Great Barrier Reef undead

Great Barrier Reef

UNESCO: “The Great Barrier Reef is not in danger.” (2015)

In a welcome change, the Guardian takes a non-alarmist stance on a climate change topic. It was persuaded by marine scientists to disagree with an obituary for the Great Barrier Reef published earlier this month. I’ve never before known the Guardian to spare our feelings or understate the growing perils of climate change. Continue Reading →

Letters to the Editor

The Soda Water scare

quill pen

To the Editor
Climate Conversation

22nd May 2012

The climatists have a new alarm – the soda water scare.

We are told that the oceans, which weigh 300 times more than all the gases in the atmosphere, are being turned acidic by the 0.0012% (12 parts per million) of man-made additions to the carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere.

CO2 is a natural gas that dissolves in water. The amount absorbed depends upon how much CO2 there is in the air, and the temperature of the water. CO2 dissolves best in cold water and is expelled as the water warms. And far more would be absorbed if there was 100% CO2 in the atmosphere above.

When concentrated CO2 gas is bubbled under high pressure into ice-cold water much CO2 dissolves, producing acidic soda water whose pH (acidity) could be as low as 4. This is 1,000 times more acidic than pure water whose pH is a neutral 7.

But oceans are much warmer than that and atmospheric CO2 is at much lower pressure. Therefore in the open ocean, pH seldom gets below 8, ten times more alkaline than pure water.

This weak soda water could only be described as “acidic” by someone pushing an alarmist agenda. Continue Reading →

Ocean acidification and then what?

shellfish

The School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland hosted a lecture by Assoc-Prof. Mary A. Sewell, of the School of Biological Sciences, on “Ocean Acidification: Integrating chemistry and marine biology and what it means for you.
 
Our friend Roger Dewhurst, engineering geologist and founding member of the NZ Climate Science Coalition, went along and paid close attention. Then he sent Mary Sewell the following entertaining and informative letter, which he kindly shares with us to provoke conversation.

Past is key to future; CO2 ruined nothing before; there’s no evidence of ruin to come; alarming climate predictions are inconsistent and unconvincing.
Roger Dewhurst writes:

Thanks for an interesting seminar.

Demonstrating that the appendages of a larval echinoderm tend to be stunted when the little beastie is grown in soda water is one thing. To extrapolate that to an absence of oysters, mussels and scallops on the dinner table next year is, in my view, stretching things a little too far. I was reminded of Al Gore’s polar bear on an iceberg!

When I was at Victoria University in the 1960s science was divorced from politics, and zoology, botany and geology were separate subjects. Now zoology and botany are lumped together as biology, and geology has been lumped in with geography as earth science and includes — would you believe it — a strand called ‘feminist geography’. I suppose that feminist mathematics is next in the pipeline. Sic transit gloria [“thus fades the glory of the world” – RT].

I suspect, on the basis of opinions from two universities, that no science student will get a decent degree now without paying obeisance to anthropogenic global warming and its apostles, ‘Piltdown’ Mann and his gang who, I presume, you know as ‘The Team’. This is not science as I know it but the ‘science’ of Lysenko. Continue Reading →

Science unsettled: shells thrive on ‘acidification’

The science is never settled. Only we are settled. What we knew for certain last week, last year or even for half a life might need reforming today.

Over the last ten years or so, as the heat faded from the warming dimension of climate change, so alarm was raised about the dire effects of ocean “acidification”. The mainstream media began to describe the appalling effects on sea life, especially creatures with exoskeletons, of the increasingly “acid” waters being created by higher and higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

Coral reefs were doomed, many even now were “suffering” and all were in peril of destruction if we continued “spewing” huge quantities of CO2 into the air. Crabs, crayfish, shellfish of all kinds, plankton and krill were all at risk, and their decline spelt doom for the higher creatures in the sea, even unto man himself, who eats them.

Conch shells

The conch shell at left was exposed to current CO2 levels; the shell at right was exposed to the highest levels in the study. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Now, published in the December 1 issue of Geology, comes a remarkable—and remarkably courageous—study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that shows many denizens of the oceans benefit hugely from that increased CO2. Did you predict that?

The study makes it clear that many forms of oceanic life are disadvantaged to some degree by increased acidification, but this message is very different from the hitherto confident, ceaseless prognostications of universal doom proceeding from the pens of the alarmists. The scientists are calling for more detailed studies to be done, because there is so much to learn.

Anthony Watts, over at WUWT (hat-tip to Anthony), puts it succinctly:

And some thought ocean acidification would destroy everything.

Here’s how the media release from WHOI begins:

In a striking finding that raises new questions about carbon dioxide’s impact on marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists report that some shell-building creatures—such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters—unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

Sorry, but I guess the paper itself is behind a pay-wall; there’s no link I can find at WHOI.

Twisting words bends nature out of shape

A NZ Herald headline today blares “Oceans’ acidity threatening coral and mussel survival”, making us imagine reefs and shellfish beginning to fight for their lives. The article begins:

Rising carbon dioxide levels are increasing acidity in the oceans faster than scientists thought, posing a greater threat to shell-forming creatures such as coral and mussels.

An eight-year project in the Pacific has found that rising marine acid levels will challenge many organisms, because their shell-making chemistry is critically dependent on a less acidic, more alkaline environment.

The study monitored seawater pH levels at the northeast Pacific island of Tatoosh off Washington state in the United States.

Notice how the scope of this alarmist item contracts dramatically from “oceans” in the headline, to “the Pacific” in the second paragraph, to “an island” in the third paragraph. That’s an important point: the scientists haven’t been studying the whole ocean, just one bit of it.

If a scientist claims to know what is happening in the whole ocean after studying a single island, should we award him a medal or just smile politely and agree to humour him? Continue Reading →