More Carbon Dioxide, Please

From the National Review I don’t don’t know about you, but I’m going to crack open a lovely carbonated beverage and raise it in salute to Roy for having the courage to say this. Salud! (burp).

By Dr. Roy W. Spencer

There seems to be an unwritten assumption among environmentalists — and among the media — that any influence humans have on nature is, by definition, bad. I even see it in scientific papers written by climate researchers. For instance, if we can measure some minute amount of a trace gas in the atmosphere at the South Pole, well removed from its human source, we are astonished at the far-reaching effects of mankind’s “pollution.”But if nature was left undisturbed, would it be any happier and more peaceful? Would the carnivores stop eating those poor, defenseless herbivores, as well as each other? Would fish and other kinds of sea life stop infringing on the rights of others by feasting on them? Would there be no more droughts, hurricanes, floods, heat waves, tornadoes, or glaciers flowing toward the sea?


In the case of global warming, the alleged culprit — carbon dioxide — just happens to be necessary for life on Earth. How can Al Gore say with a straight face that we are treating the atmosphere like an “open sewer” by dumping carbon dioxide into it? Would he say the same thing if we were dumping more oxygen into the atmosphere? Or more nitrogen?As a climate researcher, I am increasingly convinced that most of our recent global warming has been natural, not manmade. If true, this would mean that global temperatures can be expected to peak in the coming years (if they haven’t already), and global cooling will eventually ensue.Just for the sake of argument, let us assume that manmade global warming really is a false alarm. In that case, we would still need to ask: What are the other negative effects of pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere?Well, plant physiologists have known for a long time that most vegetation loves more carbon dioxide. It grows faster, is more drought-tolerant, and is more efficient in its water use. While the pre-industrial CO2 concentration of the atmosphere was only about 280 parts per million (ppm) by volume, and now it is around 380 ppm, some greenhouses pump it all the way up to around 1,000 ppm. How can environmentalists claim that helping vegetation to grow is a bad thing?The bigger concern has been the possible effect of the extra CO2 on the world’s oceans, because more CO2 lowers the pH of seawater. While it is claimed that this makes the water more acidic, this is misleading. Since seawater has a pH around 8.1, it will take an awful lot of CO2 it to even make the water neutral (pH=7), let alone acidic (pH less than 7).Still, the main worry has been that the extra CO2 could hurt the growth of plankton, which represents the start of the oceanic food chain. But recent research (published on April 18 in Science Express) has now shown, contrary to expectations, that one of the most common forms of plankton actually grows faster and bigger when more CO2 is pumped into the water. Like vegetation on land, it loves the extra CO2, too!It is quite possible that the biosphere (vegetation, sea life, etc.) has been starved for atmospheric CO2. Before humans started burning fossil fuels, vegetation and ocean plankton had been gobbling up as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as they could, but it was like a vacuum cleaner trying to suck through a stopped-up hose.Now, no matter how much CO2 we pump into the atmosphere each year, the biosphere takes out an average of 50 percent of that extra amount. Even after we triple the amount of CO2 we produce, nature still takes out 50 percent of the extra amount. Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor.








I think it is time for scientists to consider the possibility that more CO2 in the atmosphere might, on the whole, be good for life on Earth. Oh, I’m sure there will be some species which are hurt more than helped, but this is true of any change in nature. There are always winners and losers.For instance, during a strong El Nino event, trillions of animals in the ocean die as the usual patterns of ocean temperature are disrupted. When Mother Nature does something like this it is considered natural. Yet, if humans were to do such a thing, it would be considered an environmental catastrophe. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?The view that nature was in some sort of preferred, yet fragile, state of balance before humans came along is arbitrary and philosophical — even religious. It is entirely possible that there are other, more preferable states of balance in nature which are more robust and less fragile than whatever the state of nature was before we came along.You would think that science is the last place you would find such religious opinions, yet they dominate the worldview of scientists. Natural scientists tend to worship nature, and they then teach others to worship nature, too… all under the guise of “science.”




And to the extent that this view is religious, then making environmental laws based upon that view could be considered a violation of the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The automatic assumption that mankind’s production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels is bad for the environment needs to be critically examined. Unfortunately, scientists who question that point of view are immediately branded as shills for Big Oil.

But since I am already accused of this (falsely, I might add), I really don’t mind being one of the first scientists to raise the issue.

— Dr. Roy W. Spencer is a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is author of the new book,

63 thoughts on “More Carbon Dioxide, Please

  1. have two for me. i don’t touch that stuff since they won’t sweeten it with real sugar.
    beer on the other hand….

  2. Hint: if you want soda flavored by sugar, look for the little “K” on the can. One can stock up if one is aware of the impending appropriate holidays.
    Kosher soda does not permit the usual substitutes.

  3. For the most part I agree with Dr. Spencer, but I feel he glosses over the established fact that altered environments will produce altered species compositions. Locally and regionally, effects can be devastating even though the biosphere as a whole is capable of accommodating the shift. Sure, a particular phytoplankton species might love increased CO2, but is it a species that feeds the zooplankton that feed the fish that support an ecosystem? Let’s not use natural environmental system variability as an excuse for irresponsible disposal of our wastes. At the same time, let’s not use this carelessness as an excuse to beat people into submitting to unattainable utopian dreams.

  4. CO2 levels appear to have been much higher than now back in prehistoric times (e.g. the Jurassic, 200 – 150 million years ago) which presumably encouraged the lush plant life of that era (and didn’t do much harm to other life forms such as coral, either.)
    Botanist David Bellamy has also been speaking out on this subject for some time.
    So yes – cheers! Let’s hear it for the much-maligned fizzy stuff. 😀

  5. I’ve come to view it as obsessive-compulsive behavior rather than religion. Some of these folks are so obsessed with CO2 that they’re in need of an intervention.
    Now what was that about beer again? These pretzels are making me thirsty…

  6. have two for me. i don’t touch that stuff since they won’t sweeten it with real sugar.
    beer on the other hand….

    Is the grossest tasting thing on the planet.

  7. Great entry Roy. I followed the same line of reasoning researching the idea of “CO2 starvation” in wrote a paper I wrote for my own edification that uncovered the following.
    “If CO2 levels have increased from 180 ppm to current levels of 384 ppm recently, then theoretically we should have experienced an increase in vegetative production as a result thereof, and we should be able to measure this in some fashion. Recently, a number of scientists have done just that using the Keeling Curve. The Keeling Curve is the plot that has been created tracing the measurements of atmospheric CO2 taken at the Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1959, named after Dr. Charles David Keeling, professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This plot contains not only the average annual CO2 concentration, but also the fluctuations that occur from season to season. On planet earth, most of the land mass and consequently, most of the terrestrial vegetation is in the northern hemisphere. Each spring as the Northern Hemisphere’s vegetation comes out of winter dormancy, the photosynthetic process reduces the level of CO2 in the atmosphere by a measurable amount. In the late fall, the process is reversed. This oscillation in CO2 concentration during the course of the year, “the breath of the biosphere”, creates a sine wave that plotted over a number of years, slopes upward towards the present. Of particular interest is the fact that the amplitude of the wave, the difference between the high and low seasonal points of each year, serves as a relative measure of the vegetative productivity for a given year, and the amplitude has been increasing. Between 1958 and 1999, this “breath of the biosphere” has increased by 19.5%, and “is primarily a direct result of atmospheric fertilization” (18).”
    The source of the material was:
    Considering the fact that CO2 levels were about 4000 ppm when plants first evolved, 3500 ppm when gymnosperms first evolved, and 2250 ppm when angiosperms first evolved, it is difficult to imagine that levels modestly above today’s levels will have dramatically negative effects. If we did not have run-away greenhouse at 4000 ppm, we are certainly not going to experience it at 400, 500 or even 600 ppm.

  8. Mr. Spencer’s point is apt considering that during the height of the ice ages, CO2 levels have fallen to as low as 180 ppm. At this level, most vegetation is CO2-starved and growth rates are only at 50% of current levels while a few species are cut 90% and others are not affected as much. Over time, this results in a completely different bio-environment.
    Curiously, the mass extinction events associated with the end of the last ice age are likely related to the fact that our current plant biosphere recovered as CO2 levels rose to 280 ppm and some species such as grasses, no longer dominated the environment. The giant grass-eating herbivores were the first to go.
    The evidence shows that almost all plant vegetation grows subtantially better with increased CO2 levels so I imagine the whole planet will be better off; plants, animals, and humans.

  9. Regarding fake sugar….
    It turns out that there is more soda made with real sugar than you would think.
    Jones makes some, Dublin (Texas) Dr. Pepper is made with Imperial brand sugar,
    Some Coca Cola from Mexico is fake-free (some isn’t, read the label).
    Beer is good.
    Stop trying to convince us that Carbon Dioxide and Gorebull warming are not connected.
    Those that can be convinced were convinced long ago. The rest use words like “faith”, “believe”, and “consensus” and can not be convinced.
    Interesting–“consensus”–the only place I know of where te socialists actually thing the majority vote is worth any thing, and they are wrong.
    Sad–realized that at 3-score and 9 I probably won’t live long enough to be warm again.

  10. You guys need to stop talking common sense and start yelling fire in the theatre. Don’t you know the world cannot withstand one more ton of CO2? Everytime I think about it, I start to hyperventilate, which means of course, I’m emitting more CO2 than normal. Ughh! I think I’m going to jump off a cliff.

  11. Excellent post. The net effect on the biosphere of increased carbon dioxide is clearly a positive thing. Yet another bit of proof that many so called “environmental” groups really don’t care much about the environment.

  12. Jeff,
    Is the grossest tasting thing on the planet.
    You are obviously not a geologist. Before receiving your degree in geology, you must be able to consume mass quantities of beer on field trips and during field camp. Those that can’t become forestry majors.
    Anyway, three cheers… er, beers for Roy!!

  13. With great respect to Dr Spencer, one of the first ‘global warming scientists’ Guy Callendar, a British meteorologist, made very much this point back in 1938, when he suggested that an increase in anthropogenic CO2 was likely in several ways to ‘prove beneficial to mankind’ by promoting plant-growth and therefore agricultural production. The same is true of warming itself. The real danger of any reversal in the recent warming trend (as is being so admirably documented on this website) is that it could cost a loss of 5-10 percent in global food production, at just a time when the world is facing a significant food shortage. Look at what is happening already in Minnesota where cold, wet ground is delaying the planting season and therefore lowering prospective yields (let alone all those Californian grapes you’ve already reported on).If people want to keep eating (and drinking), it’s more warming and CO2 we need, not the reverse.

  14. Humans Save Planet Earth!
    What if humans never evolved past the primate stage and never started unleashing stored and carbon back into the atmosphere? CO2 levels were once in the 4000 ppmv and have slowly been decreasing throughout history. Yes there have been short periods of increases here and there but the overall trend has been less and less CO2. Could Planet Earth have been on its way to self destruction? Could the natural sequence of planets overrun by plants always lead to self destruction as all of the CO2 becomes sequestered or used up? If the trend had continued unabated and the level of CO2 dropped below 160ppmv, would all plant life have died off? Would Earth have become a barren waste land fit for nothing? Perhaps that is the natural way of the universe and we, the Humans, have saved Mother Gaia from her own self destruction. It is time to praise us as a species!!!!!

  15. What if humans never evolved past the primate stage
    Ook? *Skritch-scratch*
    Fellow primates, unite!
    (You have nothing to lose but your primacy.)

  16. I drank 8 Bud Lites last nite, all of them really bubbly and just loaded with CO2!
    Does that make me a bad person?
    Thanks for the site, I have learned a lot here.

  17. Tom in Florida,
    I really love the contrarian suggestion. Isn’t it funny how things that are relatively obvious are so often completely overlooked?
    Great comment.

  18. It is widely recognized that one reason why there is not more CO2 in the atmosphere is because of the “biological pump”, ie. phytoplankton using up the CO2 doing photosynthesis, and dumping it to the bottom of the oceans in the form of dead bodies or fecal material. It is estimated that the biological pump removes about 200 ppm of atmospheric CO2 all by itself. It is thought that one reason why CO2 was so low during the glaciation is because the biological pump actually works even harder when it’s cold. See: the “feedback” works both ways.
    One thing to remember is that life is both adaptable and highly opportunistic. If there is more CO2, it will adapt. If there is less CO2, it will adapt as well. Most species on Earth have been present for a few million years or more, and have survived multiple glaciations. Models do not include that simple fact. They assume that if environmental conditions change, the species will die off, like polar bears. Most models try to predict the future, but have a hard time figuring out exactly how much fertilization has already occured. Yet the CO2 sink keeps expanding as we keep feeding it, so something, somewhere, is benefitting.

  19. I broadly agree with Dr Roy’s point that our recycling of stored hydrocarbons into useful energy, water vapour and CO2 is a good thing, but I’d like to ask about one point.
    Surely the CO2 content of the oceans is affected by the temperature of the oceans much more than how much CO2 we release into the atmosphere. The warmer the oceans the less CO2 and vice versa. (Or the warmer the beer, the flatter it gets.)
    The other point I’d like to make is that mankind does influence the environment and so does every other living thing. Ever since the first microscopic creature figured out a way to take energy from the sun and use it to combine H2O and CO2 from it’s environment and produce carbohydrates to grow its cells, life has been grossly influencing its environment. Indeed, that particular trick completely changed the atmosphere from lots of CO2 with trace amounts of oxygen to lots of oxygen with trace amounts of CO2, thereby killing off a lot of competing organisms that couldn’t tolerate the oxygen rich atmosphere.
    Of course nature then evolved another creature that could eat the carbohydrates, strip out the carbon and burn that with oxygen to produce energy, which it then used to move about so it could hunt down those tasty carbohydrates. (Actually, that particular creature was just incorporated into a multi-celled animal and produced it’s energy in return for a meal. We refer to their descendants as mytochondria.)
    All this is well known, but a great many people refuse to acknowledge it and persist in seeing anything that man does as a bad thing. We are part of Nature, part of the process of change and change is neither good nor bad.
    Whether we temporarily save some cuddly animal, pretty plant or fascinating insect is neither here nor there to nature. Change happens on small scales and large scales, slowly and suddenly and sometimes catastrophically. If our intelligence and ingenuity allow us to cope with change then we should use them. That’s what they evolved for.

  20. Evan: “Ook? *Skritch-scratch*Fellow primates, unite!
    (You have nothing to lose but your primacy.)”
    Sorry, should have been “primative” not “primate”.

  21. Claims without reference are false claims. I can support any argument with the false rhetoric technique of informational flooding and any third grade kid will be persuaded.
    Talk (or write) less, verify more (or at least let also access to your sources).

  22. Thank you Dr Roy et al, I have been a fan of beer for a long time and now everything makes sense, I like cold beer because it retains it’s co2, I like the beach because the sea is like beer full of co2, I hate the desert because it’s too hot and does not retain co2 or beer..
    I knew it the eco freak nazis are attacking beer (by the way I like trees and am a bit green, especially if I have too much beer, trees are very usefull for having a beer under on a hot day). Actually there is nothing better than beer and nature and all of it’s glory.
    I knew if I hung around here long enough, I’d get educated.

  23. I drank 8 Bud Lites last nite, all of them really bubbly and just loaded with CO2!
    Does that make me a bad person?

    No, it just means you have no taste!!! 🙂

  24. Surely the CO2 content of the oceans is affected by the temperature of the oceans much more than how much CO2 we release into the atmosphere. The warmer the oceans the less CO2 and vice versa. (Or the warmer the beer, the flatter it gets.)
    I hate to disagree, but I must, I must.
    Yes, CO2 is more soluble in water, the colder it gets, but the swing is (so far as we can measure by proxy) only c. 10 ppm per degree Celsius.
    Industry puts out c. 6.5 BMTC (bil. Metric Tons Carbon)/year via industry. Ocean and land absorbs about half of that.
    There is a much larger exchange back and forth between land-atmosphere and sea-atmosphere. But those exchanges result in more carbon absorption than output (even our agriculture). In all, c. 3.2 more BMTC/year is absorbed from the atmosphere than exuded by soil and sea.
    Total atmospheric sink contains c. 750 BMTC. So, yes, atmospheric carbon has been rising by half a percent or so per year (assuming the measurements are correct).
    My own belief is that Atmospheric carbon does indeed cause a (very) slight temperature increase, but the IPCC positive feed back presumption is all to hell (as revealed by the Aqua Satellite), so it carbon emissions don’t matter worth a damn.

  25. I drank 8 Bud Lites last nite, all of them really bubbly and just loaded with CO2!
    Does that make me a bad person?

    BAD person! ( rolling up newspaper) *WHACK*
    BAD! BAD!
    (But no value judgement.)

  26. save the world, pls
    Well, okay. But we’ll have to work it into our schedule.

  27. Evan: “Industry puts out c. 6.5 BMTC (bil. Metric Tons Carbon)/year ”
    Can someone put that as a ratio to the total BMT of the entire atmosphere. Is this significant or just a truck load of sand in the Sahara?

  28. Thoughts from a layman:
    Scenario 1: Suppose the 1970’s consensus about global cooling was true and only masked by the buildup fo man made CO2. Because the cooling happens slowly over a long period the flood of additional CO2 had greater effect early in the process. Now, as cooling continues it’s relentless march and becomes increasingly stronger, we become more away of it. The proper course of action concerning CO2 would be to continue to allow an increase in the ppmv in the atmosphere to help mitigate the coming ice age. Do nothing and spend our resources learning to adapt would be the correct course of action.
    Scenario 2: Suppose the 1970’s consensus about global cooling was wrong and the cooling followed by warming followed by cooling is due to natural cycles. That would imply that man made CO2 emissions had so little effect that you could ignore them. Do nothing about CO2 and spend our resources learning to adapt would again be the correct course of action.

  29. Gary says “Let’s not use natural environmental system variability as an excuse for irresponsible disposal of our wastes.”
    What does irresponsible disposal of our wastes have to do with CO2 drives the climate theory or more CO2 may be benefical to the planet?
    Don Healy writes “If CO2 levels have increased from 180 ppm to current levels of 384 ppm recently, then theoretically we should have experienced an increase in vegetative production………….”
    So that why I have to cut the grass at least once a week. I’m going to stop using weed & feed.

  30. The figure floating around is 150 BMTC from natural sources per year.
    Versus 5.5 BMTC from manmade sources like burning fossil fuels.
    Around 1 BMTC is caused by changes in land use. Like agriculture.

  31. Sonic Frog:
    I USED to respect what you had to say. Bud light. Nuf said.

  32. It is very possible that increased CO2 is a positive thing as it would favorize plant-growth, but I think this is not to the point.
    What the IPCC and other alarmists pretend is that more CO2 means more greenhouse gas, resulting in higher temperature, resulting in the melting of glaciers and of polar ice, resulting in the increase of sea-level, resulting in the inundation of the lower countries. This is why so many people, at least here in western Europe, are so obsessed with CO2.

  33. The PH of ocean water may fluctuate 2 units (of PH) up and down completely naturally within short period of time (close to land that is). It is hard to make a claim that much smaller variations in the larger oceans would have catastrophic impact.
    I long for the day when CO2 is no longer an issue and the very real environmental threats still unsolved recieve the attention they deserve.

  34. I was wondering about this recently myself, and I am glad to see that it has occurred to someone else too. Plants LOVE co2, it’s what they make their food from. Duh!

  35. Question:
    What happens to the ingested CO2?
    As I understand Algorean science, it will accumulate inside the body ( with only small sporadic releases via our nature check valves) where it will trap incoming solar radiation that penetrates the skin. Our body temperature will eventually reach a tipping point which will cause runaway fever and death. Models using the average temp of a human at 98.6 (with statistical adjustments made for those having “a cold heart”) indicate that it shouldn’t take long before all beer drinkers reach the deadly 106 degrees. How does Anheiser Busch stay in businesss?

  36. TiF et al; unending glory to those most intrepid of warriors, the Moms threading the frontlines of the Carbon Liberation Wars in their Suburban Ursault Vehicles.

  37. Avfuktare krypgrund vind:
    Its worse than you think. The current obsession with CO2 has a greater potential to harm the environment.
    When folks wise up to the scam that is perpetrated on them, they will lash out against all environmental policies – including those that are responsible for the clean water and air we enjoy in western countries today.

  38. Can someone put that as a ratio to the total BMT of the entire atmosphere. Is this significant or just a truck load of sand in the Sahara?
    Here are the figures (a coiple years old:
    Input to Atmosphere/Output from Atmosphere:
    Ocean: To Atm.: 88 BMTC, From Atm.: 90 BMTC, Difference: -2
    Vegetation/Soil (Natural): To Atm.:119 BMTC, From Atm.: 120 BMTC, Difference: -1
    Vegetation/Soil (Man): To Atm.:1.7 BMTC, From Atm.: 1.9 BMTC, Difference: -0.2
    Industry: To Atm.: 6.3, From Atm.: 0, Difference: +6.3
    Total: To Atm.: 215 BMTC, From Atm.: 211.9 BMTC, Difference: +3.1
    So yes, industrial output is only 6.5 BTMT/yr out of 215 BMTC total world output.
    But nature drains off 211.9 BMTC. And if there were no industrial input, CO2 accumulation would not be occurring.
    So it’s sort of like a bathtub that is filling up 1.5% faster than it is draining.
    My own belief is that the bathtub has MUCH higher sides than the IPCC supposes, and that, in practical terms, the tub will never overflow. But that’s a different argument. Long before that point, man will have moved on to some other (as yet unknown) technology.

  39. The above, courtesy of my handy-dandy “postcard” setup.
    Errata: Acc. to the DoE figures cited above, industial output is 6.6 BMTC/yr, not 6.5. But by now it has probably increased to 6.5.

  40. Re oceans. The CO2 results in a teeny amount of carbonic acid.
    But that’s a ph of 4.1 or so, which is VERY weak for an acid.

  41. Evan Jones,
    Yuk! That stuff is nasty. That’s not beer.
    In fact, you don’t want to know what it is.

  42. If I were stranded in the desert, dying of thirst, and came across a bottle of Bud Lite…. I’d have to think about it. Sam Adams Lite is another story.
    On a slightly more serious note: Just what does CO2 do to the environment? It absorbs light in a couple of wavelengths in the infrared, re-emits at around 10 microns. Water vapor absorbs similar wavelengths. None of the incoming solar radiation at those wavelengths reaches the surface, those evil GHG’s get it all. The earth absorbs other wavelengths, and re-emits energy at the points in question, CO2 gets about 97% of that. And it isn’t linear. If your sunglasses absorb half the incoming light, putting on a second pair doesn’t block 100%, just 75. Diminishing return. So how can we be facing a climate disaster at 97? Can’t get much more. Which may be why the planet survived 4000 ppm.
    One serious side effect (of biofuel) is a shortage of hops. As I have noted before, this has caused an increase in the price of beer. If that’s al-Gore’s legacy, history may not treat him kindly.
    All this has made me thirsty. I think I’ll have another beer.

  43. Carbonate shell-based animals such as Trilobites and Ammonites dominated the oceans at a time when CO2 levels were as high as 7,000 ppm. Some Ammonites grew to be 6 feet across.
    So increased CO2 leading to increased ocean PH leading to the death of shell-based organisms is completely baseless.

  44. Evan: “Input to Atmosphere/Output from Atmosphere:
    Ocean: To Atm.: 88 BMTC, From Atm.: 90 BMTC, Difference: -2
    Vegetation/Soil (Natural): To Atm.:119 BMTC, From Atm.: 120 BMTC, Difference: -1
    Vegetation/Soil (Man): To Atm.:1.7 BMTC, From Atm.: 1.9 BMTC, Difference: -0.2
    Industry: To Atm.: 6.3, From Atm.: 0, Difference: +6.3
    Total: To Atm.: 215 BMTC, From Atm.: 211.9 BMTC, Difference: +3.1”
    Thanks for the figures but I still don’t know how this much carbon relates to the total tonnage of the entire atmosphere. For example, if the entire earth’s atmosphere is 1,000,000 BMT then the +3.1 BMTC each year that gets added is like peeing in the ocean.

  45. As I gain weight, am I not storing carbon? Should I not be receivng credit for being a carbon sink? Or maybe, I could profit from eating more junk food, by selling someone carbon credits? So, to be green would be to be fat? And if I am lean, I’m endangering the planet and increasing global warming?

  46. Wait… should I switch from beer to liqour to go green?
    I warned you not to mix drinks.

  47. you’re wrong about needing so much more co2 to make the oceans acidic enough to do anything to make a difference on ocean ecosystems. shell based organisms and corals use calcium carbonate – CaCO3, the base form of the diprotic acid, H2CO3 (which is dissolved CO2 combined with water), HCO3- and CO3=. pkas are 6.3 and 10.3. Thus, to have CO3= and make CaCO3 a solid participate, pH must be high enough to maintain enough solid CaCO3 in the water without redissolving back into bicarbonate. One doesn’t have to have a technically “acidic” ocean, just more acidic than before (i.e. lower pH than before) – the pH of the ocean is already below the pKa – to sway this equilibrium in the wrong direction and start dissolving all of these critters.

  48. Also, plants can only soak up more CO2 if we don’t keep chopping them down. Deforestation rates have skyrocketed over the years – if we keep removing plant biomass, then we are hurting the equilibrium by not only pumping in CO2 to the atmosphere, but also removing the one major thing (besides like some cyanobacteria) that naturally takes in CO2.

  49. Sorry I didn’t realize until now that you didn’t write that article, you took it from another source. The author is wrong, not you because you didn’t write that. I apologize for my mistyping in my comments above.

  50. Great blog. I’ve scanned lots of panicked articles about the scare of acidified oceans from CO2. The problem with those alarmist scenarios is that there are large acid buffer capacities in the seas, never mind species adaptive abilities, etc.
    But one notable thing I do not see discussed is surface pH changes from sulfates falling into the oceans. The amount of aerosols falling into the Pacific born by westerlies should be significant, considering the findings that even V. Ramanathan cites 40 percent of the temperature anomalies as being from tropospheric soot.
    And just as his recent findings on tropospheric soot’s net heating effect raise the prospect CO2 has been modeled to take more than its share of blame for surface temperature anomalies (Ramanathan mentions there’s a masking effect at TOS while there’s intensified heating at the surface from tropospheric soot+sulfates), I really have to wonder if measured changes in ocean surface pH have been partially misascribed to CO2 when sulfates and nitrates in water become sulfuric and nitric acid, far more acidic than carbonic acid.

  51. Steve Short of posted a reply on Benny Peiser’s list on the unlikelihood that conceivable CO2 levels would cause a gross desaturation of biological calcite and aragonite. He cites the resulting pH & Saturation Indices (SI) of calcite and aragonite (biogenically deposited calcium carbonate (CaCO3)).
    Citing the USGS model PHREEQC:
    CO2 @ 450 ppm would cause a pH of 8.16
    Calcite SI would change from 0.73 to 0.68
    Aragonite SI would change from 0.58 to 0.53.
    CO2 @ 780 ppm would cause a pH of 7.94
    Calcite SI of 0.48
    Aragonite SI of 0.34
    Short points out that the Eocene saw CO2 levels as high as 780 ppm, and yet somehow most of the coral species in the seas survived to this day.

  52. Yaaawwwn, some people will never open their eyes to data. When will they notice their simplistic rants are just getting tedious over time?

  53. Volter,
    You’re absolutely correct. I agree 100% with your position. That’s precisely why I’ve switched over to sites like Anthony’s, and similar, which rely on real observed data and facts, and not crystal ball projections 100 years from now.
    In fact alarmists like the Leibnitz Institute are now moving closer to our position, admitting that warming has been put off by NATURAL phenomena. It’s not because it’s the newest trend, feels good, politically correct and so on, but because that’s what the data points to.
    If you have any data you’d like to share, please feel free to present it. We’d all like to see it. I’m sure it’ll withstand the test of scrutiny, right?
    Looking forward to your reply!

  54. Does anyone know of a good place to go for a realistic discussion of the affect of CO2 on the biosphere?
    It looks to me like the benefits, even if we believe the warming claims (or perhaps especially if we believe warming claims), would far outweigh the risk of harm. I have seen claims that it would not be a benefit but upon investigation so far have found those claims to be without merit. Jenn above implies more ocean sensitivity to pH than the paleo record seems to indicate yet I think that is one of the better arguments I’ve seen. Looks to me like about 1000 ppm would be beneficial.

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  56. This essay is a masterpiece of sophistry. “The view that nature was in some sort of preferred, yet fragile, state of balance before humans came along is arbitrary and philosophical — even religious.”
    It is folly to make sweeping dismissals of the effects of carbon emissions on our planet by labeling scientists concerns as “religious”. Seems like the flip-side of calling something Creation Science – ie; dismissing science as religion vs. lauding religion or blind faith as science. If one needs to ridicule scientists . . . and therefore science itself . . . in order to make a “scientific” point, it seems like a self-defeating argument. Perhaps that is because the writer is a self-proclaimed “researcher” and not a scientist?
    Regardless – this ideology is a demonstrably false characterization of environmentalism as whole in order to render any argument against our impact on the earth as irrelevant. We are being asked to believe that climate scientists and environmentalists believe somehow that we should never have advanced beyond the stone age – never built a dam, tilled a field, cut down a tree, burned a lump of coal or petroleum or killed a beast for food – is patently absurd and an insult to the sensibilities of any intelligent reader.
    More to the point, however, pointing out possible benefits of an increase in Carbon in an effort to dismiss it’s detrimental effects does not erase our responsibility to fully address the negatives, particularly if those negatives could well surpass the positives. If I throw raw sewage in my backyard the plant-life would love it I’m sure. That doesn’t mean I should dismiss the horrible public health issues that would arise.
    The point is not that all effects of greenhouse gases are bad, or that none of the increases in CO2 are offset by adjustments in nature, but that there will certainly be some negative effects brought about by the huge increases in CO2 that eventually build up in the atmosphere. It is our responsibility to realistically assess the negative impacts of our collective actions, even if such analysis is painful and difficult. If we don’t know BOTH the negative and positive impacts of our actions then we have not examined the issue completely.
    Should we just sit back and see what happens and not worry about rising sea-levels and large disruptions and changes in world weather patterns? Already we are seeing near-disasterous disruptions in the world supply of rice due to historic droughts in Australia which are almost certainly due to the effects of man-made climate change. Do rising levels of plankton offset the inability of thousands of impoverished families to put food on the table?
    Kevin B makes the point: “If our intelligence and ingenuity allow us to cope with change then we should use them. That’s what they evolved for.”
    Yes Kevin that is true, but we should use our intelligence to manage change before we have to use our intelligence to have to COPE with it. I’m not sure we have evolved to be as intelligent as we need to be to overcome our impulse to wish away a problem that is staring us in the face until it hits over the head.

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