Hump Day Hilarity: 'feel the pain of climate change' – 'become the coral'

From Smithsonian magazine and the ocean acidification stupid, it burns! department comes this giant load of crap masquerading as science. No really, that’s what it is. From the article:


It’s not easy to get people exercised about ocean acidification. Yes, it’s a nasty consequence of climate change, a potential death sentence for oysters, clams, sea urchins and, most of all, coral. But it’s slow-motion extermination, out of sight of most humans, and that makes it difficult for us to feel much of a connection—let alone any responsibility—for the calamitous process.

The Stanford team worked with marine biologists to build a virtual replica of a reef around the Italian island of Ischia. Underground volcanic vents there have been spewing carbon dioxide, and that has given researchers the opportunity to closely analyze the effect on marine life—specifically how, as ocean water absorbs more carbon dioxide and becomes more acidic, it corrodes coral and the shells of crustaceans.

From that model, the researchers programmed a VR experience that speeds up the destructive process,  allowing a person to first interact with a reef full of life, and then be an up-close-witness to decay as species disappear. Ultimately, the person takes on the perspective of a coral, one whose branches break off with an audible crack.

At its best, virtual reality, says Bailenson, enables you to have a “dual presence,” where you know you’re still in a room wearing a headset, but also actually can feel that you’re at the bottom of the sea. It’s important, he says, for the VR environment to respond your body’s movements.

It also should to be an experience that stimulates multiple senses, including touch when possible. The coral reef VR, for instance, creates the sensation of a fishing net brushing against you. If it feels natural, notes Bailenson, the brain is able to treat the experience as authentic.

Gosh, but what if coral reefs didn’t actually go through a “destructive process”?

What if they actually come back to life when they have been declared dead?

Inconvenient: Giant Coral Reef That ‘Died’ In 2003 Teeming With Life Again

More Evidence of Coral Reef Resilience!

Or what if it isn’t “Ocean Acidification” after all? What if it’s all the oily tourists with underwater cameras?

Oops! It may not be ‘ocean acidification’ killing coral after all – common chemical found in sunscreen is poisonous to coral reefs

I’ll bet they don’t have a VR segment for that one.

h/t to Tom Nelson

Added: On Twitter, this reaction amused me.

As did this one:

89 thoughts on “Hump Day Hilarity: 'feel the pain of climate change' – 'become the coral'

  1. Nor a VR experience to explain all the peer-reviewed references that show that the minor changes in pH have little or no adverse affects on marine life.

    • Well Tifeo sounds really thus bad.
      Tifeo, a monstrous figure with flames gushing from his mouth and carrying a hundred dragon heads under his arms, did battle with Zeus and was almost victorious in his quest. Tifeo disabled Zeus by cutting through the sinews of his hands and feet, disarming Zeus of his most potent weapon – his thunderbolts. However, Zeus, with the aid of his son Hermes who restores his sinews, eventually overcomes Tifeo and as a punishment condemns the giant to imprisonment underneath the island of Ischia (as it is known today), and leaves Tifeo to vent his anger with earthquakes, flames and boiling hot water.
      But if this is now killing all those poor corals, why did it take so long and how did they start?
      (Partially based on “Valutazione del Rischio vulcanico nell’isola d’Ischia”; Laurea Thesis of Massimo Mattera, 1995, Università degli Studi di Napoli, Italy)
      2 – Cronology of volcanic activity
      The hills bordering Mt Epomeo are old volcanic vents formed during the last 150,000 years. Absolute datings by means of radioactive methods and volcanological studies permitted to summaryze the volcanic activity into 5 different cycles. The first two occurred before the eruption of the Green Tuff which forms most of Mt Epomeo. The last three phases of activity occurred after the eruption of Mt Epomeo.
      – Phase 1- older than 150.000 years
      – Phase 2 – between 150.000 and 75.000 years
      – Phase 3 – between 55.000 and 33.000 years
      – Phase 4 – between 28.500 and 18.000 years
      – Phase 5 – after 10.000 years
      Again – An unofficial spokesman for the Allied Coral Species Association is thought to have stated – We have survived nuclear war, climate temperature changes of over 10 degrees, planetary magnetic shifts, giant undersea lava flows and plate tectonics for over 400 million years. We are personally more worried about you.

  2. Get ready. Things that happen in virtual reality are becoming equivalent to things happening in real reality.

  3. what level of acidity is created by volcanic vents spewing all kinds of acid including notably sulfuric. In the end the vents slow down and the reef heals. Make a V R of that with the sensory additions of a scalding hot acid bath to get the flavor of it.

  4. Today I learned that corals, an organism devoid of a brain or even something remotely similar to a nervous system, is somehow able to feel “pain”.

    • Old Mo, here, became the coral….. about an hour ago. Took him about 2 minutes.

      WARNING: Do not try this at home. Irreversible brain damage may result. No animals were forced or bribed to participate in this study. All of them volunteered.
      Just like the tree-huggers who “feel the pain” of trees don’t understand that a tree (in a giant forest such as those found in the Pacific Northwest USA), for all its beauty and grandeur, is just a giant cornstalk. And cornstalks are just giant blades of grass. And …. oh, brother. These are the people that sweep the path before them with a broom so they don’t kill a BUG, aren’t they?!!
      Well! — Most of us are not!
      Thank. You. God.

      • This is why I enjoy your writings Janice, you just make me crack up laughing sometimes, along with your knowledge of course, : )
        There are very few bugs that I won’t kill on the spot, every time. And if I won’t, ( he’ll )hear me say, KILL IT NOW, PLEASE !

  5. From the to-and-fro on this (excellent!) blog, it is apparent corals are very robust in paleo-history, and ‘re-forest’ reefs that have been wiped-out for one reason or another since time immemorial. It’s sort-of ‘Whack-a-Mole’ ….. beat one to death and — Lo! — it pops up again!

    • Corals, in the fossil record, go all the way back to the pre-cambrian, they’ve survived multiple periods of hothouse and glacial climate.

  6. As to ‘Virtual Reality’, most (95%?) of the population are there already, ‘programmed’ by propaganda. spewed by those with an interest in building mass-support to their self-serving agendas.
    So 95% are zombies, incapable of critical analysis of what they’re being influenced by.
    (Has someone written a book about this?)

      • Thanks, Auto, for yr pithy comment.
        I am indeed wrong with my assessment of 95%! As you point out, it’s 97% zombies — able only to follow each other brainlessly.
        Same 97% obviously!

        • P.S. As to the 97% zombies, there was a Presidential election in Iraq during the conflict, and Saddam’s official spokesperson breathless & excitedly told BBC(???) “100% voted for Saddam … maybe even 105%!”

    • Interestingly, for all the CO2 that has been absorbed by the oceans, it seems not to be changing the ocean’s PH. It is absorbed very quickly by the various life forms that convert it into calcium carbonate for their internal/external structures.

    • How they get away with ocean acidification claims is beyond me , a ph of 8.1 is not even close to being acidic , just how stupid do these so called scientists and politicians think the population is .

      • Because “Ocean Neutralization” is just not scary enough, and these self proclaimed ‘Elites’ think that regular folks are just too stupid to know the difference

    • Maybe by a mechanism whereby the reduction of taxation on a particular business activity gets transformed into a government ‘subsidy’?

    • jake, you have it. I have been pointing this out on this very website – the mods shouldn’t allow the term to be written, as it just adds to the nonsense. I’m disappointed that they snip so much (and rightly so, often) but allow this word. If you look at a dictionary, it plainly says that ‘acidification’ is “to make or become acid – to convert into an acid”. So the oceans, being still alkaline, are merely a tiny bit less alkaline. They haven’t become acidic.
      Any comment from a mod?

  7. We are witnessing the birth of a new generation of video games – targeted at environmentalist masochists.

      • You have to understand – If it starts as alkaline and becomes less alkaline then it must be more acidic than it was before. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to ‘shorten’ that to the inflamatory ‘acidic’ description. Intellectual honesty it not a trait admired in the alarmist crowd.

  8. ‘become the coral’
    It is becoming increasingly obvious, many once homo sapiens, have already become the coral, single thought, single cell entities offering no possible contribution to the well being of mankind.

  9. Oh, that’s perfect!! Using computer virtual reality to virtually demonstrate effects of computer climate models. This is especially important when those modeled effects aren’t actually visible in the real world. Excellent idea!!
    And people will really appreciate it if the solar scientists are right and we’re about to plunge into a deep and long cooling cycle. Those virtual reality “global warming disaster” programs will be very welcome entertainment and comic relief from real world famine and chaos if temperatures drop just a couple degrees…

    • Relentlessly receding water tables in some places and increased rain/flooding in others is compelling evidence humanity needs to aggressively attend to rational management of fresh water . . . and stop this nonsense that CO2 has a significant effect on climate.

      • Absolutely correct. The greens are right about desperately needing to fix some environmental issues (like collapse of ocean fisheries). But, by focusing on CO2, they’re letting all the genuine, serious issues get further and further out of hand.

  10. This is embarrasing….Stanford team worked with marine biologists…who should all know that corals continue to calcify as long as the alkalinity is maintained…..and lowing the pH increases the alkalinity

  11. Slow down Anthony, I’m having trouble keeping up with this conveyor belt of bollocks that tries to pass as science.

  12. During my recent climate change presentation a member of the audience broke into the middle with an obvious challenge about the Great Barrier Reef dying because of ocean acidification. Rather than go off track I expressed my doubts saying that’s not what I recalled and tabled it until the end. I had some understanding about the GBR, but had to do more research. The claim is wrong on two points.
    Point 1)
    Above a pH of 7.0 a solution is alkaline and becomes more or less alkaline.
    Below a pH of 7.0 a solution is acidic and becomes more or less acidic.
    The ocean’s pH is about 8.0. That’s alkaline. Variations are more or less alkaline, not more or less acidic. The obvious reason for incorrectly using the term “ocean acidification” is a propaganda gambit to scare the gullible and uninformed who associate acid with bad, like alien spit.
    Highly alkaline compounds such as caustic soda can be just as dangerous as acidic compounds, e.g. concentrated bleach, sodium hypochlorite, pH 13.6. On the other hand: rain has a pH of 4.5, lemon juice has a pH of 2.0, tomatoes a pH of 4.5, and vinegar a pH of 2.2. If they get on your hands the flesh doesn’t melt and they don’t burn a hole in the kitchen counter.
    Improperly using the term “acidification” to scare the public over bogus CAGW is a disgrace to science. Spit out the Kool-Aid and grow a backbone.
    Point 2)
    Bleaching is not dying. There have been numerous bleaching incidents in the past. Bleaching is caused by, among other causes, warm water temperatures especially those caused by El Ninos and NOT pH. The GBR has always mostly recovered. Long term damage or death has been relatively minor. The polyps and other life that inhabit the coral structure die when the water gets too hot or too cold or too fresh and when the conditions revert they recolonize. That’s the way it has been going for millions of years.
    Also during the post presentation the same person stated another BS MSM sound bites and another member of the audience pronounced it BS whereupon they got their undies in a knot and stomped out of the room like a six year old possibly to go whine at their mommy.
    If you thin skinned uppity millennials don’t want your BS challenged quit believing the MSM and green web site sound bites & do your own homework and thinking!!! Yes, saving the world makes one all warm and fuzzy. Too bad it’s not real.
    Per GBRMA over 75% of the GBR is just fine. 22% is badly damaged, 85% of that isin the northenr sector.

    • 1. Any lowering of pH is acidification. Try not to tie yourself in knots with semantics.
      2. In the northern third of the GBR “North of Port Douglas, we’re already measuring an average of close to 50% mortality of bleached corals. At some reefs, the final death toll is likely to exceed 90%. When bleaching is this severe it affects almost all coral species, including old, slow-growing corals that once lost will take decades or longer to return.”
      Bleaching isn’t always “dying” but in this instance half has. Next El Nino temperature spike on top of the general warming trend will almost certainly take out another large swathe which will take decades to regrow – unless of course there is further warming.

      • Sorry, Tony–if the pH remains above 7, it’s alkaline; it has not acidified. To clarify, let’s think about ice and water. Below a certain temperature, water freezes and becomes ice. Let’s say that happens at 32 degrees F. Below that, we have ice. Above it, we don’t. Let’s say the ocean at a certain point is 80 degrees F. Does a reduction to 75 degrees F mean the water is freezing? No more does a slight reduction in the pH number from (say) 8 to 7.9; it may be slightly less alkaline, but it is not acidic, and acidification (whatever that may be construed to be) has not taken place. Calling it “acidification” is a propaganda trick, not a scientific term.

      • Any lowering of pH is acidification.
        . . and melting is of course boilification . . (in CAGWsville ; )
        make or become acid
        (Oxford Dictionaries)

      • tony, If you look at a dictionary, it plainly says that ‘acidification’ is “to make or become acid – to convert into an acid”. So the oceans, being still alkaline, are merely a tiny bit less alkaline. They haven’t become acidic. It isn’t difficult, tony.

      • Yes, I will bow to the dictionary’s definition. Quite true. I did make the point that the argument is semantic, I was wrong.
        Let’s change: “Any lowering of pH is acidification” to Any lowering of pH make less it alkaline. Is that better?

    • Yes, thanks for going over this. I know we have seen it covered before in various pieces but this is nicely done. Gratitude!

  13. First, it was,
    POLAR BEARS — oh, please, pleeeeeeease, help!
    Then, it was,
    OYSTERS — oh, please, they are animals toooo — help them!!!!
    coral. pretend it has feelings. please, uh, help us.

      • We are all part of the fabric of life, interwoven, millions of species. Each species is important to the whole and as so many are being lost so rapidly the whole fabric is diminished. Janice seemed as though she as sneering at the plight of non-human species.

      • Each species is important to the whole
        many species endure while other species perish
        each species is not important to the whole
        That was easy!

      • btw, Tony,
        My grammar engine didn’t register any “sneering” at “the plight of non-human species” in Janice’s comment. I think if you were to parse the comment more carefully you would find Janice trying to point out, in her colorful way, that the plight for non-human species in the climate scare stories always turn out to be plights of fantasy. i.e., Polar Bears threatened, “debunked,” etc.
        Or, as Richard Lindzen described it: “I think it’s mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other and themselves.
        Janice did sneer at the idea that we should try to empathize with corals. I empathize with that sneer. 🙂

      • tony: Each species is important to the whole…
        No. That would not be sustainable 😉 Over 95% of all species ever lived already died out.

      • Fair call Khwarizmi on my assumption regarding Janice’s comment.
        Apologies to impune you Janice.
        Allow me to amend: “Each species is important to the whole” to
        Each species contributes, by adding to the general bio-diversity, to the stability of the eco-system to which it belongs.

    • It would appear that these underwater volcanic vents are recent, if the corals have not adapted. Perhaps the temperature change was too rapid for them, which can happen. Perhaps the hot water changes flow direction upon occasion, which might be traumatic for corals. Not enough information and they do not mention the variety of damage that their fantasy reality is supposed to depict.

  14. Caption from the photo, “Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab”. Does that mean one interacts with “virtual humans” in this lab? Maybe we can replace all of those well compensated climate “scientists” with some virtual humans and save us all a lot of money.

  15. However,
    1) seawater is a complex buffer that is not easily altered by a weak acid such as carbonic acid (distilled water is not a buffer),
    2) even NOAA admits that ocean pH all over is currently within the normal pH range for the oceans,
    3) photosynthesis is an alkalizing process that can drastically raise the pH of a bay or estuary up to 10 during the day, and nobody dies,
    4) water passing through a coral reef is acidified by organic acid waste from all of those various species and organisms, and nobody dies,
    5) “increased photosynthesis not only increases calcification, paradoxically the process of calcification produces CO2 and drops pH to levels lower than predicted by climate change models. A combination of warmer tropical waters and coral reef biology results in out-gassing of CO2 from the ocean to the atmosphere, making coral reefs relatively insensitive to the effects of atmospheric CO2 on ocean pH.”
    6) coral bleaching is not coral death; when the temperature rises or lowers too much or too fast, corals expel their photosynthetic dinoflagellate symbionts and then take up more suitable symbionts for that temperature; it takes time for the symbionts to reproduce and provide corals with color again,
    7) the fact that living cells have physiology that evolved to control the internal pH of cells means that they have physiological power to resist and thus tolerate changes in ocean pH, and
    8) Earth has spent the vast majority of the last 600 million years with CO2 at 4 to 10 times the current atmospheric concentration, which means that these organisms evolved handling much higher CO2 concentrations than now.
    9) If ocean pH did decrease or even increase, it would take time and the corals and marine plankton would adapt to the new conditions. Adaptation by natural selection (i.e., evolution) appears to not have been part of the marine biology training these researchers had, or they have selective memory loss.
    It is the terribly low current CO2 that is alarming, as plants stop growing at about 200 ppm and begin to die at less than that. CO2 is plant food on land and in sea.

    • coral bleaching is not coral death; when the temperature rises or lowers too much or too fast, corals expel their photosynthetic dinoflagellate symbionts and then take up more suitable symbionts for that temperature; it takes time for the symbionts to reproduce and provide corals with color again
      Yes. Not unlike the behavior of Maple trees in fall. Martha look! All the Maple trees are losing their leaves! It’s the end of the world!

  16. Will this report appear in the Print version of Smithsonian or is it just on the dot com site?
    In the sense that someone paid for this (tax payers?) and that Stanford people (VR researchers?) were involved — it is, sort of, news.
    Note that Jeremy Bailenson is a professor of communications, not salt-water science, nor even biology.
    If real scientists at Stanford and science editors at Smithsonian are not appalled by this nonsense they are in way of their heads and should resign.

  17. The lower eocene, a time of high co2 was also a period
    of prolific worldwide coral reef growth also prolific growth of nummulite banks
    Especially in mediterranean areas wher they have been a target for oil exploration.
    These carbonate reefs and mounds grew all over the margins of the Tethys ocean.

  18. Over a generation ago we had a very good (otherwise) student who did some work on pH and arithmetically
    averaged them. He did receive a lot of ribbing. Wonder if this is similar. No ribbing today?

  19. I presume that everyone who takes the trouble to write here knows what what pH means. No? Well, it is negative logarithm (to base 10) of the concentration of hydrogen ions (acidic ions).
    Because of its logarithmic basis it requires a tenfold increase in the hydrogen ion concentration to cause a decrease in pH of 1 unit, eg from 8.1 to 7.1 (effectively neutral by definition).
    Think about it!

    • Robin this leads towards a pet criticism of mine; have you, or do you know of anyone, who’s taken the time to figure out how many billion tons of carbon dioxide would need to be released to change oceanic pH by one point (buffering considered)? I know it’s a very complex question, but I’ve always wondered if there’s enough CO2 bound in all known fossil fuel reserves to even do it?

  20. I seem to recall there were serious complaints on this site about the politicalisation of science. Seems like there are lots of allegations against Clinton, but Trump is apparently untouchable. It seems that concern over the politicalisation of science only works in one direction.

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