New publication demonstrates that scientists have routinely exaggerated the "evil twin of climate change" aka ocean acidification


This illustration itself is an exaggeration. From the movie “Acid Ocean” by 360 Degree films, an activist film company in Australia

A new paper published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science puts the issue of “ocean acidification” to the test, and finds that there has been significant exaggeration in the issue. The paper is:

Applying organized scepticism to ocean acidification research

“Ocean acidification” (OA), a change in seawater chemistry driven by increased uptake of atmospheric CO2 by the oceans, has probably been the most-studied single topic in marine science in recent times. The majority of the literature on OA report negative effects of CO2 on organisms and conclude that OA will be detrimental to marine ecosystems. As is true across all of science, studies that report no effect of OA are typically more difficult to publish. Further, the mechanisms underlying the biological and ecological effects of OA have received little attention in most organismal groups, and some of the key mechanisms (e.g. calcification) are still incompletely understood. For these reasons, the ICES Journal of Marine Science solicited contributions to this special issue. In this introduction, I present a brief overview of the history of research on OA, call for a heightened level of organized (academic) scepticism to be applied to the body of work on OA, and briefly present the 44 contributions that appear in this theme issue. OA research has clearly matured, and is continuing to do so. We hope that our readership will find that, when taken together, the articles that appear herein do indeed move us “Towards a broader perspective on ocean acidification research”.

Excerpts from that paper:

Scientific or academic scepticism calls for critical scrutiny of research outputs before they are accepted as new knowledge (Merton, 1973).Duarte et al. (2014) stated that “…there is a perception that scientific skepticism has been abandoned or relaxed in many areas…” of marine science. They argue that OA is one such area, and conclude that there is, at best, weak evidence to support an OA-driven decline of calcifiers. Below, I raise some of the aspects of OA research to which I contend an insufficient level of organized scepticism has been applied (in some cases, also to the articles in this theme issue). I arrived at that conclusion after reading hundreds of articles on OA (including, to be fair, some that also raise these issues) and overseeing the peer-review process for the very large number of submissions to this themed issue. Importantly, and asDuarte et al. (2014) make clear, a retrospective application of scientific scepticism such as the one that follows could—and should—be applied to any piece of/body of research.

Many early studies on OA applied treatment levels that greatly exceeded even worst-case climate change scenarios and did not report water chemistry in sufficient detail to determine if the treatment mimicked future OA-driven seawater conditions. Although most recent work has improved with respect to treatment levels, mimicking future water chemistry remains tricky.

A rationale commonly used to justify high CO2/low pH treatments is the need to identify at what levels organisms are affected. However, the limits to making inferences about how an organism or ecosystem will respond to a climate-change scale variable (i.e. one that changes over decades–centuries) from their response during a short-term challenge experiment (i.e. hours–days–weeks) has not been adequately addressed—or even mentioned—in most studies. This is reflected in a confusion of terms common in OA studies—when describing the outcome of a short-term CO2 challenge, authors often make the inferential leap and use “OA” when discussing their results, without any caveats. Oddly, incorporation of the extensive toxicology literature is almost entirely missing from OA studies, either when it comes to adopting established exposure protocols or to framing the inferences that can/cannot be drawn from short-term experiments. Also missing from most studies is anything more than a superficial statement about the possibility for acclimation, adaptation, or evolution, something that is necessary to extend the outcome of a short-term challenge experiment into an inference about the effect of a long-term driver.

Negative results—those that do not support a research hypothesis (e.g. OA will have detrimental effects on marine organisms)—can provide more balance for a subject area for which most published research reports positive results. Negative results can indicate that a subject area is not mature or clearly enough defined, or that our current methods and approaches are insufficient to produce a definitive result. Gould (1993)asserted that positive results tell more interesting stories than negative results and are, therefore, easier to write about and more interesting to read. He calls this a privileging of the positive. This privileging leads to a bias that acts against the propagation of negative results in the scholarly literature (see also Browman, 1999). Further, it is also important to recognize that studies showing no effect of OA are less equivocal than those that do, for all of the reasons noted above. Following from this, it is essential that authors writing about possible effects of OA present and discuss research that is inconsistent with their results and/or their interpretations—openly, honestly, and rigorously. Readers should be duly sceptical of articles that do not do this.

Read more here:

From an article in The Times:

An “inherent bias” in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It has been dubbed the “evil twin of climate change” and hundreds of studies have claimed to show that it destroys coral reefs and other marine life by making it harder for them to develop shells or skeletons.

The review found that many studies had used flawed methods, subjecting marine creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never be experienced in real life.

“In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet,” Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said. He added that this had distracted attention from more urgent threats to reefs such as agricultural pollution, overfishing and tourism.

Dr Browman, who is also principal research scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, found there had been huge increase in articles on ocean acidification in recent years, rising from five in 2005 to 600 last year.

He said that a handful of influential scientific journals and lobbying by international organisations had turned ocean acidification into a major issue.

“Such journals tend to publish doom and gloom stories . . . stated without equivocation,” he said. The bias in favour of doom-laden articles was partly the result of pressure on scientists to produce eye-catching work, he added.

“You won’t get a job unless you publish an article that is viewed as of significant importance to society. People often forget that scientists are people and have the same pressures on them and the same kind of human foibles. Some are driven by different things. They want to be prominent.”

Dr Browman invited scientists around the world to contribute studies on ocean acidification for a special edition of his journal. More than half of the 44 studies selected for publication found that raised levels of CO2 had little or no impact on marine life, including crabs, limpets, sea urchins and sponges.

In the article from the Times, the lead author also has this to say:

“In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet,” Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said. He said that a handful of influential scientific journals and lobbying by international organisations had turned ocean acidification into a major issue. The bias in favour of doom-laden articles was partly the result of pressure on scientists to produce eye-catching work, he added.

read more by Ben Webster at: The Times, 1 March 2016

h/t to The GWPF



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Shelled sea creatures could not exist if the silly acidification conjecture were true, considering past levels of CO2.

Well ~90% of them died out during the Permian extinction event when CO2 levels were high.


That doesn’t necessarily mean that the P-Tr extinction occurred because of high CO2 concentrations. In fact, there is evidence that suggests an Anoxic event is what may been the cause but nobody really knows since most of the evidence has been erased by time. However, CO2 concentrations were at the lowest they had ever been before the extinction and we all know what happens if CO2 concentrations drop below 150 ppm… plants suffocate and die which effectively cuts off the supply to oxygen.
But who knows?


Shelled sea creatures evolved during the Cambrian period [from 542 to 488 million years ago] when atmospheric CO2 reached 7000ppm [almost 20 times current levels].
The first molluscs appeared, along with brachiopods [now almost gone] and the characteristic animal of the time was the trilobite which, in addition to its shell, had calcite eyes.

Don K

Actually, shelled sea creatures predate the Cambrian by several tens of millions of years


The PT extinctions were due to ocean anoxia, not acidity, as you no doubt know very well.


No thanks to plate tectonics, we’ll never actually know what caused the greatest extinction we’ve come to detect. However, we do know that before there was fungus that evolved to feed off rotting vegetation, coal couldn’t have formed….
To put it into perspective, CO2 concentrations around your house can get as high as 10,000 ppm after mowing the lawn, but since we have so many co2 sinks, it quickly gets sequestered back into the environment at the ground level…Hence the reason why there’s no run-away effect like so many others try to purport.

more to the point us that ocean acidification is unrelated to fossil fuel emissions

Dodgy Geezer

Ah…so the ICES Journal of Marine Science has obviously been taken over by evil minions of Big Oil, and should henceforth be shunned in all decent society, then?


Improper use of ellipsis, unnecessary comma, ending then belongs before “be”. Your argument is invalid.


Welcome to the planet Earth. Here we sometimes choose to use colloquialism and sarcasm, so be mindful of this if you’re a Vulcan or a droid.

@ RWturner, I do believe you have missed the very overt sarcasm of prjindigo.


If that is overt sarcasm then I am Mickey Mouse.

prjindigo – please learn to use a sarc tag!

Saavik: Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical.
Kirk: We learn by doing.

Dodgy Geezer

Subsidiary phrase. The main sentence runs from ‘Ah…’ to ‘then’…


Some are a bit too serious minded to be able to recognize obvious sarcasm/humor (re: Saavik).


Hi, Mickey Mouse. Welcome aboard.
A.D.Everard, You must be Goofy!

Smart Rock

The Times is a very influential paper. That they would publish such a balanced and reasonable article is quite surprising. And rather encouraging. Is it possible that the tide is changing?

The Expulsive

But it is an English paper and not American so American for the mo0st part are free to ignore

The Expulsive

Fat fingers…I meant to say Americans are free to ignore what the poms say…


b…b…but “privileging” ? that’s not English- it’s huffponian.


You probably remember “The Times” fifty years ago, when the obituaries were on the front page. It’s not exactly like that nowadays: it is a Murdoch paper, that says it all.


No it doesn’t. It is still a great paper that seeks, and usually achieves, a balanced view of climate change arguments. Unlike the Guardian that panders to self righteous alarmism.


“it is a Murdoch paper, that says it all.”
Nice example of messenger shooting there!

If you follow that evolution is real, and you believe the evidence that shows that CO2 was many multiples higher long long ago, then you have to accept that most of these organisms evolved in a period where the Ocean was less basic (more acidic) than it is today, and thus have the genetic codes built into themselves to accommodate higher CO2 enriched ocean water.

John F. Hultquist

“… thus have the genetic codes built into themselves …”
An important concept, seemingly unknown to many.


You’re obviously both witches.

Owen in GA

But LeeHarvey, the really important question is…”Are they heavier than a duck?”

Greg Cavanagh

Why is a duck the metric by which witches are measured?
What did a duck ever do that was witch worthy?

Just an engineer

Really, stop and look at a duck. It’s the feet, each leg is both the same!


I don’t understand what difference it makes if one believes evolution is real . . (that’s assuming you mean big E Evolution, i.e. only lots and lots of evolution).


It’s a valid point. The claim is effectively that any change away from a fragile homeostasis will be dramatically detrimental to the planet as a whole. However, that effectively ignores evolution and adaptation, like these things don’t exist or are inherently bad.
This is especially true of bacterial studies (remember the claim a few years ago that CO2 fertilization will be countered by the fact that bacteria will be less able to fix nitrogen). The claims that it would take tens of thousands of years for creatures to evolve or adapt are practically identical to claims I’ve read by young-Earth creationists that say that there has simply not been enough time for complex life to have evolved.


Usually there are organisms on the edge of fragility that will readily adapt to changing conditions and even take over. This even applies to humans (genetic diversity), as an example those that survive plagues which didn’t kill all and actually improved survivabilty.


” I’ve read by young-Earth creationists that say that there has simply not been enough time for complex life to have evolved.”
Iv’e read sojme very prominent Evolutionists saying the same thing, and wonder why folks have not bnoticed . . but my question is more about what people think the Book is presenting as our past on this ball . . It’s got this very prominent catastrophic stuff in there, you know like global floods and mountains “moving lightly” and so on?
There absolutely had to be circumstances that would naturally lead to major changes in things such as this article discusses (if the Book is taken to be truthyful) which God would of course have known all along and provided genetic material with sufficient variation/adaptability (evolution stuff) for sea life to overcome and adjust to.
In short, there is no logical reason for the caveat, that I can think of . .


It is hard to worry about ocean acidification when you realize that if it continues, the ocean may become as acidic as distilled water.

Mark from the Midwest

Still a big problem for the Wicked Witch of the West


Distilled water is actually quite corrosive. Sea water, on the other hand, is well buffered. The excess dissolution of CO2 is presumed to change pH significantly, while a buffered solution, by definition, resists changes in pH. The chemistry is NOT simple at all.


Quite corrosive compared to what? Hydrochloric acid?

Hoyt Clagwell

Maybe that’s why 360 Degree films shows water vapor emanating from cooling towers in their title image. They are obviously trying to show that all that distilled water coming from power plants is making the ocean more corrosive. That’s why we should abandon hydrogen powered vehicles too! (sarc)

Gunga Din

“Corrosive”? One of those words that needs context. HCl is “corrosive”. So is NaOH. Opposite ends of the pH scale.
Perhaps the impression is more important than the meaning to those who “twist and shout”?


The Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) is used to express the scaling potential of water. Using a pH of 7, Conductivity in TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) of 1 mg/L, Calcium and Bicarbonate ions of 0.00000000001 mg/L and a temperature of 25°C, I used the Langelier Index Calculator.
I obtained an LSI of -26. The indication based on improved Langelier by Carrier (1965) for an LSI(Carrier) between -2 and -0.5 is “Serious corrosion.” -26 is way beyond “Serious corrosion.”
According to Dow Chemical,

(f)or … seawaters, the Stiff & Davis Stability Index (SDSI) is used to express the scaling potential for calcium carbonate.

Using the ROSA software from Dow, I used the standard seawater composition from here to calculate the SDSI for standard seawater.

Table 2.1 Standard seawater composition
Ion Concentration (mg/L)
Calcium 410
Magnesium 1,310
Sodium 10,900
Potassium 390
Barium 0.05
Strontium 13
Iron <0.02
Manganese <0.01
Silica 0.04 – 8
Chloride 19,700
Sulfate 2,740
Fluoride 1.4
Bromide 65
Nitrate <0.7
Bicarbonate 152
Boron 4 – 5
TDS 35,000 mg/L
pH 8.1

ROSA calculated the LSI for standard seawater at 25°C as 1.194 (positive means it deposits calcium carbonate) and the SDSI as .202 (also positive), so seawater is not “corrosive” in the sense that it tends to deposit rather than dissolve calcium carbonate. The software shows a warning in red that “Antiscalants are required.” I then reduced the pH from 8.1 to 8.0 to simulate “ocean acidification” without changing anything else and the LSI went down to 1.094 (still positive) and the SDSI went down to 0.102 (again still positive) with the same red warning that “Antiscalants are required.”
I hope this answers the questions regarding my comment about distilled water being corrosive.


Comment on “corrosive” water caught in spam.


Your defining corrosion by deposition or dissolution of calcium carbonate scale is not anywhere near a standard definition.
I played with your “calculator” a bit and while varying pH and using all of the other same values, came up with “severe corrosion” in every case including pHs greater than 7 (bases). So what is that calculator supposed to be telling us other than your values are undersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate?

Gunga Din

Again, context.
In a water distribution system it was desired for water to deposit a bit of calcium carbonate to coat the inside of the pipes to prevent the water contacting the metal. If it did contact the metal then different metals, with water as the conductor, could swap electrons causing corrosion.
Where I am the water entering the distribution is always “corrosive” in regards to depositing calcium carbonate even though the pH is always above 7.0. But, unlike Flint Michigan, we haven’t relied on depositing calcium carbonate to put a barrier between the water and the metal (ie lead “goose-necks” which used to be used to connect a service line to a city’s water.) We feed zinc orthophosphate which will more reliably and effectively provide that barrier.
But that all has to do with fresh water, and drinking water at that.
But this post is about the oceans.
Again, context.
“Acidification”. “Corrosive”.
Context needs to be explained to communicate the accurately so as to not leave the hearer with a misleading impression.
(But if a misleading impression is the purpose of the words chosen, the “scare words” rule!)


In layman’s terms, the ocean will never become as acidic as distilled water. In my comment below, the Stiff Davis Saturation Index for standard seawater is positive (+.202) and the Langelier Saturation Index for distilled water is very negative (-26). In high school physics we were taught that a pH below 7 was acidic and above 7 was basic, with 7 being neutral. In real life, the chemistry of water isn’t so simple. These indices were developed over many years and have been used successfully in industry to predict whether a water stream will be scaling (i.e. will deposit something) or corrosive (i.e. will dissolve something). Scaling potential is usually defined in terms of calcium carbonate.
Yes, in real life, waters with a pH higher than 7 can be “corrosive” (i.e. will dissolve or remove something from the system). Seawater is very good at rusting iron-based metals, but it will deposit scale on filters and membranes, fouling them. Defining corrosion with respect to calcium carbonate is on-topic with respect to OA as the concern is that it will affect calcifiers negatively. The Stiff Davis Saturation Index says that is not a concern and that it will be highly unlikely to ever be a concern, but the SDSI does not take into account biological activity, which makes things even more complicated.
I apologize for any misunderstanding, as it was not my intent to be critical or appear to be in disagreement. On the contrary, I assure you that I agree with you wholeheartedly that the concern about OA is overblown.

Gunga Din

I don’t think there’s any need to apologize. I think this exchange has helped to “clarify” the muddied use of misleading words in the media. 😎

John F. Hultquist

As is true across all of science, studies that report no effect of OA are typically more difficult to publish.
I’ll fix this for them:
As is true across all of science, studies that report no effect of CO2 are typically more difficult to publish.

The zealots want to stay on message, so unrealistic conditions are just another form of consiousness raising. After all, if a major asteroid comprised entirely of carbon hit Earth. . .


Think how rich you could become mining the diamonds around the asteroid crater.

Dodgy Geezer

@John F. Hultquist
…“ As is true across all of science, studies that report no effect of CO2 are typically more difficult to publish. ”
Further fix needed:
“As is true across all of science, studies that report no effect of CO2 are typically impossible to publish.

Mindert Eiting

@Dodgy Geezer
Further fix needed:
“As is true across all pseudo-science, studies that report a falsification are typically impossible to publish.


“…there is a perception that scientific skepticism has been abandoned or relaxed in many areas…”
I think the mask is slipping a bit…

John Harmsworth

Not much. It’s just a perception!


OA research, like polar bear research, is a microcosm of global warming research. Since its alarmism is easier to disprove, the implication is that global warming alarmism is also over-hyped.


“found there had been huge increase in articles on ocean acidification in recent years, rising from five in 2005 to 600 last year”
Gosh. The evil twin is a thriving young fella. It’s almost as if a new bogeyman was required because the planet had been a bit stubborn about temperature rise.


Its almost as if someone is trying to prove the adage that “quantity has a quality all its own”…

Gunga Din

Does that fall under, ‘Repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it.’?


Its more like Stalin’s “one death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic”.

Tom Yoke

One of my favorite climate science cartoonscomment image

John Harmsworth

Evil twin? There’s a couple pretty horrible kids in that family.

I don’t want to upset anyone here but I ran across this at EPA:
Heading is Ocean Acidity. And yes, I understand pH so we don’t need to discuss their use of Acidity – we have gone around that a thousand times.
What I have is a question for those who aren’t suffering from too many hits to the head, medical issues and oldziemers.
CO2 outgases as ocean temperature rises. The reason I looked up the above was because I was looking at the effect of partial pressures on increasing CO2 in the ocean.
Somewhere I assume someone has done experiments that compare the decrease in CO2 in water due to outgassing with the increase due to increased partial pressure over the water surface.
I have looked for such a paper for some years now. I have only found a couple of very confused ones that basically said the ocean was too complex to model due to all the buffering with piles of formulas that wer much to much to give me any understanding in words. Also, what about the Great Lakes or other large water bodies?
Sorry. I have been trying to reconcile this issue for some time but I have not found anything that does the comparison.
Perhaps it is a non-issue or people consider it a non-issue because they don’t consider outgassing to be significant.
Some pointers to a paper with a lay level of explanation would be nice.
Thanks in advance.
( Yes I have searched many times before but I just haven’t found anything useful so I thought perhaps the many well educated folks here might provide a clue.)

WD, NOAA PMEL Carbon group,has some materials on this. Includes dissolved partial pressures. Observational work from Station Aloha off Mauna Loa. I do not recall temperature dependencies, though. Buffering alone in barren saturated sea water means the projected ~2100 CO2 doubling lowers pH about 0.15-0.2. Essay Shell Games has details. But also shows the biological dependency.
Your question may be unanswerable, because the ocean is also a vast biological sink for CO2. So in addition to atmospheric CO2, dissolved partial pressures, buffering, and Henry’s law (temperature dependence of dissolved saturation), you have to factor in ‘greening’ sinks like coccolithophorids. Up 10x last few decades in the North Atlantic.

Some changes to species assemblages might be expected in the event of a major ‘acidification’ but physical experiments to determine what these might be invariably underestimate the huge variety and resilience of these ecosystems. Such experiments as I have seen described all have large methodological shortcomings which make them impossible to relate to any actual or projected ocean conditions. We should remember that projected pH changes over a century are not dramatically large compared to the local, seasonal, and even daily variations which can be observed on the present planet, so we might expect that over time, in a changing environment, the system would comfortably adapt. Fossil history confirms this, with no indications of a sterile or less productive ocean in times of high CO2.
We cannot say if changes will occur between species, as one is favoured above the other, or if the species themselves will adapt. One need only observe the unparalleled fecundity of a coral reef – and remembering what a vanishingly small number of these offspring, selected by the local conditions, will actually themselves survive to reproduce- to glimpse just how fast such genetic adaptation might be.
Though all scientific enquiry is to be welcomed, this particular branch of science is far enough removed from sensible use to deserve a serious funding drought.

ristavan: Thanks. Your comment: “Your question may be unanswerable.” is about where I have gotten to. In fact, it seems the best answer to all of the CAGW discussion is “We aren’t sure.” But That’s just my opinion.
And thanks to others for the references. By the way, referencing the EPA site was on purpose, I find some of the stuff there “very interesting” if not informative. Environment Canada has the same sort of presentations.
Thanks again.

Retired Kit P

Wayne I am old school so I have probably forgotten more water chemistry than you have ever learned. Suggest that I have oldziemers but the last in environmental chemistry book I bought was before the scare mongering term ocean acid acidification was invented.
To answer your question, changes in seawater temperature will have an insignificant outgassing effect. We use deaerating feed tanks to remove air inleakage from the condenser in steam power plants but that is at a much higher temperature.
Most of the papers I read about fugacity of CO2 in seawater were pre OA. It is very complicated. There are many factors more important than the partial pressure of CO2.
Wayne’s mistake is going to the EPA web site for science.

Wayne, see my comment below. As a system or model it’s complicated but each of the pieces is understandable. How they knit together is, I believe, mostly speculation.


The reason you haven’t found a paper is because it’s quite simple. Look up Henry’s law. The solubility of a gas in water is
Cwater = Partial Pressure * H
H, Henry’s constant, is unique for each compound and weakly based on temperature. An increase of a few degrees will change H <5% (I did the math a few weeks back the last time we broached this subject). On the other hand, the partial pressure of CO2 is doubling. The directly proportional partial overwhelms the small temperature-based change in H by almost two orders of magnitude.
The rest of the chemistry gets really complicated really quickly, but it's irrelevant to your question since it's all based on the CO2 concentration in water. In short, the temperature change won't greatly affect the amount dissolved because it's so small compared to the distance from the boiling point.

Tom Yoke

If you open two cans of soda and put one of them in the fridge and the other on a countertop, then there is a dramatic difference in the outgassing rate. The warm one tastes completely flat in a couple of hours, while the cold one keeps most of its fizz.
I think CO2 may behave differently than the gases covered by Henry’s law because most of the CO2 becomes carbonic acid in water. I.e., the CO2 gas molecule becomes a H2CO3 solute molecule.


Good Grief, Tom.
Of course it behaves a bit differently, and the determining force of the conversion to H2CO3 is pH of the ocean, but in a simple conversion from one state to another, everything is based on that initial absorption factor because it’s all proportional to concentration.
It’s not rocket science. It’s high school chemistry. It’s been thoroughly researched and measured.
Page 57
There’s being skeptical, and there’s being nonsensical.

Don K

benof houston: “Of course it behaves a bit differently, and the determining force of the conversion to H2CO3 is pH of the ocean, but in a simple conversion from one state to another, everything is based on that initial absorption factor because it’s all proportional to concentration.”
Perhaps you can clarify something for me?
Ca++ + CO2 + H2O CaCO3 + 2H+
(And yes there is a lot of intermediate chemistry. But it all takes place in aqueous solution and wouldn’t seem to be limited by reaction rates or energy barriers?)
Anyway, the equation seems to suggest that increasing the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere increases dissolved CO2 which drives the equation to the right and thus has the somewhat unexpected result of both acidifying the ocean (lowering pH) AND encouraging the precipitation (or discouraging the dissolution) of Calcium Carbonate.
This seems not very consistent with the notion that Ocean Acidification is going to kill everything in the ocean with shells and we’re all gonna die. I imagine that I’m making a logical error somewhere. Can you explain where?

Don K

I see that wordpress/my browser ate my double headed arrow. Rather than tinker with ampersands for six or eight tries which I’d do if we had actual editing capability, let’s try
Ca++ + CO2 + H2O (=======) CaCO3 + 2H+

gary turner

@ Don K
March 2, 2016 at 1:05 am
Were you not able to paste directly? ⇒


@ Wayne Delbeke on March 1, 2016 at 10:08 am:
I am not sure that a paper with a lay explanation exists. I reference Takahashi et. al. 2009, which I believe is one of two papers referenced in AR5 on Ocean Acidification. In lay terms, please look at Fig 1 on page 4 of the pdf (pg 557 of the paper):

(B) Number of months in each 4° x 5° box area where at least one surface water pCO2 measurement has been made since the early 1970s. White areas have no measurements.

Such a box would measure about 400 km E-W at the equator by about 500 km N-S. To color a box only a single measurement per month per box is required for the reference year 2000 since the early 1970s, a period of almost thirty years. Yet only the North Atlantic and North Pacific have anything approaching “full” seasonal coverage. “Full” is apparently defined as a single measurement per month over 30 years – not 30 Januaries, 30 Februaries, etc. In short, the data that is available is very sparse indeed, even for those areas where “full” seasonal coverage is claimed.
In my opinion, there isn’t enough data to calculate “average” global ocean pH today, since seasonal pH variation can be significant. And, if there isn’t enough data to calculate average global ocean pH at present, there definitely isn’t any way to calculate average global ocean pH in the past, based on measurements, or any changes in pH over time. So, it would appear there is NO evidence of “Ocean Acidification” based on measurements. The data simply does not apparently exist.
You state further:

CO2 outgases as ocean temperature rises

According to Takahashi et al. 2009, it is more complicated than that:
From page 8 of the pdf (pg 568 of the paper):

When monthly mean wind speeds (U10 in the unit of meters [per sec]) and α in (mol [per] liter [per] atm) … are used, Eq.(8) gives the transfer coefficient (Tr):
Tr (…)= 0.585 x α x (Sc)-1/2 x (U10)² (8)
… The Schmidt number (Sc) and the solubility of CO2 in seawater depend sensitively on the temperature: from 0° to 30°C, Sc for CO2 decreases by a factor of 5 and α also decreases by a factor of 2.5. Accordingly, the product a x (Sc)-1/2 is nearly constant and changes by less than 10% over the temperature range of global surface oceanwaters. Hence, the transfer rate coefficient, Tr, is primarily a function of wind speed.

So the transfer rate coefficient does not change with temperature, but is fairly constant, so changes in temperature do NOT affect ocean acidification transfer rates. I am not aware of any claim that changes in CO2 affect wind speed, either positively or negatively. That leaves only the difference in partial pressures between CO2 in seawater and CO2 in the air to drive solution or dissolution. Unfortunately, I could not figure out where the authors got the pCO2 in air. I don’t think that there is a corresponding pCO2 in air measurement for each pCO2 in seawater measurement. I think that they may have just assumed that CO2 is a “well mixed gas” and used global CO2 measurements to calculate pCO2 in air. The problem is that the localized imbalance does not depend on average global pCO2 in air, but on localized pCO2 in air and that data I don’t think exists coupled with the fact that we are talking very very small pressures: they are measured in μatm or millionths of normal atmospheric pressure (14.7 psi). Given these tiny pressures and equally tiny pressure differences, where data is insufficient and the required accuracy is very demanding, I think any calculations of ocean acidification due to increases in atmospheric CO2 need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Clyde Spencer

The change in pH not only takes place seasonally, but at locations of significant upwelling, it can change hourly. The Monterey Bay Aquarium (CA) continuously monitors its water intake. The results are available on the internet. It is interesting to see how quickly, and frequently it can change.


@Clyde Spencer

John Harmsworth

So NOAA shouldn’t worry about ocean water eating the shipboard inlet water temperature sensors. What a relief ! Science is saved!

John Reistroffer

Hi Wayne,
Take two carbonated soft drinks and remove their caps. Put one in the refrigerator, and one on your countertop at room temperature. Leave them for a day or two and then take a sip of each one. Which one is carbonated and which one is flat?
This is a gross simplification of what happens in the oceans
The colder water has more capacity to take in CO2 and the warmer water has less. Likewise, CO2 enters the water column near the poles where the water is cold and sinks to the ocean bottom where it circulates in deep cold water currents (~4-5 deg C). When CO2 combines with water, it forms carbonic acid. At about 2-4500 m, a (CCD) calcium compensation depth is reached where calcium carbonate is dissolved (by more acidic water) more rapidly than it can be formed or preserved. When these cold water currents upwell, the water warms, and as it warms it no longer has the capacity to hold the CO2, which is released in the upwelling zones, along with dissolved nutrients such as phosphate (fertilizer) from skeletons of macro & microfauna which creates nutrients for algae. which in turn has massive blooms and release photosynthetic gasses.
In the past (Devonian, Permo-Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous) there existed major mega-regional events called OAE (Oceanic Anoxic Events). It is believed that these events might be related to major mantle plumes which released huge amounts of basalt (LIP-large igneous provinces) in addition to massive amounts of CO2. During these OAE events, the earth warmed as well as the oceans. Because there was no density difference in the oceanic waters, oceans circulation stopped, or was considerably reduced. The stagnant water bottom of the oceans became depleted in oxygen because of the reduced circulation, and became anoxic, thus preserving organic material. Great for the oil industry, because these are the mega-regional source rock that generate oil, found round the world. These anoxic events are often associated with mass extinctions, such as the Frasnian-Devonian, Permo-Triassic extinction and the K-T boundary. The Cretacous-Tertiary boundary event has also been interpreted to have been caused by the Chixlub meteorite impact.
During the Mesozoic and Paleozoic , especially during “greenhouse” periods of the earth, which occurred when no land masses were over the ice caps to sequester water as ice from the oceans, The earth was exceedingly warmer than it was today and the CO2 content of the atmosphere was also much higher. Large populations of calcareous flora and fauna thrived in the oceans. The Bahamas platform, and the Edwards reef trend, the Permian basin carbonates, the PreCaspian basin are some examples. Also, sea level did not rise and fall as precipitously during glacial cycles because there was not that much ice sequestered at the poles.
Sorry for the rant, these are some occurrences of warming, ocean acidification, carbon dioxide sequestration by the oceans, outgassing of CO2 ocean upwelling etc. etc. that have are real live processes, which are well documented to the past geologic history of the earth.


John Reistroffer March 1, 2016 at 6:08 pm
“When CO2 combines with water, it forms carbonic acid.”
Why do you stop there? Isn’t it the case that very little carbonic acid persists? Through dissociation, H+ are released but quickly form bicarbonate as long as there is carbonate to attach to.
As seen in the Bjerrum plot, most of the carbon is in bicarbonate at seawater pH and the pH doesn’t change if the H+ is taken up by carbonate. Isn’t that the essence of a buffer? Isn’t that how blood pH is closely regulated?
Also, as calcium carbonate dissolves in lower pH, doesn’t that lead to more carbonate buffer in solution?
The shells of living molluscs are shielded from seawater by the periostracum, making the dissolution of defunct shells very different from that of occupied shells. Or not?

Robert B

Don’t apologise. Add references.


“I have looked for such a paper for some years now.”
As have I.
This is the most informative I’ve come across.
My opinion for what it’s worth is that solubility according to Dalton’s law of partial pressures indicates that at constant pressure and temperature the concentration of CO2 in water will increase linearly with atmospheric concentration, while according to the part of Henry’s law dealing with such matters, the solubility will decrease in a very non-linear fashion as the temperature increases.
So in a situation where the CO2 level above the water was 100%, at the boiling point of the water there would be a concentration of 0% CO2.
This tends to lead to the tentative conclusion that we can have warming oceans or ocean acidification, bit it is unlikely we can have both.
I am open to correction if anyone can be bothered to do the requisite calculations!

Robert B

Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish between the species H2CO3(aq) and CO2(aq) by analytical means. It is thus usual to lump the concentrations of H2CO3(aq) and CO2(aq) together and to express this sum as the concentration of a hypothetical species, CO2*(aq)

There is then 13 equilibrium concentrations listed to take into consideration and then the biological consumption of CO2(aq). HCO3- -> OH-+CO2 is very slow and temperature dependent (why cool sodas go flat slower than warm). So Henry’s Law is just a very small part of the story.
The comment by JR looks like a good description of what goes on in oceans as CO2 levels drop above the Southern Ocean in the summer as the sea ice melts.
A question for microbiologists; do picoplankton absorb HCO3? ie growth independent of atmospheric CO2 levels.

Samuel C Cogar

Here is a graph of the factually accurate “Monthly Average CO2 Concentrations” as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, which shows a steady increase of CO2 from 317 ppm in 1958 to 388 ppm in 2008, an increase of 71 ppm.
You should also note from that graph a steady and consistent 12 month oscillation of the ppm concentration of an average of 7-8 ppm, with the greater amount occurring after the Vernal (March) Equinox about the middle of May and the lesser amount occurring after the Autumnal (September) Equinox about the 1st of October.
Thus, after the Vernal (March) Equinox occurs, the atmospheric CO2 starts decreasing in mid-May of each and every year ……. and will continue to do so all Summer long until shortly after the Autumnal (September) Equinox ….. at which time it will start increasing once again. One can also note from the graph that the average ½ year increase is about 7-8 ppm whereas the average ½ year decrease is about 5-6 ppm which gives a 1-2 ppm net yearly gain in atmospheric CO2.
The increase in quantities of human produced CO2 were not steady and consistent for all those 50 years, were they? So if human activities are responsible for the increase in atmospheric CO2 ….. then how does one explain that steady and consistent 1-2 ppm increase in CO2 from 1958 to 2008? Surely humans were dumping more CO2 into the atmosphere between 2000 and 2008 than they were between 1958 and 1966.
And, how in the world is one going to explain that “human caused” steady and consistent 7-8 ppm yearly fluctuations in CO2 concentrations for each and every one of those same 47 years? Down in summer, up in winter, seems weird to me to be human caused.
And the AGWers have been claiming that human activities put 30 billion tons of CO2 into the air annually and it all stays up there for a hundred years.
But the data on that Graph proves that claim wrong. The average increase of CO2 per year for those 50 years is 1-2 ppm. And an increase of 1-2 ppm/year based on the total mass of the atmosphere of appx. 5 quadtrillion tons means that the atmospheric CO2 was increasing at a rate of 5 to 10 billion tons/year, …… not 30 billion tons per year.
YUP, do the math, 2 ppm/year increase = 0.0002% of 5 quadttons = 10 billion tons/year.
If in any year 30 billion tons of CO2 was put into the air and remained there even for one (1) year then the ppm increase for that year would be 6+- ppm and the data clearly shows that has never happened during the past 57 years.
The “steady & consistent” bi-yearly (seasonal) cycling of atmospheric CO2 as defined by the past 57 years of the Mauna Loa CO2 record …… can only be explained by the “steady & consistent” bi-yearly (seasonal) cycling of the temperature of the ocean surface waters in the Southern Hemisphere ….. with the latter being the direct result of the “changing” of the equinoxes and Henry’s Law.


Samuel C Cogar: “You should also note from that graph a steady and consistent 12 month oscillation of the ppm concentration of an average of 7-8 ppm”
Yes, I noticed that some time ago, nice to see I’m not the only one.
So over a period of 5 – 6 months the atmospheric CO2 concentration decreases at a rate in excess of 1 ppm per month, is that as a result of absorption by photosynthesis of CO2 in the Northern hemisphere summer?
What insight does that give into the Warmist’s alarming claims that the half-life of anthropogenic CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere is of the order of hundreds – in some cases thousands – of years and so will continue to heat the atmosphere for such extended periods even if we ceased all emissions overnight, do you think?

Samuel C Cogar

catweazle666 asks:

So over a period of 5 – 6 months the atmospheric CO2 concentration decreases at a rate in excess of 1 ppm per month, is that as a result of absorption by photosynthesis of CO2 in the Northern hemisphere summer?

Absolutely not.
Microbial decomposition of the dead biomass during the NH Spring and early Summer months (late March thru mid-July) emits CO2 into the atmosphere at a greater rate than does the green biomass absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Plus the fact that microbial action emits CO2 into the air all hours of the day and night (24/7) …… whereas the green growing biomass only absorbs CO2 during day-light hours and emits CO2 during night-time hours.
And keep in mind, there is a minimum four (4) months delay between the “start” of the growing “greening” season in the southern latitudes of the NH (Florida, Texas) …… and the “start” of the growing “greening” season in the northern latitudes of the NH (Minnesota, upstate New York) …… which anyone can plainly see via this Planting Zone Map of the US, to wit:
Or, if you prefer actual monthly dates, to wit:
catweazle666 also asks:

What insight does that give into the Warmist’s alarming claims that the half-life of anthropogenic CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere is of the order of hundreds of years …. yada, yada?

All of the Warmist’s alarming claims are either “junk science” or abject stupidity and the above is one of the worst of the worst.
There is no such thing as a “half-life” of the residency time of any of the non-radioactive decaying atmospheric gasses.

Furthermore the claim of decreasing pH relies on that false notion oceans and atmosphere in the past and are now are in equilibrium. But that is not the case. There are many factors especially the biological pump that control surface pH. The reason marine life does not exhibit calamitous reactions to acidification is because lower pH is fleeting and the biological pump can quickly re-establishes a higher pH—uncertainties.html

Peter Miller

If you do the maths, you will find that after a century of CO2 absorption at current levels by the oceans, the concentration of the ‘evil gas’ there will have risen by around one part per million.
Now, that’s scary!


This entire area of “science” is based on that Feely 2010 paper asserting that a drop in average ocean pH has been measured. It just so happens that Richard Feely was awarded a large sum of money from a left-leaning organization for that paper. The fraud in climate pseudoscience knows no bounds.


The formation of the mineral skeleton of corals is an active, energy-driven biochemical process. The mechanism, thermodynamics, kinetics and pH dependency of this process is entirely different from those of the passive precipitation of inorganic calciumcarbonate from a supersaturated solution. Everybody with a bit of knowledge of biomineralization processes knows this, but apparently they had chosen to look the other way.

Plus many. Shelliferous organisms evolved under much higher CO2 partial saturation pressures.

Margaret Smith

I watched a programme intended for school children here in the UK. It was meant to prove OA. It consisted of a large-ish cylinder of water to represent the sea. No details of the contents were given. A liquid litmus was used -pink in a alkaline solution and green if acid.
Put into the cylinder it turned the water pink.
Next, here comes the CO2 (we were not told if it was pure CO2 or something less). Boy, did it bubble through the water, a mass of bubbles on and on……
Finally, the pink began to turn green and -voila! Case proven.
But that nano droplet of a nano droplet representing the sea was tiny. So, if our contribution to the CO2 in the sea was to the same scale would we be able to see it? This is what children are being taught.

This pseudoscientification of our schools is a crime of child abuse and the perps need to be imprisoned. It makes the Trojan Horse schools scandal look mild in comparison. On the bright side though the bright kids do actually know when they’re being treated to ideological bs just like they always did.

Steve Oregon

In Oregon the combined fabrications of AGW dead zones and acidification lead to Lubchenco being appointed the head NOAA, $386 million in research grants,
NOAA Fleet to Newport, and 5 Oregon marine reserves.
There is none, nada, zip scientific evidence to be found that identifies these natural, seasonal and cyclical hypoxia events off the Oregon coast as being “new, bigger, lasting longer, crossing a tipping point” or AGW related in the slightest.
There is no evidence all that “the longstanding pattern of wind and upwelling has changed” beyond normal fluctuations.
Or that “Periods of south winds have been shorter and weaker in recent years, limiting offshore mixing.” Quite the opposite.
The sporadic hypoxia events themselves have shifted back to much lesser levels than the 2006 drama revealing nothing but normal fluctuations. Marine eco-systems are thriving, sustainable yield crab harvests are bountiful and all is well. No global warming, no AGW dead zones, no AGW acid no warming ocean no rising seas.

Steve-that’s not NEWS! /snarc


Of course they’ve exaggerated.
“the term [acidification] can also lead to confusion when it is wrongly assumed that the oceans will become acidic, when in reality, ocean pH is never expected to fall below 7.0; i.e., the oceans are becoming less basic, but not acidic. Such a phenomenon could only occur in the unlikely event that CO2 emissions reach more than 10,000 Pg C (Caldeira and Wickett, 2005)”


” the oceans are becoming less basic,”
I doubt that very much. !!

Gunga Din

I’ve always preferred “less caustic” but that’s not as scary.

Tom in Florida

You are saying that “less caustic” is more comforting than “more acidic”. Basically I agree 100%. If one tones down the scare tactics one may lose grant money.


??? They’re not acidic until they cross 7. They’re still basic at 8.1 pH.

Retired Kit P

My all time favorite EPA junk science site is Radon.
First off radiation does not ‘cause’ cancer but is a risk factor. I can cause you to drown by holding you under water. Your risk of drowning while sailing on my boat is reduced because I do not allow consumption ethanol underway.
Statistics are useful when properly applied. I can safely enjoy boating by mitigating the risk factors.
Radon is natural as are many other things like sunlight. The first mistake the EPA makes is not understanding that radon has a half-life. Radon only became an issue if it decays in your lungs. If it decays before getting to your lungs there is no risk.
And who do we have to blame indoor air pollution on? The EPA estimates that 10% of lung cancer deaths are from radon. Being skeptical I ask what is that based on. There is not a statistically group of non-smokers exposed to elevated levels of radon.

Dodgy Geezer

…Your risk of drowning while sailing on my boat is reduced because I do not allow consumption ethanol underway….
Remind me never to sail on your boat….

Don K

“Radon only became an issue if it decays in your lungs. If it decays before getting to your lungs there is no risk.”
Not an expert, but I think it’s a bit more complex than that. Radon-222 decays to Lead-204 through a long sequence of diverse Polonium, Lead and Bismuth isotopes emitting 4 alpha particles and 4 beta particles along the way. see
A couple of the intermediate forms have relatively long half lives. I would guess that those (being quite small — single atoms?) stay in the air for a while and eventually settle out on room surfaces from which they can presumably move to resident’s lungs or stomachs.
“There is not a statistically group of non-smokers exposed to elevated levels of radon.”
I think there is. Radon in homes comes primarily from domestic water that is drawn from strata rich in radioactives. Radon concentrations vary geographically and within areas with the same geology with whether well or surface water is used. The information for a valid statistical study is probably available.
That’s not the same thing as saying that the studies done are valid.


Don K: ” I would guess that those (being quite small — single atoms?) stay in the air for a while and eventually settle out on room surfaces”
This may interest you.
Enhanced deposition of radon daughter nuclei in the vicinity of power frequency electromagnetic fields.
We report the attraction of radon daughter nuclei in normal domestic room air to everyday sources of power frequency electromagnetic fields. TASTRAK plastic track detectors were used to measure alpha-emission from the radon (222Rn) daughters 218Po and 214Po close to 50-Hz mains frequency power cables and domestic appliance leads. We observed that wires carrying mains frequency potential attract radon daughter nuclei in a manner visually similar to the attraction of iron filings to a magnet. Increased deposition of up to a factor of 18 was observed. Further experiments designed to simulate the effect of overhead power lines at ground level showed large scale variations in local plateout and airborne concentration of radon daughters. The effects appear to be due to interactions of the electric component of the EM-field with both the ultrafine and attached fraction of radon daughter aerosols. Three mechanisms have been examined. First, aerosols instantaneously polarize in sympathy with the electric component of an applied mains frequency EM-field and as a result may migrate up strong E-field gradients. This effect is however quite weak and may only affect larger aerosols in strong field gradients. Second, charged aerosols oscillate in a 50-Hz field and in the case of the ultrafine fraction this may lead to significantly increased plateout. Third, there is the possibility that oscillation of charged aerosols induces fluctuations in the magnitude of the instantaneous charges carried and this results in a diffusive-like motion along the field lines. The effect on dose to body organs is considered. Enhanced plateout on the skin is likely, increasing the dose to the basal layer. The dose to internal organs is governed initially by inhalation and lung deposition of radon daughters. Therefore increased local concentration in room air could lead to increased dose by inhalation. E-fields are heavily attenuated by the human body and body values in tissue of no more than 10(-4) of the external field strength have been suggested. Nevertheless calculations suggest that under exposure to strong external fields this may still be sufficient to alter the deposition pattern of the charged component of the ultrafine fraction in the bronchial region. In contrast it is unlikely that internal electric fields could significantly affect the attached radon daughters. In this context the lack of measurements of residual E-fields in the cavities of the mouth, pharyngeal and bronchial regions is of considerable importance and should be addressed. We believe that the observations may have implications for the apparent enigma that there is no persuasive biological evidence to show that power frequency electromagnetic fields can influence any of the accepted stages in carcinogenesis. On the contrary, the observations show that EM-fields can concentrate in their vicinity a cocktail of radon daughter nuclei, a known carcinogen, and presumably other potentially harmful agents.

Don K

catweasel666: That IS interesting. Perhaps there is a cause there for the controversial and ever so tenuous hypothesized correlation between cancer and high tension power lines. Thanks


A new paper published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science puts the issue of “ocean acidification” to the test, and finds that there has been significant exaggeration in the issue. The paper is:
Applying organized skepticism to ocean acidification research
Could someone please tell me more about the “organized skepticism”? To my knowledge there is no organization of “organized skepticism”. It is now and has been from the start an “army of ones” rising from the groundroots of science with no leader.
It is now an army of many and still no leadership structure, just a common cause for justifiable/honest science. It/we can’t be defeated. Other than that I rest my case.


One might conclude that “organized skepticism” is an accepted and expected part of the scientific method.

Since the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is very small — 0.04% (Wikipedia) — I wondered about the mechanism by which and speed at which it is absorbed into the ocean at the air/water interface. Further, since I knew nothing I guessed that “ocean acidification” was determined by direct measurement of ocean water pH. Not so. It’s complicated.

The pCO2 in mixed-layer waters that exchange CO2 directly with the atmosphere is affected primarily by temperature, DIC levels and AT. While the water temperature is regulated by physical processes, including solar energy input, sea-air heat exchanges and mixed-layer thickness, the DIC and AT are primarily controlled by the biological processes of photosynthesis and respiration and by upwelling of subsurface waters rich in respired CO2 and nutrients. In a parcel of seawater with constant chemical composition, pCO2 would increase by a factor of 4 when the water is warmed from polar temperatures of about –1.9°C to equatorial temperatures of about 30°C. On the other hand, the DIC in the surface ocean varies from an average value of 2150 µmol kgto the minus 1 in polar regions to 1850 µmol kgto the minus 1 in the tropics as a result of biological processes. This change should reduce pCO2 by a factor of 4. On a global scale, therefore, the magnitude of the effect of biological drawdown on surface water pCO2 is similar in magnitude to the effect of temperature, but the two effects are often compensating. Accordingly, the distribution of pCO2 in surface waters in space and time, and therefore the oceanic uptake and release of CO2 , is governed by a balance between the changes in seawater temperature, net biological utilization of CO2 and the upwelling flux of subsurface waters rich in CO2.
DIC = dissolved inorganic carbon
AT = total alkalinity
Windspeed is important as well.
It’s another model.


“Ocean acidification” (OA), a change in seawater chemistry driven by increased uptake of atmospheric CO2 by the oceans,…
Is this a well understood change, a theoretical change, or a modeled change?
If well understood then it must have happened many times in the past and with larger variations than 250 ppm to 400 ppm of atmospheric CO2 in the last 150 plus years.
So, what is the problem?

Gunga Din

The past doesn’t matter as long as it leads to political change (that you can believe in, of course.).

A. Zeeman

A lot of sea shells are carbonate based, without CO2, no carbon and no shell. The white cliffs of Dover contain lots and lots of carbon as well as calcium. Sort of like on the surface where the greenery also likes CO2.

OT…I went to read the story at The Times, and noticed this recently added story about huge oaks that were hidden in a preserve in the UK. They show a picture of a magnificent oak tree which is 9 feet in diameter. That is impressive….


Try 27 feet in diameter.

Right, 9 meters!

Bruce Cobb

They are referring to the girth, I believe, and it would be close to 30 feet.


Color me surprised (purple) and call me an Eggplant. That environmental soft-science has a prior agenda! Will the wonders of the world never cease.
The truth is that we are attempting to graduate TOO many people with STEM degrees, which haven’t a significant talent at doing STEM. The universities, colleges and academic glee clubs, now very, very far from their laudable roots of fostering and advancing true knowledge, are shamelessly profit-making, rent-seeking affairs. Since the absolutely unvarying mantra is, “to do your best, you need an advanced degree”, millions of young-and-not-so-young people aim to get one of those sheepskins.
So, the number of PhDs in environmental studies is huge. Like my cousin 40 years ago found, no matter how popular the graduate school department of Marine Biology, there really aren’t very many paying jobs in the field. Like people having weather-and-climatology degrees, only the exceptionally good looking ones manage to hold down a job on the local TV station casting bones and glib in-jokes on camera.
But ecological concern is high, and the “climate departments” are veritably overflowing with applications and applicants. Laudably, who want to do something about the situation. Without even a glimmer of a clue as to what it means to “do something”.
Protecting her privacy, I can still report that I helped a certain relation earn her PhD in Environmental Sciences from the locally prestigious University of Alaska in 2014. The sheepskin was hugely expensive for Papa to fund. But she worked hard. I offered to pre-jury her papers, as she was preparing them. Gobsmacking awful science. Just … astounding.
It sounds like patting my own back, but by inserting some darn dispassionate analysis and rhetorical brevity, voice and vocabulary into things, she ended up getting – you got it – A’s on most every paper. But I didn’t actually change her pre-determined results. Just made it look “pro”. Since Alaska has a remarkable shortage of women, a remarkable shortage of STEM educated women (not in medicine), a remarkablel shortage of PhD’s that want to live up there, and a hugely funded environmental state department, she didn’t just ‘get a job’, but was vacuumed up by the first department she applied to. At a desk, with exuberant offers to dress up the office, if she desired. Did she need an electron microscope? A supercomputer? Did she need a writing staff and a secretary?
Yes, boys ‘n’ girls, this is what a PhD in a remote state gets you. I talked with her recently (all this attention has gone to her head: she actually believes she’s contributing primary science for the State of Alaska, so I had to tread carefully), about what she is doing. I’ll not say more, but let’s just say, the Department of Mushroom Sciences is churning forth all nature of easily shelved-and-forgotten papers up there. Oh, there are definitely a few ‘real’ doctors of science who are getting actual work done, but Ms C***• is an office hit. As elegant and curvy as a New York Weathercaster, as unique as snow orchids, and as productive as a cage of hungry chimps.
PS: do note that she knows of precious few of the male Environmental PhDs that got a job. Most ended up moving back to the Contiguous States; many couldn’t find work there either, but the many, many private elite-class high schools like PhDs. Even if they’re not card-carrying accredited teachers. They sound good on the academic roster. Dr. Jones, Dr. Peters, Dr. Wallace and Dr. Cummings are our environmental sciences teachers.


eyesonyou, “organized scepticism” has nothing to do with organizing sceptics (who can’t even agree how to spell the word), but on the principles of the scientific methods declaimed by Robert Merton, originally in 1942 and revised in 1973 (see ). Merton puts it this way – “It is both
a methodological and an institutional mandate. The temporary suspension of judgment and the detached scrutiny of beliefs in terms of empirical and logical criteria have periodically involved science in conflict with other institutions. Science which asks questions of fact, including potentialities, concerning every aspect of nature and society may come into conflict with other attitudes toward these same data which have been crystallized and often ritualized by other institutions. The scientific investigator does not preserve the .cleavage between the sacred and the profane, between that which requires uncritical respect and that which can be objectively analyzed”.
He goes on to state “As we have noted, this appears to be the source of revolts against the so-called intrusion of science into other spheres.Such resistance on the part of organized religion has become less significant as compared with that of economic and political groups. The opposition may exist quite
apart from the introduction of specific scientific discoveries which appear to invalidate particular dogmas of church, economy, or ‘state. It is rather a diffuse, frequently vague, apprehension that skepticism threatens the
current distribution of power. Conflict becomes accentuated whenever science extends its research to new areas toward which there are institutionalized attitudes or whenever other institutions extend their control over
scil:mce. In modern totalitarian society, anti-rationalism and the centralization of institutional control both serve to limit the scope provided for scientific activity”.
So the “threat” of a sceptical approach is that it may “appear to invalidate particular dogmas” of the ‘state’, just as Merton saw more than 40 years ago. However there is some pushback as we see from this whole issue of an important marine journal dedicated to a true open dialog and presentation of science that “may invalidate particular dogmas”.


the Great barrier reef in Australia is still here after millions of years of climate change the reef dosn’t need any gooses poking there noses into it . the reef looks after its self thank you


“Although I call for a more sceptical scrutiny and balanced interpretation of the body of research on OA, it must be emphasized that OA is happening and it will have effects on some marine organisms and ecosystem processes.” –Browman
The issue contains many articles showing little effect of OA on specific species. Indeed, Browman set out to solicit such articles.There have been many such articles published elsewhere. But the issue does have studies showing negative effects in some cases. No one has really been able to quantify the level of risk OA presents. No one here is saying that lowering ocean pH is a safe or wise thing to do.

John Reistroffer

Hi Mebbe,
Very few benthonic critters live below the CCD in the conditions described above. As mentioned the, depths are greater than 2000 m below sea level and at temperatures around ~5 degC. Most of the benthonic biota live in the photic zone because they need sunlight or eat things that need sunlight (algae, plankton etc). The photic zone is usually in the first ~100 m of the water column. So the conditions that I mentioned above below the CCD are much deeper. The other requirement for most corals and pelecypods is oxygen, and anoxia often is present at these great depths. So the lack of sunlight and oxygen below the CCD preclude a huge portion of the biota. Some specialized sponges can live here because they are composed of silica.. But most corals and pelecypods that have calcareous skeletons live in the upper 100 m of he water column, and are not subject to these “difficult” living conditions.
Cores from DSDP wells drilled in locations below the CCD do not encounter CaCO3 because it is unstable here.
Back to global warming and corals, as long as we have land masses at the poles which accumulates ice and have ice sheets, and a difference oceanic in water densities exists, the fauna in the upper 100m of the water column would not appear to be affected. However, as in the case of the OAE events, oceanic circulation stops, the seas become stagnant, and oxygen is depleted from the water column, which results in massive marine extinctions. I don’t see that these conditions exist today, or could exists in the near geologic future.
John R.


The above article contains very encouraging seed of hope as to the health and integrity of the scientific community and process. It suggests that possibly the alarmist excursion into suspended skepticism and positive results bias may be running its course and running out of steam – a very welcome turn of events.


I have kept corals and salties for 15 years, and the thought of some dimwit taking marine creatures and turning their water to acid is actually disturbing.
Scientists they are not.
I have also seen first hand that even with CO2 of 800ppm in my own home, Marine aquariums would not change pH one jot as per my digital monitor. 800ppm cannot acidify 1300 liters of water in a closed system let alone ocean atmosphere exchange in reality.
CO2 in almost all cases escapes water once either temp goes up or there is not enough pressure to retain it, the top levels of the ocean are water in motion and temp change, the very conditions that allow CO2 to escape water.
it boggles the mind to see “scientists” who’ve never actually kept and managed Marine creatures, come out with this crap.


Here’s a paper that takes the same empirically referenced approach to the topic of sea level rise.
“This analysis shows that the global network of tide gauges provide the best available measurement of the sea levels while the additional or substitutional information provided by GPS or satellite altimeter is of little help.” In simple terms this paper explains that when you strip away all the obfuscation and arbitrary and unjustified manipulations/”corrections” – then nothing of any note is occurring now, or likely to occur at any point within our lifetimes. Providing that you base the analysis on real observations and do not include fancy and complex and unproven model outputs.
Full pdf here:

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

indefatigablefrog — timely excellent article. Thanks.
Some of these features, I presented in my book published in 2008 on 60-year cycle — pacific in opposition to atlantic, San Francisco Airport no change, East coat show rise and west coast show fall, etc.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy


Re: “East coat show rise and west coast show fall”.
Be careful who hears about this. Certain congressmen may become concerned that this could lead the United States to capsize!!! 🙂 (sarc)

This paper is good news but I won’t be happy until this “flying spaghetti monster” of a proposition is dropped completely from all rational discourse!
“AO” is a physical impossibility that symbolises the remarkably irrationality of our times.

“AO”, adults only? Ocean Acidification “OA” is also impossible! ;-(

Patrick MJD

Snytax eeror KO?


Here’s something interesting and relevant from Wikipedia’s entry on the Klamath River:

The Klamath is the most important coastal river south of the Columbia River for anadromous fish migration. Its salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout have adapted to unusually high water temperatures and acidity levels relative to other rivers in the Pacific Northwest.

David Smith

You won’t get a job unless you publish an article that is viewed as of significant importance to society. People often forget that scientists are people and have the same pressures on them and the same kind of human foibles. Some are driven by different things. They want to be prominent.

Isn’t that a perfect description of grant-troughing fame-hungry climate scientists such as Mann et al?


I picked up a book from my bookshelves a few days ago and read the foreword, in which the writer explains that Scientist have turned rational and objective study to all topics in nature with the exception of the understanding of themselves.”
And that point was being made in 1973.
He goes on to mention the potential for corruption induced by the growing excesses of government funding of research.
All this in the foreword of a book called “A Random Walk in Science”,
Actually, I just did a search and found the entire book for free as a pdf:


Kudos to Howard Browman – he’s a good scientist!


But can the little honest fish survive in a an ocean filled with big angry dishonest sharks?

Pamela Gray

Lordy. When did research papers have to have eye catching phraseology? When I prepared my first attempt at rewriting my research into a publishable form, I was taken to the woodshed over using colorful phrases. I had to endure red line after red line after red line rewrites till my fingers hurt from typing. Before the team would even consider it for a submission I had to remove every little bit of prose from my words. It was the most boring write up I have ever done. And even then it wasn’t technical enough so we added a major researcher to the team to make it even more boring and technical.
So what is “eye catching”? I don’t know this. Prose was wiped out of me back in the late 1990’s.

Transport by Zeppelin

In regards to using aquariums for OA experiments, to be valid the grant recipients would first have to demonstrate (on multiple identicle tanks, over a period of no less than two years, kept at water parameters equal to pre-industrial metrics) that they could maintain healthy growing corals, invertebrates & fish in each & every one of those multiple identicle tanks before the experiment could continue!

The thing that keeps getting lost is to best knowledge only 15 of the 400ppm is from man making mans contribution insignificant.

Gary Pearse

Meanwhile, UEA of climategate fame is reported in the times of blowing 10million pounds on green energy schemes: burn wood and burn straw. They completely failed (gee I’ve burned wood quite successfully)


Just for a little perspective on the relatively small pH swings the alarmists are claiming is going to sterilise the oceans this century, here is an interesting site:
Here is the graph of the diurnal swing of inter alia pH a a depth of 17 metres.
Looks like a swing from pH 7.4 to pH 8.1 – twice a day, which is well in excess of the alarmists’ projection of the decrease projected to occur by 2100.
Now, I must admit I’ve never been to Monterey Bay, but I have no reason to doubt it supports a thriving ecosystem with all sorts of flora and fauna including creatures with shells, strange that!

And every report on OA I’ve read neglects the obvious: NOx and SOx are far more potent sources of it than CO2, which is extensively buffered in the ocean. Furthermore, OA is most intense near shore, i.e., near the sources of NOx and SOx emissions.Selective ignorance reigns again.

Henry’s-law constant H for CO2 -water solutions is 1.42×10^3 atm/mole fraction at 20 C. Using simple Henry’s-law solubilities (p=H*x), the oceans should hold only 30% of the 2,900 giga tonnes of the atmospheric CO2 at equilibrium, but the actual figure is >50 times this amount. In fact, for an ideal vapour-liquid equilibrium system obeying Raoult’s law, an atmospheric pressure of 175 atmospheres would be required to contain this colossal amount (50*2,900=145,000 giga tonnes) of CO2 in the oceans. The majority share of CO2 is taken up by the oceans competing with the biosphere’s CO2 requirements for plant growth and food supply. Non-ideality accounts for its large solubility in water and clearly it is sequestered and fixed by chemical and biological reactions. They involve the formation of carbonate rocks and phytoplankton growth through photosynthesis. The reactions remove dissolved CO2 from the equilbrium equation, driving it to the right, thereby giving the oceans a near limitless ability to absorb CO2.
Rainwater condensing from cloud formations dissolves CO2 to form weak carbonic acid, it always has and it always will. It has been responsible for stalactites and stalagmites in caves over thousands of years. Rainwater of course is initially pure water in which there are few ionic species; seawater however is quite different and contains many soluble cations and anions. Sodium and magnesium, which will form stable crystalline solid bicarbonates, are present in abundance. Carbon dioxide in seawater yields salts such as sodium carbonate which are soluble in water and are hydrolysed in solution thus:
Na2CO3 + H2O = NaHCO3 + NaOH
and their solutions are in fact alkaline. For the anti carbon green warmist lobby and the BBC to pronounce that the simple addition of carbonic acid or dissolution of CO2 in seawater will make it acidic is nonsense and he clearly does not understand the complex ionic system pertaining in the oceans. The capacity of seawater to buffer pH changes is well known and its pH always remains in range 7.5 to 8.4 which is alkaline.
Life Force
In addition of course, CO2 is essential to life in the biosphere and our very existence depends on it. So to declare CO2 a pollutant to be somehow eliminated from the environment is stupid and dangerous when in fact increased CO2 does increase the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions. Animal life, which depends upon plants, also flourishes, and the diversity of plant and animal life is increased. Human activities are producing part of the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. Carbon in coal, oil and natural gas is being moved to the atmosphere, where it is available for conversion to living things.
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