Toxic Seawater Fraud

[Note: some understanding of chemistry (approximately A-Level) is necessary to understand this post, and it will be helpful to read the background in the previous post Ocean Acidification Scam.]

The theory behind the ‘toxic ocean acidification’ scam proceeds like this: as the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the concentration in the oceans also increases due to dissolution [true – all other things being equal]. CO2 dissolved in water reacts with water to form carbonic acid, making the seas acidic [a half truth – they become very slightly less basic]. This acidity dissolves the shells of marine life causing mass extinction [an utter falsehood].

As a matter of fact, seawater is alkaline and basic. Dissolving the carbon dioxide from all the world’s known fossil fuel reserves would never make the sea acidic. The climate alarmists coined the phrase “ocean acidification” to make it sound alarming, whereas the process is actually what is known as neutralization. The term ‘acidification’ of course sounds more scary than talking about the oceans becoming slightly less basic or a little more neutral.

To put this into perspective, the pH of seawater is, on average, around pH 8.2. Pure water is pH 7.0, and clean rainwater is pH 5.6. What is more, seawater is a highly buffered solution – it can take up a huge amount of dissolved inorganic carbon without significant effect on pH. There is not the slightest possibility that the oceans could approach the neutral pH of pure water even if all the fossil fuel reserves in the world were burned, so all talk of ‘acid’ oceans is utter nonsense. What sort of change are we talking about? Possibly a change of pH of 0.2 units this century, say from 8.2 to 8.0. That would mean by definition that the concentration of the ‘acidic’ H+ ions would still be no more than 10% of their concentration in pure water.

The so-called science behind this ‘acid ocean’ scare is highly questionable. Firstly, an increasing concentration of CO2 in the water improves the efficiency of photosynthesis in the oceans (as it does on the land), and so increases the growth of plant life in the ocean, including phytoplankton, upon which ‘graze’ zooplankton, which is food for a vast range of sea animals, including whales.

Secondly, it’s not possible through lifeless inorganic chemistry to predict what is happening with living processes. Fish pump huge quantities (hundreds of millions of tonnes annually) of available carbonate in the oceans as a byproduct of the systems that enable them to survive in high salinity. This is using the energy of life processes to buck the normal dissolved inorganic carbon equilibria. The calcium carbonate of dead calcifying organisms dissolves naturally in seawater. What stops a sea creature’s shell from dissolving away is the living creature’s continually producing more calcium carbonate, just like a land animal continually produces skin cells to replace those that are lost to the environment.

Thirdly, an increasing concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon (e.g. dissolved carbon dioxide, bicarbonate ions, carbonate ions) makes the process of laying down calcium carbonate in shells efficient. This is because there is a far greater supply of calcium ions (441ppm) in seawater than dissolved inorganic carbon (90ppm) and any increase in dissolved carbon dioxide simply pushes the reactions towards the production of more bicarbonate and carbonate ions. The reactions are reversible and in equilibria:

CO2 + H2O <=> H2CO3 <=> H+ + HCO3- <=> H+ + H+ + CO32-

Add more CO2 at the left and the reaction proceeds to a greater or lesser extent to the right. Most of the additional carbon ends up as bicarbonate. Note that as the reaction is driven to the right by the dissolution of additional CO2 there is increased production of H+ ions, so acidity is increasing (= decreasing pH).

Fourthly, the situation is completely different from the case where pH is artificially lowered by adding, say, hydrochloric acid, where there would be no addition of dissolved inorganic carbon. Unfortunately, many scientists have failed to understand this basic chemistry and have conducted crude experiments on shellfish by adding mineral acids to seawater. Whilst this duly lowers the pH, it drives the equilibrium reactions in the opposite direction, so is completely invalid as an experimental model. In the equilibrium equation above, introducing mineral acid (which introduces no additional dissolved inorganic carbon) adds H+ ions on the right of the equilibrium equation, which drives the reaction to the left. The increase in H+ ions (equivalent to lower pH), arises because the experimenter is tipping in mineral acid and is thereby forcing the reaction drastically to reduce carbonate and to increase dissolved carbon dioxide, which will come out of solution into the atmosphere as bubbles, decarbonizing the seawater. But if increasing atmospheric CO2 is the driver, the reaction is forced the other way; if mineral acid is the driver, the pH goes down and carbonates and possibly bicarbonates also go down. Looking at pH alone tells us absolutely nothing about the concentrations of carbonates, bicarbonates, dissolved CO2, equilibria, reaction rates or reaction directions. At the very least we also need to know the amount of dissolved inorganic carbon. Moreover, calcium carbonate dissolves in alkaline seawater (pH 8.2) 15 times faster than in pure water (pH 7.0), so it is silly, meaningless nonsense to focus on pH.

At pH 8, seawater is supersaturated with carbonate. Why does this excess carbonate not precipitate out as calcium carbonate, since there are so many free calcium ions in the water? This seldom happens because of the presence of magnesium ions in seawater that preferentially ion pair with the carbonate in solution. With ion pairing, the reaction moves further to the right than would be the case without magnesium ions, yet without precipitation of magnesium and calcium carbonate salts, and this ensures there is an abundance of dissolved carbonate ions available for living organisms in spite of the low alkalinity. Moreover, phosphorus and dissolved organic compounds permit high levels of carbonate to exist without precipitation. Seawater is a truly marvelous and complex chemical system, which includes non-volatile borate, phosphate and silicate buffers.

Increasing CO2 partial pressure in a CO2/carbonate equilibrium will always drive the reaction towards the production of more dissolved inorganic carbon, irrespective of any associated reduction in pH arising from the shift in equilibrium itself. So if atmospheric CO2 increases, leading to increased dissolution of CO2, we can be sure that there will be a higher concentration of available carbon – the complete opposite of what the scare mongers are telling us. It seems that those creating the ‘ocean acidification’ scare would like us to believe that a reduction in pH is analogous to tipping mineral acid in the oceans, which would indeed be damaging, and would liberate CO2 from the oceans and decarbonize it, whereas the effect of increasing dissolution of CO2 is beneficial both to marine plants and animals.

To see what muddled thinking and ignorance of chemistry there is, it is sufficient to examine the report by the Royal Society, Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. They state

Carbonic acid is an acid because it can split up into its constituents, releasing an excess of H+ to solution and so driving pH to lower values. Carbonic acid splits up by adding one H+ ion to solution along with HCO3- (a bicarbonate ion)…This increase in H+ causes some CO32- (called carbonate ions) to react with H+ to become HCO3-…Thus the net effect of the dissolution of CO2 in seawater is to increase concentrations of H+, H2CO3 and HCO3- , while decreasing concentrations of CO32-

The reasoning in the Royal Society’s paper (and many others) is that because addition of carbon dioxide causes more acidity, the increasing H+ ions will eventually force the reaction to the left. But where are the H+ ions coming from in the first place? As a result of the reaction moving to the right! The reasoning of this Society is that as the reaction proceeds to the right and liberates H+ ions it must subsequently swing back to the left (which would create higher CO2 in the water as well). Equilibrium processes don’t work in unstable, oscillatory ways, and can’t pull themselves up by their own bootstraps: the H+ ions that are generated from addition of carbon dioxide become a significant brake on the reaction proceeding to the right, and a new equilibrium point is reached with lower pH.

Of course, the above equation showing the chain of reversible reactions doesn’t specify absolute concentrations. Seawater is a complex system, and whether carbonates increase or decrease in concentration with increasing dissolution of carbon dioxide requires careful analysis, the solution of many simultaneous equations, and knowledge of other systems such as magnesium and borates, as well as ion pairing.

Whilst the relative concentration of CO32- (carbonate) with respect to the increasing concentration of HCO3- (bicarbonate) can reduce with increasing dissolved inorganic carbon, it is not obvious what happens to the absolute concentration of carbonate as more CO2 dissolves. For example, consider a beaker of pure water, pH 7.0. The beaker contains nothing but H2O molecules and its dissociated ions H+ and OH-. If carbon dioxide is bubbled through the water for some hours and the system left to rest and establish equilibrium the pH will go down, perhaps to pH 5. There will be now be some dissolved CO2, some bicarbonate ions and some carbonate ions in solution and many more H+ ions than there were before. Carbonate ions have thus increased because there were literally none before, yet pH has gone down and the absolute quantity of H+ ions has increased considerably. So, in absolute terms, carbonate ion concentration can increase as dissolved CO2 increases even though pH has reduced. Notwithstanding, many studies modeling seawater in its usual composition, salinity, temperature and pressure, show some decline in carbonate with increasing dissolved inorganic carbon. But we are inclined to say ‘so what?’ Of the various dissolved carbon species, bicarbonate is typically dominant as the form in which the carbon exists, and since it is bicarbonate ions (not carbonate ions) that are used to form calcium carbonate shells, then we would expect biological pumps to find increased bicarbonate concentration very advantageous. Why should we care what happens to carbonate concentration?

However, the Royal Society’s paper also has this to say:

From our understanding of ocean chemistry and available evidence, it is clear that increasing the acidity of the oceans will reduce the concentration and therefore the availability of carbonate ions. It is expected that calcifying organisms will find it more difficult to produce and maintain their shells and hard structures.

Here also is a classic trick of the illogical argument, the non sequitur. We are being led to believe from these two sentences that the availability of carbonate ions is important to the production and maintenance of shells. As a matter of fact, nearly all the literature teaches (as was found by measuring carbon isotopes) that the biological process of calcification proceeds from the reaction between calcium ions and bicarbonate ions, and there’s no shortage of either of those – in fact bicarbonate strongly increases as more carbon dioxide is introduced. Thus Kleypas et al:

…HCO3- is the preferred substrate for coral photosynthesis (Al-Moghrabi et al., 1996; Goiran et al., 1996; Allemand et al., 1998), coral calcification uses both HCO3- from seawater and metabolic CO2 as sources of carbon (Erez, 1978; Furla et al., 2000)…Biochemical studies fail to provide any evidence that CO32- plays a direct role in coral calcification…Results from several studies indicate that the substrate for calcification in E. huxleyi is HCO3- (cf., Paasche, 2001), which increases under elevated pCO2 conditions…

Even the Royal Society report says as much 12 pages earlier, but you are expected to have forgotten that by now:

two ions of bicarbonate (HCO3-) react with one ion of doubly charged calcium (Ca2+) to form one molecule of CaCO3

This makes the “availability of carbonate ions” a moot point, but you are not supposed to pick up on this false logic. Of course, by removing some dissolved inorganic carbon to form shells, calcifiers are reducing the total alkalinity of the oceans, depositing more carbon dioxide in the oceans, and reducing the pH of the oceans. So what would be evidence that calcifiers were thriving? Reducing pH in the oceans and either a slower uptake from or even an outgassing of CO2 into the atmosphere, i.e. “ocean acidification”!

The reaction mentioned by the Royal Society is written variously, but commonly as follows:

Ca2+ + 2HCO3- <=> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O

Calcifiers use biological pumps to drive the reaction to the right to build calcified shells using the superabundant calcium ions and the abundant bicarbonate ions, liberating dissolved carbon dioxide and water, and thus reducing ocean pH. It is widely assumed that if dissolved CO2 increases in the ocean due to increased atmospheric concentration, it makes it increasingly more difficult for life processes to move the reaction to the right because the equilibrium is shifting adversely. And as dissolved CO2 increases then it must push the reaction to the left, dissolving calcium carbonate along the way. So we are allegedly faced with the spectre of a greater difficulty for organisms in laying down calcium carbonate, coupled with a greater propensity for dissolution of the carbonate they have already produced as shells – a ‘double whammy’.

Yet for the purposes of laying down shell we can pretty much forget about standard reaction kinetics and equilibria because the whole thing is driven by a biological process. Moreover, since CO2 is liberated as part of the calcification process, then the local CO2 concentration at the site of calcification is determined by the calcification process itself practically independent of the very low concentration of dissolved CO2 generally available. Thus Kleypas et al

Most models assume that the calcifying fluid is isolated from external seawater. This is supported by microelectrode observations that show that the pH of the calcifying space is elevated relative to external waters (as high as 9.3) (Al-Horani et al., 2003) and by the well-known fractionation of oxygen and carbon isotopes in the calcifying fluid.

We could also observe that as DIC increases and the concentration of bicarbonate increases, which is the precursor used in the calcification process as above, then biological pumps have an easier time of it. Thus as shown in the quoted articles below, many calcifiers including corals benefit from higher atmospheric concentration of CO2 dissolving in the oceans. Metabolically, they also benefit from increased [H+]. As far as dissolution of shells is concerned, this is a pretty slow process. In living organisms there does not seem to be any detrimental effect because calcium is continually deposited. The main changes that seem to have been measured are slightly faster dissolution of shells after the death of the organism. And who cares about that?

Just as the availability of CO2 on land and in the oceans constrains plant growth, and plants flourish when the concentration is increased, so calcifiers benefit from increased dissolved inorganic carbon, especially in the bicarbonate form, which is the form in which most of the DIC ends up. Thus, Marubini and Thake noted in 1999:

…the present dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) content of the ocean limits coral growth…adding DIC increases coral calcification rates and confers protection…

And Herford et al noted in 2008 that a large projected increase in atmospheric CO2 “will result in about a 15% increase in oceanic HCO3-” which “could stimulate photosynthesis and calcification in a wide variety of hermatypic corals.”

And here comes the classic from the Royal Society:

…the lack of a clear understanding of the mechanisms of calcification and its metabolic or structural function means that it is difficult, at present, to reliably predict the full consequences of CO2-induced ocean acidification on the physiological and ecological fitness of calcifying organisms.

So, let’s consign this report to the waste bin, please, and look at papers by authors who do know what they are talking about. But in this regard, the following assertion given in the Royal Society paper is an outright lie, as inspection of the sources below shows:

Published data on corals, coccolithophores and foraminifera all suggest a reduction in calcification by 5–25% in response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from pre-industrial values (from 280 to 560 ppm CO2)

So, what’s the effect of increasing carbon dioxide in seawater on calcifying organisms? Here are some reported findings:

Wood, Spicer, and Widdicombe (2008) found that increasing dissolved CO2 increases calcification rates and improves the rate of regeneration of damaged body parts [Proc Biol Sci. 2008 August 7]. The following extracts are given at length because of the importance of these findings, which overturn ‘assumptions’ (read, false reasoning and bad science):

…we have investigated the effect of CO2-induced acidification on the ability of a calcifying organism (the ophiuroid brittlestar Amphiura filiformis) to regenerate calcium carbonate structures (arms).

Amphiura filiformis collected from Plymouth Sound, UK, were maintained in sediment cores (five individuals per core) supplied with filtered seawater of the allocated pH (pH modified using CO2). Each pH treatment (8.0, 7.7, 7.3 and 6.8) had four cores (20 individuals per pH)…

One of the most surprising results is that there was no decrease in the total amount of calcium carbonate in individuals exposed to acidified water. Indeed, individuals from lowered pH treatments had a greater percentage of calcium in their regenerated arms than individuals from control treatments, indicating a greater amount of calcium carbonate…In regenerated arms, calcium levels were greater in those organisms exposed to acidified seawater than in those held in untreated seawater. This was true for all three levels of acidified seawater…there was actually an increasing rate of calcification with lowered pH. Calcium carbonate in established arms was also affected by lowered pH. At pH 6.8, calcium levels increased and at pH 7.7 and pH 7.3, calcium levels were equal to the control indicating that A. filiformis actively replaced calcium carbonate lost by dissolution.

Rates of oxygen (O2) uptake (as a measure of metabolic rate), or MO2, were significantly greater at reduced pHs (7.7, 7.3 and 6.8) than in controls (pH 8); However, MO2 was not significantly different between the three lowered pH treatments. Increased rates of physiological processes that require energy are paralleled by an increase in metabolism; this relationship is seen with growth and metabolism here in our results.

Seawater acidification stimulated arm regeneration. After the 40-day exposure, the length of the regenerated arm was greater in acidified treatments than in the controls…This increased rate of growth coincided with increased metabolism. Regeneration was not affected by the number of arms removed, nor was there a significant difference in any of the physiological parameters measured as a result of having two arms regenerating instead of one. The ability to regenerate lost arms faster meant a reduction in the length of time animal function (e.g. burrow ventilation and feeding) was compromised by reduced arm length.

Interestingly, even at high levels of hypercapnia (the 6.8 pH treatment crosses the threshold into acidic water, i.e. pH<7.0) investigated here, no mortality was observed.

These results change the face of predictions for future marine assemblages with respect to ocean acidification. Whereas it was previously assumed that all calcifiers would be unable to construct shells or skeletons, and inevitably succumb to dissolution as carbonate became undersaturated, we now know that this is not the case for every species.

Marubini and Thake (1999)

The addition of 2 mM bicarbonate to aquaria containing tropical ocean water and branches of Porites porites caused a doubling of the skeletal growth rate of the coral. Nitrate or ammonium addition (20 μM) to oligotrophic sea-water caused a significant reduction in coral growth, but when seawater containing the extra bicarbonate was supplemented with combined nitrogen, no depression of the higher growth rate was evident. We infer that (1) the present dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) content of the ocean limits coral growth, (2) this limitation is exacerbated by nitrate and ammonium, and (3) adding DIC increases coral calcification rates and confers protection against nutrient enrichment.

Riebesell (2004):

coccolithophores may benefit from the present increase in atmospheric CO2 and related changes in seawater carbonate chemistry…increasing CO2 availability may improve the overall resource utilization of E. huxleyi and possibly of other fast-growing coccolithophore species…if this provides an ecological advantage for coccolithophores, rising atmospheric CO2 could potentially increase the contribution of calcifying phytoplankton to overall primary production…a moderate increase in CO2 facilitates photosynthetic carbon fixation of some phytoplankton groups…CO2-sensitive taxa, such as the calcifying coccolithophorids, should therefore benefit more from the present increase in atmospheric CO2

Iglesias-Rodriguez et al (2008) confirmed Riebesell findings experimentally, concluding that coccolithophores, which account for a third of all marine calcium carbonate production, flourish and calcify much better at higher levels of CO2:

Here, we present laboratory evidence that calcification and net primary production in the coccolithophore species Emiliania huxleyi are significantly increased by high CO2 partial pressures. Field evidence from the deep ocean is consistent with these laboratory conclusions, indicating that over the past 220 years there has been a 40% increase in average coccolith mass. Our findings show that coccolithophores are already responding and will probably continue to respond to rising atmospheric CO2 partial pressures, which has important implications for biogeochemical modeling of future oceans and climate.

Richardson and Gibbons (2008):

…no observed declines in the abundance of calcifiers with lowering pH have yet been reported…the role of pH in structuring zooplankton communities in the North Sea and further afield at present is tenuous.

Vogt et al (2008), experimenting with atmospheric concentrations up to three times current levels,

…the ecosystem composition, bacterial and phytoplankton abundances and productivity, grazing rates and total grazer abundance and reproduction were not significantly affected by CO2 induced effects.

Gutowska (2008) subjected cuttlefish larvae to CO2 concentrations of 6000 ppm (sixteen times current CO2 concentration), at pH 7.1. Results:

No differences in soft tissue growth performance were measured between cuttlefish incubated at ~4000 and ~6000 ppm CO2 and controls…Standard metabolic rates of cuttlefish exposed acutely to ~6000 ppm CO2 showed no significant increase or decrease over time…there were no significant differences between the mantle lengths of control cuttlefish and those incubated at 6000 ppm CO2…Interestingly, in the ~6000 ppm CO2 growth trial, the CO2 incubated animals incorporated significantly more CaCO3 [calcium carbonate] into their cuttlebones than did the control group…Functional control of the cuttlebones (i.e. buoyancy regulation) did not appear to be negatively affected by low pH conditions.

Herford et al (2008):

A wide range of bicarbonate concentrations was used to monitor the kinetics of bicarbonate (HCO3-) use in both photosynthesis and calcification in two reef-building corals, Porites porites and Acropora sp…additions of NaHCO 3 [bicarbonate is added as the sodium salt because additional sodium ions are ‘lost’ in the sodium ions already present in seawater] to synthetic seawater proportionally increased the calcification rate of this coral until the concentration exceeded three times that of seawater (6 mM). Photosynthetic rates were also stimulated by HCO3- addition…Similar experiments on aquarium-acclimated colonies of Indo-Pacific Acropora sp. showed that calcification and photosynthesis in this coral were enhanced to an even greater extent than P. porites, with calcification continuing to increase above 8 mM HCO3-. Calcification rates of Acropora sp. were also monitored in the dark, and, although these were lower than in the light for a given HCO3- concentration, they still increased dramatically with HCO3- addition…

Chave, K.E., Suess, E., Calcium carbonate saturation in seawater: effects of dissolved organic matter, Limnology and Oceanography 1970, Vol. 15, Issue 4

Gehlen, M., Biogeochemical impacts of ocean acidification – emphasis on carbonate production and dissolution. CIESM workshop: Impacts of acidification on biological, chemical and physical systems in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, Menton, 1 – 4 October 2008.

Gutowska, M.A., Pörtner, H.O. and Melzner, F., Growth and calcification in the cephalopod Sepia officinalis under elevated seawater pCO2. Marine Ecology Progress Series (2008) 373: 303-309.

Herford et al., Bicarbonate stimulation of calcification and photosynthesis in two hermatypic corals, Journal of Phycology, Vol 44 Issue 1, pp. 91 -98 (2008)

Kleypas, J.A., R.A. Feely, V.J. Fabry, C. Langdon, C.L. Sabine, and L.L. Robbins, 2006. Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers: A Guide for Future Research, report of a workshop held 18–20 April 2005, St. Petersburg, FL

Iglesias-Rodriguez, M.D., et al., Phytoplankton Calcification in a High-CO2 World, Science 18 April 2008: 336-340

Irving, L., The carbonic acid-carbonate equilibrium and other weak acids in sea water, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1925

Marubini, F., and Thake, B., Bicarbonate Addition Promotes Coral Growth
Limnology and Oceanography, Vol. 44, No. 3, Part 1 (May, 1999), pp. 716-720

Riebesell, U., Effects of CO2 enrichment on marine phytoplankton. Journal of Oceanography (2004) 60: 719-729.

Richardson, A.J. and Gibbons, M.J., Are jellyfish increasing in response to ocean acidification? Limnology and Oceanography (2008) 53: 2040-2045.

Vogt, M., Steinke, M., Turner, S., Paulino, A., Meyerhofer, M., Riebesell, U., LeQuere, C. and Liss, P., Dynamics of dimethylsulphoniopropionate and dimethylsulphide under different CO2 concentrations during a mesocosm experiment. Biogeosciences (2008) 5: 407-419.

Wangersky, P.J., The control of seawater pH by ion pairing, Limology and Oceanography, Jan 1972.

Wilson, R. W., Millero, F. J., Taylor, J. R., Walsh, P. J., Christensen, V., Jennings, S. M., Grosell, M., Contribution of Fish to the Marine Inorganic Carbon Cycle. Science 16 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5912, pp. 359 – 362

Wood, H.L., Spicer, J.I., and Widdicombe, S., Ocean acidification may increase calcification rates, but at a cost. Proc Biol Sci. 2008 August 7; 275 (1644): 1767–1773.

The Royal Society, Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, 2005

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30 Responses to “Toxic Seawater Fraud”


  1. 1 O. Weinzierl September 18, 2009 at 6:49 am

    “The calcium carbonate (limestone) of dead calcifying organisms dissolves naturally in seawater.” That’s not the case, normally all the shells form carbonate sediments like sandstone and limestone unless they get destroyed mechanically. Carbonate shells only dissolve when the sedimentation depth exceeds 3000-4000m.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    What you say is the common (mis)understanding, but not in reality the case. The paper quoted below confirms that most of the dissolution of calcium carbonate in the oceans occurs at shallow depths. The aragonite and calcite saturation horizons are theoretical constructs that don’t take account of the complex chemistry of seawater, and are thus false models of reality. For example, in the paper Biogeochemical impacts of ocean acidification – emphasis on carbonate production and dissolution [CIESM workshop: Impacts of acidification on biological, chemical and physical systems in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, Menton, 1 – 4 October 2008], Marion Gehlen wrote:

    A careful analysis of the partitioning of dissolution fluxes with depth reveals however that the models fail to capture the large dissolution fluxes occurring between 0 and 2,000 m depth (e.g. Feely et al., 2004). The exact nature of processes behind high dissolution fluxes at shallow depth (and thus above the calcite and aragonite saturation horizon) inferred from the analysis of alkalinity fields and particle fluxes still awaits identification.

    In reality, there is “high dissolution” at shallow depths, which the models can’t reproduce because the mechanism “still awaits identification”. Actually, it’s not so mysterious to those who care to look into the real science: seawater dissolves calcium carbonate at all depths because of the presence of magnesium ions, among other things. The very magnesium that prevents precipitation of calcium carbonate also speeds up its dissolution. Calcium carbonate dissolves at least an order of magnitude faster in seawater than pure water. My figure of 15 times faster is a conservative one: some literature states the figure as 26 times faster. The so-called “ocean acidification” effect is a mere sideshow.

  2. 2 Geoff Larsen September 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    I came upon your web site today and I must congratulate you on putting together a concise & well crafted post on the so called “acidification” of the oceans as a consequence of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    My comment is in relation to the quote you gave from the Royal Society; in particular their conclusion that the dissolving of CO2 in seawater will lead to “decreasing concentrations of the carbonate ion, CO32-“. At first I did not believe such an esteemed society could have printed such a thing so I went and read the document.

    The quote you gave is indeed in Annex 1, A2. Furthermore they include a chart showing concentrations (fractional log) of CO2, bicarbonate ion & carbonate ion-, for pHs in the range 4-11. Indeed carbonate ion concentration will decrease as pH reduces; however did it not occur to the person or persons who wrote this that the pH range in the chart could only be achieved by introducing hydroxonium ions [H3O]+ (to decrease pH) or hydroxyl ions [OH]- (to increase pH)? Thus their conclusion that reduction in pH because of the dissolving of CO2 in seawater will reduce carbonate ion concentration is untrue; the opposite is the case as you so eloquently point out. Their argument is a contrived one; carbonate ion concentrations would indeed decrease if say a large number of tanker loads of hydrochloric acid were tipped into the oceans. This is in essence what their chart is saying.

    Did anyone, to your knowledge, write to the Royal Society pointing out this error? As it is this is out in the blogosphere likely to be used as a source for people who don’t know any better. Personally I prefer to use the term “decreasing alkalinity” to describe the affect on a solution of water of dissolving CO2 in it. Only when the pH drops below 7 (neutral) would I use the term “increasing acidity” but of course this term sounds so much worse than the first term, doesn’t it?

    For those who doubt the reversible reaction in the post above: –

    CO2 + H2O H2CO3 H+ + HCO3- H+ + H+ + CO32-

    Google “Introduction to the biology of marine life” by James L Sumich , John Francis Morrissey” and scroll to p 28.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    Thank you for your encouragement. Another thing worth mentioning, which I did not include in the post, is that the equilibrium reaction between bicarbonate and carbonate moves to the right (increasing carbonate) with increasing temperature. If, therefore (and it’s a big ‘if’), sea temperature rises, this is conducive to formation of more carbonate. This is partly why carbonate precipitates out on submersible pumps undersea, which run warm.

  3. 3 Rationaloptimist September 23, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Thanks! At last some common sense on this subject.
    Can you now tackle the myth that warm oceans mean death to coral reefs? The warmest water on the planet (in the Persian Gulf) has healthy and abundant coral reefs.

  4. 4 Dan Absher September 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I really appreciate this post. I am fairly knowledgable about AGW and the CO2 scam, but until now could not defend a comment about detrimental “ocean acidification”.

  5. 5 richard October 3, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I found this article very informative and would like to pass it on to friends and colleagues. Would you kindly provide the publication references for the studies you cite? I have read similar studies referred by the Idsos at their CO2 Science site. They point out that pH like ocean oscillations, varies naturally. At various times through geological history our oceans have had higher and lower pH values – yet here we are.

    Thank you for the instruction.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    Thank you for your encouragement. The articles cited by the post and in replies to comments are below, with a few others. I have updated the post as well.

    Chave, K.E., Suess, E., Calcium carbonate saturation in seawater: effects of dissolved organic matter, Limnology and Oceanography 1970, Vol. 15, Issue 4

    Gehlen, M., Biogeochemical impacts of ocean acidification – emphasis on carbonate production and dissolution. CIESM workshop: Impacts of acidification on biological, chemical and physical systems in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, Menton, 1 – 4 October 2008.

    Gutowska, M.A., Pörtner, H.O. and Melzner, F., Growth and calcification in the cephalopod Sepia officinalis under elevated seawater pCO2. Marine Ecology Progress Series (2008) 373: 303-309.

    Iglesias-Rodriguez, M.D. et al., Phytoplankton Calcification in a High-CO2 World. Science 18 April 2008: 336-340

    Irving, L., The carbonic acid-carbonate equilibrium and other weak acids in sea water, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1925

    Riebesell, U., Effects of CO2 enrichment on marine phytoplankton. Journal of Oceanography (2004) 60: 719-729.

    Richardson, A.J. and Gibbons, M.J., Are jellyfish increasing in response to ocean acidification? Limnology and Oceanography (2008) 53: 2040-2045.

    Vogt, M., Steinke, M., Turner, S., Paulino, A., Meyerhofer, M., Riebesell, U., LeQuere, C. and Liss, P., Dynamics of dimethylsulphoniopropionate and dimethylsulphide under different CO2 concentrations during a mesocosm experiment. Biogeosciences (2008) 5: 407-419.

    Wangersky, P.J., The control of seawater pH by ion pairing, Limology and Oceanography, Jan 1972.

    Wilson, R. W., Millero, F. J., Taylor, J. R., Walsh, P. J., Christensen, V., Jennings, S. M., Grosell, M., Contribution of Fish to the Marine Inorganic Carbon Cycle. Science 16 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5912, pp. 359 – 362

    Wood, H.L., Spicer, J.I., and Widdicombe, S., Ocean acidification may increase calcification rates, but at a cost. Proc Biol Sci. 2008 August 7; 275 (1644): 1767–1773.

    The Royal Society, Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, 2005

    Though not peer-reviewed, you might like to take a look at Dr J Floor Anthoni’s material at http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm which highlights that all is not well with marine chemistry.

  6. 6 wormthatturned October 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Excellent – I was just going through Floor Anthoni’s site myself bit by bit to get to grips with this and then found your blog after a bit of googling. So I guess they’ve re-written all the chemistry books now to exclude Le Chatelier’s principle ;>)

  7. 7 George Brouxhon October 24, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Your papers are interesting. I am a geologist, now retired, but remember some studies done in Florida coast in the sixties on the effect of diurnal variations of temperature on the precipitation of carbonates in sea water;presumably from bicarbonate solutions.

    If my memory does not fail me, the paper concluded that whenever the temperature of the sea rose, more calcium was precipitated; when the surface temperature cooled at night time more calcium went into solutions. Is that still true today?

    Thank you for your attention to this query,

    Regards

    George Brouxhon

    ScientistForTruth replies

    Thank you for your interest. Geology is not my specialism, but I’m pleased to help if I’m able. Thermodynamically, precipitation of carbonate is favoured by higher temperature and lower pressure, but as I have mentioned, there is little or no abiotic precipitation even though seawater is supersaturated with carbonate. Precipitation of carbonate, whether in shells, ‘blooms’ (whitings) or mud appears to be due to living processes. There is indeed diurnal variation in carbonate precipitation in and around Florida. For example see

    YATES Kimberly K., HALLEY Robert B, Diurnal variation in rates of calcification and carbonate sediment dissolution in Florida Bay, Estuaries and coasts, 2006, vol. 29, no1, pp. 24-39.

    You can download the whole article here

    You might also find the paper by Martina U. E. Merz about carbonate precipitation in the Everglades interesting: The Biology of Carbonate Precipitation by Cyanobacteria. A link to the first page is here

    The summary begins

    In the freshwater areas of the Everglades, Florida, U.S.A., carbonate is precipitated in dense cyanobacterial mats. Precipitation is linked with photosynthesis in the mats in a quantitative relationship.
    On ground of field observations and experiments a model for precipitation in the filamentous cyanobacteria Scytonema is proposed, which links precipitation to bicarbonate use in photosynthesis and subsequent release of OH− ions.

    This leads to a line of enquiry which may interest you as a geologist: the possible production of vast quantities of oil from bacteria. For a long time there was debate about the bloom of calcium carbonate precipitates known as ‘whitings’ that is found around the Bahamas and the Persian Gulf. Some researchers thought it was calcium carbonate mud disturbed by fish, but analysis of radioisotopes (beryllium 7) demonstrated that the carbonate was recently formed, and it seems now to be produced by cyanobacteria. Working on this, Christopher Kendall (Department of Geological Sciences, University of South Carolina) proposed that whitings of the modern Arabian Gulf are the key to the origin of the vast petroleum reserves in the region, and produced a poster, Holocene Cyanobacterial Mats and Lime Muds: Links to Middle East Carbonate Source Rock Potential. The following is the summary:

    Carbonate reservoirs ranging in age from Permian to Tertiary contain most of the 675 Bbbl of Arabian Gulf hydrocarbon reserves. Two major Holocene organic sources serve as probable models: whitings that turn part of the Arabian Gulf milky white; and cyanobacteria forming mats on intertidal areas. The mud and cyanobacteria is quickly sequestered into the sedimentary section in the axial trough of the Gulf and extensive tidal flats that rim it. Short-lived isotopes in the Bahama banks support the instantaneous character of whiting precipitation. Source rock analysis of the Gulf carbonate mud/cyanobacterial deposits demonstrates that these sediments are future source beds for hydrocarbons. 25% of the 1.3 million metric tons precipitated and suspended each year in the Bahamas is organic matter, dropping to 1.8% of the surface sediment. The Bahamian Bank whitings and associated organic matter covering more limited areas is swept off the bank into deep water. Cores through Neogene western platform slope sediments preserve 1% TOC up to 4%. Cyanobacteria may contribute more hydrocarbons than previously thought. Organic matter associated with whiting blooms is believed to be dispersed in the lime muds of the ancient Arabian Gulf section and may have generated large volumes of its oil. Cyanobacterial membranes liquefy at low threshold temperatures. A short time interval burst of oil generation could produce transient overpressures liberating oil by micro fracturing and in some cases long-range migration. Rapid accumulation of large volumes of oil in a short time-span would provide the collective buoyancy necessary to drive large-scale migration. We propose that whitings of the modern Arabian Gulf are the key to the origin of the vast petroleum reserves of this region.

    This builds on the findings of a paper by Collister et al, Modification of the petroleum system concept:Origins of alkanes and isoprenoids in crude oils, AAPG Bulletin, Volume 88, Issue 5, Pages 587 – 611 (2004), which concluded that the contribution of cyanobacteria to petroleum deposits was very much higher than previously thought, and that the whole understanding of petroleum production needs to be re-examined because it can be produced very rapidly from cyanobacteria which are “volumetrically the most important contributors to the crudes”

    Analysis of the alkane/acyclic isoprenoid fraction of a large number of crude oils and rock extracts from the Timan-Pechora basin (Russia) suggest that this fraction, the main constituent of most crude oils, is a direct product of liquefaction of biological debris that was preserved essentially unaltered to the point of oil generation. Therefore, the primary biological provenance of this fraction is preserved in the oil fraction…If the precursors of most oils are the products of a small set of chemically simple biopolymers, then many of our assumptions concerning the importance of total organic carbon and the nature of the oil window must be reexamined.

  8. 8 Ronald Huber October 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Very interesting reading – thanks for the chemistry refresher lesson along the way! I do have a question for your consideration. You wrote:

    “…as the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the concentration in the oceans also increases due to dissolution [true – all other things being equal]. CO2 dissolved in water reacts with water to form carbonic acid, making the seas acidic [a half truth – they become very slightly less alkaline]. This acidity dissolves the shells of marine life causing mass extinction [an utter falsehood].”

    You write about “the concentration in the oceans” and the seas ” become very slightly less alkaline”. Are you considering that the surface microlayer – the air/sea interface – would be more likely to experience reduced pH more than the depths)?

    A great deal of necessary biological activity takes place on both sides of this molecules-thick microlayer zone. Necessary for the larval stages of many fish and shellfish, as well as their prey.

    My question: is it possible for ocean acidification (actually, as you point out: “ocean neutralization”) models to be applied to just this very narrow surface area?

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Life forms will have additional effects on pH: photosynthesizers will tend to increase pH, and life forms grazing on such will tend to reduce pH. With increasing availability of carbon dioxide, it can be expected that photosynthesizers will increase, which may also stimulate increase in grazers and the whole food chain. The effect is analogous to the situation on land where increaing CO2 concentration improves plant growth and robustness.

  9. 9 Phillip November 9, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Didn’t Wood, Spicer, and Widdicombe (2008), find that the increased calcification under lower pH might come at a cost and may not be sustainable? They say this may be due to compromised muscle development.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Wood et al did find lower muscle mass at reduced pH, but the implications of this are speculative and would warrant further study. Their study showed as empirical evidence that lower pH increased the rate of calcification, the rate of regeneration, the length of regenerated arms and the amount of calcium. They do sound the warning that calcification may not be telling the whole story, but that is the fault of studies on “ocean acidification”, such as that by the Royal Society, which have been blinkered in this regard. The authors say “To place the importance of calcification above other factors without empirical evidence leads to false assumptions…” The same can be said for focusing on carbon dioxide as a driver in climate change, which, since it is based on no empirical evidence whatsoever, also leads to false assumptions.

  10. 10 David Shipley January 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Sorry to come to the topic so late, but I wondered if you had noticed that the BBC has shifted its goalposts from catastrophic AGW to catastrophic acidification. Roger Harrabin has realised that he has run out of road on AGW after Climategate, the glacier scandal, and the falsification of IPCC projections on sea levels, so without admitting he has been talking rubbish for the last 5 years, he has simply dropped the subject and taken up a new set of lies.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    I alerted on this in March 2009 as the next scare when the wheels fall off the global warming bandwagon. I said then

    The evidence is inexorably mounting that the climate alarmists have been taking us all for a ride. It is only be a matter of time before their agenda is exposed as one of the biggest con tricks of all time. Thus they are already scrambling to breathe new life into the CO2 emissions scare. It will become obvious (by the passage of years if nothing else) that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not, after all, cause any significant climate change, thus it will be necessary to blame CO2 (and hence man) for some other catastrophic event. So, prepare yourself for the coming “ocean acidification” scam.

    See here:
    Ocean Acidification Scam
    and

    Toxic Seawater Fraud

  11. 11 George February 7, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    In your presentation of the equilibrium reactions of the ocean carbonate system,

    CO2 + H2O <=> H2CO3 <=> H+ + HCO3- <=> H+ + H+ + CO32-,

    you have omitted noting that CO2 and H2O also react with other dissolved species. This is how carbonate ion concentrations (CO32-) can decrease when CO2 is added to seawater even though the equilibrium equation above makes it appear that they would increase. The reaction describing this is

    CO2 + H2O + CO3(2-) <=> 2HCO3 (-).

    Both reactions occur in the modern oceans and result in the combined decrease in pH and carbonate ion concentrations that drive the biological consequences that scientists are concerned about.

    It is also worth noting that the overall conclusions of most of the scientists you cite is that ocean acidification is real, and it will not kill off every last species in the ocean—rather it could harm ones we really need.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Yes, I have effectively mentioned it in the context of the calcifying process

    Ca2+ + 2HCO3- <=> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O

    On the other hand there is only so much one can do in a post, and I have explained that there is a requirement to solve many simultaneous equations to derive absolute concentrations. The reaction between CO2, H2O and carbonate is one of them.

    The remainder of my post shows that a reduction in absolute carbonate concentration is pretty irrelevant because calcification proceeds using bicarbonate (not carbonate), and bicarbonate always increases in concentration, so more available, with increasing dissolved CO2 (until one gets to impossibly low pH).

  12. 12 George February 7, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Two corrections, if I may:
    1) It is incorrect to ‘effectively mention [this reaction] in the context of calcification.’ The calcifying process is biologically facilitated and not spontaneous in today’s oceans. The second equation I listed is spontaneous and occurs on very short time-scales, on the other hand, and directly results in the ongoing decreases in CO3(2-) and pH that are observed in today’s oceans. If one were to actually derive absolute concentrations of carbonate system ions using the simultaneous equations, one would find that as CO2 is added to the system, pH drops AND carbonate ion decreases.

    2) It is true that calcification proceeds using bicarbonate. However, *after* calcium carbonate minerals have been formed, their dissolution is controlled by the presence or absence of calcium and carbonate ions in the surrounding medium. Decreasing carbonate ion concentrations surrounding a calcium carbonate structure encourage dissolution. Organisms like shellfish and corals respond by devoting more energy to laying down CaCO3 material, and thereby are likely to have less energy for other functions, like reproduction. The decrease in carbonate ion concentration is an entirely relevant portion of the ocean acidification story, because it will be responsible for many of the consequences of ocean acidification — it’s not just dropping pH that’s in position to cause problems.

  13. 13 Sleepalot March 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    “Possibly a change of pH of 0.2 units this century, say from 8.2 to 8.0. That would mean by definition that there were still no more than 10% of the ‘acidic’ H+ ions than there are in pure water.”

    Ummm, I’m not a scientist, and I’m struggling to understand that
    sentence. I think it’s the “than”. …. Should it be “that”?

    I’m sorry if I’ve made a mountain out of a typo. :(

    ScientistForTruth replies

    Well, if you don’t understand it you are probably not alone. So I’ve re-phrased it, and hopefully it’s clear now. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  14. 14 Ron Huber March 6, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Dear EB
    Could you comment on a presentation given today March 5, 2010 at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, Rockport Maine? It is entitled “Ocean Acidification and Maine Fishermen”. It is mostly geared toward laypeople, but I would like to get your opinion on the bits of science that do appear throughout the hour long presentation

    I recorded it and have just uploaded it as a podcast
    http://penbay.podomatic.com/entry/2010-03-05T17_58_52-08_00

    “Ocean Acidification and Maine Fishermen” by Brad Warren of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. Mr. Warren is former editor of National fisherman magazine and presently editor of Pacific Fishing. He is “now leading “Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, an industry-driven initiative to protect fisheries from acidification”.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Ron, if you can send a transcript I can look through it in detail and make a few comments against the text of the transcript here, but sitting through a one hour audio taking notes is a bit onerous for me at the moment.

  15. 15 Sleepalot March 6, 2010 at 9:05 am

    So as I understand it fresh water (which is neutral) has 10 times more H+ than “acidified” salt water (which is not acidic, it’s alkaline). Thanks.

  16. 16 Desal guy April 1, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Enlightening discussion. I would even factor in salinity changes due to desalination plants discharging their brine concentrate which is about double the salinity of the ocean feedwater. This increased salinity is denser and does not disperse well and benthic sessile organisms like corals will spend more energy to osmoregulate. Desal plants will only increase with time (double in 10 years if estimates are correct). Desal plants can generate 20 million gallons of saline discharge per day or more.

  17. 17 Ron Huber April 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Scientist For Truth: while I am not willing to transcribe the presenter at the “Ocean Acidification and Maine Fishermen” seminar, I note that the organization involved has summarized its position on ocean acidification at this link:
    http://www.sustainablefish.org/main/productive+oceans+partnership

    It appears to be simply another (fundable) issue for that partnership to win grants on, while not contributing anything new to the discussion.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    Whenever I see the word ‘sustainable’ it rings alarm bells as there is usually a green or Marxist (or both) agenda behind it. I see that this organization works with other so-called environmental groups. On one document I saw “Third party observers from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership monitor compliance on boats”, so they are into monitoring as well.

    The link you gave turned up this propaganda:

    Mainly produced by burning fossil fuels, CO2 emissions now exceed 32 billion tons per year (Manning, IPCC 2007). Every year about a third of this flux of CO2 mixes into the oceans. In seawater the gas forms carbonic acid, reduces ocean pH, and undercuts growth and survival of many plankton, coral, and shellfish species. This weakens marine food webs that sustain many fisheries.

    Firstly, of the total CO2 flux (32 billion tonnes) only a very small proportion is anthropogenic – less than 3 billion tonnes. The assertion that CO2 emissions are mainly by fossil fuels is nonsense, as nearly all the CO2 flux is from natural sources. The ocean liberates and sequesters vast amounts of CO2 to/from the atmosphere (the amount completely swamps any man-made amounts) quite naturally. Even if 30% of anthropogenic emissions find their way into the oceans, that is a mere one billion tonnes CO2 in an ocean weighing over 1 billion billion tonnes of water. So man’s contribution is a mere one part per billion of CO2 per year. Bear in mind that the sea contains vast amounts of dissolved inorganic carbon, and this anthropogenic amount is irrelevant. Once again we have a scare over nothing – completely manufactured.

    Secondly, I note that no references were given to support the assertion that this miniscule anthropogenic contribution of a gas essential for life “undercuts growth and survival of many plankton, coral, and shellfish species. This weakens marine food webs that sustain many fisheries”. That’s just another Green lie.

  18. 18 Doug April 6, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Whether acidification is a major issue or not is one thing but at least we can try to get the chemistry right!!!!

    Unfortunately your chemistry explanation is completely wrong.. and yet you are accusing a lot of people of muddled thinking.

    When CO2 is added to seawater and produces carbonic acid, then pH buffering takes place. Of course this is something that likely 90% of chemistry A-level students would also get wrong but you, in criticising others strongly in public, have a responsibility to check your information carefully.

    the net reaction which results due to changes in pH upon partial dissociation of carbonic acid is

    CO2 + H2O + CO3(2-) produces 2 HCO3-

    naive use of the law of mass action gets you the wrong answer!!

    So.. bicarbonate increases and carbonate ion goes down. It is the carbonate ion that determines whether calcium carbonate shells tend to dissolve or not.

    so adding CO2 to seawater does increase the tendency of carbonate minerals to dissolve.

    So… please check with someone who understands pH buffering reactions and correct your blog accordingly. Better to admit mistakes than lead more people astray. There is likely lots to criticise about ocean acidification but not this!!!

    best regards

    ScientistForTruth responds

    No, you are quite wrong: there is nothing amiss with the chemistry. Moreover, you haven’t specified where the chemistry is wrong, or what explanation is wrong. Sweeping statements are not very helpful. The post does not rely on a simplistic application of the law of mass action, and explicitly states that most of the additional DIC ends up as bicarbonate. Thus I said “Add more CO2 at the left and the reaction proceeds to a greater or lesser extent to the right. Most of the additional carbon ends up as bicarbonate.” There are a whole set of simultaneous equations to be solved to determine the concentration of the various species in seawater for a given level of DIC, and it is certainly not the purpose of this post to give and solve the exact equations. They have been solved and known for over a hundred years. Thus we have, for example, the absolute carbonate concentration:

    [CO3^2-] = DIC/{1 + [H+]/K2* + [H+]^2/K1*K2*}

    Where K1* and K2* are the dissociation constants in the reaction pathway from carbonic acid to bicarbonate, and bicarbonate to carbonate in seawater, and square brackets show absolute concentrations. There are corresponding equations for the dissolved CO2 and bicarbonate species as well.

    One of my points is that playing around with [H+] by tipping in mineral acid while keeping DIC constant is going to do radical things to the carbonate concentration, dramatically reducing it as the denominator increases. Another point is that, by and large, in the real system of increasing DIC the additional H+ ions are coming directly from the DIC dissolution process with water, so as DIC increases we have both numerator and denominator increasing, and it is not obvious which way the carbonate concentration is going to go, whether up or down. Indeed, at around pH = 8 (i.e. ordinary seawater) we have

    [H+]/K2* >> 1 >> [H+]^2/K1*K2*

    and thus, to a first approximation we simply have

    [CO3^2-]/K2* = DIC/[H+]

    The relationship between DIC and pH (thus [H+]) in seawater at pH=8 ([H+] = 10^-8 mol/l) is such that, taking the full equation into account without the first order approximation, we find that in practice there is a slow decline in carbonate with increasing DIC.

    For you to state that “naive use of the law of mass action gets you the wrong answer!!” is quite superfluous: it suggests that I’m using the law of mass action, and so ‘naive’, but neither is the case. It’s pretty obvious that I’m not falling for a simplistic suggestion that the carbonic acid – bicarbonate – carbonate equilibrium reaction is the be all and end all of the matter, else I would not have written (emphasis added): “Of course, the above equation showing the chain of reversible reactions doesn’t specify absolute concentrations. Seawater is a complex system, and whether carbonates increase or decrease in concentration with increasing dissolution of carbon dioxide requires careful analysis… it is not obvious what happens to the absolute concentration of carbonate as more CO2 dissolves…many studies modeling seawater in its usual composition, salinity, temperature and pressure, show some decline in carbonate with increasing dissolved inorganic carbon.” In other words, one can’t rely on the simple reaction chain, but need to consider interactions between all species. I think you will find that what I am saying is the complete opposite to what you are suggesting I’m saying, so your objection is a mere straw man. I’m fully aware that increasing DIC at pH = 8 mainly goes into the bicarbonate species, with a small reduction in carbonate. You state (as though I haven’t) “So.. bicarbonate increases and carbonate ion goes down.” That’s actually what the post states. You might also have gathered this from my comment on the Royal Society’s point:

    “From our understanding of ocean chemistry and available evidence, it is clear that increasing the acidity of the oceans will reduce the concentration and therefore the availability of carbonate ions. It is expected that calcifying organisms will find it more difficult to produce and maintain their shells and hard structures.”

    Here, I didn’t take issue with the first sentence at all. My beef was about the sentence that follows, in a rhetorical device known as the non sequitur, or otherwise in formal logic. As I stated:

    “Here also is a classic trick of the illogical argument, the non sequitur. We are being led to believe from these two sentences that the availability of carbonate ions is important to the production and maintenance of shells.”

    Clearly I’m not taking issue with the first sentence.

    The reaction that you have added, I have anticipated by including one of a class of (carbonate/CO2/H2O) and bicarbonate equilibria, which I described as “written variously, but commonly as follows:Ca2+ + 2HCO3- <=> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O” Take out the calcium from this equation (which happens to be the way the Royal Society frame the argument) and we have your equation. This was also dealt with in comments to the post as well, if you care to look.

    The point is – if you care to read the post more carefully – that the small decline in absolute carbonate concentration with increasing DIC is pretty irrelevant. For a start, there are huge deposits of calcium carbonate in the oceans, which are a source of carbonate to replenish any carbonate ‘used up’ by conversion to bicarbonate; and also because we are only really interested in living organisms. Frankly, who cares if a dead organism dissolves away slightly faster than years ago? A higher level of bicarbonate and a higher availability of hydrogen ions [H+] makes the task of building the shells that much easier. This is stated in the post as follows:

    “We could also observe that as DIC increases and the concentration of bicarbonate increases, which is the precursor used in the calcification process as above, then biological pumps have an easier time of it. Thus as shown in the quoted articles below, many calcifiers including corals benefit from higher atmospheric concentration of CO2 dissolving in the oceans. Metabolically, they also benefit from increased [H+]. As far as dissolution of shells is concerned, this is a pretty slow process. In living organisms there does not seem to be any detrimental effect because calcium is continually deposited. The main changes that seem to have been measured are slightly faster dissolution of shells after the death of the organism. And who cares about that?”

  19. 19 Doug April 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    OK.. your reply above is more or less correct. However the original post was not. These words were there:

    “Thirdly, an increasing concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon (e.g. dissolved carbon dioxide, bicarbonate ions, carbonate ions) makes the process of laying down calcium carbonate in shells efficient.”

    This is not true if carbonate ion concentration goes down.

    “This is because there is a far greater supply of calcium ions (441ppm) in seawater than dissolved inorganic carbon (90ppm) and any increase in dissolved carbon dioxide simply pushes the reactions towards the production of more bicarbonate and carbonate ions.”

    This is not true for the reasons that you explain above.. and that were noted by some others in the discussion.

    But the analysis in your reply above is more accurate.

    You are right to state that the carbon system equations are sometimes difficult to solve so that it is not always obvious what will happen. There is a free program available online which allows these equations to be solved.. it is called CO2SYS (google for it if interested) and it should still run on many (but not all) computers…

    best regards, and thanks for the clarifications!

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Your assertion that my claim “an increasing concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon …makes the process of laying down calcium carbonate in shells efficient” is false is not supported by any references you give, but my statement is. It’s been tested over and over, even to the extent of tipping bicarbonate into aquaria. As the Royal Society paper states: “two ions of bicarbonate (HCO3-) react with one ion of doubly charged calcium (Ca2+) to form one molecule of CaCO3″. The process of calcification doesn’t proceed from carbonate but bicarbonate, and an increase in DIC makes the process efficient despite the small decline in carbonate concentration (which is debatable anyway in the presence of a practically inexhaustible supply of calcium carbonate from dead organisms in the oceans in equilibrium). I should remind you that freshwater calcifiers, which build shells efficiently in truly acidic waters of pH 5.5 or so, do so where the carbonate species concentration due to DIC is vanishingly low compared to that in seawater, but bicarbonate levels are healthy.

    On your other point, you would presumably be happy with the sentence if I removed the words ‘and carbonate’. However, I’m only dealing at that point in the post with the carbonic acid-bicarbonate-carbonate sequence, and NOT absolute concentrations, and the direction of push actually is towards the production of increasing bicarbonate and carbonate. I explicitly state that this does not reflect absolute concentrations: “Of course, the above equation showing the chain of reversible reactions doesn’t specify absolute concentrations…Whilst the relative concentration of CO3 2- (carbonate) with respect to the increasing concentration of HCO3- (bicarbonate) can reduce with increasing dissolved inorganic carbon, it is not obvious what happens to the absolute concentration of carbonate as more CO2 dissolves.” The fact that carbonate does actually end up declining in spite of what might appear from the first equation is a subsequent point made, which is due to other reactions between species making the whole issue complex and not obvious, and then the argument moves to scotch the idea that in any case reducing carbonate with increasing DIC does not impair calcification (which is a point you disagree with). Somehow I have to lead the reader through these points, and can’t overload him with the conclusion right at the start. It’s mighty difficult to write a piece about chemistry without resorting to specialist terms and ideas which the general reader will not understand. You can’t please all the people all the time. I will see whether it can be made more understandable.

  20. 20 Wez May 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I have what could be silly question.

    If AGW is real and raises ocean temps – shouldn’t this rise prevent or slow the absorption of C02 to some extent?

    I guess my question is:
    Is it possible for a warming ocean to absorb enough C02 to create neutralization/acidification in the first place?

    And what concentration levels or pC02 would be needed to overcome a warming ocean to allow C02 absorption.

    I’m sure the answer will depend on concentration levels and temperatures etc… but is this known?

    Thanks.
    BTW: Great page – don’t understand a lot of it yet, but I’m learning.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    It’s certainly not a silly question. As oceans temperatures increase CO2 will outgas, increasing the atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 until a new equilibrium is established. You are right that a warming ocean will reduce the concentration of dissolved CO2, increasing atmospheric CO2. For a stable dissolved CO2 or DIC concentration it is easily possible to plot the curve of atmospheric CO2 vs ocean temperature, or pH vs ocean temperature, though I haven’t seen this done.

  21. 21 Ron Huber May 3, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Kindly brush this question aside if it is off-topic, but, given their different chemistries, are anaerobic organisms’ cell membranes and exoskeletons – anaerobes have been identified up to the crustacean (shrimp) level – similarly impacted by water temperature change and dissolved gases’ concentration changes? A related question: do anaerobes colonize invasively into “dead zone” water environments of reduced or absent free oxygen?

    ScientistForTruth responds

    I think perhaps you mean that some sort of anaerobic metabolism is possible in shrimps – I don’t think they are generally classified as anaerobes though. I don’t have any answers to your questions just now in relation to anaerobic bacteria etc.

  22. 22 Aaron June 21, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Why call it a scam? Who is to gain? Is the idea of having a cleaner planet regardless of the reason is that distressing to you. While I appreciate your scientific argument, (and yes I am still working on understanding parts of your article) I would suggest it will be people such as yourself still denying reality and trying to use scientific arguments to explain why this is not really happening. Science will always have arguments, both of which people will support, but the eradication of human emission of CO2, would be worthwhile at many levels. At some point you have to move from the theoretical to the practical.O. I hope they respond. Even if the IPSO theory is wrong, no damage can be caused to the plant by stopping CO2 emissions. If your theory is wrong…..

    I have sent your observations to IPS

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13796479

    ScientistForTruth responds

    My post has got nothing against aiming for a cleaner planet. I’m not suggesting we should pour toxins into the sea or shouldn’t be careful about the plastics that get discharged therein. As for it being a scam, there is plenty on my other posts to give substance to that. The oceans are being used as the next ground on which to misinform people about carbon emissions. First of all we have had the absurd nonsense about CO2 and global warming. This scare can only last so long before it is realized by the general population that they were conned – when in fact the globe doesn’t warm. So before they get cynical about that there is another scare being hatched to keep the scam going, and that is about a ‘great extinction’ event in the seas. If people think that a few hundred parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is life-giving to all the flora, is going to cause a mass extinction then they really need their brains tested.

    I’m afraid I have to be critical of scientists who are very ill serving the public. For example, in relation to the IPSO report, it is reported on the BBC website that ‘Carbon dioxide levels are now so high, it says, that ways of pulling the gas out of the atmosphere need to be researched urgently…”We have to bring down CO2 emissions to zero within about 20 years,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg told BBC News.’ I’m surprised that anyone making such silly statements can be taken seriously. Hoegh-Guldberg is one of the most crazed of these chicken little, alarmist types who discredits the name of science. I care nothing about his scientific credentials – he is using them to get a platform with the media to spread falsehood.

    In 1999, Hoegh-Guldberg warned that the Great Barrier Reef was under pressure from global warming, and much of it had turned white. When others checked up on him and found that wasn’t the case he said the reef had made a ‘surprising’ recovery.

    In 2006, he warned that “between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland’s great Barrier Reef could die within a month”. When it didn’t he had to admit there had been ‘a minimal impact’.

    In 2007, he warned again that global warming was bleaching the reef. The following year the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network announced that there had been no significant damage to the reef caused by climate change in the four years since its last report, and veteran diver Ben Cropp declared that in 50 years he’d seen none at all.

    Maybe you should check out what this is, the International Programme on the State of the Oceans (IPSO). Anyone can set up a body with a grandiose name and utter absolute nonsense, and the likes of Richard Black at the BBC just pick it up. This is not the output of a scientific body, this is advocacy, and if you look at the co-sponsors of the report you will find the likes of Greenpeace all over it.

    IPSO is the baby of one Dr Alex Rogers, who has done loads of work for UN agencies, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), UN Division of Oceans and Law of the Sea (UN-DOALOS), UN International Seabed Authority (ISA)for GLOBE (a Global Legislators Organization advocacy group for ‘advancing domestic legislation on climate change’), and as he says “I have also worked for other NGOs including the WWF, Greenpeace and the Deep-Sea Conservation Coalition”. He also works for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, an advocacy group who fielded 5 participants on his 27-man consortium. And Rogers is on the steering group (along with Greenpeace) of the DSCC.

    Who, apart from Rogers, are those on ‘IPSO’s unique consortium…including those from the legal, communications and political arenas’? Who were the ’27 participants from 18 organisations in 6 countries [who] produced a grave assessment of current threats’?

    Well, there’s

    Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, and Vice President Globe UK, the Global Legislators Organisation, a pressure group for ‘advancing domestic legislation on climate change’ according to their website.

    Aurelie Spadone, Dan Laffoley, James Oliver, Kristina Gjerde, and Patricio Bernal of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, an advocacy group.

    Kelly Rigg, Executive Director, Global Campaign for Climate Action, former senior campaign director for Greenpeace International during 20 years with the organization.

    Josh Reichert and Karen Sack of the Pew Environment Group, an advocacy group.

    Mirella Von Lindenfels representing IPSO, the organizing advocacy group.

    Conn Nugent of the JM Kaplan Fund, a fund that bankrolls Green advocacy.

    Matt Gianni, Policy Advisor of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), an advocacy group with Greenpeace on the Steering Committee.

    Charlotte Smith, Senior Accounts Director of Communications Inc, which does corporate communications for Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF, the JM Kaplan Fund, IPSO, DSCC, and other Green advocacy groups.

    Derek Tittensor, who works for the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

    Oh my, I’m really impressed by this line up at the IPSO ‘high-level international workshop’! More than half the delegates work for, bankroll or are suppliers to Big Green. This is just an echo chamber for green advocacy groups who have an incestuous relationship in projects like this with politically motivated ‘scientists’ who like to get off on an ego trip and have their views splashed around the media.

    What are the recommendations of this IPSO workshop apart from an immediate deep cut in carbon emissions? All deep green, deep socialism, total world governance by the UN (of course!), I’m afraid. There are no recommendations whatsoever to do with science, they are totally political:

    ‘universal implementation of the precautionary principle by reversing the burden of proof’

    ‘urgent introduction…of effective governance of the High Seas beyond the jurisdiction of individual nations…Such a regime should include powers to levy fines [and] suspend a State’s right to flag vessels…’

    ‘[to] avoid, reduce or at minimum universally and stringently regulate oil, gas, aggregate and mineral extraction’

    Imagine a world with no oil, gas, aggregate or mineral extraction, and with shipping suspended, and nothing ever being able to be done because the burden of proof is reversed under universal precautionary principle. The end of civilization, a world where billions die in poverty and starvation. This is a world where mankind has no environmental impact, because mankind will have done the planet a favour and exterminated itself, except for those who are servants and clients of the UN. Welcome to the Green paradise.

    These prophets of doom, such as Hoegh-Guldberg, are nothing but liars who have another agenda than promoting honest science. Your statement that I’m in a class of “still denying reality” is an arrogant or misinformed falsehood. What kind of ‘reality’ do you think I’m denying? I’m against all the spin and lies and propaganda. I wonder what you think reality is.

    I disagree with your comment ‘no damage can be caused to the plan[e]t by stopping CO2 emissions’ because it proceeds on the assumption that ‘the planet’ doesn’t include mankind. Nice one. Why otherwise talk about ‘the planet’ rather than ‘the world’? Well, I’m sorry to disabuse you, but mankind is the most important thing in this world and on this planet, and it is to be inhabited by man that this planet exists. Mankind have vastly improved the environment, making it able to support more and more humans, with mining, manufacturing and farming, producing roads, railways, shipping, aircraft, spaceships, bridges, architecture, objects of beauty, literature, music etc. The whole thing has been grotesquely inverted these days, as if the earth exists for its own sake, and man is some king of parasite upon it, spoiling it. No, although there is undoubtedly some spoiling, the changes man is accomplishing in the earth are on the whole a vast improvement over it being a chaotic wilderness. Take ‘the world’ and annihilate mankind, and all you are left with is ‘the planet’. Surely only a man-hating, God-hating, self-loathing Philistine could think that an improvement.

    As I see it, there would be huge damage done by reducing CO2 emissions any time soon, upon which billions of people rely. There is not the slightest possibility in the near future to be able to sustain the world’s population without carbon emissions, and to be ‘stopping CO2 emissions’ as you and Professor Hoegh-Guldberg espouse would wipe out hundreds of millions of people, and very quickly.

    I am not so wedded to fossil fuels in perpetuity for electricity generation however, and have long seen the benefit of a massive roll out of nuclear power – in fact, most of our electricity generation should, in my opinion, be nuclear-based. But I note that many ‘environmentalists’ are opposed to nuclear as well, so they really seem to be against the earth supporting a growing population. There is a place for hydroelectric, but that will never satisfy anything but a tiny percentage of the world’s needs. Wind power and solar power are nothing but a sick joke, the playthings of wealthy armchair environmentalists who can afford to pay ten times the price per unit of electricity (whether directly or by loading everyone else’s fuel bills) while everyone else goes without, and can actually die off or languish in poverty. It’s a classic Malthusian tactic and hateful to humanity.

  23. 23 Robin June 22, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Right on!
    It’s not the CO2,
    it’s the sulfur compounds from ship’s bunker fuel, if it’s not in relation to the solar sun spot cycle, which is a cycle of solar heliosphere; see “Thunderbolts of the Gods” the movie over at Google video.
    The fear mongers, remember, run around like a flock of chickens scared of shadows from above. Given their evil deeds, I think that may be healthy for them.

  24. 24 Robert Huber June 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I teach water quality in an aquaculture technician program at a junior college. One of the experiments we do is to exhale through a straw into distilled water, freshwater, and seawater, and watch the color change of the pH indicator. The results are what would be expected and help elucidate the equilibrium reactions. Seawater, unsurprisingly, is quite resistant (buffered) to pH change from respiration, and this is at carbon dioxide concentrations many times higher that in the atmosphere. Not only is there a huge carbonate sink in the ocean, but it is constantly replenished by terrestrial water flowing over carbonate rocks. Your analysis of carbonate chemistry is correct and revealing of the misinformation being used to scare us all. The two-dimensional “ozone hole” was disproved by 3-D data from a European satellite in the mid-90s, but the controlled press continues to dutifully report it year after year, much like ocean “acidification.”

    I’d like to make a few other comments. One is that aerobic aquatic life is sensitive to dissolved carbon dioxide, and most invertebrates and fish will die quickly at 50 ppm. The small changes theoretically due to carbon dioxide dissolving in seawater (the warmer the water, the less soluble it is), are less than the changes that happen on a regular basis as students clean and fill saltwater aquaria, and the fish survive just fine. Another comment is that shrimp are sensitive to D.O. depletion and one of the challenges of culturing them is keeping the dissolved oxygen levels high enough to keep them alive–no anaerobic metabolism at all.

    There is no question we are destroying the oceans and life on earth through pollution, resource mining, atmospheric manipulation and war–depleted uranium dust anyone?–but carbon dioxide is so low on the threat scale as to be laughably small.
    Thank you for your analysis. I will use it in my class.

    Robert Huber

  25. 25 richard rogacki June 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Bravo ScientistForTruth! I loved your rebuttal to Aaron so much I’m going to plagarise it shamelessly every chance I get (with your permission). If you’re ever in Canada, please call me, there are a whole lot of people who would want to hear your views (and won’t report you to IPS).

  26. 26 hybridrogue1 June 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Regardless of “Acidification,” are you actually trying to convince me that the Oceans and planet are just fine? That everything is honky dory?
    Just asking…
    ww

    ScientistForTruth replies

    If you could define your terms I would be able to attempt a useful answer.

    What do you mean by ‘just fine’ and on what basis would you like me to judge it?

    What do you define as Oceans, with a capital ‘O’? Is that different from ‘the oceans’? Why do IPSO keep referring to Ocean with a capital ‘O’?

    What do you define as ‘the planet’ – does this include all animal life, does it include all humans, does it include human knowledge, does it include art and music and literature?

    If the earth could support double the population, and we doubled the rate of loss of biodiversity, would that be a price worth paying? Alternatively, if we lost half the world’s population to halve the loss of biodiversity, would that be a price worth paying?

    Ultimately, you are going to have to make a value judgment, and you are never going to get that from science. Science may be able to tell ‘how’, but it can never tell ‘why’. Science may be able to tell what ‘is’, but it can never tell what ‘ought’. If you want an answer to a religious and ethical question, you won’t find it in natural science.

    For example, the Judaeo-Christian view of why this earth is here is neatly summed up in the Book of Isaiah from over two and a half thousand years ago:

    Isaiah 45:12, 18 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded…For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

    i.e. the earth primarily exists for mankind, so that presupposition will colour every value judgment made about ‘the planet’. Other presuppositions will arrive at different judgments.

  27. 27 wormthatturned July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    John Cook’s ‘not-so-skeptical’ science website is running an 18 part hit piece on ocean acidification. If you have time it would be interesting to hear your take on what they are saying. Cheers.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Mackie_OA_not_OK_post_0.html

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Well, it’s very difficult to see what they are saying. I’ve read up to the 12th installment (which is currently the latest) and nothing is said that’s not in standard texts. Having accepted that it is bicarbonate that is useful for making shells (not carbonate) and that making shells liberates CO2 the authors were saying that they would be dealing with why dissolution of CO2 is such a bad thing, but they have not addressed it yet. There is talk of reaction coefficients, which is fine, and also speciation of DIC at varying pH, which however did not address the fact of the increase in DIC with increasing dissolution of CO2 from the atmosphere since the speciation graph assumes constant DIC.

    But so far all the talk has been about inorganic chemistry and not biochemistry. Biological pumps work to sustain life, and so far all I’m seeing in the series is what might happen to the shells of dead organisms, which is not very interesting. What does it matter if biological pumps have to work a bit harder if the environment they are in (higher access to protons) enables them to work more efficiently?

    A few months ago I was in Ecuador. Quito, the capital, is at 10,000ft and one gets very short of breath, though the locals have adapted to it. Here the relative concentration between oxygen and nitrogen is the same as at sea level, but the absolute concentration of oxygen is lower. Oxygen is necessary to enable me to breathe oxygen. Now, if the absolute concentration of oxygen was the same at 10,000ft as at sea level then the relative concentration would have to change significantly. Likewise, for the Quito resident coming down to sea level, he could easily tolerate a much lower relative concentration of oxygen provided the absolute concentration of oxygen is held the same. We find that, to keep them from passing out, the relative concentration of oxygen actually needs to be varied for deep sea divers and high flying fighter pilots because of the relationship between pressure and absolute concentration.

    My point is that arguing on the basis of reaction thermodynamics based on relative concentrations of DIC species in the presence of absolute values of protons and in living organisms is a fool’s errand. It is not a matter of trotting out inorganic chemistry kinetics, which is practically irrelevant in considering biology. Neither am I interested in the dissolution rate of the carbonate shells of dead organisms for which alone the inorganic chemistry argument on Cook’s site is relevant.

  28. 28 Doug Mackie August 28, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Hello, I am Doug Mackie – one of the authors of the OA not OK series that ran at Skeptical Science. I do hope you have learned more about ocean acidification now that the series is finished. Please drop into Skeptical Science if you have any questions as it is not likely I will return here. (Oh and I am not the Doug who previously commented in this thread).

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Doug, your articles are OK so far as they go, but there is no consistent argument drawing the whole together. I’ve read them all and at the end, having seen nothing new from what is already well known, have to say ‘so what?’ You haven’t established that a very slow and very small reduction in pH over many generations of organisms is a cause for concern. It’s clear that a lower pH causes faster dissolution of the shells of dead organisms, but who cares about that? Slightly lower pH can’t be deleterious to living organisms with shells per se otherwise we would never see (as we do) freshwater oysters and mussels etc thriving at pH 5 or below (i.e. 1000 times more ‘acidic’ than the sea). I suggest you pay attention to biology rather more than lifeless inorganic chemistry.

    As for John Cook’s website, it is neither sceptical nor scientific. He selectively culls a load of half truths and, like your own contribution (though this is not a criticism of your work), a bunch of ceteris paribus arguments to take in gullible readers on the basis that marshalling such things will give the appearance of strength. But that’s not science or proper scepticism. Then of course, John Cook is being amply rewarded by those who have an agenda to push, as he himself does.

    Another thing, I’m really disappointed to see that John Cook once studied physics. In my experience, those with a physics background see straight through this climate alarmism nonsense as extremely rubbish science. We can see that the modelling and the approximations used by climate scientists, and their arguments, are, frankly, a heap of junk. Physicists see glaring errors in the work of climate science. Even on the most basic level, for example the ‘calculated’ average temperature of the earth without greenhouse gasses, supposedly around -16degC, is hopelessly wrong because climate scientists don’t do a proper element analysis and integrate properly. Obviously they are seriously challenged when it comes to mathematics, and so rely on fallacious approximations.

    Physicist Lubos Motl says it better than I can:

    All opinions that the climate change is dangerous, man-made, or even relevant for policymaking are based on the irrational attitude, cherry-picking, intimidation, censorship, and the general sloppiness of the kind that Mr Cook has shown us once again.

    and

    …despite his complete incompetence when it comes to science, he is actually being paid by the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland…[and] he was recently hired by alarmist U.S. politicians (not scientists, politicians) to optimize their shameful climate fearmongering. To make things worse, he is a contender to win the Australian Museum Eureka Prize which includes $240,000 for the winners. These folks would deserve a few years in prison just for the contamination of Archimedes’ famous trademark.

  29. 29 Billy Liar October 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Brilliant!

  30. 30 wormthatturned February 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for the reply to my earlier post. Thought you might be interested in this 19 Feb BBC article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17088154 which looks at biodiversity loss along CO2 gradients near volcanic vents. The following text “What’s strange is that we see some organisms really upregulate their physiology to try to cope with conditions- they grow faster.But it’s like us pantingfor oxygen at high altitude- they’re struggling.”. Seems an interesting spin on things. No link to a paper though to confirm exactly what was discovered rather than the BBC version!


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