CO2 deafens “Nemo” – or, how many ichthyologists can you fit in that car?

We’ve already had a “climate craziness of the week” so I’ll just file this bit of blather under another category. First, this article in The Independent, which aims to scare the children.

Now here’s the press release from the University of Bristol. Note the simplistic experiment, followed by broad disclaimers about it, emphasis mine.

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Ocean acidification leaves clownfish deaf to predators

Press release issued 1 June 2011

Baby clownfish use hearing to detect and avoid predator-rich coral reefs during the daytime, but new research from the University of Bristol demonstrates that ocean acidification could threaten this crucial behaviour within the next few decades.

Since the Industrial Revolution, over half of all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the ocean, making pH drop faster than any time in the last 650,000 years and resulting in ocean acidification. Recent studies have shown that this causes fish to lose their sense of smell, but a new study published today in Biology Letters shows that fish hearing is also compromised.

Working with Professor Philip Munday at James Cook University, lead author Dr Steve Simpson of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol reared larvae straight from hatching in different CO2 environments.

“We kept some of the baby clownfish in today’s conditions, bubbling in air, and then had three other treatments where we added extra CO2 based on the predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 2050 and 2100,” Dr Simpson said.

After 17-20 days rearing, Dr Simpson monitored the response of his juvenile clownfish to the sounds of a predator-rich coral reef, consisting of noises produced by crustaceans and fish.

“We designed a totally new kind of experimental choice chamber that allowed us to play reef noise through an underwater speaker to fish in the lab, and watch how they responded,” Dr Simpson continued.  “Fish reared in today’s conditions swam away from the predator noise, but those reared in the CO2 conditions of 2050 and 2100 showed no response.”

This study demonstrates that ocean acidification not only affects external sensory systems, but also those inside the body of the fish. The ears of fish are buried deep in the back of their heads, suggesting lowered pH conditions may have a profound impact on the entire functioning of the sensory system.

The ability of fish to adapt to rapidly changing conditions is not known. Dr Simpson said: “What we have done here is to put today’s fish in tomorrow’s environment, and the effects are potentially devastating. What we don’t know is whether, in the next few generations, fish can adapt and tolerate ocean acidification. This is a one-way experiment on a global scale, and predicting the outcomes and interactions is a major challenge for the scientific community.”

The work was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council UK (Simpson) and the Australian Research Council (Munday).

Paper

‘Ocean acidification erodes crucial auditory behaviour in a marine fish’ by Steve Simpson, Philip Munday, Matt Wittenrich, Rachel Manassa, Danielle Dixson, Monica Gagliano and Hong Yan in Biology Letters.

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Translation: “we put the fish in a significantly different water environment, and they reacted differently”. Anyone who has ever owned a freshwater or saltwater aquarium can tell you about what happens when you transfer fish from the water environment they are used to, to one they aren’t. pH shock and Osmotic shock often often result from the abrupt change. The key is abrupt change, whether embryo or adult, the fish are wired for a specific ocean environment, change that environment abruptly and the fish change too. What they’ve done here is take 40 years of gradual change and compress it to the here and now.

And I have to think, these guys chose the absolute worst fish for the experiment, because I’m betting they didn’t go out and get wild embryos, but rather took the easy path of tank raised clown fish embryos. From Wikipedia:

Clownfish are now reared in captivity by a handful of marine ornamental farms in the USA. Clownfish were the first species of Saltwater fish to successfully be Tank-raised. Tank-raised fish are a better choice for aquarist, because wild-caught fish are more likely to die soon after purchasing them due to the stress of capture and shipping. Also, tank-bred fish are usually more disease resistant and in general are less affected by stress when introduced to the aquarium. Captive bred clownfishes may not have the same instinctual behavior to live in an anemone. They may have to be coaxed into finding the anemone by the home aquarist. Even then, there is no guarantee that the anemone will host the clownfish.

The “may not have the same instinctual behavior to live in an anemone.” is troubling. It suggests that tank raised clownfish may not be “normal”.  And of course when I backtrack to the source method (from the Simpson paper) for obtaining embryos (Munday et al, 2008, referenced in the current paper) I find this:

Clownfish were reared at James Cook University’s experimental aquarium facility where the pH of unmanipulated seawater was 8.15 ± 0.07. This is similar to the pH that pelagic larvae would experience during development in the open ocean (1).

James Cook University in Townsville QLD has direct access to the ocean, so it would seem right that they have direct access to “unmanipulated seawater”. Still, they were tank raised, and that’s a different environment than the ocean and their wild cousins.

Let’s have a look at the paper.

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Ocean acidification erodes crucial auditory behaviour in a marine fish

Stephen D. Simpson1,*,Philip L. Munday2, Matthew L. Wittenrich3, Rachel Manassa2, Danielle L. Dixson2, Monica Gagliano4 and Hong Y. Yan5+Author Affiliations
1School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
2ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
3Fish Ecophysiology, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, USA
4School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
5Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology, Academia Sinica, Jiaoshi, I-Lan County 26242, Taiwan
*Author for correspondence (stephen.simpson@bristol.ac.uk).

Abstract

Ocean acidification is predicted to affect marine ecosystems in many ways, including modification of fish behaviour. Previous studies have identified effects of CO2-enriched conditions on the sensory behaviour of fishes, including the loss of natural responses to odours resulting in ecologically deleterious decisions. Many fishes also rely on hearing for orientation, habitat selection, predator avoidance and communication. We used an auditory choice chamber to study the influence of CO2-enriched conditions on directional responses of juvenile clownfish (Amphiprion percula) to daytime reef noise. Rearing and test conditions were based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions for the twenty-first century: current-day ambient, 600, 700 and 900 µatm pCO2. Juveniles from ambient CO2-conditions significantly avoided the reef noise, as expected, but this behaviour was absent in juveniles from CO2-enriched conditions. This study provides, to our knowledge, the first evidence that ocean acidification affects the auditory response of fishes, with potentially detrimental impacts on early survival.

  • Received March 14, 2011.
  • Accepted May 10, 2011.

Full paper here

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First, note the time-line; it was fast tracked. It went from submission to approval in two months. It seems that according to this journal statement, they go for “fast track science” as a matter of policy:

Articles submitted to Biology Letters benefit from its broad scope and readership, dedicated media promotion and we aim for a turnaround time of within 4 weeks to first decision.

Looks like a paper mill to me.

And, this may indicate the paper was chosen on something other than scientific merit, emphasis mine:

Selection Publishing Criteria

The criteria for acceptance are: scientific excellence, work of outstanding quality and international importance, originality and interest across disciplines within biology. To be acceptable for publication a paper should represent a significant advance in its field, rather than something incremental.

All manuscripts are assessed by a member of the Editorial Board, who advises the Handling Editor on the suitability of the manuscript for Biology Letters. Based on this, the Handling Editor decides whether the paper should be rejected or sent for full peer-review. Many good papers are rejected at this stage on the grounds that they are insufficiently novel, due to high competition for space.

So, “novelty” is  primary acceptance criteria and peer review is on a 4 week fast track. Check.

It seems volume of peer review is celebrated at this journal. That’s something I’ve never seen before in any other journal.

click to enlarge

Quantity, not quality. Check.

What really seems to be missing from this clownfish experiment is a control experiment. For example, did they test the fish by putting them in water that represents the CO2/ ocean environment of 10-40 years ago? I seems they only tested for the future representing 600, 700 and 900 µatm pCO2. Here’s what they say about the method:

The CO2-conditions of our rearing and test environments were current-day ambient (∼390 µatm), and elevated-CO2 treatments (approx. 600, 700 and 900 µatm), consistent with the range of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions for CO2 concentrations at the end of the twenty-first century [2].

This is very important, because the paper assumes that only an increase of CO2 will change clownfish behavior.  Did they test for decreasing CO2 levels and what the fish would do then? Apparently not, and that basic use of a control seemed to have escaped those high volume peer reviewers racing to meet the 4 week deadline.

By not testing for a decreased CO2  situation, they invalidate their own premise. And that’s on top of the fact that they aren’t using wild clownfish embryos and they are making abrupt changes in the water chemistry that generations of the fish have not experienced and doing it only in one direction, up.

This is high school science stuff guys. I wait for an explanation as to why you didn’t test for a decrease to CO2 and the resultant pH on clownfish embryos.

So I wonder, if we take 10 peer reviewers from the “wilds” of science, put them in a think tank, increase the ambient CO2 levels to more than double they are used to, and then tell them they have 4 weeks to review 100 papers, will they still produce good science?

Maybe they need more peer reviewers in that clown car to be sure.

Image: Car and Driver, click for the article

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122 thoughts on “CO2 deafens “Nemo” – or, how many ichthyologists can you fit in that car?

  1. Old but still a nice one:

    A scientist was interested in studying how far bullfrogs can jump. He brought a bullfrog into his laboratory, set it down, and commanded, ‘Jump, frog, jump!’. The frog jumped.

    The scientist measured the distance, then noted in his journal, ‘Frog with four legs jumped siz feet.’

    Then he cut the frog’s front legs off and ordered, ‘Jump, frog, jump!’
    The frog struggled and jumped.

    The scientist noted in his journal, ‘Frog with two legs jumped two feet.’

    Next, the scientist cut off the frog’s back legs. Once more, he shouted, ‘Jump, frog, jump!’
    The frog just lay there.

    ‘Jump, frog, jump!’ the scientist repeated.
    Nothing.

    The scientist noted in his journal, ‘Frog with no legs is deaf.’

  2. They aren’t really deaf. They’re just clowning around. That’s why they’re called “clownfish”. If you try and study their eyesight, they’ll pretend to be blind.

  3. The paleo records clearly show that ocean PH was much more acidic over most of the past 100 million years. There has been a small increase the natural acidic levels of the ocean over the past 10 million years, which clearly cannot be due to human activity.

    Coincidentally, this is about the time that the ice ages began. Perhaps the true cause is temperature not CO2? That temperature is driving CO2 and ocean acidity. After all, CO2 does lag temperature in the paleo records. Something ignored by mainstream climate science and AGW.

    Why would the clownfish go deaf when they evolved in a world where the past acid levels in the ocean were much higher? They are simply returning to a more natural state for the oceans, which are currently quite caustic, possible as a result of the ice ages.

    page 53:

    http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography/faculty/zeebe_files/Publications/ZeebePQ01.pdf

  4. In this experiment, did they take into consideration the bubbles that tank filters make in the water with respect to noise levels, types of noise and the vibrations? Might this play into the factor of the clown fish not responding to the subjected “ocean preditor” noise? Too many factors that are missing that really doesn’t similate the “natural” environment to which the clown fish are exposed. They are assuming the simple things, and not the “complicated” factors of nature.

  5. You couldn’t make it up!!
    What a load of total b******s.
    No doubt we will see Greenpeace sending boats over coral reefs dropping loads of mini ear trumpets.
    What gets me is what sort of mind can think of testing the relationship between global warming and deafness of clownfish, it sounds like something from Monty Python. I had just finished reading the previous posting about the stressed out Banded Morwongs (both of them) and I thought that things could not get any more surreal…..and they did.
    I keep marine tropicals and have a clownfish, they are one of the easiest of fish to keep. They can tolerate extremes of temperature, ph, water hardness and salinity.
    I think to be on the safe side I will take it to the vets for a hearing test, if it has impaired hearing does anyone know if I can get it put on Disability Living Allowance?

  6. From the same source:

    CO2 Ph
    300 8.16
    500 8.04
    1000 7.88
    2000 7.72

    Ph 7 is neutral. So, even if CO2 levels were to reach 2000 ppm, something that will take hundreds of years at rpesent rates, the ocean will STILL BE CAUSTIC.

    The idea that the ocean is becoming acidic is scientific nonsense. The oceans are becoming neutralized. They are becomming less caustic,which should on balance be good for life.

    If the ocean Ph was increasing, if the oceans were moving in the other direction and becoming more caustic, this would be a concern. A caustic solution dissolves living tissue.

    Place some hair in an acid solution. Typically nothing will happen. Now place the hair in a caustic solution. The hair will melt. Commercial hair removers are not acid, they are caustic.

    Place some fat in an acid solution. Typically nothing will happen. Now place the fat in a caustic solution. The fat will melt. This is how soap was originally made. Water poured though the ashes of a fire will produce a caustic solution. Fat then dissolved in this solution produces soap.

    Now imagine that you are a fish swimming in a caustic ocean. For protection you would need a layer of mucous to avoid being dissolved. Thus fish are often referred to a slimy. This is protection against the caustic nature of the current oceans.

    In the past oceans were less caustic, and fish would not have needed the protective layer of mucous. Those fish that evolved a mucous coating survived the oceans becoming more caustic.

  7. Our expectation is that some human embryos in the future may be on a field of grass and passing a ball betwixt them and getting jostled and bumped. So we’ll take these and throw them on that field now and see what happens when the get treated as such.
    We’re sorry to report that it turned out to be a bloody mess. Yes, it’s true that we didn’t give them the benefit of 10-15 years of time to adapt. But if we act now, maybe we can prevent the devastating future that awaits them.

  8. “The work was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council UK (Simpson) and the Australian Research Council (Munday).”

    OMG! This could have been a great Grade 6 science experiment for an 11 year old.

    Can our governments PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP THIS WASTE OF OUR TAX MONEY!!!

  9. hmmm. Given the attractive coloring of said fish, I wonder if they could be used as bait. Just supposin now. No one need to get their knickers in a green-stained bunch.

  10. Were the clownfish tested as a group or as individuals?
    If as a group then there may well be an element of “follow the leader(s)” were it is only one or 2 of the fish that react (or dont react) to the noise and the others just follow them.

  11. “Juveniles from ambient CO2-conditions significantly avoided the reef noise, as expected, but this behaviour was absent in juveniles from CO2-enriched conditions”
    ========================================================
    Follow up study…….
    CO2 enrichment causes clownfish to be better adjusted and not so flighty………

    Anthony, I know these guys. They did not monitor for calcium levels at all. Higher pH results in more calcium in solution in natural conditions, but not in aquarium conditions. They artificially raised the pH with a low calcium level. The pH would have had nothing to do with it if they had maintained buffer and Ca levels.

    This is even below high school science…………but it keeps the money flowing

  12. Pamela Gray says:
    June 4, 2011 at 10:59 am

    hmmm. Given the attractive coloring of said fish, I wonder if they could be used as bait. Just supposin now
    =====================================================
    Pam, they are commonly referred to as sharks in pretty pajamas…….

    They are mean as a snake

  13. Pamela Gray says: “Reminds me of the now thorougly “green-peaced” fish and wildlife dullards who recently collared a wolf here in NE Oregon and ended up with a dead collared wolf less than a week later.”

    After necropsy, cause of death remains unknown, but $10,000 in rewards have been offered.

    http://www.kval.com/news/local/118177039.html

    http://www.wkrg.com/news/article/10000-in-rewards-offered-in-killing-of-ore.-wolf/1055053/Oct-08-2010_3-09-pm/

  14. Hummm, aside from the noise of the bubbles, could Nemo have found himself experiencing hypoxia from the artificially induce high levels of CO2, hence rendering him unresponsive and making one pectoral fin smaller that the other ?

    Hummmm, why did I waste my time even thinking about it :~)

  15. Honestly, I’d really like to meet these authors and rip into them. What a complete waste of public money and very poor ‘science’ to boot.

  16. “The oceans are becoming neutralized. They are becomming less caustic,which should on balance be good for life.”

    Absolute nonsense. Do not make statements regarding other people’s supposed scientific ignorance based on your own sixth grade understanding of the prionciples involved. Different organisms have differing requirements wrt pH, and there is nothing inherently and universally ‘good for life’ about neutral pH. Some organisms, like most fish, do best in moderatley basic pH environments. For such organisms, a change to somewhat more basic conditions (‘more caustic’ in your terms) would be better thana change toward more neutral conditions, which could be lethal.

  17. Did they have a calcium carbonate source such as a bed of shells which would react ?
    The ocean does have this, and so pumping in CO2 could have an effect very different to that seen in a bare tank.

  18. But does the CO2 enriched ocean water have the same affect on the predator fish larvae, creating predators that can’t hunt as well? Loss of hearing & smell among predator fish would seem to balance out the playing field

  19. How many holes are there any this study? Enough to drive Al Gore’s houseboat through it, in my opinion. Anthony has pointed out several, but here is an additional one I see.

    First, flight responses are learned mechanisms. A fish learns to swim to safety when it hears a predator because either it sees another fish swim away and imitates that other fish or it swims away when the threat develops further and it learns a safe place to go to not be eaten. Fish are not born with an “instinct” to swim away when they hear a noise; if they were, there would be a lot more fish in the world.

    So, the experiment involved using speakers to introduce sounds in the tanks. You notice no threat was introduced along with the sound. Which means the fish did not have a reason to swim away or learn the behavior of swimming to safety. There is no proof that the fish did not hear the sound, only that they did not react. If they have no reason to react to a sound (a predator or other threat), then why would they react.

    There might be reason to believe they did not hear the sound if these were fish raised in the wild, and already familiar with the sound and the survival response needed there. But these were tank raised fish, which presumably means they had never been exposed to a threat consistent with the recorded sounds. Also, the normal flight response of clownfish is to get back within the protective environs on the anemone they make their home. As pointed out by Anthony, tank raised clownfish are less likely to view the anemone as home, and must be “coaxed” into finding the anemone.

    I might consider this a valid experiment if the way they initially introduced the predatory sound into the tank was by releasing a predator into the tank. If the fish did not learn to respond to the sound after repeated exposure to attacks by the predator, then you could say that there was a likelihood that something in the environment of the fish was responsible. As is, there are too many possibilities for the source of the lack of response to lay the blame at one of them.

  20. As well as differences in available carbonates from bare tank to sea floor, bubbling in the CO2 using tiny bubble injectors or suchlike is different from surface transfer of gases.

    They should just have enriched the atmosphere, not injected CO2 …why make it even more artificial than necessary ?

  21. after all Sharks respond to hearing signals, the splashing/thrashing of a sick or injured fish, and odor signals, blood in the water from miles away.

  22. ferd berple says:
    June 4, 2011 at 10:46 am
    From the same source:

    Ph 7 is neutral. So, even if CO2 levels were to reach 2000 ppm, something that will take hundreds of years at rpesent rates, the ocean will STILL BE CAUSTIC.

    This is a very important point. “acidification” is another misnomer like “carbon” and “Warming”. Also, it is SURFACE “decaustification”…note that the entire ocean is not being “acidified”. But the word “surface” is quicly dropped from all discussions, so as to amplify the impact of “Ocean”. Implying that a trace of CO2 is capapable of not only acidfying, but doing so to the entire water column. And notice that “climate change” is not mentioned in “acidifcation” scare terms. It’s just the “carbon”.

    Listening to the likes of Dr. Suzuki speaking about ocean acidifation, it sounds like a horrible catastrophe…which ignores the ocean’s enormous buffering capability. “Surface acidifcation” would be dissipated by wave action, and completely erased by storm mixing. Basically, and astoundingly trite scare with all the credibility of a grocery-store check-out rag. It is indeed ironic that the clownfish (Nemo-cute) is selected as the control.

  23. Anthony: Referees are often thanked by their journals because they aren’t paid, and, it takes a lot of time. I just went to a dinner where they called out referees and thanked them for being top producers. It’s not a mark of a bad journal, rather a quite normal journal.

    REPLY: I’m not saying thanking referees is a bad thing, only that I’ve never seen a “top reviewers” page. It reminds me of the “top producers” page we see on real estate websites. Given the fast track, I doubt peer review at Biology Letters is extensive nor difficult. It seems more like rubber stamping to me. – Anthony

  24. But wait! What if there’s a quantum effect going on here? What if the mere observation of clownfish hearing turns the fish into deaf mutes (not sure how talkative clownfish may be in the first place). The greenies may be deafening our clownfish!

  25. I can see the cartoon.

    One clownfish in a tank nudges another and says “the human is back.”
    The second fish says “he’s just another AGW nutter, ignore him.”

  26. Colder water dissolves and holds more CO2 than warmer water. If the CO2 increase is causing global warming, then the ocean water temperatures will increase too, causing a proportionally smaller amount of CO2 to be dissolved and_ raising_ the pH. If these researchers simply acidified water using some sort of CO2 reactor, rather than place the fish tank in a room that has more CO2 in the air and a higher temperature, then they are creating conditions that are not reflecting the expected climate where both air CO2 content and temperature are higher.

  27. Partial pressure of carbon dioxide in living tissue is an order of magnitude or two higher than environmental partial pressure. As bones, including fish earbones grow inside the body, this study can’t be anything but crap.

  28. Looking at this Wiki, and curious about historic CO2 cycles, you can see graphs of CO2 measurements derived from ice cores, and from other sources

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth's_atmosphere

    Look at this graph

    Note that the present day is to the left on the graph, and note that historically, CO2 levels were MUCH higher than they are today

    It would seem to me that most of our marine life actually evolved on the earth when CO2 levels were much higher than they are today…

    Chris Shaker

  29. How Dangerous is Chicken Little of the Sea to poor little Nemo?

    Ocean acidification can only occur if Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) is rising faster than Total Alkalinity (TA). This nomogram demonstrates the relationship of TA & DIC to pH…

    TA vs. DIC and pH (Zeebe and Wolf-Gladrow)

    According to Dore et al., 2009, “Over the past 250 years, the mean pH of the surface global ocean has decreased from ≈8.2 to 8.1… This acidification of the sea is driven by the rapidly increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, which results from fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and other human activities. Models predict that surface ocean pH may decline by an additional 0.3–0.4 during the 21st century”… A total pH decline of 0.4 to 0.5 (8.2 to 7.7 or 7.6).

    I used a linear regression to estimate TA and DIC at ~275 and ~550 ppmv…

    TA & DIC vs. Atmospheric CO2, extrapolated back to 275 and forward to 550 ppmv

    If I plot their in situ TA vs in situ DIC and extrapolated it as above (red curve), I get a very strong correlation (R^2=0.72); but I don’t get anything close to a 0.5 to 0.6 pH decline from a doubling of pre-industrial CO2 levels. I get a total decline of 0.16 (8.30 to 8.14) due to a doubling of pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 levels.

    Hawaii Ocean Time-series, Station ALOHA: TA vs DIC. Red curve = in situ. Blue curve = Calibrated to salinity of 35

    The only way I get a pH decline comparable to 0.4 to 0.5 is when I use the TA and DIC values that were normalized to a salinity of 35 (blue curve). This yields a pH decline of 0.44 (8.40 to 7.96); but it is a horrible correlation (R^2=0.05). TA and DIC are highly correlated to salinity(R^2=0.88, 0.74). DIC has a moderate correlation (R^2=0.39) and TA has a weak correlation (R^2=0.12) to atmospheric CO2. The normalization of TA and DIC to a constant salinity subdues the buffering provided by salinity; while amplifying the acidification effect of increasing CO2. A realistic treatment of salinity, yields an insignificant lowering of pH from a doubling of pre-industrial CO2. Chicken Little of the Sea does not appear to be very dangerous.

    Pelejero et al., 2005 demonstrated that the pH of seawater in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) fluctuates on a cycle correlative to the PDO. The oscillation has a period of ~50 years and an amplitude of ~0.3 pH units. The study in question suggests that the total acidification caused by a doubling of pre-industrial CO2 will be less than the amplitude of the natural pH cycle. Nemo has “already been there” and “done that” many times before.

    Pelejero et al., 2005, Fig. 1

    If Nemo really is deafened by pH fluctuations… How did he survive the natural pH oscillation demonstrated by Pelejero?

  30. AGW Scientists searching for taxpayer money.

    Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.

  31. Once again we are engaging in a debate based on one of the implicit fallacies that dominate present science. In this case the notion that the conventionally accepted number for mean oceanic pH actually tells us anything about the pH conditions at any random point in space and time anywhere in the oceans. Wooton 2008, which analyzed 10s of thousands of pH measurements collected over an 8 year period and produced the usual alarming decline in pH in their analysis.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/48/18848.full.pdf+html

    Like most of the science around this topic, the real news in the data they collected. On the second page of the PDF are two graphs which show the range of values they measured over temporal scales from time of day to the full 8 year length of the study. The range begins at 0.2-0.3 for TOD and grows progressively through each increasing increment until at the full length of the study it reaches 7.5- 9.1. This is for a study area of ocean that is barely larger than a Midwestern hobby farm.
    The point is that whatever the mean pH of seawater is doing has as much to do with what’s happening at any particular locality as GISTemp has to do with what’s happening in your backyard. If life in the oceans were as sensitive to minute variations in pH as has been suggested, almost all of it would have disappeared aeons ago.
    There are also several works out there which suggest that mean pH, like most every natural phenomenon, varies cyclically over a larger range than is currently being noted, on time scales similar to the major multidecadal oscilllations.

  32. There is worthwhile information in the Supplementary Material document to this paper.

    First is the effect of CO2 on the aquarium water from Table S1:
    mean pH_____total alkalinity_____pCO2
    8.15_________1984___________391_(present day)
    7.99_________1992___________613_(IPCC B2)
    7.93_________1986___________718_(IPCC A1B)
    7.86_________2015___________876_(IPCC A1F1)

    Total alkalinity is micromoles/kg. Over the pCO2 range, pH dropped by 0.29 units, while total alkalinity either remained unaffected or even increased slightly. The pH change means the dissolved hydrogen ion concentration nearly doubled, but the water remained alkaline. Mostly what happened is a shift in the dissolved carbonate-bicarbonate equilibrium. But there was also an increase in the total concentration of dissolved CO2, which increased the total concentration of dissolved carbonate.

    Notice that even though the pH decreased, the total available alkalinity apparently slightly increased. Typically, this should not have happened if there were only a shift in the carbonate-bicarbonate equilibrium due to more dissolved CO2. So, possibly with increasing CO2, more alkalinity also entered the system. This might occur if the higher dissolved CO2 concentration led to dissolution of metal oxide particulates. There may be a secondary marine-water buffering mechanism on display here.

    The authors titrated total alkalinity, but didn’t say to what pH or give repetitions or error bars. So, it might be that all four values are statistically identical, i.e., total alkalinity = 1994(+/-)14= micromoles/kg unchanged and 0.7% experimental error.

    Another interesting part of the SI is the test for the effects of increased [CO2] on the fish otolith (calcareous ear-pellet). They did a variety of very nice measurements and found that, “, it appears that CO2 did not significantly modify the growth, size or shape of the otoliths in any consistent way, and there was no relationship between the few identified changes and the elicited behaviour in the choice chambers.

    There was also no change in olfactory apparatus with pCO2 (clownfish pay attention to odor).

    So, whatever was going on, the observed difference in auditory-driven behavior was not due to any difficulty in forming calcium carbonate otoliths in a lower pH, higher [CO2], higher bicarbonate environment. The authors had to invoke speculative causes, including difficulties maintaining internal acid-base balance (well-regulated, seems very unlikely), compromised sensory processing (due to decreased alkalinity), or lower-alkalinity-induced stress. These last are all hypotheses that save the results and would require further testing.

    Following from Anthony’s discussion of aquarium-bred fish, from the SI: “Clownfish larvae (Amphiprion ephippium), received as eggs from a commercial hatchery (Vince Rado at Oceans, Reefs and AquariumsTM)….” All the fish were from commercial stocks that had been bred to survive under artificial conditions. We don’t know how many generations had been born in captivity, or their selection pressures during breeding. Nor do we know whether the founding stock represented the full genetic diversity of the wild population, or even whether it included the full array of predator-avoidance genes (the progenitor fish were caught, after all).

    So, there’s no intrinsic reason to think these fish represented the behavioral repertoire of their wild-type cousins.

    Here’s another interesting point from the SI: “The daytime recording of a high quality reef in a marine protected area included both snapping shrimp and multiple sources of fish calls … Although taken outside the natural species range of A. percula, this recording was selected as it had elicited a clear negative response by reef fish larvae in a previous experiment [4]….”

    So, the reef sounds to which the clownfish juveniles were exposed were sounds to which their founding stock had had no evolutionary exposure. But anyway other fish had been frightened by those sounds and so they must be valid for clownfish, too.

    So the experiment involved farmbred fish removed from their unknown foundational gene array by unknown breeding pressures, and that were exposed to sounds for which they would in any case have had no evolutionary experience.

    I looked at reference [4], in which reef fish larvae were shown to avoid the same reef sounds as those used by the authors. The authors offered this as justification for their use of the same recording. But the workers of reference [4] had trapped wild type fish from a reef, and had recorded their reef sounds from a nearby reef. So those fish would have had their full evolutionary grant and were exposed to sounds to which they had evolutionary experience. The reference [4] experiment is hardly comparable at all, and seems to provide no valid justification to the farm-bred clownfish study.

    This is also interesting from the SI: “Higher frequency sounds above the hearing range of clownfish were filtered out in Avisoft SASLab Pro (Avisoft Bioacoustics, Berlin, Germany) using a 2 kHz low pass filter (IIR Time Domain, Tschebyscheff 8th order).

    From article reference [4]: “Generally, settlement-stage fish are more attracted to the higher frequency components of reef sound (made predominantly by invertebrates), relative to the original recording and the filtered lower frequencies alone, so sound appears to be more than just a broad indicator of reef location and may provide specific information used in settlement site selection. What is not yet understood is how widespread acoustic cue use is. With the exception of one study carried out on sub-tropical rocky reef fish (Tolimieri et al. 2000), the remaining seven in situ studies that have shown positive phonotactic responses of larval fish to coral reef sound were all carried out at Lizard Island.

    So, the response of larval fish to sounds is not well understood. Are clownfish juveniles sensitive to frequencies beyond strictly auditory detection? Does anyone know? Could filtering out the higher frequencies have handicapped the response of the clownfish? It appears to be not known on how many levels fish respond to acoustic stimuli. Removing the high frequencies certainly adds another variable to the experiment.

    In researching this article a bit I found a very nice symposium review on the response of juvenile fish to environmental cues, including auditory and olfactory. It’s J.M. Leis, U. Siebeck, and D.L. Dixson (2011) “How Nemo Finds Home: The Neuroecology of Dispersal and of Population Connectivity in Larvae of Marine Fishes” Integr. Comp. Biol. 1-18 doi: 10.1093/icb/icr004. The abstract is available here. They note that, “A detailed examination of hearing in fishes is presented by Popper et al. (2003) and Higgs et al. (2006), but it is worth noting the caveat of Montgomery et al. (2006) that there may be undiscovered means of hearing.” One would think that under these circumstances, filtering natural sounds as the authors did is ill-advised.

    After covering a lot of ground, Leis, et al., end the section on acoustic responses with this wonderful observation: “In the 1990s, when one of us first began to wonder if fish larvae could use sounds from reefs to find appropriate sites for settlement, he was advised by a physiologist to read a text book on fishes in order to find out why this would not be possible. Fish larvae continue to surprise us with their capabilities and the way they do things. We should not let theoretical arguments about the function of sensory systems we do not fully understand deter us from directly investigating just what these little fishes can do. It is clear that we do not yet fully understand how hearing works in fishes, and there may be surprises in store as we try to find out. (bolding added)”

    The dismissive comment by the physiologist to go read a standard textbook should ring familiar to those who have expressed skepticism about the projected torrid climate in our future. The great wisdom expressed in that paragraph provides a very large lesson for climate modelers.

    Article reference [4] is: Heenan, A., Simpson, S. D. & Braithwaite, V. A. (2009) “Testing the generality of acoustic cue use at settlement in larval coral reef fish” Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, 554-558.

  33. How did they increase the “acidity” of the water and maintain it “high”? By bubbling CO2 through it?

    The poor bugges were probably deaf before the experiment started.

  34. Why only subject the “baby” clownfish to this thuggery?

    Don’t they want to know if the adults go deaf too?

  35. Thanks, Anthony, interesting find. As someone who has spent a lot of time hanging around under the sea with Nemo, I have to laugh at the idea that you can study the ocean in an aquarium. The ocean has a host of other processes going on that simply don’t exist in an aquarium. Three of these deserve mention–natural swings in pH, buffering reactions, and the effect of life itself.

    First, coral reefs are net producers of CO2. Their production varies on a day and night cycle, as with land organisms. As a result, the creatures that live on and around the coral reefs, such as the reef fish like the clown fish, are routinely exposed to much higher levels of dissolved CO2 than indicated in the aquarium. And despite all the dire warnings, this increased CO2 does not seem to bother them.

    Second, there are a host of natural buffering reactions in the ocean. Among these are variations in the depth of the lysocline (the depth in the ocean below which the rate of dissolution of calcite increases sharply), as well as changes in the carbonate compensation depth (the depth at which calcite dissolves completely). These variations stabilize and buffer the entire oceanic carbonate system. Because they occur only at the high pressures of great depths, they are not replicated in the aquarium.

    Third, the balances of the chemicals in the ocean are not set by the thermodynamic energetics of the chemical reactions involved. Instead, they are set by the life in the ocean. The ocean is a huge “sea of life” in the most literal of senses. And as a result, all kinds of chemical reactions take place in the ocean that would never occur in an aquarium. Life is famous for pushing all kinds of chemical reactions the wrong way. Life has dozens of tricks, enzymes, special methods, that it uses to convince the local chemicals that they should do something other than what they set out to do.

    See my previous thread on The Electric Oceanic Acid Test for further discussion of oceanic alkalinity.

    So here’s my bon mot for the day — aquariums are to alarmists’ claims about the ocean, what models are to alarmists claims about the climate–an easily manipulated environment where one can speed up the rate at which one produces incorrect answers.

    w.

  36. The behavior of tank spawned Clown Fishes is not “natural”. This is a well documented fact that any marine aquarium professional is aware of. The cause is not known. I am also suspecting that any effects noticed, are from environmental change stress and not from environmental stress! And let us not forget that Clown Fish are quite aggressive. The behavior mentioned can be cause by increased aggressiveness. On top of this, about 10 percent of the fry will be “super males”. These are highly aggressive individuals who’s whole meaning in life is to provide targets for predators thus allowing the other fry to escape. Netting out fry will always result in a population biased toward the aggressive.

  37. Have to agree with Willis. How many ‘aberrant’ behaviours of animals in zoos have been observed?

    You just can’t equate laboratory conditions with real life ones.

  38. Dr Simpson said: “What we have done here is to put today’s fish in tomorrow’s environment, and the effects are potentially devastating. ”

    I bet the predators aren’t devastated. And the clown fish I spoke to said ‘you can’t hear much in this tank becase of the sound of CO2 being bubbled in, it’s quite hypnotic.’

  39. Willis beat me to it and doubtlessly did a much better job. I have a hard time believing that any significant change to ocean pH could be affected by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 100-200 ppm. The ocean is a gigantic buffer system.

  40. Thanks, Anthony. This poor excuse for science ticks me off, as ocean acidification from carbon dioxide is, in fact, a valid concern versus make-believe scenarios for global warming. In fact, I have publicly stated that acidification is the ONLY scenario of concern.

    These idiot advocate/scientists are muddying up real environmental concerns with their bald-faced appeals to the heartstrings of the youth. Acidification from the production of carbonic acid due to atmospheric deposition of fossil carbon dioxide is, it appears, a valid environmental concern.

    This link is to an excellent publication on the topic:

    http://royalsociety.org/Ocean-acidification-due-to-increasing-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide/

    The real risk isn’t to the corals, but rather, to the ecosystem of the surface interface, where seawater meets atmosphere and where sunlight can penetrate, stimulating ocean photosynthesis. This “euphotic zone” boundary layer is under assault from many toxic influences, of which carbon dioxide is only one. The combination of carbonic acid buildup with fertilizer runoff, air pollution deposition and other toxic influences seems to be having a measurable impact on the ocean ecosystem.

    If we lose the photosynthesis in this layer, we are in a world of hurt, and I find the best studies of this phenomena to be quite compelling and convincing. We are already seeing inhibition of calcifying phytoplankton and other organisms which make up the base of the food web in the ocean.

    Sorry to disappoint anyone. For those who truly think CO2 is biologically innocuous, please keep in mind that we warning labels on dry-cleaning bags for a very good reason.

    Best, CRS, DrPH, University of Illinois of course.

  41. Willis wrote: “… an easily manipulated environment where one can speed up the rate at which one produces incorrect answers”.

    Now that has made my day! :) Thanks.

  42. I am ashamed to be English. I have been ashamed for years. I hope I won’t be ashamed for too much longer. I never used to be ashamed.

    Revolution now please.

  43. W.
    To me, as a chemist (post-graduate, if it matters), buffering, given the huge reserves of CaCO3 (limestone) and of dolomite, has always made me dismiss any ‘acidification’ (sic) alarmism.
    You third point is, to me, novel (although elegantly expressed). I agree.
    Garbage.

  44. Well, saltwater aquariums generally need a pH from 7.6 to 8.4, which from the table in an above comment represents an atmospheric CO2 level between 0 to 2000 ppm.

    Anyway, a few minutes ago I was inspired to perform a somewhat similar experiment on one of the large goldfish in my outdoor pond. I wanted to see how it would react to a future climate where both temperatures and CO2 levels are elevated, and to eliminate the myriad variables involved with water chemistry I did the experiment in the air by holding him over my grill with a pair of tongs. This provided both higher temperatures and greatly enhanced CO2 levels. Unfortunately, the fish died. :^(

    My conclusion is that pond fish are under direct threat of extinction due to CAGW.

  45. It seems obvious that since there is no mearurable warming, and thus no climate emergency, that the fearmongers are now shifting to oceanic acidification in order to achieve their anti-human agenda.

  46. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks, Anthony. This poor excuse for science ticks me off, as ocean acidification from carbon dioxide is, in fact, a valid concern
    ===================================================
    Quick question….

    The oldest know coral reef, scleractinia that laid down calcium skeletons (aragonite), is thought to be at least 450 millions years old. At that time, CO2 levels were also thought to be 10-20 times higher than they are now.
    Since we know that we can not raise CO2 levels 10-20 times higher…..

    How do you explain the evolution of aragonite forming corals in the Paleozoic, when CO2 levels were in the thousands ppm?

  47. So I wonder, if we take 10 peer reviewers from the “wilds” of science, put them in a think tank, increase the ambient CO2 levels to more than double they are used to, and then tell them they have 4 weeks to review 100 papers, will they still produce good science?

    Naw, just send them in a coal mine with a shovel and a honey bucket. Then we’ll check to see if the elevated CO2 has dulled thier senses.
    Next, we’ll offer them the choice between a cold carbonated drink and a warm glass of the same with all the CO2 bubbled off.
    Last, the choice will be between a hot shower at IPCC ph levels and a cold one at 395 ppm.
    It’s all about the senses, right?
    Finally, before allowed to sit down and eat supper, turn in todays ‘scientific’ findings.

  48. There is a very good reason why they did not test with a higher PH than today’s ocean, that way more research (read funding) is needed.

  49. Worse, with the elevation of atmospheric CO2, people likewise “could” be going deaf at an unprecedented rate! And, worse yet, surely Climate Science has accumulated a bunch of people who seem to have some kind of diffuse gray matter defect, so it could be drawing those most severely affected by “acid brain”? – while they seem to be more caustic at the same time, to boot.

    Nah, I’m thinking fish control their internal pH to a certain optimal level, just like people do via automatically adjusting their respiratory rate and depth, with “metabolic” adjustments to follow if necessary. Fish don’t have cell phones yet, do they?

  50. I think the experiment could also be showing that the higher CO2 levels improve clown fish eyesight and intelligence so that although they were hearing a threatening noise they did not see anything threatening and concluded there was no need to react.

  51. The ocean’s ph is >= 7.4, varying depending on where you are. For the immediate time frame it is not acidic or even getting more acidic. It may be becoming less basic, but I’d need to see the numbers on that. What ever it is I cannot imagine any reason why it would remain what it is. There is no controlling authority on seawater ph (to paraphrase Al Gore). As such it will change as conditions mandate. I do wonder though how much CO2 it would take to move that much seawater 0.4 points on the ph scale.

  52. “Since the Industrial Revolution, over half of all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the ocean, making pH drop faster than any time in the last 650,000 years and resulting in ocean acidification. Recent studies have shown that this causes fish to lose their sense of smell, but a new study published today in Biology Letters shows that fish hearing is also compromised.”
    ============
    Nature is once again underestimated, and misunderstood.

  53. My hands are not big enough to do a proper facepalm to this nonsense. AGW is now
    jumping the clownfish.

  54. “Recent studies have shown that this causes fish to lose their sense of smell, but a new study published today in Biology Letters shows that fish hearing is also compromised.”
    ========================================================
    This is too easy to fact check…..

    Amemone fish/clownfish (Amphiprioninae) evolved from a common ancestor during the early Eocene, ~50 million year ago. They locate their symbiotic anemones by smell and communicate with each other through a series of “clicks”.
    The Eocene was an optimum with high temperatures and high CO2 levels (~1000 ppm).

    If high CO2 levels did this, they would not have evolved, they would not have been able to evolve symbiotic mutualisms with sea anemones, and would not be able to communicate and establish partnerships…..

    According to these dimwits being able to hear and smell would be a recent development that had to have happened after these fish evolved.

  55. The fact that a lot of questionable research has recently originated from James Cook University should not prejudice this experiment. However, serious questions must be raised about this one.

    1. In my early days at research, I was involved in maze studies with rats. It was almost impossible to eliminate the clues they use, which are not the clues we present them in the experiment. Consequently, doing behavioural studies on fish in tanks or in the sea, must be viewed with the greatest suspicion as the opportunity of unintended clues is far larger.

    2. The fact that these scientists blindly assume the propaganda of the IPCC must disqualify them outright. Should it not be their duty to remain skeptical and to inform themselves of contradicting studies and the complexities of the chemistry of CO2 and acidity in ocean water? Why then did they cherry-pick studies that support their bias while ignoring contradictory ones? Why were they not critical of their own experiment?

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

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

    http://www.co2science.org/

    3. There are highly questionable issues with their experiments:
    a. Bubbling CO2 into tank water to increase acidity is fraught with side effects because it does not mimic a natural situation in time, calcium buffering and locally high concentrations. To their credit, they bubbled enriched air rather than pure CO2.
    b. measured alkalinity did not change, which is strange but not mentioned.
    c. The experimental setup is not symmetrical.
    d. Their lining of the tanks with polystyrene to dampen sound is flawed because the air bubbles in polystyrene are perfect sound reflectors under water whereas above water they are not.
    e. Sound was played only before releasing the fish who had to rely on memory in order to make a choice.
    f. They tried to prove a predetermined position ‘increased levels of CO2 are detrimental’ rather than satisfying scientific curiosity where any outcome is an outcome.

    4. The outcome of the experiment is that it is a failed experiment. They found a difference between fish that had no increase in CO2 and those that had. They did not find any effect of further increasing levels of CO2. So somehow between 400 and 600ppm a mysterious ‘jump’ occurred which was not further investigated. Neither did they try Beethoven’s Sonata or just pure tones. Rushed to publication. Scientific? Sad.

  56. Translation of all that, we have lost this generation to the global warming cause so now we are concentrating on the next generation, other people’s children, and if we can capture their minds we have won.

    Parents are being blindsided by these creeps who are so low in moral character they have no problem scaring children with their fraud.

  57. To be honest, if all my bones went a bit wobbly and stopped working properly, going deaf would be the least of my worries.

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to eliminate all of the predators ? has anyone asked the clownfish

  58. Even presuming the effect claimed is real, the authors apparently overlook that little-known biological mechanism called natural selection. Presuming that any acidification proceeds gradually across multiple generations of Nemo fish it is highly likely an adapted version will evolve.

  59. Latitude says:
    June 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm
    CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks, Anthony. This poor excuse for science ticks me off, as ocean acidification from carbon dioxide is, in fact, a valid concern
    ===================================================
    Quick question….

    The oldest know coral reef, scleractinia that laid down calcium skeletons (aragonite), is thought to be at least 450 millions years old. At that time, CO2 levels were also thought to be 10-20 times higher than they are now.
    Since we know that we can not raise CO2 levels 10-20 times higher…..

    How do you explain the evolution of aragonite forming corals in the Paleozoic, when CO2 levels were in the thousands ppm?
    ======
    REPLY As I said previously, I am quite unconcerned about anything to do with corals.

    My concern is with photosynthesis, nothing else. Many of the phytoplankton that form the base of the food web incorporate calcium into their structure (coccolithophores for example), and the steady “rain” of dead/dying photic detritis is the source of nutrition for the grazing organisms below. It’s an amazing ecosystem.

    Don’t give me this Paleozoic b.s., I could care less…..the ecosystem was totally different then. I’m using the tools of modern toxicology applied to an environmental problem. The data I’m reading is compelling. FYI, nobody in the climate community agrees with me….they all buy into the CAGW nonsense spun by Holdren, Hansen et.al

  60. Well, there was no actual predator in the test, so it would appear that the increasing CO2 protocol improved the ability of the fish to maintain a rational response to their environment. Fish are not entirely stupid. I sat on a veranda at a hotel in Hawaii, once. The restaurant was surrounded by a moat full of fish. Diners would occasionally toss a fragment of bread out onto the water, where it would be shredded instantly by dozens of fish.

    Equipped with a roll or two, I found that the fish would not only react to a piece of bread, but to an arm raised as if throwing a piece of bread. Now the question you must answer is this: How many times would these stupid fish respond to an arm that didn’t throw any bread? Twenty times? Ten times? More? Fewer?

    Well, the answer is about three times. That’s how long it took most of them to learn that not every arm threw bread and to adapt. By the fifth breadless toss, there were no fish responding at all. How long would it have taken them to figure out that a simulated predator noise had no predator to go with it? Not long, I expect.

    Note that (as near as I can tell) there is no reported correlation coefficient for the results of the experiment. Note also that the results indicate that the percentage of fish swimming in the half of the apparatus closest to the speaker was 27%, 58% 64% and 61% (reading by eye) for 400, 600, 700 and 900 ppm, respectively. It never went to zero, even for the lowest concentration. The significance of the half-way point in the apparatus is moot, particularly since it would appear from above comments that the entire apparatus may have been acoustically live.

    Since the speed of sound in water varies somewhat with dissolved gas concentrations, it may be that the recorded noise was distorted in the presence of more CO2 sufficiently to no longer emulate a predator. What would happen in actual ocean conditions might be totally different. I’d be curious to know whether cavitation bubbles accumulated at the speaker during the experiments, which would have invalidated the method. I’d also be very curious to know whether fish positions were tracked by automatic methods or by methods with a subjective component. Differences in fish positions may have been transient as the fish adapted to the test. Longer tests may have revealed similar results for all concentrations.

  61. “Sorry to disappoint anyone. For those who truly think CO2 is biologically innocuous, please keep in mind that we warning labels on dry-cleaning bags for a very good reason.” –CRS, DrPH, University of Illinois of course.

    False analogy. QED, PDQ, SPQR, QSDF.

  62. Pat Frank says: June 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm
    Thank you, Pat, for a proper scientific follow-up. Older chemists are taught this material as second nature. You saved me from having to write it.
    Even Wiki advises caution – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PH#Seawater
    “The pH of seawater plays an important role in the ocean’s carbon cycle, and there is evidence of ongoing ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide emissions. However, pH measurement is complicated by the chemical properties of seawater, and several distinct pH scales exist in chemical oceanography.
    “As part of its operational definition of the pH scale, the IUPAC defines a series of buffer solutions across a range of pH values (often denoted with NBS or NIST designation). These solutions have a relatively low ionic strength (~0.1) compared to that of seawater (~0.7), and, as a consequence, are not recommended for use in characterising the pH of seawater, since the ionic strength differences cause changes in electrode potential. To resolve this problem, an alternative series of buffers based on artificial seawater was developed. This new series resolves the problem of ionic strength differences between samples and the buffers, and the new pH scale is referred to as the total scale, often denoted as pHT.” etc.
    Despite these difficulties, an approximation of the variation of pH with ocean depth is given in White http://www.imwa.info/geochemistry/Chapters/Chapter15.pdf
    and shown as a graph here: http://www.geoffstuff.com/Ocean_pH_White.jpg
    We know that some mixing of waters occur between depths, so this is a further difficulty when measuring ocean pH. The deeper waters are quite acid compared to the Amphiprion spp. habitats described.
    These poor little Clownfish were not even tested for old sound versus new sounds. Would they run from Lady Gaga and crowd to hear Beethoven?

    Sorry, James Cook Uni was one of my alma maters, but this paper is best used for yesterday’s fish wrapper.

  63. A preliminary study with a sample size of n=2 in a house-hosted tank indicates that 50% of goldfish do like to listen to “Back in Black” by AC/DC.

    That, or one of them is raving mad and believes it’s a great white shark. Amazing what a little more CO2 in the air can do!

  64. Since surface waters are solidly within the alkali section of the pH table and will remain there due to the bicarbonate loop of the reaction dissolving CO2 into sea water I do not see a problem.

    And for a fish to use noise as a predator defense when coral reefs are very noisy places I find somewhat unbelievable. And in that background predator fish would be like silent assassins.

  65. No doubt, a document soon to be quoted as further proof of whatever alarmist BS the IPCC wishes to highlight in its next fantasy report on climate.

    It is self-evident this piece of ‘research’ is complete rubbish.

    I have read and agree on the many comments here on the differences between fishing living in the ocean and an aquarium, but nobody has mentioned the Pooh Factor.

    I should imagine the fish pooh to fish ratio is very much higher in an aquarium than in the ocean. Being forced to live in an environment containing a high level of your own excrement is likely to be detrimental to your health, including possibly affecting your hearing.

    Ridiculous comment? Of course it is, but it is probably better science than the original ‘research’ article.

  66. These cute & colourful clownfish have been imbued with a public endearment by Hollywood. This is undoubtedly the main factor being played on to instil public reaction through the MSM (note the widespread reference to them as ‘Nemo’ fish).
    While these cute little creatures might be near the bottom of the oceanic foodchain, what most of the victims of this emotional propaganda don’t seem to realise is they are at the bottom of another foodchain. As taxpayers they are the fodder being used to fund this sort of nonsense.

  67. Floor Anthoni says:
    June 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm
    “3. There are highly questionable issues with their experiments:
    a. Bubbling CO2 into tank water to increase acidity is fraught with side effects because it does not mimic a natural situation in time, calcium buffering and locally high concentrations. To their credit, they bubbled enriched air rather than pure CO2.”

    I am not a chemist but i had this idea as well… Looks like the chemistry in their experiment is not even a realistic simulation of what would happen in a real ocean with atmospheric CO2 slowly rising over the next decades…

  68. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm
    REPLY As I said previously, I am quite unconcerned about anything to do with corals.
    My concern is with photosynthesis, nothing else. Many of the phytoplankton that form the base of the food web incorporate calcium into their structure
    Don’t give me this Paleozoic b.s., I could care less….
    =======================================================
    Then you need to learn a little about corals….

    Corals are active feeders on phytoplankton, zooplankton, etc.
    In order for corals to have evolved in that period, that period also had to have had massive quantities of phytoplankton and zooplankton which incorporate calcium into their structure to support those corals.
    Corals would not have evolved if conditions were not optimum and the main requirement for optimum is massive quantities of phytoplankton and zooplankton.

    You say your are concerned with photosynthesis, and don’t seem to know that corals have a symbiotic zooxanthellae/dinofalgellate and also rely on photosynthesis. But corals can also support themselves on active feeding alone.

    Now to bring your pay scale up to speed:

    You have corals that evolved when CO2 levels were in the thousands, that rely on photosynthesis, and are active feeders on phytoplankton, zooplankton, which incorporate calcium into their structure to support those corals.

    CRS, Dr.P.H. says: “It’s an amazing ecosystem.”

    Yes it is, learn a little more about it……………..

  69. Alan Wilkinson says:
    June 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm (Edit)

    “Even presuming the effect claimed is real, the authors apparently overlook that little-known biological mechanism called natural selection. Presuming that any acidification proceeds gradually across multiple generations of Nemo fish it is highly likely an adapted version will evolve.”

    What he said.

  70. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Sorry to disappoint anyone. For those who truly think CO2 is biologically innocuous, please keep in mind that we warning labels on dry-cleaning bags for a very good reason.

    CO2 “toxicity” – not this again! Suffocation by placing a bag over one’s head is due to acute hypoxia/anoxia = low O2, not a more slowly developing CO2 toxicity – although perhaps if you supplied just enough O2 into the bag to fulfill O2 requirements for brain function, firstly, somehow removing only Nitrogen and not much accumulating CO2, yes, you’d die somewhat later from increased CO2 levels – maybe from direct CO2 respiratory suppression, which I think exists, or ultimately from severe acidosis via the formation in the body of carbonic acid, H2CO3, then H+ – very quickly and nearly completely from the CO2 + H2O reaction.

    Without oxygen, most of your brain can die within a few minutes from destruction of the blood supply’s capillary membranes [walls] across which the brain must get O2, glucose, etc., regardless of CO2 concentration – except in the presence of a “dive reflex” usually accompanied by hypothermia in drownings, usually in children, which apparently severely decreases metabolic rate and thus the oxygen demand on the part of all living cells.

  71. I’m sure that people that argue this…
    “CO2 will make the oceans acidic, and effect everything that has evolved in the ocean”..

    …do not mean to argue creation, but that is exactly what they are doing.

    Clownfish evolved when CO2 levels were in the 1000’s ppm, had to smell and hear.
    Reef building corals evolved when CO2 levels were in the 1000’s, and are the primary predator of plankton.

    In order for elevated CO2 levels now to have these effects on fish and corals….

    Fish would have had to evolve without hearing and smell. Would not have been able to find their way home.
    Corals would have had to evolve to feed on a prey that won’t exist for millions of years.

    That sort of foresight is creationism…….

    So the people pushing this science that says elevated CO2 will cause plankton levels to go down, fish to go deaf and have no sense of smell, coral reefs will be destroyed…..

    When all of those things evolved to fill a niche when CO2 levels were many times higher…

    are not really saying what they want to say

  72. Alvin says:
    June 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    It was all probably due to lab-techs tapping on the glass. They hate that, you know?
    ###

    You don’t know clown fish very well. Tap on the glass, and the little buggers are likely to come and look to see what all the noise is about. Clown fish tend to be very curious.

  73. jorgekafkazar
    June 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Well, there was no actual predator in the test, so it would appear that the increasing CO2 protocol improved the ability of the fish to maintain a rational response to their environment. Fish are not entirely stupid.
    ###

    … and Clown Fish are right at the top of the fishy intelligence scale.

  74. BTW, I had a aquarium that I maintained A. melonopus in. During the summer the water temperature would reach 32 C!!! Fish did just fine. My anemones, on the other hand weren’t thrilled

  75. Latitude says:
    June 5, 2011 at 5:19 am
    CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm
    REPLY As I said previously, I am quite unconcerned about anything to do with corals.
    My concern is with photosynthesis, nothing else. Many of the phytoplankton that form the base of the food web incorporate calcium into their structure
    Don’t give me this Paleozoic b.s., I could care less….
    =======================================================
    Then you need to learn a little about corals….
    ———
    REJOINDER
    I know all I need to know about the importance of corals. Coral systems are essential as nurseries for the larger organisms of the food web, and they are important.

    However, most of the oxygen we breathe is produced by the uppermost layers of the oceans, not by trees etc. The concept of the Amazon as the “lungs of the planet” misses the boat…the euphotic zone of the ocean surface is much more important to terrestrial life.

    You won’t hear many in the climate-change community, if any, talk about the points I’m raising, they aren’t smart enough. I’ve worked for >25 years in mitigation of biomethane produced from CAFO and industrial treatment operations, and built some of the largest anaerobic treatment systems on the planet. I know my atmospheric chemistry very well.

    Believe me, I have been confrontational about it, including a nice in-your-face session with John Holdren. The emphasis upon “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” is very misplaced and damaging.

    If we keep on this path, we had better get used to eating hot, steaming bowls of jellyfish. Fortunately, there is a solution to carbon dioxide mitigation that is evading everyone. My team in Urbana is confirming the dynamics, we are quite excited. Watch this space.

  76. JPeden says:
    June 5, 2011 at 9:08 am
    CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    CO2 “toxicity” – not this again! Suffocation by placing a bag over one’s head is due to acute hypoxia/anoxia = low O2, not a more slowly developing CO2 toxicity – although perhaps if you supplied just enough O2 into the bag to fulfill O2 requirements for brain function, firstly, somehow removing only Nitrogen and not much accumulating CO2, yes, you’d die somewhat later from increased CO2 levels – maybe from direct CO2 respiratory suppression, which I think exists, or ultimately from severe acidosis via the formation in the body of carbonic acid, H2CO3, then H+ – very quickly and nearly completely from the CO2 + H2O reaction.

    Without oxygen, most of your brain can die within a few minutes from destruction of the blood supply’s capillary membranes [walls] across which the brain must get O2, glucose, etc., regardless of CO2 concentration – except in the presence of a “dive reflex” usually accompanied by hypothermia in drownings, usually in children, which apparently severely decreases metabolic rate and thus the oxygen demand on the part of all living cells.

    Sorry to disappoint, I’m an occasional lecturer in the UI medical school. You are wrong. Excess CO2 in the human body creates a condition called “hypercapnia,” and it is a serious medical condition that can be fatal:

    http://www.anaesthesiamcq.com/AcidBaseBook/ab4_4.php

    Carbon dioxide is essential to life, it is a macronutrient (“plant food” if you will, although that is a misnomer) and is generally innocuous in nature. However, it forms carbonic acid in any aqueous system, and this effect is most profound at the gas/liquid interface. Hence the problem with oceanic acidification (that is the proper terminology by the way, although no one uses it).

    As for Nemo going deaf, I could care less. Darwin proved how that thing works out, so the more adaptable clownfish will do just fine until the food web collapses, at which point the jellies will have a feast.

  77. Thanks, Goeff, I liked your informative pH vs depth plot. It makes sense that pH should change with depth in the oceans, but I didn’t realize how much it changed.

    Thanks also for the Wiki pH link. I read through that, and it seems to me, chemist-to-chemist here, that the various oceanic pH scales they mention are conflating pH with what is conventionally called total acidity. That is, one classically measures pH as the emf of dissolved [H+] across the electrode glass membrane. But, of course, actually titrating total acidity as HSO4(-), etc., gives a very different total [H+] than one calculates from pH alone. So, the pHT, and other scales, are just pH with some element of total acidity tacked on. Mixing it with other acid equilibria seems to unnecessarily confuse the thermodynamic concept of pH.

    If you don’t mind a further observation, the hoopla about this clown fish paper is emblematic of the serious pathology that infects all of climate science, relative to the more modest disciplines. My experience in chemistry, as I’m sure you also know well, is that a fair amount of poor science gets published. After a while one learns to recognize what is poor science and what is not.

    Good science continues to be useful long past its publication date. I’ve accessed synthetic methods, for example, dating almost to the beginning of the 20th century. Darwin’s “Origin” still offers relevant ideas. There are endless examples of good science remaining very useful for long times. The poor science fades away quickly and unremarked as it migrates into past literature.

    The problem in today’s climate science is that poor science playing into the AGW scare gets picked up by news organizations and NGO publicity offices, and touted uncritically as a strong result. The clown fish study is an object example. AGW-interested scientists uncritically give this poor science respect it doesn’t deserve, because it supports a story they think is true. In climate science, bad science doesn’t encounter the silence it deserves and doesn’t die the quick natural death that would be its fate in other fields. I’d call it HeLa science, but Henrietta Lacks deserves a better association.

    The really awful thing is that so many scientists in other fields do not apply the same critical judgment to climate science that they do to the science in their own fields. So, their credulity lends a trans-disciplinary credibility to poor quality climate science, and then reporters — who really haven’t a clue — take that as proof that the poor science is good science. And on it goes, the AGW merry-go-round.

  78. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm
    As for Nemo going deaf, I could care less. Darwin proved how that thing works out, so the more adaptable clownfish will do just fine until the food web collapses, at which point the jellies will have a feast.
    =================================================
    Let me remind you of what you have stated………………………

    “Acidification from the production of carbonic acid due to atmospheric deposition of fossil carbon dioxide is, it appears, a valid environmental concern.”
    “However, most of the oxygen we breathe is produced by the uppermost layers of the oceans, not by trees etc.”
    “Don’t give me this Paleozoic b.s., I could care less…..the ecosystem was totally different then.”
    “If we lose the photosynthesis in this layer, we are in a world of hurt, and I find the best studies of this phenomena to be quite compelling and convincing. We are already seeing inhibition of calcifying phytoplankton and other organisms which make up the base of the food web in the ocean. ”

    and remind you what I stated:

    Both clownfish and corals (scleractinia) evolved when CO2 levels were in the thousands ppm. Their food web did not crash, photosynthesis was not lost, calcification was not inhibited, and the only thing different in the ‘ecosystem’ was elevated CO2 levels in the thousands ppm.

    Why will elevated CO2 levels make ocean acidification now, when it did not do it millions of years ago when CO2 levels were thousands ppm?

    …and if you truly believe this ocean acidification BS, then you have to believe that these animals evolved during optimum conditions for them to evolve, and ocean acidification would be beneficial for them

  79. @Latitude says:
    June 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    and remind you what I stated:

    Both clownfish and corals (scleractinia) evolved when CO2 levels were in the thousands ppm. Their food web did not crash, photosynthesis was not lost, calcification was not inhibited, and the only thing different in the ‘ecosystem’ was elevated CO2 levels in the thousands ppm.

    Not true. Civilization was not present, intensive agriculture was not present, production of complex industrial hydrocarbons and persistent organic pollutants were not present, etc. It is the sum of carbon dioxide plus pollution that is driving this thing to dangerous territory. Trust me, nobody at all is discussing this….not the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, not the East Anglia CRU Hockey Team, nobody.

  80. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 5, 2011 at 4:15 pm
    It is the sum of carbon dioxide plus pollution that is driving this thing to dangerous territory.
    =====================================================

    Oh, you think you’ve found a new angle……
    You think CO2 is synergistic in concert with other pollutants.

    You might want to look at the latest wastes of money/studies showing that plankton levels are going down/going up, coral reefs are dying/recovering, fisheries are dying/rebounding, etc etc

    If you think no one has looked at this you are not looking in the right places.

    As far as CO2, it will not make the oceans lower the pH.
    It never has and it never will.
    That’s a none starter……….

  81. @Latitude says:
    June 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm
    —-
    This is real, verifiable science that can be studied, Latitude, vs. the model & mirrors stuff of the Hockey Team.

    And, yes, carbon dioxide does decrease the ocean’s pH, particularly at the water/atmosphere interface which is also where the primary photosynthesis occurs.
    Nobody in the field I am aware of is as focused upon that particular scientific aspect as I am.

    Regarding your comment “Oh, you think you’ve found a new angle……
    You think CO2 is synergistic in concert with other pollutants.”

    That is exactly correct, you read about it first on WUWT. Even the Scripps Institution guys haven’t come to that conclusion yet.

  82. Latitude says:
    June 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    “Both clownfish and corals (scleractinia) evolved when CO2 levels were in the thousands ppm. ”
    ###

    Amphiprioninae evolved during the eocene, they are completely modern.

  83. “Since the Industrial Revolution, over half of all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the ocean”. Even if this were true (e.g. and not absorbed partly by the Siberian taiga forests) then it would amount to a whopping 0.4 grammes per square cm of the Earth’s surface. And 98% of this would have been absorbed, just as Oxygen is being absorded in seawater, onle 2% goes in the ionic phase, H2CO3 is a very weak acid. Take a depth of 10 meters for the waters that little Nemo lives in (an underestimate I daresay) and thus we have 0.4 grammes CO2 per 1 kilo water added. Given that seawater is full of salts that buffer the PH one can safely state: you wouldn’t note the difference. Nor would Nemo.

  84. No CRS, I said you “think” you’ve found a new angle. I did not mean to imply that you really had.

    So even though it is obvious that there was plenty of plankton when CO2 levels were in thousands ppm, animals that had to rely on that plankton to survive – evolved when CO2 levels were in the thousands ppm, and obviously the oceans were not so “acid” that it had any effect on them at all…..

    …you still refuse to see it

    Desert, you are exactly right.

  85. How do tank raised clownfish know what predators sound like, and that they should do something to avoid them? Is this instinctive? If tank-raised clownfish have to be coaxed into living in an anemone (a predator-avoidance adaptation) then how do the researchers know that the “present-air” clownfish were actually swimming away from the predator noise and not exhibitting some other behavior?

    I listened to the “predator” sound file (just curious). To me it just sounded like sitting in front of a fish tank while eating pop-rocks, in which case, increased CO2 impares my hearing, too.

  86. Elevated CO2 Enhances Otolith Growth in Young Fish
    A large fraction of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity enters the sea, causing ocean acidification. We show that otoliths (aragonite ear bones) of young fish grown under high CO2 (low pH) conditions are larger than normal, contrary to expectation. We hypothesize that CO2 moves freely through the epithelium around the otoliths in young fish, accelerating otolith growth while the local pH is controlled. This is the converse of the effect commonly reported for structural biominerals.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/324/5935/1683.abstract

    ======================================================
    Anyone else see a total disconnect………..

    Animals that use calcium do it by regulating their pH internally.
    Coral, plankton, etc

    At a lower pH, they don’t have to work as hard.

  87. As a Townsville resident I can tell you that JCU does not have direct access to seawater as the campus is in the suburb of Douglas, several kilometers from the coastline. The university trucks its seawater in from a seawater reservoir system located at the Australian Insitute of Marine Science at Cape Ferguson which pumps seawater in from intakes from a beach based pumping station, some 50 kilometers away from Townsville. The authors of the study may have used artifical seawater for the experiments but in any case the seawater source is unlikely to have a significant influence on the experimental results. However, the dosing of seawater in a plastic, glass (or whatever) tank, without the associated biological benthos, is not a true reflection of seawater in the future with increased dissolved CO2. Biological buffering in the coastal zone overwhelms any effect of dissolved carbon dioxide into seawater from the atmosphere:water interface. Bubbling of a CO2 enriched air mixture into ‘pure’ seawater will indeed cause pH shifts just as it would if bubbled into biological saline. In human blood, essentially biological saline (serum or plasma) plus blood cells, is buffered by various biological buffers and hence stabilised pH changes. The same will happen in coastal seawater. It is unlikely that coastal seawater pH will change, as unlike ‘blue’ oceanic water (largely devoid of biological activity), as it will not respond in the same way as unbuffered seawater. Sure to have some sort of impact but it will be buffered by all the biodiversity (from microbes to macrobes) within the water column and benthos.

  88. Just some quick questions and observation:

    (1) Doesn’t the surface ocean layer become more “acidic” every time it rains?
    (2) How do these fish survive the massive rainfall associated with hurricanes and tropical storms?

    As anyone has (successfully) kept salt water fish should know, the pH of the water is buffered by the Calcium carbonate in the sand. It takes a lot to get the water’s pH to change.

  89. “Sorry to disappoint anyone. For those who truly think CO2 is biologically innocuous, please keep in mind that we warning labels on dry-cleaning bags for a very good reason.”

    –CRS, DrPH.

    Dr. PH, we do put warning labels on dry-cleaning bags for a very good reason – to keep children from dying from lack of oxygen.

    I’m sorry to disappoint you, but if you truly believe that the warning on dry cleaning bags is for CO2, I would have to question in which discipline you got your PhD … and why you are straying so far from that discipline now.

    You go on to say:

    This link is to an excellent publication on the topic:

    http://royalsociety.org/Ocean-acidification-due-to-increasing-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide/

    I looked at the publication. I couldn’t find a single study showing the CO2 in the ocean was increasing. It was, to quote myself, “Models all the way down”. How is a “study” that doesn’t study anything but models an “excellent publication”? The only actual data I could find cited in the paper is a study on phytoplankton blooms … which is interesting, but even they admit it has nothing to do with CO2.

    The real risk isn’t to the corals, but rather, to the ecosystem of the surface interface, where seawater meets atmosphere and where sunlight can penetrate, stimulating ocean photosynthesis. This “euphotic zone” boundary layer is under assault from many toxic influences, of which carbon dioxide is only one. The combination of carbonic acid buildup with fertilizer runoff, air pollution deposition and other toxic influences seems to be having a measurable impact on the ocean ecosystem.

    If we lose the photosynthesis in this layer, we are in a world of hurt, and I find the best studies of this phenomena to be quite compelling and convincing.

    Yes, the effect of losing photosynthesis would be very bad … but since you haven’t provided a single citation that shows a) photosynthesis is decreasing or that b) CO2 is the culprit, I fear that your claims don’t match up well with the real world … and such alarmist fantasies don’t fare well here. You make the claim that “The combination of carbonic acid buildup with fertilizer runoff, air pollution deposition and other toxic influences seems to be having a measurable impact …”, which is nicely expressed, but without citations, “seems to be having a measurable impact” is meaningless. If it is indeed measurable … then where are the measurements?

    We are already seeing inhibition of calcifying phytoplankton and other organisms which make up the base of the food web in the ocean.

    While I respect the speed at which you are able to wildly fling uncited claims into the air, I fear that here on this blog we like to see, you know … evidence. Facts. Observations. Hard data. We’re not much impressed here (as you seem to be) by computer models. Sure, they are useful … but folks like you keep mistaking them for evidence of something other than the programmer’s beliefs.

    So if you have two citations for this inhibition actually occurring in the ocean (one for the “inhibition of calcifying phytoplankton”, and at least one for the inhibition of “other organisms”), then please let us know what the heck you are basing your claims on.

    But don’t bother us with model calculations and aquarium tests. They are interesting, but they are not evidence of anything. If there is something actually happening in the ocean as you claim, SHOW US THE DATA. Point to where in the ocean it is happening, show us the before and after measurements. Give us the raw data, and discuss how it was analyzed.

    Because here on WUWT, anything less than that will just be treated as your personal claim … and while some folks here might get away with that because of their demonstrated expertise, with your personal claim about CO2 and dry-cleaning bags already shown to be nonsense, your other personal claims aren’t carrying much weight these days.

    w.

  90. Dr. PH, here is a claim from the “excellent publication” you cited above:

    If global emissions of CO2 from human activities continue
    to rise on current trends then the average pH of the
    oceans could fall by 0.5 units (equivalent to a three fold
    increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions) by the
    year 2100. This pH is probably lower than has been
    experienced for hundreds of millennia and, critically, this
    rate of change is probably one hundred times greater
    than at any time over this period.

    Whoa, scary … until you look at the facts:

    1. According to the “excellent publication” itself, currently, the current ocean surface pH ranges from a high of about 8.3 to a low of about 7.9, a variation in pH of about 0.4 units … and oceanic organisms live very happily at all of those ranges.

    2. The Ph of the input waters at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium varies by half a Ph point, the amount of the feared increase, in the space of a month or two. So their feared predicted rate of change (half a pH point in a couple of centuries) occurs in Monterrey Bay within a couple of months.

    3. If that speed of change is not enough for you, this study shows that (because coral reefs produce CO2) the pH over the reef that they studied changes a full pH unit (from 8.8 to 7.8) in the course of 12 hours. The speed of the change (12 hours), the size of the change (one full pH unit) and the extreme values of the pH at both ends of the swing (8.8 and 7.8) should cause huge problems for the reef organism … if your theories about the deleterious effects of pH on oceanic organisms were true.

    But I guess the creatures that live happily on the reef, with the pH bouncing up and down like a yo-yo, must not have read the same computer studies that the authors of your “excellent reference” find so convincing.

    Finally, the true description for a lowering of the oceanic pH is not “acidification”, it is “de-caustification”. As someone elegantly pointed out above, the ocean becoming less caustic (that is to say becoming more neutral) is not likely to be a problem, whereas if it becomes more caustic that could be a problem. If it goes up a point, it’s becoming more like lye, which dissolves flesh. If it becomes more neutral, on the other hand …

    w.

    PS – Will the species in the oceans have to adapt if pH changes? Sure. Will they successfully adapt to changing pH? Well, since most of them do so on a daily, monthly, annual, and millennial basis, and have done so through paleo-gyrations of the oceanic pCO2 levels, I suspect they do just fine … as Mark Twain didn’t say, “The accounts of the ocean’s death have been greatly exaggerated” …

  91. Oh, yeah, one more thing. From the Nemo paper:

    What we don’t know is whether, in the next few generations, fish can adapt and tolerate ocean acidification. This is a one-way experiment on a global scale, and predicting the outcomes and interactions is a major challenge for the scientific community.”

    The “next few generations”??? How long does this clown think that a clownfish “generation” takes? The answer is as short as six months but usually about a year and a half. (Curiously, they’re all born males and in any group, one and only one subsequently changes to a female. If that female dies, another male makes the switch to female … and no, I don’t know how a given fish gets chosen for either the sacrifice or the honor of switching sexes depending on your point of view … “rock, seaweed, scissors”?)

    Now, the “Nemo” authors fear the dread reduction in causticity will occur over the next two centuries … which is on the order of 120 clownfish generations. That should be enough time for some serious adaptation/evolution to take place …

    w.

  92. @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Thank you, Willis. I’ve long admired your articles.

    However, my own area of expertise is in biology, and the rate of increase of carbon dioxide buildup is unprecedented. That, plus the presence of ever-increasing atmospheric deposition of some very novel pollutants (persistent organic pollutants, or POP) are historically unprecedented.

    Unlike warming, which is nicely counteracted by your elegant “thermostat” theory, the impact of carbon dioxide acidification upon the upper 10 meters of the ocean surface (“euphotic zone”) is of great concern to me.

    Acidists (or “asses” as I call them) immediately jump onto the bandwagon of Deaf Nemo, dissolving corals, and losses of abelone and other tasty sea-creatures, and the impacts these have on commerce (usually measured in the measly billions).

    However, if I am correct, we are screwin’ with something we shouldn’t be screwin’ with. Just thought I’d warn y’all now. As goeth the coccolithotrophes & pteropods, so goeth the rest of the stuff including tuna, whales, krill, not to mention primary oxygen production for the globe.

    I’m serious, trust me.

  93. @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I’m sorry to disappoint you, but if you truly believe that the warning on dry cleaning bags is for CO2, I would have to question in which discipline you got your PhD … and why you are straying so far from that discipline now.
    —-
    REPLY *ahem* Not a PhD (piled high & deep), but the Doctor of Public Health degree, which is the public health equivalent of the M.D.

    And, I’m not straying in the least. My training is in environmental science and toxicology, as well as infectious disease epidemiology, environmental microbiology and other pertinent areas. I’ve served as Senior Environmental Scientist for the Gas Technology Institute & consult to the natural gas and oil industries as well as food, water and others. My hobbies include studying biological warfare and pandemic disease agents (and heavy metal guitar).

    I hate to disappoint everyone, but the burning of fossil fuels is not without penalty. We have the usual stuff such as particulates and heavy metals, particularly from coal. Natural gas, which is my preferred fuel, is far cleaner, but all fossils produce excess carbon dioxide & the rate of buildup (not the actual concentration at any given point of time) is unprecedented.

    Unlike so-called Hockey Team “climate models,” the impact of acidification can be directly studied and compared historically. Coccolithophores in the past were able to keep up with very high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by producing more calcium carbon plates, which is where chalk comes from. Very elegant.

    However, we are facing a double-whammy of carbon dioxide toxicity coupled with toxic influences from fertilizer runoff, atmospheric deposition and other influences. These are measurable and quite concerning to me.

    Warming? Bah. We’ll be dead long before then. However, the oceanic food web is already showing distress, and the rapid and ongoing industrialization of China, India and other upcoming tigers will cement the process. Sorry to disappoint, but there are costs to everything, the second law of thermodynamics guarantees it.

  94. CRS, you are overlooking carbonates/buffers.
    In order for acidification to work, carbonates would become limiting.
    That has never happened, even when CO2 was in the thousands.
    There’s something that would be extremely obvious if it did, denitrification would have stopped. If that had happened, everything in the oceans would have died.

    As it is, even when CO2 levels were ~4000 ppm, everything in the oceans went on about their business.

    You might be on to something with your other pollutants, but you are way off base with CO2.

  95. Unlike so-called Hockey Team “climate models,” the impact of acidification can be directly studied and compared historically. Coccolithophores in the past were able to keep up with very high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by producing more calcium carbon plates, which is where chalk comes from. Very elegant.
    ===================================================
    CRS, I’m not riding you, please take this as trying to be helpful.
    I know you’re interested and studying these things.
    Coccolithophores calcium carbon plates are called coccoliths. They are one part calcium and one part carbon. The plant part of the Coccolithophore makes the carbon from atmospheric CO2. They didn’t “keep up” with high atmospheric CO2, they reacted to it by growing bigger, stronger, faster. Carbon was limiting.
    You are contradicting yourself.
    You can’t have acidification at the same time you have their exposed plates, coccoliths, getting bigger.

  96. Many, many excellent posts thankyou to all who have participated. I have learnt very much reading them all.

    One thing that i dont think was covered, did they study the predator fish under increased CO2? Is it possible by some miracle CO2 will reduce there hunger for Nemo and thus that cute and cuddly talking fish can live long enough to make a sequal?

  97. If you wish to get into the chemistry of these things, you have to go a couple of stages deeper in complexity than this equilibrium diagram shows.
    http://www.geoffstuff.com/equil.jpg (from http://www.chem1.com/acad/pdf/c3carb.pdfhttp://www.chem1.com/acad/pdf/c3carb.pdf )
    In particular, the inputs and outputs of marine biota need to be assessed for their effect (if any) on the diagram.
    As Pat Frank (Chemist) notes indirectly, the chemistry of natural systems tends to be more complex than test tube chemistry. IIRC, someone like Nick Stokes stated a year ago that oceanic water pH is not measured by electrode or titration so much as from a reconstruction of points in this diagram. Concepts like total ionic strength, the difference between activity and concentration, buffering – not all of them intuitive – can be overlooked.

  98. @Latitude says:
    June 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm
    Unlike so-called Hockey Team “climate models,” the impact of acidification can be directly studied and compared historically. Coccolithophores in the past were able to keep up with very high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by producing more calcium carbon plates, which is where chalk comes from. Very elegant.
    ===================================================
    CRS, I’m not riding you, please take this as trying to be helpful.
    I know you’re interested and studying these things.
    Coccolithophores calcium carbon plates are called coccoliths. They are one part calcium and one part carbon. The plant part of the Coccolithophore makes the carbon from atmospheric CO2. They didn’t “keep up” with high atmospheric CO2, they reacted to it by growing bigger, stronger, faster. Carbon was limiting.
    You are contradicting yourself.
    You can’t have acidification at the same time you have their exposed plates, coccoliths, getting bigger.
    —–
    REPLY Much obliged, Latitude, and no offense taken! I’m familiar with the structure & purpose of the coccolith structures, which serve several purposes including (a) protection to the coccolithophores from predation, (b) shielding of the organism from UV, (c) helping the organism to maintain balance in the water etc.

    The problem is one straight out of the toxicology books, except that I’m substituting the uppermost layer of the ocean (euphotic zone) for human skin. If we get scalded, our epidermis and underlying dermis is damaged, but not our lungs/liver/skeletal structure etc.

    Similarly, the effects of acidification will be most profound at the surface of the ocean. The formation of carbonic acid will therefore be most inhibiting to the organisms inhabiting this zone, including algae such as coccolithophores, pelagic species such as pteropods and the like. As these bugs are the base of the food chain, responsible for the all-important “carbon pump” that removes carbon dioxide and allows it to settle into the deep ocean, and are the source of something like 75-90% of the planet’s oxygen, I take this very seriously.

    I could care less about Nemo, global warming, corals etc. You won’t find anyone else talking this way if you look. Ocean acidification isn’t the “evil twin” of climate change, it is, in fact, the only problem worthy of discussion.

  99. Regardless of the merits of the discussion about acidification, a radio ad (they call it interview, I’m sure) today was all about Nat’l Geo partnering with Pottery Barn Kids in an effort to what? Save the ocean or something. If I were a member of the target audience – 12 and under, I suppose – what I would have gotten out of it would have been a PR-friendly AGW message with just enough ‘scientific’ lingo weighted with the imprimatur of NG to give it some heft . Incorporated with merchandise. Get ‘em while they’re young.

    http://kidscreen.com/2011/04/14/pottery-barn-kids-gets-worldly-with-national-geographic/

    http://www.potterybarnkids.com/customer-service/store-events.html

  100. @RosalindJ says:
    June 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm
    Regardless of the merits of the discussion about acidification, a radio ad (they call it interview, I’m sure) today was all about Nat’l Geo partnering with Pottery Barn Kids in an effort to what? Save the ocean or something. If I were a member of the target audience – 12 and under, I suppose – what I would have gotten out of it would have been a PR-friendly AGW message with just enough ‘scientific’ lingo weighted with the imprimatur of NG to give it some heft . Incorporated with merchandise. Get ‘em while they’re young.
    —–
    REPLY Exactly! That’s why I call most of the pro-acidification crowd “asses.”

    As with the CAGW group, they take an issue that might be a concern, pump it all up with hysteria, and then shriek like banshees to our kids, politicians and press.

    There is a kernel of truth to all of this, including warming (I’m firmly in the Richard Lindzen camp on that issue, i.e. yeah, warming, but not much & not worth worrying about). The acidification concept is valid, but of course, they immediately move into panic-zone, mostly to gain attention & stimulate funding.

    For those interested in my approach to the problem, take the Toxicology Tutor lessons here. I highly recommend that you review these, it is one of the most fascinating branches of environmental medicine.

    http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/toxtutor.html

  101. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm (Edit)

    @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Thank you, Willis. I’ve long admired your articles.

    However, my own area of expertise is in biology, and the rate of increase of carbon dioxide buildup is unprecedented. That, plus the presence of ever-increasing atmospheric deposition of some very novel pollutants (persistent organic pollutants, or POP) are historically unprecedented.

    Unlike warming, which is nicely counteracted by your elegant “thermostat” theory, the impact of carbon dioxide acidification upon the upper 10 meters of the ocean surface (“euphotic zone”) is of great concern to me.

    Acidists (or “asses” as I call them) immediately jump onto the bandwagon of Deaf Nemo, dissolving corals, and losses of abelone and other tasty sea-creatures, and the impacts these have on commerce (usually measured in the measly billions).

    However, if I am correct, we are screwin’ with something we shouldn’t be screwin’ with. Just thought I’d warn y’all now. As goeth the coccolithotrophes & pteropods, so goeth the rest of the stuff including tuna, whales, krill, not to mention primary oxygen production for the globe.

    I’m serious, trust me.

    Dr. CPS, thanks for your gracious replies.

    Unfortunately, they have contained no more facts than your previous claims. Let me repeat what I said before:

    While I respect the speed at which you are able to wildly fling uncited claims into the air, I fear that here on this blog we like to see, you know … evidence. Facts. Observations. Hard data. We’re not much impressed here (as you seem to be) by computer models. Sure, they are useful … but folks like you keep mistaking them for evidence of something other than the programmer’s beliefs.

    So if you have two citations for this inhibition actually occurring in the ocean (one for the “inhibition of calcifying phytoplankton”, and at least one for the inhibition of “other organisms”), then please let us know what the heck you are basing your claims on.

    But don’t bother us with model calculations and aquarium tests. They are interesting, but they are not evidence of anything. If there is something actually happening in the ocean as you claim, SHOW US THE DATA. Point to where in the ocean it is happening, show us the before and after measurements. Give us the raw data, and discuss how it was analyzed.

    In response to that, you have returned with … well … umm … nothing but more uncited claims.

    I do think that you are an honest man who is honestly concerned about a possible slight decrease in the causticity of the ocean. I have provided citations showing that both the size and the speed of your feared decrease in pH occurs naturally all the time in the ocean. In response, you have provided … well … nothing.

    I hate to be blunt, but so far you’re just words, words about fear. You obviously stock a good line of products designed for sale in the “I’m so concerned” market. Well, perhaps we should be concerned, but since to date you’ve come up with … well … nothing in support of your alarmism, I’m sure that you can see why we might be reluctant to sign on to your “let’s get concerned” point of view.

    w.

  102. @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I hate to be blunt, but so far you’re just words, words about fear. You obviously stock a good line of products designed for sale in the “I’m so concerned” market. Well, perhaps we should be concerned, but since to date you’ve come up with … well … nothing in support of your alarmism, I’m sure that you can see why we might be reluctant to sign on to your “let’s get concerned” point of view.

    w.

    Willis, thank you. You’ve not apparently read my posts in their entirety. I am emphasizing that, given the reaction of carbon dioxide in seawater to form carbonic acid, there is a risk of acidification in the photic zone of the ocean from atmospheric carbon dioxide. In the epidemiological sense, risk is defined as . This is simple chemistry. The reaction happens, and the only variables are mass of carbon dioxide, rate of accumulation, and speed of removal of carbonic acid via carbonate production and settling (so-called “carbon pump.”)

    I’m not finding data on this specifically because it does not appear to be a topic that has received much emphasis by the climate community. Those scientists (I use the term loosely) are driven by an agenda, I’m driven purely by risk management and analysis of what I perceive to be an environmental problem. In statistics and mathematical epidemiology, relative risk (RR) is the risk of an event (or of developing a disease) relative to exposure. Therefore, as exposure of the photic zone to carbon dioxide increases, the risk of acidification and biological inhibition similarly increases.

    I often hear the old saw that “carbon dioxide is such a trace gas in the atmosphere that it can’t be having any harmful effects.” At its present concentration of 390 ppm in the atmosphere, the concentration of carbon dioxide in air is comparable to the concentration of organic carbon in raw sewage. 390 ppm is not a “trace amount” by any means.

    Here’s an analogy: Unbridled release of sulfur dioxide from power plants caused tremendous problems with “acid rain” back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, resulting in substantial environmental damage to bodies of water including the Finger Lakes region of New York. Only after the institution of sulfur emission controls did acid rain cease to be a problem. http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/what/index.html

    You are correct, I am “quite worried” about this situation. I was “quite worried” when I was recruited as a master of public health student in 1981 to help analyze a mysterious disease impacting gay men in San Francisco. I led my group to write a recommendation to the CDC that this appeared to be a bloodborne disease with similar epidemiological patterns to Hepatitis B, in which case, it would be a huge problem. Indeed, AIDS did follow that pattern.

    Similarly, I’m very concerned over the risk of acidification. I have no agenda or interest, other than scientific honesty. If you can find any publication that refutes that acidification is occurring, please post it. Global temperatures are all over the map, but acidification appears to be progressive. Thank you.

  103. Sorry, “relative risk (RR) is the risk of an event (or of developing a disease) relative to exposure.” As carbon dioxide increases, the risk of acidification increases. This is Chemistry 101.

  104. Willis, this is the flaw in your logic:

    “This means that for the top 800 metres of the ocean, where the majority of the oceanic life exists, the human induced change in pH was -0.013 over 15 years. This was also about the amount of pH change in the waters around Hawaii.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/19/the-electric-oceanic-acid-test/

    In my hypothesis, acidification only is relevant in the uppermost 100 or so meters of ocean depth, which is the euphotic (photosynthetic) zone where the pelagic species I’ve mentioned will be harmed. Deposition of air pollutants, runoff from agriculture and other harmful and toxic influences increase the toxicological damage to this very sensitive trophic level.

    Most studies on acidification aim for “cute,” i.e. Nemo’s hearing, damage to recreational diving, and the demise of lobsters and oyster beds, etc. Based on my interactions with some very high-level CAGW proponents, my concept of “warming no, acidification yes” makes them very nervous. I think I have something here. Stay tuned.

  105. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Willis, this is the flaw in your logic:

    “This means that for the top 800 metres of the ocean, where the majority of the oceanic life exists, the human induced change in pH was -0.013 over 15 years. This was also about the amount of pH change in the waters around Hawaii.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/19/the-electric-oceanic-acid-test/

    In my hypothesis, acidification only is relevant in the uppermost 100 or so meters of ocean depth, which is the euphotic (photosynthetic) zone where the pelagic species I’ve mentioned will be harmed. Deposition of air pollutants, runoff from agriculture and other harmful and toxic influences increase the toxicological damage to this very sensitive trophic level.

    Doc, I think it’s wonderful about your hypothesis. You do understand that I was referring to an actual cited study, where they actually measured pH? Facts, my friend. You still are just waving your hands and flapping your lips.

    Most studies on acidification aim for “cute,” i.e. Nemo’s hearing, damage to recreational diving, and the demise of lobsters and oyster beds, etc. Based on my interactions with some very high-level CAGW proponents, my concept of “warming no, acidification yes” makes them very nervous. I think I have something here. Stay tuned.

    I am clear that you think you have something there. Perhaps you do. However, to date you’ve provided nothing but handwaving and uncited claims. You have told us we should be worried. You have told us that your theories made some un-named people nervous. You have said that CO2 interacts with other harmful and toxic things.

    But despite repeated requests, nowhere are there any facts. I gaze across a landscape of your words that is barren of anything resembling actual studies or observations or data or defined hypotheses or, well, anything but empty words.

    So no, Doc, I fear I have no interest in staying tuned.

    Instead, I’ll stay tuned to folks who provide citations and hard facts and the like. This is a scientific blog, and I’m a scientist in my odd and kronky way. Come back with facts and we’ll talk.

    w.

  106. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm (Edit)

    @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I hate to be blunt, but so far you’re just words, words about fear. You obviously stock a good line of products designed for sale in the “I’m so concerned” market. Well, perhaps we should be concerned, but since to date you’ve come up with … well … nothing in support of your alarmism, I’m sure that you can see why we might be reluctant to sign on to your “let’s get concerned” point of view.

    w.

    Willis, thank you. You’ve not apparently read my posts in their entirety. I am emphasizing that, given the reaction of carbon dioxide in seawater to form carbonic acid, there is a risk of acidification in the photic zone of the ocean from atmospheric carbon dioxide. In the epidemiological sense, risk is defined as . This is simple chemistry. The reaction happens, and the only variables are mass of carbon dioxide, rate of accumulation, and speed of removal of carbonic acid via carbonate production and settling (so-called “carbon pump.”)

    CRS, it appears you still don’t get it, so let me try again.

    For a couple decades, people have waxed lyrical about a host of imagined risks from increased CO2. We’ve been told that it will cause everything from skin cancer to increased divorce. After listening to this nonsense, many of us these days shut people up by asking for, you know, facts. Something to indicate that the risk is real. But it’s curious … they don’t have any facts.

    However, while that make some people reconsider their foolish uncited claims, the lack of facts doesn’t seem to have affected the rate at which you continue to tell us that you have the inside line to the planetary worry center. And that is a real worry.

    Look, Doc, I understand that something about this situation has your knickers in a serious twist … but why should we care about that based solely on your word, which has already been proven to be less than reliable?

    In addition, your claim that what happens in the ocean is “simple chemistry” is nonsense, there’s nothing at all simple about the carbon cycle in the ocean. Did you include e.g. the variations in the lysocline or the carbonate compensation depth in your “simple” calculations? Serious question, CRS, did you include them? A simple yes or no would be sufficient, although given the information content of your posts to date that may be too much to ask for …

    And reading your posts “end to end” doesn’t help, the signal to noise ratio is still zero. Including your latest post.

    I’ll say it again, bro’ … BRING US SOME FACTS. Your “fears” and your “risks” at this point have less evidence for their rationality and reality than does the Loch Ness Monster, and for the same reason. Terminal lack of content.

    w.

  107. @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 9, 2011 at 2:08 am
    —-
    You may be an odd & self-made scientist, but you do not appear to have any training in risk management, where I am an expert. I cannot provide you with the scientific papers you request due to the pay-wall (I get anything I want for free thanks to the Univ of IL). If Anthony has a mechanism to upload papers, I’ll be happy to fry his servers and use up all of his bandwidth.

    This is the summation of my argument:
    a) the mass of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing due to continued burning of fossil fuels as well as natural sources including volcanic action. I do not believe this can be countered by your arguments.
    b) It is well-proven that CO2 dissolved into water forms carbon acid. See above.
    c) Dissolution of carbon dioxide into the ocean occurs first at the air/water interface, and carbon acid will form in the highest concentration at these levels. See EPA link below.
    d) Toxicology is predicated upon dose/response relationships. If the atmosphere were 100% carbon dioxide, the oceans would acidify to their maximum. If there were no CO2, it would be a minimum. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. See Toxicology Tutor, which you apparently have not yet taken.
    e) Acidification itself is a problem both for competition for calcium ions and acute toxicity. Carbon dioxide is a toxicant in high enough doses and is not an innocuous “plant food.” Trust me on that.
    f) Decreases in pH have, in fact, been measured. See EPA below. I can’t comment on their policy makers, but they have the best environmental chemists in the world, bar none.

    I first studied acidification in 1974, when I took an undergraduate class in Ecological Biology. We used a text by Dr. Paul A. Colinvaux, the standard at the time. Colinvaux taught that “acidification was impossible due to the neutralization potential in the ocean.” There were three flaws to his argument:

    a) He did not figure in the rise of the Asian Tigers (China, India etc.) and their anthropogenic emissions and rapid industrialization, and

    b) He looked at the world’s oceans as a completely-mixed system, when in fact, acute acidification primarily is a problem in the photic zone, a mere 100 m deep, at the surface of the ocean.

    c) He did not figure in the synergistic effects of persistent organic pollutants (POP) such as combustion byproducts of plastic incineration, toxic releases from Chinese fabrication plants and the like. These were largely unknown in the 1970’s.

    In regards to your assertion that acidification has NOT been measured, in fact, the decrease in ocean pH and alkalinity has been noted by many authors. As usual, the “carbon is harmless” crowd chants that there is not much difference between pH of 7.8 and 7.7, when in fact it is a logarithmic variance in hydrogen ion concentration. Many organisms are sensitive to these changes, and the rate of change of anthropogenic carbon increases is much faster than the historic record. Given enough time, they can evolve and adapt. However, we are not giving them much time.

    If you want solid proof of my assertions, you’ll have to fund your own studies. I agree that studies published to date are somewhat contradictory; however, the potential for harm is there and this cannot be denied no matter how you try. What I am saying is that there is a substantial ‘RISK” from acidification, principles of chemistry back this, and some researchers believe they have observed deleterious effects (they may be observing toxicity from agricultural runoff).

    However, my premise remains that carbon dioxide oceanic toxicity is the only problem of anthropogenic carbon increases. Catastrophic global warming, which has been nearly 100% of the research focus of the Hockey Stick crowd, is sufficiently discredited in my mind; I firmly agree with Dr. Lindzen’s testimony to Congress on this. Unlike climate change, acidification is not influenced by cloud cover, precipitation, solar and orbital influences and the like, it is a straightforward application of chemical principles…..more carbon dioxide dissolving into water equates to more carbonic acid production. Very simple.

    EPA pretty much nails it here: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/recentoa.html

    The good news is that control of major point-source emissions of carbon dioxide will not be that difficult nor expensive. Nobody else has caught onto it yet. The solution is very obvious when you think about it, but I seem to be the only one to have found the secret. Even my colleagues at the UI agree. More to follow.

  108. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm (Edit)

    @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 9, 2011 at 2:08 am
    —-
    You may be an odd & self-made scientist, but you do not appear to have any training in risk management, where I am an expert.

    No comment.

    I cannot provide you with the scientific papers you request due to the pay-wall (I get anything I want for free thanks to the Univ of IL). If Anthony has a mechanism to upload papers, I’ll be happy to fry his servers and use up all of his bandwidth.

    That’s the claim that you want to go with, that you cannot provide a single scientific citation to any of your arguments because every paper is paywalled? Really?

    This is the summation of my argument:
    a) the mass of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing due to continued burning of fossil fuels as well as natural sources including volcanic action. I do not believe this can be countered by your arguments.

    Why would I want to counter that, when I’ve never tried in the past?

    b) It is well-proven that CO2 dissolved into water forms carbon acid. See above.

    Agreed.

    c) Dissolution of carbon dioxide into the ocean occurs first at the air/water interface, and carbon acid will form in the highest concentration at these levels. See EPA link below.

    Agreed.

    d) Toxicology is predicated upon dose/response relationships. If the atmosphere were 100% carbon dioxide, the oceans would acidify to their maximum. If there were no CO2, it would be a minimum. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. See Toxicology Tutor, which you apparently have not yet taken.

    This is supposed to be news?

    e) Acidification itself is a problem both for competition for calcium ions and acute toxicity. Carbon dioxide is a toxicant in high enough doses and is not an innocuous “plant food.” Trust me on that.

    I don’t trust you on one thing, Doc, because to date you have not provided a single checkable fact. When you make extravagant claims and blow people off when they ask you for some kind of evidence, they won’t trust you one bit.

    Trust me on that …

    And as to your point that CO2 is a “toxicant” at high enough doses, of course it is. So is oxygen, for that matter … so it’s not clear what your point is.

    f) Decreases in pH have, in fact, been measured. See EPA below. I can’t comment on their policy makers, but they have the best environmental chemists in the world, bar none.

    I looked at the “EPA below” citation. They’re as bad as you. Their citations are two entire chapters in the IPCC report. That’s like a God-botherer waving the Bible and saying “The answer’s in the book.” Maybe it is … but without a page number and a paragraph number, it is MEANINGLESS! Point me to one single scrap of observational data on that page about the reduced causticity of the ocean. Even the name is a joke. The ocean is not moving towards acidity. It is moving towards neutrality.

    I first studied acidification in 1974, when I took an undergraduate class in Ecological Biology. We used a text by Dr. Paul A. Colinvaux, the standard at the time. Colinvaux taught that “acidification was impossible due to the neutralization potential in the ocean.” There were three flaws to his argument:

    a) He did not figure in the rise of the Asian Tigers (China, India etc.) and their anthropogenic emissions and rapid industrialization, and

    b) He looked at the world’s oceans as a completely-mixed system, when in fact, acute acidification primarily is a problem in the photic zone, a mere 100 m deep, at the surface of the ocean.

    c) He did not figure in the synergistic effects of persistent organic pollutants (POP) such as combustion byproducts of plastic incineration, toxic releases from Chinese fabrication plants and the like. These were largely unknown in the 1970′s.

    I have no clue why you posted this. I don’t know his work. I don’t care about his errors. I couldn’t give a feather for the Asian Tigers.

    In regards to your assertion that acidification has NOT been measured, in fact, the decrease in ocean pH and alkalinity has been noted by many authors.

    Man, you are the prince of the freakin’ tapdancers. WHICH authors studied WHAT aspect of the move towards neutrality, and WHERE in the ocean were they studying it, and where is it PUBLISHED.

    I begin to despair, Doc. Your endless coyness about facts ain’t cute ,,,

    As usual, the “carbon is harmless” crowd chants that there is not much difference between pH of 7.8 and 7.7, when in fact it is a logarithmic variance in hydrogen ion concentration. Many organisms are sensitive to these changes, and the rate of change of anthropogenic carbon increases is much faster than the historic record. Given enough time, they can evolve and adapt. However, we are not giving them much time.

    I gave citations that show that a tenth of a point of causticity is meaningless in the ocean. I showed that the intake waters at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium vary by half a point in a few weeks. I showed that the reef waters change a full pH point in twelve freakin’ hours, and you simply repeat your inchoate fears about your fancied supersensitive ocean creatures?

    If you want solid proof of my assertions, you’ll have to fund your own studies.

    BZZZT!! Next contestant, please. I thought you were a scientist. That’s someone who knows that nothing can be proven, only falsified.

    I agree that studies published to date are somewhat contradictory; however, the potential for harm is there and this cannot be denied no matter how you try.

    There is “potential for harm” in everything. There’s grown men I wouldn’t trust with a sharpened popsicle stick. Which means of course, that the statement “there is potential for harm in the neutralization of the ocean” is meaningless.

    What I am saying is that there is a substantial ‘RISK” from acidification, principles of chemistry back this, and some researchers believe they have observed deleterious effects (they may be observing toxicity from agricultural runoff).

    Handwaving. You haven’t adduced a scrap of evidence in favor of your claims. Why should we believe handwaving?

    However, my premise remains that carbon dioxide oceanic toxicity is the only problem of anthropogenic carbon increases. Catastrophic global warming, which has been nearly 100% of the research focus of the Hockey Stick crowd, is sufficiently discredited in my mind; I firmly agree with Dr. Lindzen’s testimony to Congress on this. Unlike climate change, acidification is not influenced by cloud cover, precipitation, solar and orbital influences and the like, it is a straightforward application of chemical principles…..more carbon dioxide dissolving into water equates to more carbonic acid production. Very simple.

    Simple? I posted a cite showing that the coral reef exhales CO2, and this drives the carbon cycle places it would never go if life were not involved … how on earth is that simple? Carbon in the ocean is driven by a combination of chemistry and life. By life, I mean that phytoplankton are working the miracle of photosynthesis. These micro-plants use a combination of catalysts and solar energy to drive chemical reactions straight uphill … and you call that simple?

    You never answered my questions about the variations in the lysocline and the carbonate compensation depth. When you do, then I’ll know that you do have a handle on at least one of the many buffering phenomena that stabilize the ocean.

    EPA pretty much nails it here: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/recentoa.html

    Read it again and look for actual facts rather than childish scaremongering. Come back when you’ve harvested the facts, and relate them to us with proper citations.

    The good news is that control of major point-source emissions of carbon dioxide will not be that difficult nor expensive. Nobody else has caught onto it yet. The solution is very obvious when you think about it, but I seem to be the only one to have found the secret. Even my colleagues at the UI agree. More to follow.

    You mean that some un-named university professors at some un-unamed university agree with you? Heck, why didn’t you say that in the first place? That’s powerful evidence right there, that settles the question for me …

    w.

  109. @Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    I don’t trust you on one thing, Doc, because to date you have not provided a single checkable fact. When you make extravagant claims and blow people off when they ask you for some kind of evidence, they won’t trust you one bit.
    —–
    REPLY I gave you everything you needed in my materials presented. Please don’t blame me for your lack of education in science, environmental risk management and toxicology. I’m not seeking to convince you, only provide information as a starting point. You must read not only the information, but the supporting references.

    For example, the citations you require are in the “References” section for the very first publication I posted. Please read those first. Also, arguing against the competence of USEPA environmental chemists is a fool’s mission, they are the best in the world (I work internationally, and USEPA chemists are considered the gold standard).

    Take the Toxicology Tutor for an introduction into the scientific principles I am discussing. I does not appear to me you have done so. If you cannot understand these, we cannot have a discussion.

    Also, there is no “proof” of acidification….by demanding such, you reveal your lack of training in these disciplines. There are only indicators. Comparing oxygen to carbon dioxide is disingeneous (pure oxygen is not a toxicant, BTW). Too much water is lethal if you drown in it.

    My thesis, again, is as follows:

    a) anthropogenic carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere. Yes or no?
    b) carbon dioxide dissolved into seawater creates carbonic acid. Yes or no?
    c) dissolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide into seawater is most pronounced at the air/water interface. Yes or no?
    d) the majority of photosynthesis and ocean biota exists in the euphotic zone, a relatively thin (100 to 300m) layer of ocean water overlaying the seas. Yes or no?
    e) certain organisms of the euphotic zone, particularly calcium-dependent algae (coccolithophores), pelagic organisms (pteropods) and others are shown to be sensitive to acidification. Yes or no?
    f) the removal of excess carbon from the atmosphere relies upon the “carbon pump” mechanism, wherein carbon is fixed as carbonates and removed by sedimentation to the depths. Yes or no?
    g) by inhibiting the biota of the euphotic zone, biological inhibition of primary production, photosynthesis, removal of carbonate by sedimentation, and production at the base of the food web is impacted. Yes or no?
    h) carbon emissions will continue to escalate at an unanticipated rate due to industrialization of Asia (aka. Asian tigers) including China, India, and others. Yes or no?
    i) persistant organic pollutants including byproducts of plastics production and incineration accumulate in the atmosphere, and put further pressure on the euphotic zone of the ocean. yes or no?

    http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/18-made-in-china-our-toxic-imported-air-pollution/article_view?b_start:int=3&-C

    I’m sure you enjoy arguing, but I’m signing off now. You are wrong, Willis, the evidence points against your counterclaims. There is no “scientific proof,” but we didn’t need that to prove that leaded gasoline was bad for the environment, either. This is how environmental risk managers like me work. If you want solid proof, please apply for a grant. Again, there is no proof of warming, but there are serious indicators that oceanic acidification is a problem in the making.

  110. CRS, Dr.P.H.,

    Unconvincing. CO2 has been many thousands of ppm in the past. Can you show harm to ocean organisms as a result? The fact is that the biosphere flourished when CO2 was high.

    Also, I suspect from your university employment that you might have a slight bias. After all, it’s hard to get ahead in that setting by pointing out that ocean pH is not a problem.

  111. @Smokey says:
    June 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm
    —-
    REPLY: Thanks, Smokey! I don’t teach or have an appointment at the University of Illinois, and I can’t reveal my formal involvement/identity due to some rather sensitive Homeland Security work I get involved in. You’d never find me based on the shreds of information I post.

    Dude, NOBODY has taken the stand I’ve taken, which is that warming is NOT a problem, but acidification MIGHT be!! True, carbon dioxide was much higher at times in the past, but the biosphere was also considerably different, and we weren’t crappin’ up the place with toxic byproducts of plastics manufacture.

    Take a look in any store….Made in China, formed out of plastic, bubble-packaged etc. No EPA over there, I work over there. It’s “manufacture & let fly.” And, they are putting the gas-pedal down because they want to bury their old enemies, the Japanese. They ain’t too happy about us, but they think they have us where they want us (they do).

    It’s great fun to rip on the Hockey Team, and I’ve done my share (I was a contributor to Jim Inhofe’s “Minority Report” on Climategate). And, I’m not saying we are going to die of this stuff anytime soon. However, it is a legit environmental problem, unlike nearly everything else identified with CAGW to date. And, as I said, the solution will be quite a bit more obvious than you’ve heard from USEPA, DOE etc. Workin’ on it as we speak.

    I enjoy bantering with you guys, keep it up! I don’t have the time to lay all of my cards on the table, but acidification is a concern. However, I’m MUCH more concerned about the manufacturing and business climate of the USA, and we can do nothing to help anyone if we are a pauper nation. With the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, it would take the world over 100 years to reach pre-industrial levels if we turned off all the burners. Ain’t gonna happen.

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