Study: CO2 “acidification” does not harm Coral

4000-year-coral

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A study, pH homeostasis during coral calcification in a free ocean CO2 enrichment (FOCE) experiment, Heron Island reef flat, Great Barrier Reef led by researcher Lucy Georgiou has concluded that at least some Coral has the ability to regulate its own internal PH. This allows the studied coral to thrive, even in extreme acid environments.

From the conclusion of the study;

Importantly, individual nubbins exhibited near constant δ11B compositions along their major growth axis over each of the four growth periods measured, regardless of whether they were grown under treatment or control conditions (Fig. 2A and Fig. S4A). These near constant δ11B compositions equate to near constant internal pHcf (Fig. 2B and Fig. S4B), irre- spective of treatment and season and declined by less than 0.1 units per unit decrease in external pHsw (Δp Hcf =Δp Hsw= 0.067, P = 0.078, df = 36; Table S2 and Fig. 2B). This result reflects the ca- pacity of these coral to homeostatically maintain a pHcf of ∼8.4–8.6 at the site of calcification (Fig. 3) and thus near constant up-regu- lation of pHcf during the calcification process. As such, these findings are in marked contrast to earlier laboratory studies in which corals grown under stable and constant pH conditions exhibited a stronger sensitivity to ambient seawater pH, whereby pHcf decreased by up to 0.5 units for each unit decrease in ambient seawater pH. However, under the naturally and highly dynamic pH conditions within the Heron Island reef flat, corals seemingly exert a much stronger physiological control of pH, which overrides the seasonal ambient depression in seawater pH, as well as the super- imposed FOCE induced decrease in seawater pH. Reinterpretation (11) of previous laboratory work using P. cylindrica colonies under depressed pCO2 conditions (29) indicates that pH up-regulation was taking place at the site of calcification in this species; these previous experiments, however, kept CO2 constant throughout the experiment and therefore did not capture the dynamic nature of many natural reef environments.

Regardless, the ability of pH-homeostatic coral to survive and grow in these extreme pH environments may provide them with a greater resilience to the increased levels of ocean acidification expected to occur over the coming decades and centuries.

Lucy Georgiou led an intensive study into the resilience of coral to changes in CO2 level, which challenges many of the populist assumptions about coral and CO2. Her team also re-analysed the studies of other researchers, and worked out and stated why they think other researchers got it wrong. All this while working under the auspices of the University of West Australia, Lewandowsky’s old campus.

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122 thoughts on “Study: CO2 “acidification” does not harm Coral

    • Not only her job.

      Abstract – 15 June 2012
      Resilience of cold-water scleractinian corals to ocean acidification: Boron isotopic systematics of pH and saturation state up-regulation
      =====

      Letter To Nature – 5 March 2012
      Coral resilience to ocean acidification and global warming through pH up-regulation

      • Someone else’s job may be on the ropes :

        “…. led by researcher Lucy Georgiou has concluded that at least some Coral has the ability to regulate its own internal PH.This allows the studied coral to thrive, even in extreme acid environments.”

        Say what ? Where did that come from ?

        Perhaps someone is not reading what is written carefully enough before paraphrasing it.

        Regardless, the ability of pH-homeostatic coral to survive and grow in these extreme pH environments

        Classic press release distortion of what a report REALLY said. Please note “extreme pH ” does NOT mean ” extreme acid “.

        In the context ‘extreme’ probably means pH 7.5 or 8.8 .

      • … with each nubbin having near-
        constant pHcf values independent of the large natural seasonal fluc-
        tuations of the reef flat waters (pH ∼7.7 to ∼8.3) or the superim-
        posed FOCE treatments.

        I wasn’t far off. In fact the full range of test conditions was still firmly alkaline.

        Since WUWT keeps blasting alarmists for calling less alkaline conditions “acid”, a correction to article would be in order, I think, Anthony.

      • Hah!
        Nice try Moik.
        Tell you guys your terminology is misleading and incorrect = Nothing but long winded arguments and steadfast insistence that it is legit.

        Use same terminology as you guys = Howls of protest and mock outrage at the gall to use same phrase in same context.
        Got any crocodile tears in your handbag of duplicitous nonsense?
        Are you serving cheese with your wine?

      • … Reef flat waters on Heron Island are also subject to strong diel variations that can change by up to 0.75 pH units within a 24-h period (Fig. S2) (9) …

        7.5 – 0.75 = 6.75 – true acid conditions, at least some of the time.

      • Thanks for picking up the issue Eric.

        However, the quotation that you provide does not say +/-0.75 , it cites that as total swing, and neither is it the range of conditions that they tested. Even accepting that range it is +/-0.375 pH.

        Even if your figure of 6.75pH was correct ( which it is not ) 6.75pH is not “extreme acid conditions” in anyone’s book, it is only just acid. It would probably be best if you simple correct the error. otherwise some warmist will be popping up saying WUWT says 6.75pH is extreme acid and why are they denying ocean acidification.

        It is important to be honest and consistent , not try to fight BS with BS, IMO.

        At least I’ve always seen its integrity and objectivity as the main reason for reading WUWT. Though it does seem to be getting less that way. I hope it does not become a “trend”.

      • Mike, I used “extreme” in the context of meaning a substantial deviation from what is considered normal, not int the context of say the acidity fuming sulphuric acid would produce. But you raise an interesting point about the use of language, and how it can lead to misinterpretations and imprecision.

        Why not create a story expanding on and exploring issues with the use of language, and submit it to Anthony as a climate story? https://wattsupwiththat.com/submit-a-story/

    • Eric, you mistranscribed “extreme pH” in the paper as “extreme acid” . A simple slip, that’s fine. A one word correction to the articel would be in order. It does not require me to write and article. There has been a very good one on just that topic here recently.

      There is nothing in the article that suggests either natural sea conditions or the test conditions ever got below 7.0pH.

      WUWT is constantly trying to counter this false use of “acidification” when referring to alkaline oceans. You mistake is undermining that effort.

      How about you just fess up and make a one work correction. No one will think less of you for doing so.

  1. I see the study is in the Great Barrier Reef. Well let’s see what has caused so much damage over the years. I see only 10% damage due to bleaching over 27 years prior to 2011/2. Some bleaching is caused by sunlight, freshwater inundation (low salinity) and poor water quality from sediment or pollutant run-off. Don’t forget El Nino (natural). What’s left for acid?

    Abstract – 2 October 2012
    The 27–year decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes
    Tropical cyclones, coral predation by crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and coral bleaching accounted for 48%, 42%, and 10% of the respective estimated losses, amounting to 3.38% y-1 mortality rate. Importantly, the relatively pristine northern region showed no overall decline. …
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497744/

    AS REPORTED IN THE NEWS.

    AIMS.gov
    “The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years. The loss was due to storm damage (48%), crown of thorns starfish (42%), and bleaching (10%) according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville and the University of Wollongong.”
    http://www.aims.gov.au/latest-news/-/asset_publisher/MlU7/content/2-october-2012-the-great-barrier-reef-has-lost-half-of-its-coral-in-the-last-27-years

    BBC
    “”There are three main sources for the coral decline, one is storms, however 42% is attributed to Crown of Thorns Starfish – and just 10% due to bleaching.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26183209

    • “The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years”

      Well according to which paper? Another paper one could quote says 19%, another 11%.

      Pull a rabbit out of a hat for a number. (It’s also worth noting that since coral is under the sea, it makes checking such numbers difficult, which is why you get such a spread in numbers-out of sight, out of mind).

      I’m guessing 0% of lost coral cover in the last 27 years, or perhaps some slight coral expansion with slight warming in the ocean.

      • Yeah I know Jimbo, the paper was not yours, I shouLD have made this clear when i quoted it.

        I just cant believe that no one openly challenges this rubbish, science is definitely not healthy when peer review fails to pick up gross distortions, the media fails to question it, journals don’t publish alternate views, and we get ‘50% of something’ which is more likely very close to zero.

        If it was a company director they would be fired or prosecuted for making this crap up

  2. Once bleaching has occurred, is it all over? Not necessarily. PS I vaguely recall corals evolved during a time of very high co2?

    Abstract – 2009
    Guillermo Diaz-Pulido et al
    Doom and Boom on a Resilient Reef: Climate Change, Algal Overgrowth and Coral Recovery
    …In 2006, mass bleaching of corals on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef caused high coral mortality. Here we show that this coral mortality was followed by an unprecedented bloom of a single species of unpalatable seaweed (Lobophora variegata), colonizing dead coral skeletons, but that corals on these reefs recovered dramatically, in less than a year. Unexpectedly, this rapid reversal did not involve reestablishment of corals by recruitment of coral larvae, as often assumed, but depended on several ecological mechanisms previously underestimated….
    http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005239

    ———-

    Abstract – 5 April 2013
    James P. Gilmour et al
    Recovery of an Isolated Coral Reef System Following Severe Disturbance
    …We found that on an isolated reef system in north Western Australia, coral cover increased from 9% to 44% within 12 years of a coral bleaching event, despite a 94% reduction in larval supply for 6 years after the bleaching. The initial increase in coral cover was the result of high rates of growth and survival of remnant colonies, followed by a rapid increase in juvenile recruitment as colonies matured. We show that isolated reefs can recover from major disturbance,…
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1232310

    ———–

    Abstract – 2007
    Y. Golbuu et al
    Palau’s coral reefs show differential habitat recovery following the 1998-bleaching event
    ……Recovery was examined from 2001 to 2005 at 13 sites stratified by habitat……Coral cover increased most in the sheltered bays, despite a low recruitment rate, suggesting that recovery in bays was primarily a consequence of remnant regrowth. Recruitment densities were consistently high on the wave-exposed reefs, particularly the western slopes, where recovery was attributed to both recruitment and regrowth of remnants. Recovery was initially more rapid at 10 m than 3 m on outer reefs, but in 2004, recovery rates were similar at both depths……
    DOI 10.1007/s00338-007-0200-7

    ———–

    Abstract – 2013
    Francisco Kelmo et al
    Severe Impact and Subsequent Recovery of a Coral Assemblage following the 1997–8 El Niño Event: A 17-Year Study from Bahia, Brazil
    …Recovery was slow, and multivariate analysis revealed that assemblages had not returned to the pre-El Niño state until 2011. It therefore took 13 years for full recovery of the coral assemblage to occur, which has consequences for reef systems if such El-Niño events become more frequent in the future.
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065073

  3. Nature is clever.
    Things that have survived longer than man has been walking upright probably know how to survive minor environmental changes.

    • These sea creatures have existed for nearly the entire history of living things, many, many millions of years. They easily survived several major, major mass extinctions. And now we are worried they will all die?

  4. From the abstract of a recent paper in Nature:

    “The bicarbonate ion (HCO3−) is involved in two major physiological processes in corals, biomineralization and photosynthesis, yet no molecular data on bicarbonate transporters are available.”

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep09983

    Bicarbonate transporter proteins are fairly standard things for local pH control in biology. How long do we have to wait for ‘ocean acidification scientists’ to catch up?

  5. Count of the daily and annual growth rings of corals from the Devonian epoch shows between 385 and 410 daily rings per annual ring. The Earth rotation is slowing down.

  6. how refreshing:-) and kudos to the girl:-)
    now
    count down to that pratt up in nsw/qld. the abc loves to drag in for fear n hype hugh
    ove-guldberg? whatever hes called.

    • Rather wonderful, I think!

      “…Lucy Georgiou led an intensive study into the resilience of coral to changes in CO2 level, which challenges many of the populist assumptions about coral and CO2. Her team also re-analysed the studies of other researchers…”

      From UWA, no less? The poison of Lewserdownsky and Cooked isn’t absolute. Perhaps there is still some hope for more honest research from the land of UWA?

  7. It is possible to identify genetic mechanisms that give some corals a natural resilience to thermal stress. Daniel Barshis and colleagues collected samples of Acropora in reefs in two pools at Ofu Island, American Samoa. One pool had highly variable temperatures, topping 34°C in summer, while the other was more moderately variable. They then stressed the corals in the lab while monitoring a range of gene activity.

    They identified 60 genes that were more active in the high variation pool and became more active in corals from the moderately variable pool when water temperatures rose in the lab. The higher gene expression under normal conditions — called frontloading — prepares the corals for temperature extremes.

    Genomic basis for coral resilience to climate change
    http://www.pnas.org/content/110/4/1387.short

    • Resilience to both changes in pH and heat stress is likely to be built in to the genomes of any corals that have experienced this in the past (which goes for nearly all shallow water species), and we can expect that recovery will be relatively rapid because of the unimaginably large numbers of potential offspring produced by corals, so selective pressures will give quick results. We do know that variations in pH seasonally, daily, and spatially, even in relatively restricted areas, are very much greater than the projected global pH changes due to atmospheric CO2 increases, so I think we can discount most of the scare stories. I’ve not seen any experiments which give support to the alarmist position which don’t have very serious methodological shortcomings.

      What is likely, though, is that changes in pH over the longer term will favour some corals over others, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see changes in the species assemblage if we observe for long enough. But so what – these things are in flux all the time anyway.

  8. I have just returned from 2 weeks fishing and snorkeling in the Bunker group of reefs and coral cays which includes Heron Island. It is a privilege (1-2 weeks cruising the GBR) I have enjoyed for each of the last 13 years. As usual we caught our quota of quality reef fish and if this reflects the health of the GBR I would have to say it is little changed since I first visited these waters in the 1950’s. The key to enjoying the GBR is to get to the cays and lagoons which are further away from the Queensland coast than the typical hard rock islands, with their associated fringing reefs, characteristic of most of the tourist resort areas. You are especially fortunate if you can get to the Swain reefs (accessed via charter from Mackay or Gladstone). These ‘outer’ areas are mostly buffered (protected) from the coastal disturbance (run-off and sediment loads), which concerns conservationists, by deep channels. To my mind the reefs away from the coast remain in robust good health. Put a visit to the GBR on your “bucket list”, if you are at all able to do so.

  9. She obviously didn’t receive funding from the NSF’s Ocean Acidification program. First, she wouldn’t have been able to report good news. Second, she wouldn’t have published it non-paywalled.

  10. Coral diversification to decline due to bad acid trips.

    Abstract – 2014
    Diverse coral communities in naturally acidified waters of a Western Pacific reef
    “Here we report the existence of highly diverse, coral-dominated reef communities under chronically low pH and aragonite saturation state []. Biological and hydrographic processes change the chemistry of the seawater moving across the barrier reefs and into Palau’s Rock Island bays, where levels of acidification approach those projected for the western tropical Pacific open ocean by 2100. Nevertheless, coral diversity, cover, and calcification rates are maintained across this natural acidification gradient.”
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013GL058489/abstract

    The Red Sea is hot on the surface and salty. Yet here be corals.

    • http://www.coral-reef-info.com/red-sea-coral-reefs.html

      “The region surrounding the Red Sea is one of the hottest, driest areas on earth. The extreme air temperatures result in very high levels of evaporation, making this one of the hottest and saltiest bodies of seawater in the world.

      The average salinity is 40 parts per thousand (ppt), as compared to about 35-36 (ppt) in the tropical Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Recent measurements found surface water temperatures to be 28 degrees C. (82 degrees F.) in winter and up to 34 degrees C. (93 degrees F.) in summer.

      Despite the extreme conditions characteristic of the region, Red Sea coral reefs are generally healthy. Coral reefs range widely in condition and cover, with up to 85% living coral cover at the best sites and over 50% live coral cover at many other locations. There is usually minimal coral bleaching evident, although some localized outbreaks are reported from time to time.”
      =============

      much hotter than other oceans, the Red Sea shows minimal bleaching. And what is bleaching? It is housekeeping. The coral polyps kick out the algae symbionts that gives them their color. which explains why coral recovers quickly from bleaching events.

      • it occurred to me that coral bleaching may have a very simple explanation. when the coral polyps find that their symbiont algae is not pulling their weight, not producing enough food via photosynthesis, the polyps simply eat the algae for their nutrient value, and thus lose their color.

        keep in mind that tropical waters are deficient in nutrients. it could well be that in warm water conditions the algae are too efficient, they consume all the nutrients and threaten the polys. so in response the polyps eat their symbionts to protect themselves.

      • imagine that you are renting out a room in your house. in return for this room, the renter helps with the mortgage. but then economic conditions change. the renter isn’t able to come up with the rent check. so you kick them out of the house and wait for another renter to come by.

        is coral bleaching any different?

  11. Put the coral in a bag…put the bag in a box…..ship it half way around the world….check the pH when it gets there

  12. So, the upshot is that life forms have homeostatic mechanisms that allow them to cope with normal variations in their environment?
    Wow.
    Who knew?
    /sarc off

    I will tell you who…everyone except shrill alarmist nitwits.

  13. “Regardless, the ability of pH-homeostatic coral to survive and grow in these extreme pH environments may provide them with a greater resilience to theincreased levels of ocean acidification expected to occur over the coming decades and centuries.”

    (Bold miine)

    Shouldn’t that be “the possible decreasing PH level of the ocean”, rather than an “increase” of anything?

  14. This experiment lasted six months, and others like it are ongoing, and is a direct result of the self-correction of Ocean Acidification (OA) science referred to in my two recent essays here and here.

    The FOCE experiments referred to are “free ocean carbon enrichment ” experiments which use various technologies to attempt to mimic and test the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations at various sites in the open ocean, in this case on the Heron Island reef flat in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. An image of one such experiment is found at http://blogs.csiro.au/ecos/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2015/06/diver-w-chamber.jpg.

    Those not familiar with The Great Barrier Reef Wars — one of the many international science battles being fought in the press and scientific journals — should be aware that OA has become another front in this often ideological fight which involves reef scientists from all over the world in which scientists on either side of the battle fire off papers that directly contradict papers from the other side. This Science War has a large overlap with the Climate Wars and intersects with anti-shore-development, anti-tourism and anti-urbanization battles in many locations, both in Australia, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

  15. The range of “acidity” of the ocean is much, much larger than the small increase over the last 100 years due to CO2.
    If that small increase were enough to imperil coral, they would have died out millions of years ago.

    • Exactly.
      To say nothing of the large changes that occur almost instantaneously during bolide impacts and large volcanic and seismic events.

      • Since you offer no numbers on speed, let me give you some. Coral reefs, like land plants, are both a source and a sink for CO2. They absorb CO2 in the daytime, and release it at night. Over a twenty-four hour period, some coral reefs experience a pH change of a full pH unit.

        By contrast, the oceans are predicted to change about a tenth of a pH unit in a hundred years.

        Simon, I’m sure even you can tell if the speed of the predicted change is “too quick” …

        w.

      • Simon
        October 7, 2015 at 10:56 am

        MarkW
        Not necessarily. “If” the speed is too quick then, adaptation is far more difficult.

        Take a look at these. This has been going on for millions of years.

        Abstract – 2011
        Will ocean acidification affect marine microbes?
        ……….Useful comparisons can be made with microbes in other aquatic environments that readily accommodate very large and rapid pH change. For example, in many freshwater lakes, pH changes that are orders of magnitude greater than those projected for the twenty second century oceans can occur over periods of hours. Marine and freshwater assemblages have always experienced variable pH conditions. Therefore, an appropriate null hypothesis may be, until evidence is obtained to the contrary, that major biogeochemical processes in the oceans other than calcification will not be fundamentally different under future higher CO2/lower pH conditions.
        http://www.nature.com/ismej/journal/v5/n1/full/ismej201079a.html
        ———————–

        Abstract – December 19, 2011
        Gretchen E. Hofmann et al
        High-Frequency Dynamics of Ocean pH: A Multi-Ecosystem Comparison
        ………. These observations reveal a continuum of month-long pH variability with standard deviations from 0.004 to 0.277 and ranges spanning 0.024 to 1.430 pH units. The nature of the observed variability was also highly site-dependent, with characteristic diel, semi-diurnal, and stochastic patterns of varying amplitudes. These biome-specific pH signatures disclose current levels of exposure to both high and low dissolved CO2, often demonstrating that resident organisms are already experiencing pH regimes that are not predicted until 2100……..

        …..and (2) in some cases, seawater in these sites reaches extremes in pH, sometimes daily, that are often considered to only occur in open ocean systems well into the future [46]. …..
        DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028983
        http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028983
        ———————–

        Abstract – 1 March 2013
        Is Ocean Acidification an Open-Ocean Syndrome? Understanding Anthropogenic Impacts on Seawater pH
        …Changes in the watershed can, for example, lead to changes in alkalinity and CO2 fluxes that, together with metabolic processes and oceanic dynamics, yield high-magnitude decadal changes of up to 0.5 units in coastal pH. Metabolism results in strong diel to seasonal fluctuations in pH, with characteristic ranges of 0.3 pH units, with metabolically intense habitats exceeding this range on a daily basis. The intense variability and multiple, complex controls on pH implies that the concept of ocean acidification due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions cannot be transposed to coastal ecosystems directly….
        http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12237-013-9594-3

      • DB
        Please explain to me how petrol and diesel are natural? The last time I checked they were manufactured.

      • Simon, always asking, never answering.

        OK then, I’ll explain some things for you (and Chris, too):

        First, neither one of you understands that people are part of nature. What are we, then? Unnatural?

        But I have little doubt that you two would be arguing that Native Americans are “natural” since they didn’t invent airplanes.

        Also, fossil fuels aren’t manufactured, they’re processed following extraction. But that’s neither here nor there.

        If you want to arbitrarily draw a fictitious line that allows you to believe you have somehow won some sort of point, go right ahead. But all you’re really doing is tripping over your own feet with your pretzel logic. You need real logic to be convincing here. More than that; you need measurable data.

        The basic argument you’re trying to support is that the rise in CO2, from 3 parts in 10,000 to only 4 parts in 10,000 over a century and a half, “might” or “could” cause a problem. A unicorn stampede could cause a problem, too — if there were unicorns (and who am I to say there aren’t?) To me, unicorns and ‘dangerous man-made global warming’ (MMGW) are in the same ball park. Neither one has been conclusively identified yet.

        See, you need to be able to produce verifiable, replicable measurements quantifying global damage, or harm, from the rise in CO2. But you can’t. So far, no one has been able to do that.

        You’re arguing like someone who’s terrified of a black cat lurking under your bed at night. You’re just certain the cat is there. It might have rabies! You can almost hear it breathing. You’re scaring yourself just thinking about it.

        But when you turn on the light… there is no cat. And there never was.

        The analogy is the same: you’re just certain that the rise in CO2 is gonna getcha. You believe that it just has to, because that’s what you’ve been taught, and that’s what you’re trying to teach anyone who will listen. Your belief is as strong as any Jehovah’s Witness’s.

        But this is a science site, Simon. The “Best Science” site on the internet. What you believe is worthless here, unless you can produce supporting data-based evidence showing that the rise in CO2 is harming the planet. But since you can’t produce any evidence showing global harm, you argue your beliefs via assertions, and you quibble over irrelevant things like the definition of ‘natural’.

        That’s not nearly sufficient to win your debate here. All available evidence shows that the rise in CO2 has been completely harmless, and also that more CO2 has been a net benefit. Really, a huge benefit to both the biosphere and the world’s poor. And there is no verifiable evidence of any downside. None at all.

        I am a scientific skeptic, so you can easily get me to change my mind: simply produce empirical, measurable evidence showing that more CO2 has caused global harm. Do it logically; skeptics don’t accept non sequitur arguments like, “Sea levels are rising, so it must be due to human emissions.” There are several other logical fallacies inherent there, too.

        You can also get me to change my mind by producing an empirical, testable (meaning falsifiable), replicable measurement quantifying AGW. Show us a cause and effect relationship between CO2 and global temperature, in which CO2 consistently leads global T.

        But neither you nor anyone else has ever been able to produce any of those things. Not for lack of trying: thousands of scientists salivate over the Nobel Prize that would result from producing a verifiable, replicable measurement quantifying man-made global warming.

        For one thing, such a measurement would resolve the question of the climate sensitivity number: the specific degree of global warming that would result from X amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere. But that sensitivity number ranges all over the map, from ≈6ºC+ per 2xCO2 (IPCC), to 0.00ºC (Miskolczi). Some scientists even argue that CO2 has a cooling effect.

        There is no agreement on the sensitivity number because there are no verifiable measurements of AGW, which is based only on indirect evidence and plenty of assertions, all larded with endless appeals to bought-and-paid-for authorities.

        So it’s easy to convince skeptics that there’s a problem: just produce measurable data. But since the alarmist crowd has never produced any such data, your entire argument amounts to warning us about the black cat under the bed.

        None of this would matter, and in any other area of science the CO2=cAGW conjecture would have been laughed out of the lab or classroom long ago. The only reason it’s still being endlessly discussed is because of the immense piles of grant money keeping the scare alive: more than $1 billion annually by the U.S. alone. That taxpayer loot buys a lot of professional opinions.

        The ‘carbon’ false alarm is also supported by the dwindling number of eco-religious True Believers who have been taught, and who keep trying to teach others that the relatively tiny rise in CO2 should cause government policy to begin dismantling Western civilization — based entirely on your kind of “but what if…” arguments.

        There are still no measurements quantifying MMGW. Like turtles, it’s assertions all the way down. What we need is data, not beliefs. But there is no data.

        Turn on the light, Simon. There’s no black cat. You just believe it’s there.

    • And the increase in CO2 in little over 100 years, to the highest levels seen in 2 million years, could hardly be considered a natural event.

      • DB
        It is not a natural process digging up fossil fuels and burning them, any more than it is me dumping sewage onto your front lawn.

      • Steve Jones…
        And that would be true… along with cholera, hepatitis and a number of other undesirable other outcomes, including a bunch of very unhappy neighbours.

      • Simon,

        You’re conceding the argument, despite your lame analogies.

        Everything is natural, including humans…

        …well, maybe not in your case. But for the rest of us, we’re all part of nature.

        And to repeat, for the slow learners here:

        The CO2 in fossil fuels used to be in the air. Now it’s back in the air. And the only effects are beneficial.

      • DB

        “Everything is natural including humans” …. Are you saying that means everything humans do is good?. I’d take issue with that. Last time I checked it was humans who flew airplanes into buildings on Sept 11. I don’t think that was too good. And I don’t think it was very good dropping agent orange on children. No DB, I think you may need to sharpen your criteria for what is good and what is natural.

      • Steve Jones,

        You know what I was referring to:

        DB might encourage you to dump sewage on his front lawn… Who said DB’s neighbors are currently “happy?” No telling what goes on it that neighborhood.

        Were those supposed to be friendly comments?

      • Steve and Simon…ever hear of a coal mine fire?
        Ever hear that the largest coal beds that were ever laid down became exposed to the air, were set on fire, and burned for thousands of years, creating entire landscapes the size of several large states?
        If you never heard that…you ain’t heard nothing yet…

      • Steve, this ain’t one of those neighborhoods, and the poop bag lighters are the ones get stomped on, hereabouts.

      • It is not a natural process digging up fossil fuels and burning them…
        =================

        1)

        Methane worms digging up so-called “fossil fuels” in the Gulf of Mexico and burning (oxidizing) them as a way of life. (photo: NOAA)
        * * * * * *

        2) “It is estimated that 1.4-7.2×108 barrels of petroleum and 4.4-22.3×1010 cubic meters of natural gas are present beneath the seafloor in the northern Gulf (Darnell and Defenbaugh, 1990). According to the Minerals Management Service, offshore operations in the Gulf produce a quarter of the U.S. domestic natural gas and one-eighth of its oil.
        […]
        Fisheries
        Gulf fisheries are some of the most productive in the world.
        http://www.gulfbase.org/facts.php
        * * * * * *

        3) “The input from natural marine oil seeps alone would be enough to cover all of the world’s oceans in a layer of oil 20 molecules thick [annually]. That the globe is not swamped with oil is testament to the efficiency and versatility of the networks of microorganisms</B. that degrade hydrocarbons, some of which have recently begun to reveal the secrets of when and how they exploit hydrocarbons as a source of carbon and energy.
        Marine microorganisms make a meal of oil.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16489346

        Burning life-enriching hydrocarbons is a natural thing to do. Hydrocarbons are a renewable feedstock for primary producers that have infested the planet for billions of years.

        We started burning the stuff little over 100 years ago.
        Microbes still consume more hydrocarbons each year than we do.

        Mother nature loves the stuff.

      • Steve Jones,

        So you keep avoiding any explanation of your unfriendly comments, and I should just “lighten up”. Got it.

        You write:

        For some reason Mother Nature does not like to have CO2 in the air… If she wanted it in the air, she would leave it there. So, humankind is going against Mother Nature.

        Logic isn’t your strong point, is it?

        Plants are part of nature, and they love CO2, the more the better. As for ‘humankind’, we’re part of nature, too. We could not exist without CO2, and just like plants, the more the better (please don’t start with, “but what if CO2 was 100%…”). If CO2 doubled, it would be a net benefit to the biosphere — including us.

        Then Simon opines:

        Are you saying that means everything humans do is good?

        Define “good”. I’ve watched a lion kill a hyena for no apparent reason. How do you think the hyena would define “good”?

        People do things other people don’t like. The Golden Rule is the basis for all civilized society. But trying to separate humans from nature is a losing argument.

      • DB
        It’s about not putting too much sewage in your own backyard… or CO2 into the atmosphere, unless you want to change the property values of your neighbourhood…. planet. The world has had a steady level of this vital gas for the last 2 million years. You raise it by a third in the blink of an eye… you better keep that eye on the effect it has. I am one who does not accept it will all be tickety-boo just coz the good lord will look after us. I think we need to respect where we live and that means being careful. Pity you can’t see that.

      • dbstealey said: “It’s all natural. The CO2 in fossil fuels used to be in the air. Now it’s back in the air. And the only effects are beneficial.” and “Everything is natural, including humans…”

        So according to your logic, freeways are natural, giant chemical; plants are natural, airplanes are natural.

        Does CO2 exist in nature? Of course. But it is ludicrous to state that man made processes such as drilling for oil and burning it are natural.

      • As usual Simon ignores my comments and questions. So I’ll ignore Simon.

        Next, Chris says:

        So according to your logic, freeways are natural, giant chemical; plants are natural, airplanes are natural.

        Absolutely. So your opinion is that they’re supernatural? A figment of your imagination?

        Chris, accept reality: it’s all natural. You, me. freeways, everything. Deal with it.

        Also, accept the fact that there is no evidence of any global harm from CO2. Thus, CO2 should be considered ‘harmless’.

      • DB
        OK I will define “good” in this context. Good is not being the hyena in this case. Good is not being the 80% of people who will be adversely affected the most by increases in CO2… namely the worlds poor. Good is being in a position of choice (the rich) and making decisions that benefit all, irrespective of how much you win. Well you asked…..

      • Simon sez:

        Good is not being the 80% of people who will be adversely affected the most by increases in CO2

        “Adversely affected”???

        How? Quantify that. Post names of those adversely affected by a rise in CO2 from 390 ppm to 410 ppm. Quantify exactly how they are ‘adversely affected’.

        Don’t you see how silly your argument is getting?

      • dbstealey says:” Absolutely. So your opinion is that they’re supernatural? A figment of your imagination?

        Chris, accept reality: it’s all natural. You, me. freeways, everything. Deal with it.”

        Ah yes, dbstealey’s way of debating. Say something is true – no need to provide supporting evidence – and then add the closing argument “deal with it.” If a poll was taken of WUWT readers, I doubt that even 10% would agree with your definition of natural. Since the last time I checked you were not a definitive authority on the meaning of words, let’s go to those who are. From Mirriam Webster: existing in nature and not made or caused by people : coming from nature
        From the Oxford dictionary: Existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind:
        From Websters: existing in nature and not made or caused by people : coming from nature

        You’re 0 for 3, db. Deal with it.

      • Chris,

        This is a science site, not a grammar blog.

        “Natural”, as I explained, is not “supernatural”. We are all part of nature.

        The CO2 being emitted is the very same atmospheric CO2 that has been sequesterd. It is being re-emitted. Naturally. In the very same way that CO2 is being emitted from a coal seam fire, or from a forest fire. In/Out. See? Really, do you understand that?

        Furthermore, you are evading the central point: is the additional CO2 causing any global damsge, or harm? The answer is a decisive No. The net global effect of more CO2 is entirely beneficial. There is no measurable downside to more CO2. It’s all good. More is better, at both current and projected concentrations.

        Thus, all your wild-eyed alarmism over ‘carbon’ is nothing more than a bogus false alarm; a fraudulent tactic designed to scare the populace into opening its collective wallets to bureaucratic money grabbers. Is that stupid, self-serving, or what?

        You have zero measurable data quantiying the putative effect of global T due to a rise in X amount of CO2. Science is is all about data. Measurements are data. But you have no such data quantifying the supposed effect of human CO2 emissions on global T.

        Thus, your entire argument is based on your assertions — not on verifiable data. That’s a losing argument, Chris.

      • db says: “This is a science site, not a grammar blog. “Natural”, as I explained, is not “supernatural”. We are all part of nature.”

        Wow, you just keep digging the hole deeper. First off, I was not commenting on your grammar, I was commenting on the meaning of words. Big difference. The meaning of words matters, even on science sites. Then you say natural is not supernatural. You say this is a science site, and then you mention supernatural? A word which scientists don’t use as they don’t believe in it? In fact, your use of the word supernatural is the first time I can recall seeing it on WUWT. That shows you how “scientific” it is.

        Your definition is natural is incorrect, and you’ve provided no supporting evidence to back it up. Saying “we are all part of nature” doesn’t cut it. Man made actions are just that – man made. You then say: “The CO2 being emitted is the very same atmospheric CO2 that has been sequesterd. It is being re-emitted. Naturally. In the very same way that CO2 is being emitted from a coal seam fire, or from a forest fire. In/Out. See? Really, do you understand that?”

        CO2 emitted from a naturally occurring coal seam fire is natural, CO2 emitted from a man made coal fired power plant that uses coal dug out of the ground by man made mining equipment is not. See? Really, do you understand that?

        You then add: “Furthermore, you are evading the central point: is the additional CO2 causing any global damsge, or harm?”

        Nope, that was not what was being discussed on this sub thread. The first point by Simon was: “And the increase in CO2 in little over 100 years, to the highest levels seen in 2 million years, could hardly be considered a natural event.” You then challenged his use of the word natural. THAT is what this subthread is about.

      • “Simon

        October 7, 2015 at 10:47 pm

        Good is not being the 80% of people who will be adversely affected the most by increases in CO2… namely the worlds poor.”

        The worlds poor are basking in abundant food supplies as a direct result of a greening world. What they do not need is the “rich” telling them they have to get off their native lands because the Govn’t (Ethiopia is an example) wants to grow food for fuel. Making energy expensive and unreliable is not what the poor need. Anyone that poor will tell you that in no uncertain terms.

      • Simon,
        I am still interested in your response to my comment below. You said:

        Simon
        October 7, 2015 at 10:56 am

        MarkW
        Not necessarily. “If” the speed is too quick then, adaptation is far more difficult.

        I pointed out large ocean ph changes in the order of hours, days, months, seasons and decades. This has been going on for millions of years and if adaptation was difficult the what the heck is going on???
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/07/study-co2-acidification-does-not-harm-coral/#comment-2044078

      • Jimbo
        I happen to believe that this planet is precious and sadly fragile. As far as we know there is no other like it. It has been here for a very long time changing and evolving. We have been here for the blink of an eye and have benefitted from it’s resources in many ways. I get that and I enjoy them too. But we know adaptation takes time, it is not rocket science. There have been many examples of extinction not caused by man where animals and plants have found themselves in an environment that has changed too quickly. The dinosaurs are an obvious example. I shouldn’t have to explain to an intelligent man like yourself that changing the concentration of a primary greenhouse gas in less than 100 years to a level not seen for millions, is a serious issue, and one at the very least is worth monitoring and preparing for possible consequences of. Now you can pick one living organism and argue it may well cope fine, but there are many thousands across the planet that may not. A fine example is our (NZ) native Tuatara. A lizard that predates the dinosaurs. It has a climate change achilles heal. The sex of the lizard is determined by the temp the egg incubates in the ground at. 1 degree change is all it needs to throw the whole gender process out of balance. Now you can argue (and many would here) that if it was to become extinct that would be no loss, survival of the fittest and all that, but I don’t agree. I see it as a tragedy.

      • Simon, you pointed:

        Simon
        October 7, 2015 at 10:56 am

        MarkW
        Not necessarily. “If” the speed is too quick then, adaptation is far more difficult.

        All I did was to provide evidence of PH changes in the order of house, days, months and seasons not expected until the end of this century. In other words organisms are experiencing big changes now, and rapidly. A process that goes on in the oceans with or without our input.

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/07/study-co2-acidification-does-not-harm-coral/#comment-2044078

      • TYPO:
        “All I did was to provide evidence of PH changes in the order of house, days,…..”

        should be:

        “All I did was to provide evidence of PH changes in the order of hours, days,…..”

  16. Hmm, this can’t be a real climate science paper! I don’t see computer models mentioned anywhere.(/sarc)

    I find it amazing that when people actually go out and collect data in the field, the models are never validated. If I were a modeler, I would be looking for new code, but climate science modelers just seem to argue “shut up” and “change your data to match my model”.

  17. Plain common sense really. In fact, I fail to see how anyone made the ‘dying corals’ meme ever work in the first place.

    Corals have been around for hundreds of millions of years. They survived warmer temperatures, colder temperatures, more CO2 and less CO2. So why would any brain-dead twerp masquerading as a scientist ever believe that the future of corals was in danger from 1 or 2 degrees temperature change, or 100 or 200 ppm of CO2 change?

    Why was such a stupid suggestion not slapped down from day one? The willingness of climate science go go along with this absurdity betrays the gaping and festering hole that lies at the center of this academic field.

    • I myself scoffed the very first time I heard it…and ever since.
      One of my first conversation on the topic was with an oceanographer, and by the end of the conversation he had to admit he was not even aware that CO2 provides the carbon that makes up the shells of marine organisms!
      A “coral expert” !
      A degreed oceanographer!
      Completely ignorant that the thousands of feet thick marine deposits the world over had an atmospheric origin.

  18. Just watched, on Al Jazeera news, a report on coral growing in Hong Kong harbour. Totally flummoxed ‘scientists’ cannot explain how it is survi ving and thriving in those conditions.
    regards, off to work.

    • If weeds did not grow right in peoples faces, they would warn us those have no chance either.
      Instead:

      These are people who for some reason have deluded themselves about the nature of life, and must have the idea that living things have a tenuous grasp on their environment…even though all evidence is that life is tenacious, ever present, infinitely adaptable, and ever adaptable to even the most challenging and hostile environments.

      Compared to a hot parched and baked concrete surface, the ocean is as friendly to life as can be.

  19. Glad to see this, as I’ve been making the exact same point for years—coral reefs are not under threat from the mild ocean neutralization predicted over the coming century.

    w.

  20. Since it is well documented that ocean pH is naturally dynamic to a great degree it is not surprising that corals and other life forms would be able to manage that dynamic range without harm.

  21. Thanks for posting this Eric. I heard about this a few weeks ago on an ABC radio news bulletin (of all places!) and I have been trying to find more information on it. The ABC would have buried this quick smart :)

  22. Coral reefs are made of depositions of calcium carbonate. It needs CO2 to deposit this, doesn’t it? I wonder whether the coral reefs actually benefit from a higher concentration of CO2 or carbonic acid in the water. How does that compute with warming oceans (supposedly) and the decreasing ability to absorb CO2? Due to higher partial pressures in the atmosphere? Warmer oceans should release CO2. There should be somewhere a study to show how much CO2 can be dissolved in ocean water at a given water temperature and a given atmospheric CO2 concentration. And doesn’t the ocean have a buffer system? Wasn’t the CO2 level or carbonic acid in the oceans much higher at the end of the last ice age? So many questions…

  23. Simon October 8, 2015 at 11:46 am Edit

    …Now you can pick one living organism and argue it may well cope fine, but there are many thousands across the planet that may not. A fine example is our (NZ) native Tuatara. A lizard that predates the dinosaurs. It has a climate change achilles heal. The sex of the lizard is determined by the temp the egg incubates in the ground at. 1 degree change is all it needs to throw the whole gender process out of balance. Now you can argue (and many would here) that if it was to become extinct that would be no loss, survival of the fittest and all that, but I don’t agree. I see it as a tragedy.

    So you are claiming that since the time that “predates the dinosaurs”, the temperature has never varied by 1°C?

    Because if it had, according to you, the tuatara should have gone extinct because only one sex would be born.

    Really?

    So I say your claim about the tuatara is just more feel-good “we love the earth so we must be right” nonsense.

    1°C will kill the tuatara?

    Get real. Nature is tough, not the pansy-assed creature that you seem to imagine. You’re mistaking the tuatara for a liberal do-gooder …

    w.

    • Simon,

      Willis is right, the planet is far tougher than you think it is, and your argument is full of other holes as usual. There has only been a 0.7º – 0.8ºC rise in global T during the past century or so. That change in temperature can be found by going up or down just a little in elevation.

      I really doubt that your lizard is confined to one specific altitude. Or a specific temperature range of ±1º, for that matter.

      But no matter what we say, your belief cannot be changed, can it? If I’m wrong, tell me what it would take. Be specific.

    • Simon,…
      A lizard that predates the dinosaurs. It has a climate change achilles heal.

      Do you realise what you have stated there? You do realise that most of the interglacials were warmer than at present? The The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), occurred around 56 million years ago and lasted about 170,000 years. IT WAS HOT! Dinosaurs became ‘extinct’ 65 million years ago. You lizard survived!

      • The PETM saw a initial 4°C temperature rise in a matter of decades. Your lizard survived.

        Abstract
        Systematics and Biodiversity – Volume 8, Issue 1, 2010
        Kathy J. Willis et al
        4 °C and beyond: what did this mean for biodiversity in the past?
        How do the predicted climatic changes (IPCC, 2007) for the next century compare in magnitude and rate to those that Earth has previously encountered? Are there comparable intervals of rapid rates of temperature change, sea-level rise and levels of atmospheric CO2 that can be used as analogues to assess possible biotic responses to future change? Or are we stepping into the great unknown? This perspective article focuses on intervals in time in the fossil record when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased up to 1200 ppmv, temperatures in mid- to high-latitudes increased by greater than 4 °C within 60 years, and sea levels rose by up to 3 m higher than present. For these intervals in time, case studies of past biotic responses are presented to demonstrate the scale and impact of the magnitude and rate of such climate changes on biodiversity. We argue that although the underlying mechanisms responsible for these past changes in climate were very different (i.e. natural processes rather than anthropogenic), the rates and magnitude of climate change are similar to those predicted for the future and therefore potentially relevant to understanding future biotic response. What emerges from these past records is evidence for rapid community turnover, migrations, development of novel ecosystems and thresholds from one stable ecosystem state to another, but there is very little evidence for broad-scale extinctions due to a warming world. Based on this evidence from the fossil record, we make four recommendations for future climate-change integrated conservation strategies.
        DOI: 10.1080/14772000903495833
        http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14772000903495833

        Abstract
        Carlos Jaramillo & Andrés Cárdenas – Annual Reviews – May 2013
        Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
        Global Warming and Neotropical Rainforests: A Historical Perspective

        There is concern over the future of the tropical rainforest (TRF) in the face of global warming. Will TRFs collapse? The fossil record can inform us about that. Our compilation of 5,998 empirical estimates of temperature over the past 120 Ma indicates that tropics have warmed as much as 7°C during both the mid-Cretaceous and the Paleogene. We analyzed the paleobotanical record of South America during the Paleogene and found that the TRF did not expand toward temperate latitudes during global warm events, even though temperatures were appropriate for doing so, suggesting that solar insolation can be a constraint on the distribution of the tropical biome. Rather, a novel biome, adapted to temperate latitudes with warm winters, developed south of the tropical zone. The TRF did not collapse during past warmings; on the contrary, its diversity increased. The increase in temperature seems to be a major driver in promoting diversity.
        doi: 10.1146/annurev-earth-042711-105403

        —————-

        Abstract
        PNAS – David R. Vieites – 2007
        Rapid diversification and dispersal during periods of global warming by plethodontid salamanders
        …Salamanders underwent rapid episodes of diversification and dispersal that coincided with major global warming events during the late Cretaceous and again during the Paleocene–Eocene thermal optimum. The major clades of plethodontids were established during these episodes, contemporaneously with similar phenomena in angiosperms, arthropods, birds, and mammals. Periods of global warming may have promoted diversification and both inter- and transcontinental dispersal in northern hemisphere salamanders…

        —————-

        Abstract
        ZHAO Yu-long et al – Advances in Earth Science – 2007
        The impacts of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM)event on earth surface cycles and its trigger mechanism
        The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) event is an abrupt climate change event that occurred at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. The event led to a sudden reversal in ocean overturning along with an abrupt rise in sea surface salinity (SSSs) and atmospheric humidity. An unusual proliferation of biodiversity and productivity during the PETM is indicative of massive fertility increasing in both oceanic and terrestrial ecosystems. Global warming enabled the dispersal of low-latitude populations into mid-and high-latitude. Biological evolution also exhibited a dramatic pulse of change, including the first appearance of many important groups of ” modern” mammals (such as primates, artiodactyls, and perissodactyls) and the mass extinction of benlhic foraminifera…..
        22(4) 341-349 DOI: ISSN: 1001-8166 CN: 62-1091/P

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