv). (…) During theMid-Miocene, when pCO2 was apparently grossly similar to
    modern levels, global surface temperatures were, on average, 3 to 6°C warmer than in the present”

    For the “skeptics” I have the following question:

    How could we erase 15 million years of decline in CO2 concentrations in just 200 years without disrupting the Climate and Ocean chemistry?

  85. Dave – Great post, thanks for taking the time.

    @From Peru.
    Your comments are of interest and are relevant to the interpretations from Ries’s paper, but I think you are missing the overall point. Consider that the geologic record shows similar wide ranges of CO2 values and as has been pointed out carbonate-forming organisms have not gone extinct. Yes, perhaps the examples discussed in the paper show lobsters do better than hard clams, but then perhaps we should reserve judgment until the experiment is repeated and a larger body of evidence over species calcification rates is collected. Next we will need to prove that calcification rates equate to extinction, remembering, of course that both lobsters and hard clams have been present in the geologic record since the Paleozoic surviving despite your concerns.

    But having asked you to reserve judgment on the science, don’t you think that a broader examination of your worldview is in order. Your concern over extinction is touching yet a little naive – after all, extinction has been the fate of 99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth and is the way the world works. Or perhaps you think that humanity has a responsibility to stop every extinction that can or potentially will occur, regardless of how well established the cause is. At some point your argument is as ridiculous as certain Buddhist monks who sweep the path in front of them for fear of stepping on (and killing) an ant. Imagine you are one of those monks – why would you ever get out of bed in the morning? Walking to the outhouse is the moral equivalent of crossing a mine field.

    Finally, if your nature is to quibble about science and question possible outcomes, you have a far richer target environment questioning the hysteria over ocean acidification than the obstacles you have raised thus far.

  86. None of this matters, because AR5 under WGII co-chair, Chris Field, the founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology where Dr. Caldeira is based, already says:

    “The next IPCC assessment will benefit from more ocean science. We now know that increasingly acidic seas are reducing coral reef health and changing ocean ecosystems. But will the increasing CO2 uptake by the ocean and warmer oceans also bring risks for all life on Earth?”

    The Technical Support Unit, (TSU) for WGII is also based at the Carnegie Institution.

    There are videos for schools on the subject, showing how pieces of coral will dissolve in a flask of vinegar, with lots of nice bubbles.

    For more on the political scientists behind this, check out

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/acid_seas.html?Itemid=0

    It is guaranteed that the next IPCC summary for policy makers will make unequivocal statements that ocean acidification is real.

  87. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    “However, high nitrogen levels can kill you too, try breathing 98% nitrogen sometimes … but that doesn’t make nitrogen a “pollutant”.”

    As far I know, an atmosphere of 98% nitrogen can kill you not because there is too much nitrogen (if it were the case, diving would be deadly, as the N2 pressure increases with depth) but because there is too little oxygen.

    In the case of CO2 instead, too much of it IS deadly. For humans the concentration must be very high (roughly 10%), but for some marine creatures, as shown in the Ries paper , concentration as low as 2x pre-industrial CO2 or 3x pre-industrial CO2 can dissolve their shells.

    And these concentrations of CO2 will be reached in a few decades if CO2 emissions are not reduced.

    You posted an interesting paper. It shows that for 15 million years the concentrations of CO2 were lower than the current ones. It is reasonable to suspect than one cannot erase 15 million years of declining CO2 concentrations in just 200 years without disrupting the climate and ocean chemistry.

  88. From ” From Peru” on January 12, 2011 at 8:36 am:

    And these concentrations of CO2 will be reached in a few decades if CO2 emissions are not reduced.

    Then they shall be reached, as China and many other countries have decided to not participate in the schemes to reduce their own carbon (dioxide) emissions. Therefore the issue is moot. The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 shall continue to rise, whatever consequences shall befall the oceans shall happen.

    Game over. Thank you for playing.

  89. From peru,

    You’re not making sense. Co2 is as necessary for life as h20. Too much of anything can cause problems.

    Kadaka is right, too. All the attacks and attempts to demonize c02 are directed at Western countries, especially the US, which is 99.9% pollution free (and c02 is not pollution, except in the beliefs of the eco-fringe).

    China is the #1 c02 emitter, way ahead of other countries, and China is building
    2 – 4 new coal power plants every week, with very little in the way of emission controls. But the c02 alarmists never seem to care about China’s c02 emissions, proving that their attempts to demonize a harmless trace gas, necessary to all life, is nothing but a political attack.

    When the majority of posts complaining about c02 start targeting China and India and Brazil and Russia instead of the clean US, we’ll start to believe you’re sincere. But up to now you don’t have any sincerity, only misplaced blame. We’re on to you.

  90. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    January 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

    “Then they shall be reached, as China and many other countries have decided to not participate in the schemes to reduce their own carbon (dioxide) emissions. Therefore the issue is moot.”

    Not quite. China is not willing to reduce its emissions because the developed courties like the USA don’t want to reduce their emissions first.

    The developed countries have more responsability for CO2 pollution than developing courties like China and India, because the developed countries began emitting CO2 200 years ago (in the Industrial Revolution) while China and India began their massive emissions just a few decades ago. So the cumulative emissions (that are what the planet feels) are far bigger for the developed word than for the developing nations.

    So the developed nations must do the first step (as are beginning to do in Europe). This do not mean that developing nations should emit CO2 without restrictions. They should follow the example of the developed nations.

    The developing nations that do not have abundant resources to develop clean tecnologies should be aided by developed nations. This is the much maligned “wealth redistribution” that was discussed in Cancun.

    Let’s make an historical note: for centuries the current developed nations redistributed wealth from the poor to the rich. The resources of my country were depredated for centuries by the Spanish, until independence. Then a series of corrupt governments privileged a restricted oligarchy (the remnant of the Spanish social system) while the common people lived in total poverty. Africa took a much harder hit: the very people there were sold as slaves, then a century after (late 1800s) their territory invaded, and many of the survivors of the first imperialist wave (that of the 1500s-1700s) were then exploited in their own territory. The destruction of Africa was one of the most horrendous crimes committed by the Western “Civilization”. This is theft and murder at an astonishing scale.

    Now the West have the opportunity to repair part of the damage done, aiding the poor nations to develop an economy without paying the social (an unequal growth) and ecological (pollution) price that the industrialized nations paid during the Industrial Revolution.

    My country (Peru) in the last 10 years is enjoying a period of sustained growth after the downfall of the last corrupt dictatorship in the year 2000. This growth is still precarious, as it is unequal (causing increasing social turmoil) and dependent on fossil fuels. Lima is already one the most polluted cities in the world, there is extensive deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, and the pollution costs are equal to 4% of our Gross Domestic Product.

    The economic aid would be a great help to halt deforestation and change from polluting oil fuel for transportation to the more environmental-friendly natural gas (we have big gas resources). Building big solar, wind and hydroelectric facilities can make all our electricty from renewable sources (already hydropower makes half our electricity) leaving the our limited natural gas to transportation and petrochemicals.

    “The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 shall continue to rise, whatever consequences shall befall the oceans shall happen.”

    No it not. The potential disruption caused by climate change and ocean acidification will cause an inaceptable cost, specially to poor nations like mine.

    “Game over. Thank you for playing”

    It is still not over. But big carbon (dioxide) emitters are playing with the future of countless lifeforms on Earth, and with the future of vulnerable countries like mine.

  91. TJB is right. From Peru is not making scientific arguments, he is making political arguments.

    First off, CO2 is not “pollution.” It is a trace gas essential to life. Constantly repeating the canard that it is pollution is pseudo-science.

    Like Ottmar Edenhofer, From Peru now admits that redistribution of wealth is the goal of climate alarmists. And one of the countries with its hand out happens to be Peru.

    As From Peru says, “Lima [Peru] is already one the most polluted cities in the world.”

    If Peru is unwilling to clean up its own mess, why should taxpayers in one of the world’s cleanest countries do it for them?

    And I’m still waiting for an answer about why China always gets a free pass, and the clean, rsponsible U.S. should be expected to pay for other countries’ self-inflicted hell holes?

  92. Here’s the next big move: it will be discovered and acknowledged that, after all, CO2 is highly beneficial, as is warming. China, as the #1 CO2 emitter, will demand payment and subsidies for its CO2 output.

    Leftists will be all over it.

  93. Smokey says:
    January 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    “TJB is right. From Peru is not making scientific arguments, he is making political arguments.”

    The harm that does CO2 is a scientific argument. The actions that must be done to reduce emissions are political.

    “First off, CO2 is not “pollution.” It is a trace gas essential to life. Constantly repeating the canard that it is pollution is pseudo-science”

    For you everything that you don’t like is pseudoscience. As usual, your best “argument” is attacking the messenger, because you cannot respond to the message.

    It is pseudoscience the paper that show that increased pCO2 cause shell dissolution in some species?
    “Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification”

    http://www.whoi.edu/science/GG/people/acohen/publications/Ries_et_al_09_Geology_Mixed_Responses_to_Ocean_Acidification.pdf

    It is pseudoscience the paper that shows that the Arctic is already corrosive to aragonite-shelled organisms?
    “Aragonite Undersaturation in the Arctic Ocean- Effects of Ocean Acidification and Sea Ice Melt”

    http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/pdfs/yamamoto-kawai_aragonite_science2009.pdf

    “Like Ottmar Edenhofer, From Peru now admits that redistribution of wealth is the goal of climate alarmists. And one of the countries with its hand out happens to be Peru”

    You only see conspiracy theories, as you cannot accept the science. The climate scientists have the goal of maintaining a livable climate and environment. It happens that wealth redistribution is a collateral benefit from environmental policy.

    “If Peru is unwilling to clean up its own mess, why should taxpayers in one of the world’s cleanest countries do it for them?”

    In this, I agree with you that taxpayers should not clean the mess. The big corporations should pay for the mess they are creating. I do not like cap and trade. It is a complicate scheme that opens the room to financial speculators. The actions should be strict standards to the energy industry. If they are not met the big corporations should pay for their emissions. The money obtained should be used to subsidize clean energy, or (as Hansen suggested) directly returned to the people. This carbon tax doesn’t imply a bigger taxation: to compensate the carbon tax, other taxes could be reduced. If the carbon tax that corporations pay is then returned to the people as a direct subsidy, the net effect is less, not more, taxation for the people.

    For countries like mine, there are needed funds to help halt deforestation and finance clean energy developments. The way to do should be alike development programs are implemented today (by the World Bank, for example). Other measure should be relaxation of patent rights for clean energy. If one company drops patent rights for developing countries, then it should pay a smaller carbon tax.

    “And I’m still waiting for an answer about why China always gets a free pass, and the clean, rsponsible U.S. should be expected to pay for other countries’ self-inflicted hell holes?”

    Who is not criticizing China for all the crap that its factories and power plants emit?

    China is today the world biggest polluter. The US is the second. Any action against carbon pollution (if you don’t call it pollution, it is because you are not a conch or a pteropod) must involve both.

    This is really a silly, childish blame game between China and the USA. Each one demanding the other to reduce his emission before. Coutries like mine are suffering for all the pollution that countries like USA and China emit.

    I do NOT defend China. Is that clear?

  94. From Peru,

    You say it’s about the science. Such science is routinely dissected here on WUWT. You claim we are not accepting the science confirming (C)AGW. You are not accepting the science presented here which destroys it. You say “The climate scientists have the goal of maintaining a livable climate and environment.” We’ve reportedly shown here how said climate scientists have to support (C)AGW to avoid being ostracized and having their professional careers crippled. Those producing work supporting (C)AGW are rewarded with research grants and career advancement. “Climate science” has been revealed as a politically-motivated movement to uphold (C)AGW. I would like to describe it as a game of “carrot and stick,” but it’s more serious than that, with serious quantities of cash involved. It’s more like paying protection money to organized crime, support it or suffer the consequences, and it’s more personally beneficial to be one of those collecting the money.

    Your arguments are largely political. It’s clearly on display in your one previous post. Such was famously displayed at the 2009 Copenhagen “climate” summit. “You rich nations have the money, we need the money. You give us the money!” You say it’s about the science. Then in your post you try to generate guilt and display the “reparations” mindset, drawing on colonialism and slavery. But that approach doesn’t draw much sympathy being so far in the past, and the “rich” nations already send out many billions of dollars of private and public foreign aid. Thus comes the attempt at generating guilt for a recent and ongoing “problem,” namely the theoretical past, present, and future damages of global warming.

    Sorry, it still ain’t working. And (C)AGW, the political movement, is falling apart. Copenhagen devolved into a loud screeching of desperation, not only from the revealing cracks in (C)AGW “science” and the revelations of “Climategate” but also the growing realization, in the wake of the global recession, that those “rich nations” really don’t have the money. We’re up to our necks in debt, and don’t even have enough cash to properly take care of our own citizens, let alone start up a perpetual stream of money to alleviate the “damages” from (C)AGW, whether one believes they are real or not. Sorry, but we don’t have it to send to you. Period.

    Who has the money? Check with that “developing” nation, China. They’re awash in cash, and are quite happy using it for weapons programs and otherwise trying to achieve global dominance rather than waste it trying to raise the vast majority of their population out of squalid poverty. Now, you did emphatically say in this post “I do NOT defend China. Is that clear?” But yet you said:

    The developed countries have more responsability for CO2 pollution than developing courties like China and India, because the developed countries began emitting CO2 200 years ago (in the Industrial Revolution) while China and India began their massive emissions just a few decades ago.

    “Cumulative emissions” does not matter. If you truly believe that (C)AGW is such a dramatic worldwide problem, then you should believe that everyone has responsibility for their continuing emissions. If indeed (C)AGW is such a dire situation, urgently requiring immediate action to avoid devastating consequences, then everyone should act, be they a “developing” or a “developed” nation.

    As it is, you have done the functional equivalent of saying Person A has killed someone with a car in the past, Person B has not, therefore Person A has more responsibility to not kill someone with a car in the future.

    What does that mean for China, India, and any other “developing nation?” It’s acceptable to allow Person B to kill someone with a car, since Person A already did so thus Person B would then merely be in equivalent standing with Person A?

    Really, if you’re going to try to beat us with the guilt stick and make this a moral issue, then actually use morals properly in your arguments. There are lots of people who feel they should be able to cheat on their spouse since they themselves never have done so and they know someone who does, but that still doesn’t make it right.

  95. From Peru says:
    January 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    For the “skeptics” I have the following question:

    How could we erase 15 million years of decline in CO2 concentrations in just 200 years without disrupting the Climate and Ocean chemistry?

    Well, for you I have the following question: what makes you think that a change in a trace gas from 0.03% to 0.04% will disrupt anything? Because that is the huge, enormous change you are talking about.

    So I’m sorry, but I don’t see any reason why it should disrupt either the climate or the ocean.

    w.

  96. From Peru says:
    January 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    “However, high nitrogen levels can kill you too, try breathing 98% nitrogen sometimes … but that doesn’t make nitrogen a “pollutant”.”

    As far I know, an atmosphere of 98% nitrogen can kill you not because there is too much nitrogen (if it were the case, diving would be deadly, as the N2 pressure increases with depth) but because there is too little oxygen.

    In the case of CO2 instead, too much of it IS deadly. For humans the concentration must be very high (roughly 10%), but for some marine creatures, as shown in the Ries paper , concentration as low as 2x pre-industrial CO2 or 3x pre-industrial CO2 can dissolve their shells.

    Yes, and for some organisms, oxygen is a deadly poison … but once again, the adverse effects of CO2 or oxygen don’t make them into “pollutants”. High levels of fat in your diet can kill you … but that doesn’t make fat a pollutant. Maybe it works different in Peru, but out here, “pollutant” doesn’t mean “a high level of a normal constituent” …

    And these concentrations of CO2 will be reached in a few decades if CO2 emissions are not reduced.

    You posted an interesting paper. It shows that for 15 million years the concentrations of CO2 were lower than the current ones. It is reasonable to suspect than one cannot erase 15 million years of declining CO2 concentrations in just 200 years without disrupting the climate and ocean chemistry.

    No, it’s not reasonable to suspect that at all, it is a huge and unsupported leap of faith with no scientific validity.

    To make it “reasonable” to suspect that, first you need to establish that a change of few hundredths of a percent in the concentration of CO2 actually made a difference in the past. Then you have to establish that there is a “good” and a “bad” direction for for that change, and that our actions have pushed things in the “bad” direction. Then you need to establish that the change will not only be bad, it will be “disruptive”.

    Since not one of those claims has more than a shred of evidence to support it, in my world that makes it unreasonable to suspect that changing CO2 by a hundredth of a percent will do anything at all. This modern change is far, far less than the size of the historical changes in CO2, and they didn’t seem to lay the ocean to waste …

  97. From Peru says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    January 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

    “Then they shall be reached, as China and many other countries have decided to not participate in the schemes to reduce their own carbon (dioxide) emissions. Therefore the issue is moot.”

    Not quite. China is not willing to reduce its emissions because the developed courties like the USA don’t want to reduce their emissions first.

    And you know this how? The Chinese have not made the slightest attempt to follow the West on this stupid path of self-destruction. When the Kyoto protocol was put together, China said “No thanks”. When they had the chance to sign on at Copenhagen, China said “No thanks”. When they had the opportunity to do so at Cancun, , China said “No thanks”.

    However, when the CDF funds became available, most of them were scooped up by China and used to build dams … and they talk a good fight, evidently good enough to convince you of their noble aims even while they are building five hundred coal-fired power plants over the next decade.

    How come you cut them all that slack when THEY WILL BE ADDING MORE POLLUTION OVER THE NEXT DECADE THAN ANYONE? Plus they’ll also be adding more CO2 over the next decade than anyone. Yet you want to act as their apologist … good luck with that.

    From Peru, you desperately need a realpolitic check. The Chinese are not biding their time until the US signs on. They are playing the game smart, grabbing all of the money that green suckers and assorted fools are willing to give them, but with no intention of signing on to any thing substantive.

    When Kyoto came up for a vote in the US Senate back under Clinton and Gore, who supported the measure, it went down to defeat 99-0. So of course the Chinese say “we’ll sign up as soon as the US signs up”, they know very well that means “never”, and it allows them to go on fooling gullible Westerners into believing they actually will do something sometime somewhere, honest they will.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, my Peruvian friend, los Chinos no son tus amigos no matter how much they may pat your stomach and blow in your ear …

    w.

  98. From Peru says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Let’s make an historical note: for centuries the current developed nations redistributed wealth from the poor to the rich. The resources of my country were depredated for centuries by the Spanish, until independence. Then a series of corrupt governments privileged a restricted oligarchy (the remnant of the Spanish social system) while the common people lived in total poverty. Africa took a much harder hit: the very people there were sold as slaves, then a century after (late 1800s) their territory invaded, and many of the survivors of the first imperialist wave (that of the 1500s-1700s) were then exploited in their own territory. The destruction of Africa was one of the most horrendous crimes committed by the Western “Civilization”. This is theft and murder at an astonishing scale.

    Now the West have the opportunity to repair part of the damage done, aiding the poor nations to develop an economy without paying the social (an unequal growth) and ecological (pollution) price that the industrialized nations paid during the Industrial Revolution.

    From Peru, you sound like the Mexican in the joke about Texans and Mexicans. The Mexican says to the Texan, “I’m really angry at you guys. Half of Texas used to be Mexico, and you cabrones stole it.”

    “Hang on there, pardner,” says the Texan, “what’re you so all-fired angry about? That was hundreds of years ago, and besides, you guys still have plenty of land”.

    “Si, that’s true, but you stole all the good land,” says the Mexican.

    “The good land?”, says the Texan, obviously mystified. “Pardner, the land on either side of the border is about the same, it takes a hundred acres to raise a single cow wherever you go around here.”

    “Si, si,” says the Mexican, “but you took the part with all of the paved roads”.

    I have spent a good chunk of my live working on small-scale rural development projects to assist people in the developing world in improving their own lives. So you have no moral standing to lecture me in the slightest.

    But I did not do that because of your and other peoples’ attempts to convince me I bear some historical guilt. I feel none. As a very-well-melanized man once told me in Senegal, “maybe your great-grandfather did something to my great-grandfather, but what does that have to do with you and me?”

    I do what I do because of my current concerns, not because of something that happened 200 years ago. I am moved by my heart, not my understanding of the past.

    This destructive holding on to historical grievances, this often-lethal firing up of human passions through tales of how centuries ago somebody done somebody wrong, has wreaked huge damage in places like the Middle East and Ireland. And Sunnis and Shiites are still blowing each other up because of killings that happened fourteen hundred years ago … you sure you want to go down that path?

    If you want to try to spread that kind of history-based guilt, if you want to stir up ancient grievances, of course you are free to do so. But in your shoes, I’d take a hard look at places like the Middle East before I went around trying to re-fight historical battles and re-ignite historical passions and re-debate historical guilt and culpability as you are doing in your post … it never turns out pretty.

    Finally, you Peruvian folks have been running your own country for what, over a century or so now? So if you don’t have paved roads in 2011, don’t come blaming me. I wasn’t born then, I don’t owe you one damn thing. Take your complaint to the Peruvian Department of Transportation. Yeah, you was robbed by the bad government … so was my grandpa after the Civil War. Get over it.

    I’m more than happy to assist you and others, From Peru, and I have proven that through a lifetime containing lots of work in the developing world. But I’m not willing to lift a finger when you try to get me to do so by pulling out the violins and singing sad songs from the 1700’s.

    w.

  99. Glad you are not editing negative comments.
    The article appears to be peppered with clever sounding facts which are actually wrong. Just a short example, you state “Coral reefs can only grow in the photic zone of the oceans because zooxanthellae algae use sunlight, CO2, calcium and/or magnesium to make limestone” is frighteningly wrong. What makes the limestone? Not the algae.

    Would urge readers to either go to the sources or at least read the comments from “Peru says”. Points out the totally topsy turvey mis-interpretation of the original literature required to support your thesis.

    Ries and others are doing a great job in helping to develop a picture as to how acidification will play out in the ocean, but aren’t by any means suggesting its not a problem. To cite the last sentence in their latest (2010) abstract: “our data suggest that a threshold seawater [CO3 2-] exists, below which calcification within this species (and possibly others) becomes impaired. Indeed, the strong negative
    response of O. arbuscula to XA = 0.8 indicates that their response to future pCO2-induced ocean acidification could be both abrupt and severe once the critical XA is reached.”

  100. Willis Eschenbach says:

    “I’m more than happy to assist you and others, From Peru, and I have proven that through a lifetime containing lots of work in the developing world. But I’m not willing to lift a finger when you try to get me to do so by pulling out the violins and singing sad songs from the 1700′s.”

    I have NO anger against any country, like the UK, France or the USA.

    And I have NOT any anger against the Spanish, that’s history, and history tells that the elite that depredated Peru in the past also exploited their own Spanish People. Modern Spanish have corrected themselves, leaving behind their aristocratic-oligarchic tradition when the fascist dictator Francisco Franco died. So I can have only good thoughts on modern Spain

    I am against certain groups of people that TODAY damage the entire planet with their pollution, specially vulnerable countries like mine. And when their actions are denounced, they deny that their actions are harmful (i.e. “CO2 is plant food ” ,”acidification is a lie” ,”warming is good”, etc) or even raise the specters of “communism”, saying, as good McCartysts that environmentalists have a hidden “communist” agenda.

    I make a comment about redistribution of wealth because this idea is so absurdly associated by so many people with the policies of the Soviet Union or Maoist China. I then pointed that it as act of social and historical justice. That was my reason of making that little historical review. It was directed against those McCartysts to make them reason a little about history and justice.

    If you help people in the developing world as you said, my compliments to you. You should be not offended, since what I said does not apply to you.

  101. From Peru,

    You should listen to Willis Eschenbach. He speaks the truth.

    Singapore was nothing a century ago. Now, it is rich. And it has no natural resources. Japan was rubble in 1945. It also has no natural resources. Now it is wealthy. South Korea was destroyed following the Korean war. Now it is extremely prosperous.

    What’s the difference between those countries and, say, North Korea? The difference is the type of government, nothing more or less.

    We owe Peru, China, Zimbabwe, and a hundred other UN countries exactly nothing. They have the means to become prosperous. And prosperous countries are by far the least polluted.

    It is not our fault that their governments steal their citizens’ wealth through bad policy decisions, rejection of the free market, and over taxation. If they were to emulate our capitalist system they would be wealthy in one generation. It is not our fault that they prefer the self-destruction of socialism.

    The co2 scam is simply an excuse to get their hands into our pockets via the corrupt U.N. And yes, it is a scam. As Willis points out, a one-hundreth of one percent change in the atmosphere is not the reason for any but the most insignificant temperature fluctuations. So small they can’t even be measured.

    How does that justify the U.N.’s demand for a hundred billion dollars a year to be paid into the U.N.? Buying the votes of countries with promises of billions from responsible, pollution free countries is just a scam based on demonising co2. You should be smart enough to see that.

  102. Willis Eschenbach says:

    “the Chinese say “we’ll sign up as soon as the US signs up”, they know very well that means “never”, and it allows them to go on fooling gullible Westerners into believing they actually will do something sometime somewhere, honest they will.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, my Peruvian friend, los Chinos no son tus amigos no matter how much they may pat your stomach and blow in your ear …”

    I am NOT pro-Chinese, as I make clear before.

    I have said some comments above:

    “This is really a silly, childish blame game between China and the USA. Each one demanding the other to reduce his emissions before. Coutries like mine are suffering for all the pollution that countries like USA and China emit.”

    It is clear?

    “Wake up and smell the coffee, my Peruvian friend, los Chinos no son tus amigos no matter how much they may pat your stomach and blow in your ear …”

    Yo se que los Chinos no son mis amigos, no tienes que recordarmelo.

  103. Willis Eschenbach says:

    “Well, for you I have the following question: what makes you think that a change in a trace gas from 0.03% to 0.04% will disrupt anything? Because that is the huge, enormous change you are talking about.

    So I’m sorry, but I don’t see any reason why it should disrupt either the climate or the ocean.

    (…)

    To make it “reasonable” to suspect that, first you need to establish that a change of few hundredths of a percent in the concentration of CO2 actually made a difference in the past. Then you have to establish that there is a “good” and a “bad” direction for for that change, and that our actions have pushed things in the “bad” direction. Then you need to establish that the change will not only be bad, it will be “disruptive”.

    Since not one of those claims has more than a shred of evidence to support it, in my world that makes it unreasonable to suspect that changing CO2 by a hundredth of a percent will do anything at all. This modern change is far, far less than the size of the historical changes in CO2, and they didn’t seem to lay the ocean to waste …”

    CO2 and temperature are deeply correlated in the past. Also ocean acidity.

    You posted a paper:

    ““Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years”

    And I posted other:

    ““Coupling of CO2 and Ice Sheet Stability Over Major Climate Transitions of the Last 20 Million Years”

    http://atripati.bol.ucla.edu/23.pdf

    Yes, 15 million years ago the levels of CO2 were comarable to the present ones and (quoting the paper)

    “When pCO2 levels were last similar to modern values (that is, greater than 350 to 400 ppmv), there was little glacial ice on land or sea ice in the Arctic, and a marine-based ice mass on Antarctica was not viable. A sea ice cap on the Arctic Ocean and a large permanent ice sheet were maintained on East Antarctica when pCO2
    values fell below this threshold. Lower levels were necessary for the growth of large ice masses on West Antarctica (~250 to 300 ppmv) and Greenland (~220 to 260 ppmv). (…) During theMid-Miocene, when pCO2 was apparently grossly similar to
    modern levels, global surface temperatures were, on average, 3 to 6°C warmer than in the present”

    So these “hundredth of a percent” really make a difference for the climate. A 3-6ºC warming (not considering future emissions, only the present level of CO2, 390 ppm) is a HUGE warming. The melting of Greenland and West Antartica can trigger a huge sea level rise.

    For the effects of ocean acidification in the past, we have the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Here is an article:

    “Rapid Acidification of the Ocean During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum”

    http://ethomas.web.wesleyan.edu/lysoscience.pdf

    Where is shown that carbonate deposition in the sea (as shown in a series of sites drilled) was abruptly interrumped after a rapid release of carbon dioxide (in less than 20 ky) that rapidly acidified the ocean. The recovery took 100 000 years.

    Quotes from the article:

    “At each site, the P-E boundary sequence was characterized by an abrupt transition from carbonate-rich ooze to a dark red clay layer, which then graded back into ooze (Fig. 1 and table S1). Carbonate content was 80 and 90 wt % in the underlying and overlying oozes, respectively

    (…)

    Given these age constraints, the CCD is inferred to have shoaled more than 2 km within a few thousand years (Fig. 3). Recovery was gradual, with the CCD descending to the shallowest site (1263) within 10 to 15 ky of the CIE onset and to the deepest site (1262) within 60 ky. By 110 ky, carbonate content had fully recovered.”

    Legend:

    CCD = Calcite Compensation Depth
    CIE = Carbon Isotope Excursion

    The article ends with a warning:

    “If combustion of the entire fossil fuel reservoir ( near 4500 GtC) is assumed, the impacts on deep-sea pH and biota will likely be similar to those in the PETM. However, because the anthropogenic carbon input will occur within just 300 years, which is less than the mixing time of the ocean (38), the impacts on surface ocean pH and biota will probably be more severe.”

  104. FP;
    Gorsh, it musta been awful when the CO2 levels were 10-15X the present, and the oceans and lakes were sterilized, bubbling acid vats!

    Oh, wait …

  105. From Peru has drunk the Kool Aid, and is beyond reason. He wouldn’t know the scientific method if it bit him on the a …nkle. The fact that he still believes that a tiny trace gas is “pollution” shows how far gone he is.

    Peru says:

    “CO2 and temperature are deeply correlated in the past. Also ocean acidity.”

    I won’t bother with the acidity canard, because Willis thoroughly deconstructed that nonsense in a recent article. But I will agree with Mr Peru that there is some correlation between temperature and CO2 in the past.

    But the correlation isn’t what Peru believes. The actual correlation is that rises in CO2 follow temperature rises.

    On short time scales the cause and effect is clear: CO2 follows temperature. Even on very short time scales, CO2 lags temperature – this chart shows a five month lag.

    On medium geologic time scales, CO2 clearly follows temperature.

    On very long time scales there is no correlation. But short term, global temperatures are not affected by rises in CO2.

    And the temp anomaly that alarmists like to refer to have no relation to CO2.

    Also, observed vs modeled CO2 observations show only a small rise. JoNova shows the non-existent correlation on long time frames.

    The wild-eyed hand waving over CO2 is partly the result of the deliberately alarming use of a magnified y-axis in graphs. Let’s look at some graphs with a normal y-axis:

    Note the CO2 at the bottom of this graph.

    Here is Dr Roy Spencer’s graph, showing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Can’t see the CO2? OK then, let’s magnify the y-axis by ten times.

    Still can’t find the CO2? OK then, let’s magnify the y-axis by 100X. See it? Finally?

    CO2 is a very minor trace gas. Its concentration has increased by 0.01% over the past century and a half — with no ill effects. But when someone’s mind falls into the bottomless pit of cognitive dissonance, empirical facts no longer matter. They become true believers, like some folks from Peru.

  106. Smokey says:
    January 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    “From Peru has drunk the Kool Aid, and is beyond reason. He wouldn’t know the scientific method if it bit him on the a …nkle. The fact that he still believes that a tiny trace gas is “pollution” shows how far gone he is.

    (…)

    But when someone’s mind falls into the bottomless pit of cognitive dissonance, empirical facts no longer matter. They become true believers, like some folks from Peru.”

    As usual, you are describing yourself.

    I have posted a paper that show how high levels of CO2 in the past (some 15 million years ago) , equal to the current 390 ppmwere characterized by temperatures 3 ºC to 6ºC warmer than the present, and with no ice sheets in the Nortern Hemisphere.

    “Coupling of CO2 and Ice Sheet Stability Over Major Climate Transitions of the Last 20 Million Years”

    http://atripati.bol.ucla.edu/23.pdf

    I also posted a paper showing that rapid increases in CO2 concentration in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum lead to rapid ocean acidification that resulted in an abrupt interruption in the deposition of carbonate, indicating that either calcification stopped or any carbonate formed dissolved before it accumulated in the bottom of the sea:

    “Rapid Acidification of the Ocean During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum”

    http://ethomas.web.wesleyan.edu/lysoscience.pdf

    Now you repeat the usual meme that CO2 lags temperature, showing that you fail to recognize the carbon cycle feedback: a warming (that can be caused by CO2, increased insolation, ocean cycles, etc) triggers the liberation of CO2 from the ocean, that in turn causes more warming.

    It is a concept so difficult to understand?

    And about your graphs about the concentration of CO2, yes, it is a trace gas, but it have an important effect in the climate, alike all the other well-mixed greenhouse gases. What matters for climate change is the CHANGE in the concentration of those gases. For CO2 the forcing can be expressed by this simple equation:

    ΔF (W/m^2) = 5.35 ln([CO2]/[CO2]o)

    Note that what matters in the ratio [CO2]/[CO2]o, not the concentration with respect of all the atmosphere (it makes no sense to compare [CO2] with [O2] or [N2] for example, that will be comparing apples with oranges)

    In preindustrial times the concentration of CO2 was 280 ppmv. Now it is 390 ppmv.

    Change [CO2] (%) = 100*(390/280 -1) = 39.3 %

    This is change near 40%, not 0.01% as you affirm. It’s very simple math, how can you be so badly wrong?

    You accuse me of not having idea of the scientific method, while you can’t get a 3rd grade school math calculation right?

  107. From Peru says:
    January 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    “I’m more than happy to assist you and others, From Peru, and I have proven that through a lifetime containing lots of work in the developing world. But I’m not willing to lift a finger when you try to get me to do so by pulling out the violins and singing sad songs from the 1700′s.”

    I have NO anger against any country, like the UK, France or the USA.

    And I have NOT any anger against the Spanish, that’s history, and history tells that the elite that depredated Peru in the past also exploited their own Spanish People. Modern Spanish have corrected themselves, leaving behind their aristocratic-oligarchic tradition when the fascist dictator Francisco Franco died. So I can have only good thoughts on modern Spain

    I am against certain groups of people that TODAY damage the entire planet with their pollution, specially vulnerable countries like mine. And when their actions are denounced, they deny that their actions are harmful (i.e. “CO2 is plant food ” ,”acidification is a lie” ,”warming is good”, etc) or even raise the specters of “communism”, saying, as good McCartysts that environmentalists have a hidden “communist” agenda.

    I make a comment about redistribution of wealth because this idea is so absurdly associated by so many people with the policies of the Soviet Union or Maoist China. I then pointed that it as act of social and historical justice. That was my reason of making that little historical review. It was directed against those McCartysts to make them reason a little about history and justice.

    If you help people in the developing world as you said, my compliments to you. You should be not offended, since what I said does not apply to you.

    You talk reasonably, and then you go on about history and justice … do you think history and justice means that I owe you something? Because you certainly talk like that. From Peru, I owe you NOTHING, and neither does the world. Not because of history. Not because of justice. Not for any reason.

    I was in Lima in the 1980s. It sits (as you know well) on the Pacific coast on a stubby peninsula. When I was there, the whole town was blanketed with foul black smoke. What was it from? Well, the good folk of Lima hadn’t gotten the idea of landfills, so everyone just took their garbage to the edge of the city and threw it on the burning garbage heap all along the landward side of the city. How many megatonnes of CO2 and black carbon did that create every day for decades? Seems to me like as a matter of “history and justice” you should begin by repaying me for all that stench. You’ve lived in Lima, and you have the nerve to call CO2 a pollutant??? Bro’, you’ve got real pollutants there, I’m sure you actually know the difference.

    And yet, because of “history and justice”, you feel like I owe you something … but I digress. You say:

    I am against certain groups of people that TODAY damage the entire planet with their pollution, specially vulnerable countries like mine. And when their actions are denounced, they deny that their actions are harmful (i.e. “CO2 is plant food ” ,”acidification is a lie” ,”warming is good”, etc) or even raise the specters of “communism”, saying, as good McCartysts that environmentalists have a hidden “communist” agenda.

    Why is Peru “vulnerable” to increasing CO2? Point me out one single thing that CO2 did to Peru, and we can talk about it … you have the obligation to prove that my “actions are harmful” before you start ranting about my actions, and I have never found any evidence of that.

    But since you obviously have evidence that CO2 is harming Peru, bring it on. Don’t bother me with climate model studies, though. I’m looking for evidence, not the exaggerated fantasies of Tinkertoy™ models … and don’t bother with “it’s warmer, and warmer is terrible” either. Go ask los pobres en los Andes which they fear more, extra heat or extra cold … because we never have a choice called “no climate change”.

    So before you start complaining about how “vulnerable” Peru is to CO2, you first need to establish the link between CO2 going from 0.03% to 0.05% to some measurable damage in Peru.

    I wish you luck in that task, porque haciendo eso será muy difícil …

    w.

    PS – people are dying, all over the world, from simple things like bad water and lack of fuel for cooking. Something like 40% of the people on the planet live on less than $2 per day, and I’m sure that a lot of them are in Peru, because I’ve seen and talked to them there. In the face of that, are you sure that CO2 is really so urgent an issue? If you really are concerned about future climate changes, go do something useful like help people install fog nets above Lima. That way, whether the climate changes or not, you will have reduced people’s susceptibility to the vicissitudes of climate …

  108. From Peru says:
    January 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm


    I also posted a paper showing that rapid increases in CO2 concentration in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum lead to rapid ocean acidification that resulted in an abrupt interruption in the deposition of carbonate, indicating that either calcification stopped or any carbonate formed dissolved before it accumulated in the bottom of the sea:

    “Rapid Acidification of the Ocean During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum”

    http://ethomas.web.wesleyan.edu/lysoscience.pdf

    I’m not sure why you think this is relevant. The study says that some 2,000 GTonnes of carbon were rapidly released (ca 1000 years) from methane hydrates at the bottom of the ocean. This represents on the order of 250 years of CO2 emissions at the current rate, not released into the air, but bubbled up from the depths of the ocean. Released into the air, it would have immediately driven the CO2 levels to around 1,300 ppmv …

    In particular, this event would have been extreme because of the normally very low levels of dissolved methane in deeper, older waters. Because they contain little methane, these waters would be able to accept a large amount of dissolved methane. This, of course, would raise the lysocline, with concomitant effects on deep-dwelling organisms. However, the raising and lowering of the lysocline is one of the many natural buffering systems in the ocean. And as the article shows, it works as theorized, raising and lowering to buffer changes in carbon content.

    In addition, this huge off-gassing from the bottom of the ocean would certainly disrupt both the vertical stratification and the horizontal currents of the parts of the ocean where they were going on.

    So yes, I think we can all agree. Bubbling thousands of billions of cubic metres of methane up from the bottom of the ocean is a Very Bad Idea™. It would tend to disrupt the oceanic chemistry from the sea floor upwards.

    I just don’t see what monster amounts of methane bubbling up from the seafloor have to do with an as-yet almost unmeasurable decrease in surface water alkalinity, despite years of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. The ocean is a highly and multiply buffered chemical system. But even more than that, the ocean also needs to be considered as not just dead chemical reactions. It needs to be looked at as if it were a huge living organism that, like life everywhere, consumes carbon in prodigious amounts, and locally reverses entropy by enabling reactions that would not otherwise occur. If carbon amounts increase, living things that use and need carbon will shift and change and increase and decrease to use more of it. This is not predictable by simple chemical reactions.

    For example, the family of animals in the ocean that is said to have the greatest mass of all families are the siphonophores … which most people have never heard of, and which we don’t know a whole lot about. They are not really single individuals, they are assemblages of individuals … but the individuals are incapable of living alone, they can only survive through their mutual interaction. They are predators, and everything that they eat contains carbon … perhaps you could predict the effect that the global mass of siphonphores has on the carbon cycle in the case of increased dCO2 concentrations. I’m not that brave.

    I discuss the only large-scale oceanic pH study I know of here. I don’t see any cause for concern. The water at the input to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium can go from a pH of 7.8 to a pH of 8.1 in one month, and the fish are still happy. pH over the coral reefs varies by more than that. You seem to have the idea that the ocean is some delicate flower that can’t stand the slightest variation in carbon levels. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  109. First let me congratulate ‘From Peru’ for his contribution. It is good to see peer reviewed sources instead of the usual. How typical for it to be responded to by the usual misrepresentative and agenda driven bilge that seems to dominate debate in AGW.

  110. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 14, 2011 at 2:19 am

    “You talk reasonably, and then you go on about history and justice … do you think history and justice means that I owe you something? Because you certainly talk like that. From Peru, I owe you NOTHING, and neither does the world. Not because of history. Not because of justice. Not for any reason.”

    Why you take my comments personally? I have congratulated you for your help to the Third World countries:

    “If you help people in the developing world as you said, my compliments to you.”

    I have nothing against you nor against any of the millions of people that live in the developed countries. I’m against the big polluters, that is, the big energy companies that burn coal when the electricity could be obtained from clean sources like the wind, solar energy, water currents,etc. They did not because are more interested in profits from burning a cheap energy source than provide a sustainable supply of energy. Same for automobile enterprises that sell fuel inefficient vehicles when they could sell vehicles that consume half the fuel per kilometer.

    Ultimately this is not task of the companies (leaving aside moral issues), that only look for profits, but from the government, that must regulate them. But this companies lobby against any government action, labeling that as “communism”. It is incredible see how Barack Obama, that has done more for environmental regulation that most other presidents in USA history, being equated to bloody dictators like Vladimir Lenir, Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse Tung.

    As I said before:

    “You should be not offended, since what I said does not apply to you.”

    Unless you are a lobbyst of the fossil fuel industry, I hope it is not your case.

  111. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 14, 2011 at 2:19 am

    “Rapid Acidification of the Ocean During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum”

    http://ethomas.web.wesleyan.edu/lysoscience.pdf

    “I’m not sure why you think this is relevant. The study says that some 2,000 GTonnes of carbon were rapidly released (ca 1000 years) from methane hydrates at the bottom of the ocean. This represents on the order of 250 years of CO2 emissions at the current rate, not released into the air, but bubbled up from the depths of the ocean. Released into the air, it would have immediately driven the CO2 levels to around 1,300 ppmv …”

    That monstruous release of carbon (as CO2 and CH4) is believed to have taken aproximately 20 000 years. As you said, humans are releasing carbon (dioxide) at a much faster rate, a rate that can take just 250 years to make a carbon release equal to the PETM. That’s a release 80 times faster!

    The CO2 liberated in part dissolves into the ocean. The difference is that in the PETM is diffused from the ocean to the atmosphere, today is from the atmosphere to the ocean. That is an important difference, but the CO2 still makes its way to the ocean, and remember that the rate of CO2 increase is 80 times faster than in the PETM…

    This almost certainly can disrupt the ocean chemistry. Ocean acidity has already increased by 30% (a drop in 0.1 pH units) since preindustrial times. That is not a small amount.

    You showed large natural variation in oceanic pH. But what matters really is not the pH by itself, but the effect of that pH change on calcium carbonate (aragonite and calcite) saturation state. The normal state of the modern ocean is to be CaCO3 oversaturated. Marine calcifiers have adapted for millions of years to a high CO3– environment. Now ocean acidification converts carbonate (CO3–) into bicarbonate (HCO3-). If the CO3– concentration drops too much, calcification rates drops significantly or even become negative (that is, the CaCO3 shells dissolve).

    This effect is particularly severe in the already relatively CO3– poor waters of the polar regions. In the Arctic, there is ALREADY aragonite undersaturation, so the Arctic waters are already corrosive to aragonite-shelled organisms:

    “Aragonite Undersaturation in the Arctic Ocean- Effects of Ocean Acidification and Sea Ice Melt”

    http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/pdfs/yamamoto-kawai_aragonite_science2009.pdf

    The seasonal variations in ocean acidity and alkalinity that occurs in the ocean (as you showed for the Monterrey Acuarium) do not imply that the ocean system is immune to the downward trend in carbonate caused by antropogenic CO2 (i.e. the reasoning: pH varies a lot naturally, this does not kill marine life, so change is innocuous). On the contrary, they imply more vulnerability, as this paper, about the implication of the seasonal cycle for the Southern Ocean, shows:

    “Southern Ocean acidification: A tipping point at 450-ppm atmospheric CO2″

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2008/11/20/0806318105.full.pdf

    Quoting the article:

    “Natural seasonal variations in carbonate ion concentrations could either hasten or dampen the future onset of this undersaturation of calcium carbonate. We present a large-scale Southern Ocean observational analysis that examines the seasonal magnitude and variability of CO3 and pH. Our analysis shows an intense wintertime minimum in CO3 south of the Antarctic Polar Front and when combined with anthropogenic CO2 uptake is likely to induce aragonite undersaturation when atmospheric CO2 levels reach 450 ppm.”

    So the tipping point is already passed in the Arctic Ocean and thanks to the strong seasonal variation in pH and carbonate chemistry the threshold for aragonite undesaturation in the Southern Ocean is signifiacntly lower than originally thought in the Antarctic Ocean.

    Another skeptic argument that backfires …

  112. From ” From Peru” on January 14, 2011 at 8:05 am:

    So the tipping point is already passed in the Arctic Ocean and thanks to the strong seasonal variation in pH and carbonate chemistry the threshold for aragonite undesaturation in the Southern Ocean is signifiacntly lower than originally thought in the Antarctic Ocean.

    Another skeptic argument that backfires …

    Really? Looks like yours has backfired, and re-invokes my previous point. The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 shall continue to rise, whatever consequences shall befall the oceans shall happen. By reciting the mystical phrase “tipping point” commonly used by (C)AGW alarmists, you have summoned the specter of The Irreversible Doom, the Point That Must Not Be Passed, and you said it has been passed.

    China knows that a mandatory carbon reduction scheme is an economic suicide pact, thus are highly reluctant to agree to one. The “solution” you have proposed to the US and other “developed nations,” and indicated as being echoed by China, often heard when suicide pacts are proposed, is “You first.”

    Do you really want to claim the moral high ground? Then do what has been done throughout history, from the abolishment of slavery to the adoption of democracy, and lead by example. You first.

  113. From ” From Peru” on January 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm:

    In preindustrial times the concentration of CO2 was 280 ppmv. Now it is 390 ppmv.

    Change [CO2] (%) = 100*(390/280 -1) = 39.3 %

    This is change near 40%, not 0.01% as you affirm. It’s very simple math, how can you be so badly wrong?

    You accuse me of not having idea of the scientific method, while you can’t get a 3rd grade school math calculation right?

    You are attempting to pass off a mistake in understanding of a grade-school math concept as proof someone is wrong.

    There are 100 trees in an orchard, 1 of them is an apple tree. Ten years later, there are still 100 trees in the orchard, but 2 of them are apple trees.

    The change in concentration of apple trees in the orchard is 1%, it went from 1% of the orchard to 2% of the orchard.

    The change in amount of apple trees in the orchard is 100%, there was 1 but later there were 2.

    Smokey reported the change in concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. You reported the change in amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and tried to use it as proof Smokey was wrong.

    That might be an allowable trick in Climate Science™, but not in science or mathematics.

    Hopefully you’ll do better with your next quiz on 3rd grade math.

  114. Kadaka,
    like so many on here you counter a discussion with emotive fear mongering with no sources to back up your points.
    Please try and counter scientific points with…err…science?
    Thankyou.

  115. rushmike,

    You must be on the wrong thread. Happens sometimes.

    But if you’re actually trying to respond, you get a big fail. Kadaka made a clear explanation that you can’t seem to understand. Why would he need “sources” to explain the difference between a change in the concentration of a trace gas, and the change in the proportion of the trace gas in the entire atmosphere? Reading comprehension, me boy. You need some.

    What Mr Peru doesn’t get is the scientific method, which states that those proposing a hypothesis such as CO2=CAGW have the burden of showing that their alternate hypothesis explains observations better than the long-accepted null hypothesis.

    The null hypothesis has never been falsified, and Occam’s Razor says that we don’t need to add an extraneous variable like CO2 to explain natural variability; the simplest explanation is the best.

    How many times does it need to be explained that scientific skeptics have nothing to prove. The alarmist crowd keeps trying to turn the scientific method on its head anyway, and insists that skeptics must prove a negative. If it were not for such logical failures, climate alarmists wouldn’t have any kind of an argument.

    The planet itself falsifies the CAGW conjecture by not cooperating with climate model predictions. Natural climate variability – the null hypothesis – fully explains observations. There is no need to summon a “carbon” demon to explain natural climate fluctuations.

  116. There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what the data presented in Ries et al., 2009 demonstrate.

    The calcification rates of 16/18 species did not drop below the low end of the control range until the simulated CO2 level exceeded 3X pre-industrial levels. The calcification rates of soft clams and oysters dropped below the control range at ~500 ppm and 600 ppm respectively. The “control range” simulated current conditions.

    Ries Fig 1 w/ Ranges

    None of the species experienced dissolution below 1,000 ppm CO2.

    Ries Fig 1 w/Dissolution Thresholds

  117. rushmike said on January 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm:

    Kadaka,
    like so many on here you counter a discussion with emotive fear mongering with no sources to back up your points.
    Please try and counter scientific points with…err…science?
    Thankyou.

    Because, at least superficially, the scientific part of the discussion has delved far deeper than I can reach. Others more well versed than I are handling that part quite ably. Not that it matters much, “From Peru” appears resistant to scientific research that counters the (C)AGW teachings he has absorbed. I said “superficially” as it has become less of a discussion and more of an “intellectual” food fight with the throwing of figures and papers, the “science” as “From Peru” is presenting it just pretties it up.

    But the “emotive fear mongering” that has been raised, dressed up (although it has been denied) in moral justification as the rectifying of a current injustice, which is somehow even more just as a partial redress of past unresolved grievances, is something I can address. Even under the cloak of scientific discussion, this is clearly the core of the matter.

    Pardon me for not noticing where I have engaged in “emotive fear mongering.” To my reckoning I have been pointing out what I stated before, this is moot. Throw up as much evidence as you can dig up about The Terrible Tragic Catastrophes To Come if we don’t soon reduce carbon (dioxide) emissions. The stated problem is Global Warming. The stated solution is a reduction in Global CO2 emissions. This will need a Global binding agreement.

    The solution must come soon, since as “From Peru” has stated we are already tripping over tipping points. The “developed nations” cannot reduce their emissions enough to offset the coming increases from “developing nations” including China and India, even a complete immediate shutdown would be only a temporary respite. Check out this list from the Union of Concerned Scientists with 2008 figures. China and India, the #1 and #4 emitters, release 8,029 million metric tons of CO2 combined. The US and Russia, #2 and #3, release a total of only 7,562 million metric tons. Look at the per capita figures. Those “developing countries” are making up the difference with CO2-emitting energy sources as they are relatively cheap and easy to obtain. Crank the numbers, the emissions will skyrocket just to get up to the per capita rate of France, which famously is awash in zero-emission nuclear power-generated electricity.

    Everyone must act, all countries need to join together. There can be no exceptions, no further emission increases. Already the global emissions are too high. New Peer-Reviewed Published Research says we are already committed to many centuries of warming from the emissions already released, even with zero new emissions, which agrees with info I had previously gleaned about the IPCC reports. There has to be an immediate global cap on total emissions, followed by a global lowering of total emissions.

    As it stands, we cannot get global agreement on even that much. Thus further discussions about who should be allowed to develop and emit more while someone else must emit less, are meaningless. “From Peru” is arguing that the “developed” nations should basically buy a low-emission economy for the “developing” nations. Well, they don’t have that much wealth on hand, and even if they did it’d take too long to install such infrastructure with everything else needed for it (infrastructure improvements like road paving, etc). We don’t have the equipment and materials needed just lying around in warehouses either. It’ll take several decades to make them, with tremendous additional releases of CO2 involved in the manufacture and deployment. Meanwhile the (C)AGW proponents keep shouting how we must act now.

    Given the timeframe, we can’t get there from here.

    Climate Science™ says the solution must come soon. Climate Science™ says it may already be too late. I have noted, given the current economic and political climates, that the solution will not come in time. I have engaged in no more fear mongering than a doctor who informs a patient his cancer is terminal without the prompt discovery of a cure, and none are expected let alone soon enough.

  118. Smokey says:
    January 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    “The planet itself falsifies the CAGW conjecture by not cooperating with climate model predictions. Natural climate variability – the null hypothesis – fully explains observations. There is no need to summon a “carbon” demon to explain natural climate fluctuations”

    In what planet do you live, or to better say, in from what parallel universe do you come from?

    In this universe, basic physical chemistry shows that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    Contrary to what you say, observations of past and present climate only make sense if we consider the effect of Greenhouse gases, mainly CO2 and CH4.

    If you want to exclude CO2 and CH4 as an explanation for climate, I have a series of questions to you:

    What caused the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), if not a massive liberation of CO2 and CH4?

    Why in periods of Earth History with high CO2 the planet was ice-free (like the Cretaceous and the Paleocene-Eocene), while in periods with low CO2 (like the Quaternary Period- the last 2 million years) we have a series of ice ages?

    What caused the global glaciations (the so-called “snowball earth” periods, when ice reached the equator) if not severe drop in CO2 and CH4, and what ended them if not the accumulation of volcanic CO2 in the millions of years that lasted the global glaciations?

    Why CO2 and temperature are so intimately correlated across the glacial-interglacial stages of the Quaternary Period, as shown in the ice cores?

    “What Mr Peru doesn’t get is the scientific method, which states that those proposing a hypothesis such as CO2=CAGW have the burden of showing that their alternate hypothesis explains observations better than the long-accepted null hypothesis.”

    That burden is provided by the thousands of studies showing the deep correlation between CO2 and warming. Your non-CO2 climate variability “null hipothesis” completely fails to explain the climate of the entire history of Earth (some 4500 million years)

    “The null hypothesis has never been falsified, and Occam’s Razor says that we don’t need to add an extraneous variable like CO2 to explain natural variability; the simplest explanation is the best.”

    If your “null hypothesis” is so good, and most climate scientists, geologists, physicists, are wrong, then explain without using greenhouse gases the warming and cooling episodes of Earth. For example, the episodes I listed above.

  119. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    “From Peru” is arguing that the “developed” nations should basically buy a low-emission economy for the “developing” nations.”

    Let’s make a clarification. With “developing, 3rd world countries” I intend poor nations that are NOT industrial/economic superpowers. That is, most nations in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia.

    China does not precisely fit in this category. It is an emerging industrial superpower, now the biggest polluter on Earth. It has an oppressive regime, and any internal opposition is crushed. Labor conditions for the workers are very poor.

    India is a mixed state: parts of it are emerging as a major industrial power, while in others people are starving to death. It is difficult to classify: in part is like China, in part like sub-Saharan Africa. But the industrialized part of India make it to be in a different group than poor nations like mine.

    So we have the 1st world, countries like Canada, the USA, Europe, Japan and Russia.

    We have the 3rd world, countries in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia.

    And we have something like an intermediate, “2nd World” of emerging industrial superpowers like China and India.

    When I talk about aid to developing nations to develop clean and renewable souces of energy, I was talking of the above sensu-stricto 3rd World countries, not the “2nd World” emerging superpowers like China and India, that have more than enough resources to develop the clean energy by themselves.

    Now I hope to have clarified my point.

    As a final note, INDIA formely one of more active opponents of domestic carbon regulations, HAS NOW ANNOUNCED A CARBON TAX and great improvements on energy efficiency:

    http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/India%20Taking%20on%20Climate%20Change.pdf

    Quoting the document:

    “India has announced a levy – a clean energy cess – on coal, at the rate of Rs. 50 (~USD 1) per ton, which will apply to both domestically produced and imported coal.

    • This money will go into a National Clean Energy Fund that will be used for funding research, innovative projects in clean energy technologies, and environmental remedial programmes.

    • The expected earnings from this cess is around USD 500 million for the financial year 2010-11.

    India’s cabinet approved the National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) on 24th June, 2010. The Mission includes several new initiatives – the most important being the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) Mechanism, which will cover facilities that account for more than 50% of the fossil fuel used in India, and help reduce CO2 emissions by 25 million tons per year by 2014-15.”

    So India, with its own resources has began its climate action. European nations are also implementing carbon taxes in addition to the cap and trade scheme.

    When will the United States and China follow?

    We in Peru await the decision of the G-2 (USA and China)…

  120. For the edification of our true believer from Peru, I have never stated that CO2 has no effect. My position has always been that the climate’s sensitivity to CO2 is <1°C per doubling from pre-industrial levels, meaning that the resulting warming is inconsequential.

    Further, a 1° warmer planet is a net benefit to the biosphere, as is the increased CO2. A warmer world will open up millions of acres to food production at higher latitudes, and added CO2 will result in more ag productivity. Win-win. And as Kadaka notes, nothing can be done to stop it. Demonizing “carbon” is simply a UN-led scam to force people to open their wallets.

    Next, the climate null hypothesis refers to the Holocene, and not to the past several billion years as Peru mistakenly assumes. I’ve noted this too many times to count. I suggest once again that Mr Peru should start reading the WUWT archives and comments, and get up to speed on the global warming subject. Linking to papers based on models has little worth. Models are not evidence, they are conjecture. Raw, unadjusted data is a good example of empirical evidence.

    All of Peru’s questions are discussed in the archives, and it would be a waste of time trying to provide an explanation to an eco-zealot who believes that during glaciations “ice reached the equator.” It never did.

    Prof Richard Lindzen states that there is ample evidence that the equator has remained within ±1°C for more than a billion years. Dr Lindzen also stated: “If one assumes all warming over the past century is due to anthropogenic greenhouse forcing, then the derived sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of CO2 is less than 1°C.” I think I’ll trust Prof Lindzen over climate alarmists.

    The null hypothesis compares today’s climate with the temperature parameters during the Holocene, and we are about in the middle of the range, well away from the extreme highs or lows. Nothing unusual is happening, despite the fervent hopes of the Climate Cult of Doom.

    Dr Roy Spencer, a well respected climatologist, describes the situation this way: “No one has falsified the hypothesis that the observed temperature changes are a consequence of natural variability.” The burden is on the promoters of the CAGW conjecture to falsify the null hypothesis. They have universally failed to do so. That is why Kevin Trenberth is so desperate to do away with the null hypothesis and the scientific method. They reduce his CAGW conjecture to little more than impotent arm-waving.

    Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to review the charts again in David Middleton’s excellent article, which clearly show that CO2 is a harmless and beneficial trace gas – not the evil “carbon” demon that some make it out to be.

  121. From ” From Peru” on January 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm :

    As a final note, INDIA formely one of more active opponents of domestic carbon regulations, HAS NOW ANNOUNCED A CARBON TAX and great improvements on energy efficiency:

    http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/India%20Taking%20on%20Climate%20Change.pdf

    Ah dang, and here I was hoping you’d actually learned something about real-world economics and politics.

    • This money will go into a National Clean Energy Fund that will be used for funding research, innovative projects in clean energy technologies, and environmental remedial programmes.

    • The expected earnings from this cess is around USD 500 million for the financial year 2010-11.

    Once government gets their hands on money, they tend to spend it wherever they want. This has been repeatedly noted in governments worldwide throughout history. Plus this invites cronyism, the money will tend to get distributed to the politically-influential rather than to those projects that truly have the best merits. And, “Big Oil” companies like BP have been touting their Green credentials and “clean energy” developments for quite some time, as well as big manufacturers like GE. Therefore if the money is going to research and development of clean energy, very large chunks shall be going to profitable large corporations that can get by without it.

    You should have read the Bloomberg Businessweek write-up:

    Coal, used to fire more than half of India’s electricity generation…

    Thus it targets those without viable alternatives, since electricity is centrally generated.

    Chief executive officers including Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Paolo Scaroni of Italy’s Eni SpA have advocated a flat tax over carbon-trading systems like the European Union’s, saying a levy allows companies to plan for a simpler, more stable cost of pollution.

    Thus the “big polluters” got what they wanted.

    And it’s not even a real “carbon tax” as it’s on coal:

    The coal tax was announced on Feb. 26 along with a decision to impose duties on crude and oil products that were withdrawn after record oil prices and the global recession.

    Thus it’s only on the “low hanging fruit,” easily-demonized cheap and “dirty” coal.

    Which leads to the important part (bold added):

    India has set a voluntary target to cut its carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide released per unit of gross domestic product, by as much as 25 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

    It’s not an internationally-binding goal. They can back out of it if they want. They couldn’t even tax oil. If times get tough and opposition rises, that voluntary target and even the coal tax can go away.

    Does that sound like a solid commitment to help avert Immediate Impending Global Doom?

    So India, with its own resources has began its climate action.

    Much more like raising taxes under the cover of this “noble cause” as we expect politicians to do.

    European nations are also implementing carbon taxes in addition to the cap and trade scheme.

    As noted, “Big Pollution” prefers carbon taxes anyway. And I think you might ultimately be in error. The European ETS scheme is seriously flawed, others want to see it gone, thus “in addition” will likely be transitory as that scheme will get scrapped.

    Quoting the write-up from here, about this definitive report from the esteemed Friends of the Earth Europe:

    The EU emissions trading system: failing to deliver

    The Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) is Europe’s principal policy mechanism for reducing emissions in the power generation and industrial sectors. Analysis by Friends of the Earth Europe shows that the EU-ETS is not delivering the CO2 cuts required by science, historical responsibility and sound financial practices. Over-reliance on carbon markets is also obstructing the use of other more effective policy measures such as regulation, investments, and taxation.

    As the report says (pg 2):

    What Friends of the Earth Europe calls for:
    • End the reliance on the EU-ETS. Priority should be given to other policy options, such as regulation, taxation and subsidies which are able to deliver the scale and speed of emissions reductions that are necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.
    • The most dangerous loopholes in the EU-ETS must be removed by ending overseas offsets, stopping free permits to polluters, introducing a much tighter cap, and preventing the use of banked permits from earlier phases of the EU-ETS scheme. Auctioning money must not be used to subsidise fossil fuels, such as state aid for new coal power plants, or false solutions such as nuclear power or CCS.
    • The EU-ETS must not be expanded by either linking with schemes outside of the EU or instituting sectoral trading with developing countries. Carbon markets cannot be a replacement for mandatory targets under a binding international climate agreement, and adequate and appropriate public funding for climate finance in developing countries.
    • The EU-ETS should not be used as an argument to prevent other policies such as setting binding energy efficiency targets or to prevent any other measures at national level such as national climate laws to tackle industry or industry sector emissions.

    Fascinating reading.

    Thus India has decided to raise some tax money and can back out of their target if they want. The EU-ETS is a disaster. And none of that is anything like the international binding agreement with hard absolute reductions in Global CO2 emissions that will be absolutely required to avert the Immediate Impending Global Doom.

    Thus effectively, India and the EU have done basically nothing to solve the problem. And Global CO2 emissions continue to rise.

    When will the United States and China follow?

    Trust me, they have.

  122. Could I ask Kadaka or From Peru, or any of you who keep going on about a mythical thing called a “tipping point”, for a definition of a “tipping point” and also an example of a tipping point showing what tipped and when?

    People keep claiming that some action of ours or another is putting us closer to some dread “tipping point”. But since they can’t tell me what the tipping point might be, and they don’t know where it might be, it is equally probable that our action has moved us away from a tipping point.

    Me, I always imaging the dread “tipping point” as looking like one of the dragons on those old maps that say “Here There Be Dragons” … and as far as I can tell, tipping points are just as hard to find and photograph as real dragons.

    However, tipping points do serve a very real purpose, the same purpose as the dragons on the old maps, to identify the parts of the world that are only imagined.

    Because when someone starts warning us about approaching tipping points, the odds are very high that they have wandered off of the map of reality and are dealing with imagination, it’s a reliable sign … and if a “scientific” paper talks about tipping points, you can be pretty sure that they have left the realm of Science entirely.

    w.

  123. From Willis Eschenbach on January 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm:

    Could I ask Kadaka or From Peru, or any of you who keep going on about a mythical thing called a “tipping point”, for a definition of a “tipping point” and also an example of a tipping point showing what tipped and when?

    Hell if I know, Mr. Eschenbach. These people just keep shoveling this stuff off the back of that wagon they pull around, and I just keep tossing it back on. Confounds them for some reason. Maybe someday it’ll amount to something, but in the meanwhile the smell is… Let’s just say “honey” is one heck of a euphemism for what that wagon’s carrying.

  124. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    “Could I ask Kadaka or From Peru, or any of you who keep going on about a mythical thing called a “tipping point”, for a definition of a “tipping point” and also an example of a tipping point showing what tipped and when?”

    Tipping point is the point at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new equilibrium state qualitatively dissimilar from the first

    Here is a cartoon:

    http://munchweb.com/the-tipping-point

    A “tipping point” is an event that characterises certain non-linear systems. Basically the non-linear systems that present tipping points are characterized initially by a linear and gradual, somethimes even small, response to an external influence. This response is a mix of the direct response to the external influence and a (positive) feedback that occurs in the system (for example, Arctic warming melts sea ice, exposing dark, sunlight absorbing seawater that causes more warming and then more melt). The feedback + direct response is stable until the intensity of such external infulence (in climate, this influence is the radiative forcing) reaches a point that the system suffers an abrupt change and/or the process initially caused only by the external influence proceeds, thanks to the feedback, even if the external influence stops.

    The are several possible “tipping points” in the climate system:

    -The melting of Arctic sea ice: after a certain amount of sea ice has disappeared, the warming caused by the melt (i.e. the ice-albedo feedback) is so big that melt will continue even if no further global warming occurs, until all the ice is gone.

    -The melting of Ice sheets: after the ice shelves and glacial terminations of the glaciers has melted more than a treshold, the speed of ice loss (in particular, the speed of ice flow) is so big that (even if warming stops) the melting is unstoppable and will continue until all the ice sheet is gone.

    -desertification of rainforests: after continued drought and/or deforestation had reduced the area of forest more than a certain treshold such that the reduction in precipitation as a consecuence of reduced vegetation is big enough, the rainforest system is unstable and will change until a new stable configuration is reached, such as savanna or desert ( this in particular would be a catastrophe for Peru and its neighbours).

    About ocean acidification the tipping point is not in the response of the ocean chemistry itself to increasing pCO2 but in the response of marine organisms to reduced calcium carbonate (in particular aragonite): after the CaCO3 saturation state is lower than a certain threshold, the system shift from calcification to dissolution. This can drive organisms that depends on their shells for survival to extinction.

    This change had happened ALREADY in the Arctic Ocean for most aragonite calcifiers, because two years ago (in 2008) the aragonite saturation state dropped below unity. See here:

    “Aragonite Undersaturation in the Arctic Ocean- Effects of Ocean Acidification and Sea Ice Melt”

    http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/pdfs/yamamoto-kawai_aragonite_science2009.pdf

    Now the Arctic is CORROSIVE to any material made from aragonite. Any shell made of aragonite will dissolve. Organisms that have adapted to aragonite oversation for millions of years are now in big trouble. Maybe some organism with exceptionally high calcification rates (rates bigger than the current rate of shell dissolution) can survive, but all other organisms face extinction.

  125. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    January 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    “Ah dang, and here I was hoping you’d actually learned something about real-world economics and politics.

    (…)

    Once government gets their hands on money, they tend to spend it wherever they want.”

    In this you are absolutely right. But getting the money from polluters (increasing the cost of dity energy), is a step in the right direction by itself, because it increases the competitiveness of sustainable energy sources.

    “And it’s not even a real “carbon tax” as it’s on coal”

    Coal is the Nº1 source of carbon dioxide, and unlike petroleum (that will peak in about 10 or 20 years, if it hasn’t already) the reserves of coal are huge, and will not be depleted in centuries. So putting aprice on coal is a core climate regulation. Petroleum prices will skyrocket by themselves (only think that we are just coming out on the worst recesion since the 1930s and oil is already above 90$/barrel).

    “Which leads to the important part (bold added):

    India has set a voluntary target to cut its carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide released per unit of gross domestic product, by as much as 25 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

    It’s not an internationally-binding goal. They can back out of it if they want. They couldn’t even tax oil. If times get tough and opposition rises, that voluntary target and even the coal tax can go away.

    Does that sound like a solid commitment to help avert Immediate Impending Global Doom?””

    It is clearly not an enough strong action. But is a step in the right direction. Remember that the Indian Government trashed a UN report about Soth Asia air pollution (the so-called “Atmosphric Brown Cloud”) just two years ago!

    “‘Brown clouds’ stir Asian conspiracy storm”

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/JK25Df01.html

    So this action against coal burning pollution is really an U-turn from the blame game againt the developed nations of two years ago. I hope they do not undo this important step in the future. That will be very sad for a nation severely menaced by climate change.

    “As noted, “Big Pollution” prefers carbon taxes anyway. And I think you might ultimately be in error. The European ETS scheme is seriously flawed, others want to see it gone, thus “in addition” will likely be transitory as that scheme will get scrapped.”

    Yes, the cap and trade shemes probably are serously flawed (I don’t know the economics very well) and the alternative (carbon taxes) will be prefered by “Big Pollution” if they are small and constant.

    Any decent carbon tax must grow with time (until the price of dirty energy like coal is bigger than renewable energy), and the money obtained must be invested in clean energy development, that in turn must be accesible to everyone (that is, not restricted by patent rights) and also invested in clean energy subsidies.

  126. From ” From Peru” on January 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm:

    This change had happened ALREADY in the Arctic Ocean for most aragonite calcifiers, because two years ago (in 2008) the aragonite saturation state dropped below unity. See here:

    “Aragonite Undersaturation in the Arctic Ocean- Effects of Ocean Acidification and Sea Ice Melt”

    http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/pdfs/yamamoto-kawai_aragonite_science2009.pdf

    Now the Arctic is CORROSIVE to any material made from aragonite. Any shell made of aragonite will dissolve. Organisms that have adapted to aragonite oversation for millions of years are now in big trouble. Maybe some organism with exceptionally high calcification rates (rates bigger than the current rate of shell dissolution) can survive, but all other organisms face extinction.

    *sigh*

    Aragonite sea (Wikipedia), bold added in third paragraph:

    An aragonite sea contains aragonite and high-magnesium calcite as the primary inorganic carbonate precipitates. Therefore, the chemical conditions of the seawater must be notably high in magnesium content for an aragonite sea to form. This is in contrast to a calcite sea in which low-magnesium calcite is the primary inorganic marine calcium carbonate precipitate.

    The Early Paleozoic and the Middle to Late Mesozoic oceans were predominantly calcite seas, whereas the Middle Paleozoic through the Early Mesozoic and the Cenozoic (including today) are characterized by aragonite seas.[1][2][3][4][5]

    Aragonite seas form due to several factors, the most obvious of these is a high magnesium content. However, the sea level and the temperature of the surrounding system also determine whether an aragonite sea will form.[6] Aragonite is the predominant mineral in warm, shallow marine environments. Calcite on the other hand, is the dominant mineral in cool marine water environments. This trend has been observed by looking at the chemistry of carbonates, dating them and analyzing the conditions under which they were formed. (…)

    Citation #6, Adabi 2004, has the abstract available here. To get through the paywall and acquire the full article will take US$34.

    Looks to me that the Arctic Ocean “flipping the switch” to favoring calcite is consistent with a cooling Arctic Ocean. Given how cold it is to begin with, that it favored aragonite seems slightly odd, might be related to the magnesium content and inflows from the Atlantic.

    A snippet from the Wikipedia Arctic Ocean entry:

    The Arctic Ocean’s temperature and salinity vary seasonally as the ice cover melts and freezes;[4] its salinity is the lowest on average of the five major oceans, due to low evaporation, heavy freshwater inflow from rivers and streams, and limited connection and outflow to surrounding oceanic waters with higher salinities.

    Thus the Arctic Ocean had low salinity relative to those other oceans thus lower magnesium content, and was cold anyway. Thus the changeover from favoring aragonite to favoring calcite doesn’t look surprising. Before you start blaming “Ocean Acidification!” , research needs to be done as to what the “tipping points” are for the calcite-aragonite switch, and how close the Arctic Ocean has been to them. Data showing the magnesium content over a few decades would be helpful.

  127. kadaka (KD Knoebel):

    In the reference 6) you linked, I quote from the abstract the following:

    “These results are not in agreement with the concept of a “calcite sea” during the Ordovician and the Upper Jurassic periods. Very recently, Westphal and Munnecke (2003) showed that in spite of the tendency of abiotic precipitates (Sandberg 1983) and skeletal mineralogy (Stanley and Hardie 1999) to follow the general trend of calcite seas and aragonite seas, organisms with calcite and aragonite mineralogy coexisted throughout the Phanerozoic.”

    Here some organisms calcificate aragonite in “calcite seas” and calcite in “aragonite seas”.

    The terms “aragonite sea” and “calcite sea” are a bit misleading. In an “aragonite sea” what precipitates is aragonite + Mg-calcite, while in a “calcite sea” low Mg-calcite dominates, but there is still biological aragonite precipitation . An example is here:

    “Aragonite production in calcite seas: effect of seawater Mg/Ca ratio on the calcification and growth of the calcareous alga Penicillus capitatus”

    http://www.unc.edu/~jries/PaleobiologyRies.pdf

    By Ries, the author of the study quoted by David Middletown. It states that:

    “This work complements other experiments by Stanley et al. (2002, in press) and Ries (2004), which demonstrated that calcareous organisms that produce high-Mg calcite in modern ‘‘aragonite seawater’’ (molar Mg/Ca ø5.2), such as coralline algae, echinoids, serpulid worms, crabs, shrimp, and coccolithophores, produced low-Mg calcite and, in the case of the coccolithophores, grew faster in artificial ‘‘calcite seawater’’ (molar Mg/Ca ;1.0).”

    Making clear that 1) in the current “aragonite sea” this organisms precipitate Mg-calcite and in a “calcite seawater” they switch to low Mg-calcite. There is still a lot of calcite precipitation in an “aragonite sea”! (indeed coccolithophores, that make their shells of calcite, are the main phytoplanckton calcifiers)

    The organism in the study, Penicillus capitatus, when grown in a Mg-poor (Mg/Ca =1) seawater, still precipitates aragonite:

    ” X-ray diffraction of the powdered specimens revealed that algae grown in the artificial calcite seawater (molar Mg/Ca = 1) produced 22 +/- 3% of their CaCO3 as low-Mg calcite (4 +/-0.4 mole % MgCO3) and 78 +/- 3% as aragonite (Fig. 6), whereas specimens grown in the artificial aragonite seawaters produced their CaCO3 exclusively as aragonite (Table 1)”

  128. kadaka (KD Knoebel):

    (continuation)

    But the link to the study I posted about the Arctic to all this is a much more basic, fundamental chemistry question: kinetics vs. thermodynamics.

    The whole calcite/aragonite seas issue is a kinetic one, as should be clear from this paper (I’m sorry that is not free, link to the abstract):

    “Calcite and Aragonite Precipitation Under Controlled Instantaneous Supersaturation: Elucidating the Role of CaCO3 Saturation State and Mg/Ca Ratio on Calcium Carbonate Polymorphism”

    http://jsedres.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/79/6/363

    That makes clear in the abstract:

    “The predominance of aragonite at high solution Mg/Ca and low supersaturations is attributed to a relative decrease in calcite growth rates as a result of increasing incorporation of Mg2+ in the calcite lattice at higher solution Mg/Ca ratios. As suggested by abundant experimental work, increasing solution Mg/Ca decreases the growth rate of calcite while aragonite growth rates stay unaffected. Our experiments do demonstrate that despite decreased growth rate the percentage of MgCO3 in calcite increases with increasing solution Mg/Ca ratio. As calcite growth rates decrease, aragonite growth rates stay constant and it becomes the dominant mineral phase in solutions with high Mg/Ca ratio and low supersaturations”

    So when the ratio Mg/Ca of seawater goes up, the rate of growth of calcite drops, while the rate of of aragonite growth stays the same. At high Mg/Ca ratios the calcite precipitation is so kinetically suppressed that aragonite precipitation dominates.

    To precipitate a significant amount of CaCO3 as calcite, the calcite saturation state must go up:

    “The data show that for increasing solution Mg/Ca ratios, progressively higher supersaturation level is required for calcite precipitation.”

    What is happening now in the oceans as a consecuence of ocean acidification and global warming is not a change in the kinetics of calcification, but a change in the thermodynamic state (i.e. chemical equilibrium) of the oceans. In particular is happening this:

    CO2 +H2O = H2CO3
    H2CO3 = H+ + HCO3-
    CO3(-2) + H+ = HCO3-

    So the concentration of the carbonate ion [CO3(-2)] is dropping as a consecuence of higher pCO2 .
    And as a consecuence of this the saturation state of calcium carbonate is dropping also, because it is the product:

    CaCO3 saturation state = [Ca(+2)][CO3(-2)]/Kps CaCO3

    Where Kps is the solubility product of calcium carbonate.

    When CaCO3 saturation state drops below unity, the water becomes corrosive to calcium carbonate materials. Because aragonite is more soluble than calcite, the first CaCO3 species that go undersaturated is aragonite.

    And in polar regions, CO2 dissolves more easily because the water is cooler. So they are the first to be severely impacted by ocean acidification. In the Arctic, this already happened since 2008.

    You may thought that global warming will offset the acidification by reducing the CO2 solubility in water. But the opposite is true for the Arctic, because there is another big change in addition to water warming: sea ice melting.

    As the sea ice melts, this processes happen:

    1)The meltwater lowers salinity and alkalinity of seawater, diluting the carbonate, lowering [CO3(-2)]
    2)The water over ice-free Arctic is now exposed to air, increasing CO2 dissolution in the seawater
    3)The ocean surface is exposed to Arctic winds enhancing deepwater upwelling. The deepwater is carbonate-depleted.
    4)The water warms, decreasing CO2 solubility in seawater

    Process 1,2,3 overwhelm process 4, producing the observed result : aragonite undersaturation.

    This is explained in the paper:

    “Aragonite Undersaturation in the Arctic Ocean- Effects of Ocean Acidification and Sea Ice Melt”

    http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/pdfs/yamamoto-kawai_aragonite_science2009.pdf

    This process has nothing to do with Mg/Ca ratios, as the meltwater dilutes both Ca and Mg.
    And I said before, a change in Mg/Ca ratios change the kinetics of carbonate deposition, not the thermodynamic state of seawater (i.e. the CaCO3 saturation state)

    So the very interesting discussion of “aragonite/calcite oceans” is not relevant to this case.

    Note: the distinction between Mg/Ca ratios and aragonite/calcite saturation state is not absolute. In geological timescales, higher acidity of the oceans and higher temperatures caused by high CO2 levels increase dissolution of carbonate from the bottom of the sea and from the continents, increasing the saturation state of calcium carbonate because more Ca2+ is dissolved. So the amount of Ca dissolved increase, lowering the Mg/Ca ratio and then leading to “calcite seas”.

    This increase of calcium carbonate saturation state is not contradicting the decrease of calcium carbonate saturation state caused by rapid CO2 releases. A big and rapid CO2 release lowers the CaCO3 saturation state by the chemical reactions above in the short term (i.e. decades to centuries) while on the long term (hundred of thousands to millions of years) increases it. Indeed, that is what happened in the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM): it took 100 000 years for the ocean to recover from CO2-induced calcium carbonate depletion.

  129. Dave – I’m trying to figure out what is going on with ocean acidification and coral reefs. I went to the data link you posted and plotted up the data and they don’t look like the graph you presented – primarily because there are several thousand data points from 60 different cores. I can’t directly compare to the original paper as they don’t show the actual data points but the shape of their curve is very different than the one you posted. I’m wondering what the problem is?

    Thanks

    Doug

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