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One vulnerable coral type adapts to ocean acidification in just 6 months

cold water coral image

Credit: S. Ross et al., UNCW

We already know that pH varies naturally across the oceans of the world. In some sites, it varies more in a single day than global oceans are likely to face in a century.

But cold water corals live in deep water, are slow growing, and hard to study.

Six years ago, experts in cold water corals were telling us how they would be likely to fall victim to ocean acidification first, and that they believed this for good reasons but with little experimental data. But about a year ago data came out (by one of those same experts) showing that rather than being the badly affected, cold water corals adapted to effectively very high levels of CO2 and possibly even increased their calcification rates. Eight days after the pH was changed suddenly, the corals did worse. But when the experiment was continued for six months, the results turned right around. The researchers pointed out how useful longer studies are: “This is the first evidence of successful acclimation in a coral species to ocean acidification, emphasizing the general need for long-term incubations”. The paper is called “Acclimation to ocean acidification during long-term CO2 exposure in the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa.The pH fell as low as 7.75 in the long term study (from the normal pH of about 8.1).

It’s highly unlikely the atmospheric levels of CO2 will reach 1,000 ppm in the next couple of centuries, but if they did, it appears that at least one major and widespread species of cold water coral can adapt within six months. Co2 feeds plant life above the water, and atmospheric levels were much higher during the time that corals evolved. That doesn’t guarantee anything, but suggests scientists could have been more cautious in predicting a disaster when they didn’t have the data.

cold water corals and ocean acidification

In short term studies the growth of a major cold water coral slows as CO2 levels rise

The results:

In 6 month studies, even very high levels of CO2 were not detrimental to cold water corals. Indeed the corals appeared to grow faster.

In 2006 experts thought Cold Water Corals would be some of the first to suffer

There were reasons to fear for the corals of the deep cold depths. It was thought they were particularly sensitive to acidification, so much so, one researchers suggested they could disintegrate like “chalk in acid”… De Speigel 2006.

“Cold-water corals could be the first organisms to fall victim to the acidification of the oceans,” says [Ulf] Riebesell, whose dire prediction is supported by a study that appeared earlier this week in the professional journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment – a publication of the Ecological Society of America. In the study (link is in PDF format), experts working with John Guinotte at the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Bellevue, Washington report that 70 percent of the current habitat of coral branches may no longer be suitable for these organisms by as early as the end of this century.

“Imagine dripping hydrochloric acid onto chalk,” says André Freiwald of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, one of the co-authors of the study. “The chalk would disintegrate immediately; the corals could face a similar fate.”

Lophelia and its relatives form their skeletons from aragonite, a mineral form of calcium carbonate. But aragonite is highly soluble and very sensitive to changes in pH levels. The problem for cold-water corals is that it is precisely in their habitat — deep, cold seawater — where high pressure and low temperatures already make the water more acidic than it is closer to the surface.

Note that Ulf Riebesell was one of the researchers interviewed in that de Speigel article in 2006 to raise awareness of potential problems with cold water corals.

Caveats: It’s just one coral type (though a widespread and “at risk” one). Other corals may react differently. Warmer water (if that happens) may also have an effect — increasing the need for food (as the corals grow faster). But presumably increasing coral growth would remove extra carbonic acid and bicarbonate, acting as yet another negative feedback.

It’s noteworthy that normally the Great Barrier Reef varies by 8 or 9 degrees along it’s full length from summer to winter.

The real threat to reefs is more likely to be trawling or overfishing.

Abstract

Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since preindustrial times due to the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 and is projected to rise by another 120% before 2100 if CO2 emissions continue at current rates. Ocean acidification is expected to have wide-ranging impacts on marine life, including reduced growth and net erosion of coral reefs. Our present understanding of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine life, however, relies heavily on results from short-term CO2 perturbation studies.

Here we present results from the first long-term CO2 perturbation study on the dominant reef-building cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa and relate them to results from a short-term study to compare the effect of exposure time on the coral’s responses. Short-term (one week) high CO2 exposure resulted in a decline of calcification by 26-29% for a pH decrease of 0.1 units and net dissolution of calcium carbonate.

In contrast, L. pertusa was capable to acclimate to acidified conditions in long-term (six months) incubations, leading to even slightly enhanced rates of calcification. Net growth is sustained even in waters sub-saturated with respect to aragonite. Acclimation to seawater acidification did not cause a measurable increase in metabolic rates. This is the first evidence of successful acclimation in a coral species to ocean acidification, emphasizing the general need for long-term incubations in ocean acidification research. To conclude on the sensitivity of cold-water coral reefs to future ocean acidification further ecophysiological studies are necessary which should also encompass the role of food availability and rising temperatures.

If this study tells us anything for sure, it’s that we don’t know a lot about marine life. The corals considered to be the “most vulnerable” turned out to not decalcify at all under more acidic conditions.

World Climate Report wrote about this in March 2012. Willis Eschenbach discussed in on WUWT.

Other posts on  Ocean Acidification

REFERENCES

Form, Armin U. and Ulf Riebesell, “Acclimation to ocean acidification during long-term CO2 exposure in the cold-water coral Lophela pertusa,” Global Change Biology, 18, 843-853, 2012.[ abstract]

 

H/t   NIPICC

 

UPDATE: Many commenters rightly point out that “Ocean Acidification” is a hyperbolic term, not in keeping with accurate scientific descriptions. They are correct, but search engines look for keywords, and no one is searching for “reduced alkalinity”. Hence I chose to use the common term so this post will turn up in common searches. Obviously the oceans are not acidic, not likely to become acidic, and the term is misleading.

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131 comments to One vulnerable coral type adapts to ocean acidification in just 6 months

  • #
    Charles

    The claim that increased CO2 in the atmosphere could acidify sea water is outrageously stupid. Just as one molecule among another 2500 cannot affect the properties of the majority without increasing its number, nor can changing he composition of water by changing 1 molecule in 9400 or so will change the pH to any detectable difference.

    What most of the scientists who are on this frolic don’t get (apart from pretty much everything) is that every time they make one of these daffy claims, they breach the theory of general relativity. Just as no-one can claim to hear a penny bunger go off 25 km away, neither can the RELATIVE amount of CO2 in the atmosphere have enough properties to affect it via the retention of radiation, or change the pH characteristics of water, to make any noticeable differences.

    When someone buys the $5 calculator and does the mathematics on these over the top claims, there is going to be a lot of scraping of egg off faces.


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    • #
      ian hilliar

      But Charles, in this day and age, when homeopathy is taught as a science, are you really that surprised? And I think it has probably become politically incorrect to call any belief “stupid”, hence the whole global warming circus.


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      • #
        Otter

        I have a belief that most pro-agw laypersons are stupid, so the PC crowd should have nothing to say on the matter.


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      • #
        Winston

        Ian, by way of an illustrative anecdote following on from your homeopathy observation,

        I once briefly dated a speech therapist, who should know better (but alas!) I might add, who joined some other friends, all in paramedical sciences, for a drink one Saturday p.m, when the topic of conversation turned to the merits of iridology. Without in any way denigrating their belief system, which was roundly and unquestioningly enthusiastic, I suggested that the best way to determine whether it was a valid scientific approach to diagnosis was to subject it to a double blind and randomized trial in accordance with proper scientific method.

        Now you would have thought that reputedly intelligent and well educated people could grasp this concept of objectivity and empiricism. But no, you would think I just raped the host’s mother and then slit the throat af the family’s pet rabbit for good measure such was the venom and outrage that I could espouse such heresy in mixed company, at which point I was actually asked to leave, in spite of having couched the comments in an entirely innocuous and non- judgmental manner. So, nothing does surprise when it comes to the post-modern interpretations of “science” by those who claim to be aligned to it. I’ll guarantee you that they are all CAGW acolytes, to a man! Nothing surer.


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        • #
          bananabender

          Health “sciences” are, unfortunately, mostly devoid of actual hard science.

          I had a female who was a University Medallist in exercise science. She believed in “meridians” of energy coursing througout the body.


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  • #
    Peter Miller

    If there is one subject which has me spitting nails, it is the supposed acidification of the oceans by CO2.

    1. CO2 dissolved in water creates carbonic acid; in its strongest form it is most commonly known as soda water or club soda depending on where you live and the weakest acid known to man. This normally contains around 5,000ppm CO2 and has a pH of ~3.5. Sea water currently has an average CO2 content (and yes, I know all about the bicarbonate ion effects) of ~109ppm, or ~2% of that of soda water. And yes, I know CO2 is initially concentrated in the upper few hundred metres of the oceans, but over a period of a few decades it is circulated throughout the ocean deeps.

    2. The maths show the overall CO2 acidification factor is miniscule and therefore irrelevant:

    a) Volume of oceans: 1.37 billion square kms, 1.37 billion billion tonnes
    b) Tonnage of CO2 estimated to be absorbed by the oceans annually: 40% (estimates vary between 25 and 50%) of 35 billion tonnes (current estimate of CO2 production from man’s activities) = 14 billion tonnes per year.

    Therfore increase in CO2 content of oceans per year = 14/1.37 billion, or 0.01 parts per million
    Therefore the increase in the CO2 content of the oceans per century = 1.0 parts per million

    So just how much CO2 is there currently in the oceans? I could not find a direct reference to this – Hmm, I wonder why? However, there is a general concensus there is about 50 times more CO2 in the oceans than there is in the atmosphere.

    There are currently around 3.04 trillion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere (590ppm by weight (390ppm by volume)) and the atmosphere has a mass of 5,150 trillion tonnes.

    So that makes approximately 150 trillion tonnes of CO2 (~109ppm) in the oceans. Man’s efforts are increasing this amount of CO2 by 14/150,000 (14 billion/150 trillion), or just under 0.01% per year, or 1.00% per century.

    1.0% increase of CO2 in the oceans per century, now that is a really scary number!!!

    Of course, when you see this typical type of alarmist comment used as an analogy, you just know the BSometer is deep in the red danger zone.

    “Imagine dripping hydrochloric acid onto chalk,” says André Freiwald of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, one of the co-authors of the study. “The chalk would disintegrate immediately; the corals could face a similar fate.”

    But where the BSometer goes beyond red, is when these two factors are deliberately ignored by alarmist commentators:

    a) The local fluctuations in ocean pH over a year comfortably exceed anything which is likely to happen in man made ‘ocean acidification’ over the next century, and

    ii) As this post indicates, life adapts. A good comparison here is for an individual moving from Perth to Melbourne and having to adapt to the change of climate between the two cities.


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    • #
      Peter Miller

      Oops

      The volume of the oceans ia 1.37 billion cubic kms, not square kms.


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    • #
      Nice One

      life adapts

      Or becomes extinct.

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6072/1058.abstract

      We review events exhibiting evidence for elevated atmospheric CO2, global warming, and ocean acidification over the past ~300 million years of Earth’s history, some with contemporaneous extinction or evolutionary turnover among marine calcifiers. Although similarities exist, no past event perfectly parallels future projections in terms of disrupting the balance of ocean carbonate chemistry—a consequence of the unprecedented rapidity of CO2 release currently taking place.


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      • #
        Peter Miller

        Your article is behind a paywall and I am unwilling to pay the fee in order to slice and dice its contents.

        Life adapts, or dies, is true.

        However, with the greatest of respect, I cannot see too many marine species becoming extinct if the CO2 content of the oceans increases by around 1.0% over the coming century.

        Ocean acidification is a stupid, unsubstantiated, typical alarmist scare story.

        In the unlikely event the oceans are acidifying, then look to the obviously more logical causes, such as: i) the tens of millions of tonnes of sulphuric acid we pump into the atmosphere every year, ii) the nitrates we use in agriculture, or iii) what ultimately happens to the hundreds of millions of tonnes of human and animal waste products we create every year.


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        • #
          Nice One

          However, with the greatest of respect, I cannot see too many marine species becoming extinct

          With the equivalent respect, I’ll take heed from those experts in the field rather than a stranger on the internet who’s expertise on the subject is questionable.

          In the unlikely event the oceans are acidifying

          Please do let us all know when you publish your methods in a peer-reviewed journal and over turn all current scientific knowledge about the state of ocean ph levels. That also include Jo Nova’s paper listed above that says:

          “Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since preindustrial times due to the uptake of anthropogenic CO2″

          [Please clearly identify yourself along with your published material before you criticize.] ED


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          • #
            Peter Miller

            As a real scientist, I would be embarrassed to publish research papers in the pal-reviewed journals so beloved by members of the Global Waming Industry.

            Question: Whose techniques and records are considered reliable to have measured global ocean acidity in pre-industrial times?

            I am just a practicing geologist in the private sector who passionately hates the bad science routinely purveyed by members of the CAGW cult.

            So, when the mood takes, and when slicing and dicing is required, I like to do just that.

            The subject of ocean acidification over the past 150 years does not stand up to any scrutiny as I demonstrated earlier, it is just an alarmist fantasy – no more, no less.


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          • #
            KinkyKeith

            Lets be nice about this.

            There are many people who come to this site, having spent several months being indoctrinated at the University of Skeptical Science. BS (SkS).

            We can advise that you not take anything you read there too seriously as it receives its syllabus directly from the University of East Anglia.

            You are further advised that the best degrees to equip you in your quest for climate knowledge are pure science or engineering and that it is absolutely essential to avoid any degree with the words “environment” or “sustainability” in the title.

            KK :)


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          • #
            Nice One

            Lucky then you’re not a real scientist publishing in “pal-review” journals.

            The subject of ocean acidification over the past 150 years does not stand up to any scrutiny as I demonstrated earlier

            All you demonstrated was you’re own inability to understand the chemical process causing Ocean Acidification. Instead you decided to make you’re own crude estimation based purely on mass.

            The obvious problem ANY decent scientist would notice is that the chemical interaction will occur at the surface and will only involve a small fraction of the volume of the oceaen.

            You demonstrated so well why the average Joe has no friggen idea what they are saying, instead just making your own crap up to justify your own notion instead of accepting mainstream science that shows that Ocean Acidification will have a major impact and is already occurring.


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          • #
            OldColdMan

            Please. Not that old saw again. Peer-review is the last bastion of a failing ‘climate science’ fraternity.

            “Please do let us all know when you publish your methods in a peer-reviewed journal . . .”

            When the scientists and engineers who have requested access to all the UEA data get a chance to ‘peer review’ them then it may mean something again.

            I respect the thinking of Feynman on this;

            We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.


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        • #
          KinkyKeith

          That last one seals the case.

          A definite Graduate of SkS with a possible BS Sks.

          Invective and exhortation and hot air (watch out well all die) but only SkS Science.

          kk :)


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          • #
            MaxL

            KK, this seems strange to me. In the SkS reference “pal-review journals”, did you notice that the article was published in June 2012, a full 4 months ago!
            In that time, not one comment!

            I can’t imagine an article by Joanne not receiving a single comment within 4 hours, let alone 4 months!
            Could it be that those who go to the site simply try to memorize the stuff rather than ask questions or ask for more information?


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          • #
            Peter Miller

            KinkyKeith

            You are probably right in your analysis – BS Sks – unfortunately, there is a lot of it about.

            However, you should also note: i) the poor grammar, and ii) the petulant tantrum indicating a naive youngster with a limited education: e.g. “you’re”, instead of “your”.

            Like most alarmists, this one clearly supports their mantra of: “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.”

            The people who write BS papers about ocean acidification can be relied on to: i) Ignore the maths, ii) Ignore the other more likely causes of ocean acidification (if indeed there is any), other than CO2, iii) Ignore the huge buffering effect of all the calcium carbonate deposits exposed on the coasts and sea floor, and most important of all, iv) write scary conclusions, based on unsubstantianted facts (e.g guesstimating the pH of the oceans prior to the 1850s) because they are seeking re-funding. I have a deep suspicion of the motives of anyone depending on government largesse, who has to write increasingly scary stuff in order to maintain that largesse.

            If, for example, any of these ‘scientists’ wrote a paper entitled: “Ocean acidification does not represent a problem now, nor for the foreseeable future”, it would be a case of “Thank you very much and here is your severance cheque.” In other words, those who write alarmist ‘research’ papers almost always have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of: “This is really scary, we need more funding to produce better research”.

            Bottom line: Being objective is simply not a trait of a typical alarmist ‘scientist’, because of his, or her, own personal vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

            Our job is to keep these alarmist ‘scientists’ honest – not an easy task – and if we can achieve that, then the great global warming hoax will eventually wither and die.


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          • #
            KinkyKeith

            Hi Peter,

            Good comment.

            In a sense we can’t blame the individuals who repeat stuff from SkS which sounds scientific; they are

            as much victims of this as the community at large.

            Their burden is that they will have great difficulty trusting their own judgement in the future and

            the burden to the tax payers is the huge cream offs to the scammers in politics and “education”.

            The wasted “research” into pointless scientific dead ends and Environmentally “Friendly” politics like

            Solar Power have used up and wasted enormous financial capital that could have been put to legitimate

            renewable research in a better world.

            Had the CSIRO and our Universities Science and Engineering Faculties been given this “dead” money to

            use for pure research we may have been approaching a cost effective solution now rather than ten years time.

            There is energy from the sun, it can be made to work but we aren’t there yet and this has always been

            the lie; that we currently have cost effective renewable power.

            KK :)


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        • #
          Allen Ford

          Don’t forget the considerable but unknown, quantities of acidic gases vented by ocean floor volcanic activity.


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    • #
      Mark D.

      Peter Miller, I don’t believe it useful to talk about soda water (club soda) as carbonic acid.

      Soda water gets it’s name from carbonic acid solution that is buffered with a variety of soda salts (depending on manufacturer). Essentially, CO2 for sparkling fizz and soda salts to make it more neutral and palatable.

      All this is way to difficult for a typical warmist to understand.


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      • #
        Peter Miller

        Mark

        I was a little puzzled by your comment and went and checked a bottle of a well known brand of soda water I had in the fridge. I then checked some sparkling mineral water. The first had no sodium, the second contained a modest amount of sodium salts, so that made me check a bottle of ‘strong’ Vichy mineral water, which is loaded up with sodium and would probably do you a power of no good if you drank a lot of it.

        I then checked the term club soda, as used in North America, and apparently it is common practice to add sodium bicarbonate to it.

        I think we need to differentiate between club soda and soda water, as it seems they are two different things.

        In any event, the concentration of CO2 in the oceans is about 2% of the amount found in typical soda water. At the current rate of increase – and assuming it was possible, which it isn’t – it would take the oceans around 49,000 years to reach the same concentration of CO2 as typical soda water.

        And that is your thoroughly useless fact for today.


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      • #
        Dennis

        That’s why they sip latte


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    • #
      Charles

      The important point you have made Peter is that at 109 ppm, CO2 is not present in sufficient numbers to exert any effect on pH, or anything else. At one molecule amongst a group of 9174 others it does not possess sufficient physical properties to exert any measurable effect. Even if it was heavier, or darker, or had a different charge to all the other H20 molecules, it still couldn’t make any difference to the pH as its properties are well and truly outweighed by the various properties of all the other 9174.


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    • #
      bananabender

      Chalk only begins to noticeably disssolve at pH4 – approximately 100,000x more acidic than the oceans.


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  • #
    S.T.Beare

    I was under the impression that salt water was a basic or alkali solution and if the PH moved from about 8.0 to maybe 7.6
    it becomes less basic.It doesn’t become acidic until it drops below 7.0 to 6.0 range. At 7.0 PH it is termed neutral,which is the same stuff that you drink out of a tap,or make ice cubes out of or put in your whiskey in short fresh water.
    If that is the case why did we build all those desalination
    plants when we could have just waited a few years for the oceans to turn to fresh water.


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    • #
      Andrew McRae

      Fresh rain straight out of the sky is slightly more acidic than 7.0. Maybe pH 6.5.
      That’s because it is not pure water, it has a bit of carbonic acid from cloud-level CO2 dissolved inside it.
      As you let the water sit for longer at ground level (like in a tank or barrel), more CO2 dissolves into it until it reaches equilibrium with the lower atmosphere (say 500ppm CO2), which makes a pH of 5.7 for drinking water according to Wikipedia.

      The huge amounts of rock face and dissolved salts make the ocean a very… heh… different kettle of fish than rainwater in a barrel.

      The process in desalination plants is less like water in a barrel and more like pork barrelling.


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      • #
        KinkyKeith

        I think that Desal plants are more of a Milk Cow to be used by various pressure groups.

        The only purpose they serve is as a cover for the “redistribution” of our nations tax collections to the appropriate beneficiaries who are generally the same as benefited from the School Sheds rort.

        kk


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        • #
          KinkyKeith

          Watched a fellow on TV tonight , Ove ? something or other, talking about how the Great Barrier Reefs was doomed and that it only had a few years to live.

          This appeared to be part of a conference performance and he did look very distressed at the possibility of his funding drying up.

          KK


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          • #
            KinkyKeith

            Genuine concern for the environment.

            His own that is.

            Who would want to move from Queensland to study a reef off the coast of say Papua New Guinea because the GBR had been removed from the UNESCO “endangered” list.

            KK


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          • #
            Allen Ford

            Oh, no! Not Ove again. He has been predicting the demise of the GBR, (from a plethora of “causes” like fertilizer run off, turbidity, crown of thorns starfish, ad infinitum), nearly every week since birth, or so it seems.

            He and FlimFlam make a good pair!


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      • #
        AndyG55

        Don’t be too harsh on Desal plants.
        Yes they are stupidly expensive, and in Sydney Melborne and Brisbane were only build because of really bad planning mainly because of the so called green agenda. (which is NOT about the environment, but about anti-progress), and people actually listening to morons like FlimFlam.

        If the drought hadn’t turned around when it did, they could have been quite useful.

        And as long as we are stupid enough not to build more dams, then they do provide a small amount of drought security.
        They may not be needed now from many years, but Australia does have long droughts (its natural climate variability) and diversity of supply is never a bad idea.
        Unlike wild and solar electricity, desal is at least reliable !!

        Desal back-up for Perth and Adelaide probably isn’t a bad idea because the landscape doesn’t lend itself to big dams.


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        • #
          Andrew McRae

          Okay, okay, I took a cheap shot.
          I’m sorry, Desal plants, for all that a salt and battery.


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        • #
          KinkyKeith

          “And as long as we are stupid enough not to build more dams”

          Our local newspaper has a letter to the editor from a person with a degree in environmental science and higher qualifications in the same sort of Enviro Navel Gazing.

          She is saying that we don’t need any more dams here in the Newcastle and Hunter area and everything would be OK if every one just stopped using water.

          Perhaps she should be asking why successive governments charged with the task of providing infrastructure and secure water supplies have not done so.

          Why can’t she recognise that we are overtaxed and under-serviced?

          kk :)


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          • #
            AndyG55

            We are fortunate in Newy that the Barrington tops provides a pretty reliable water supply.

            However, from a drought security perspective, Newcastle is still sort of borderline, mainly because the total storage is not all that large. Grahamstown, The Tomago sandbeds, and Chitchester don’t hold that much water. Grahmastown is shallow with a big surface area and loses a lot by evaporation. Chitchester is not much more than a small weir, overflows and empties pretty quickly.

            I suspect this problem will come to the fore in some 10-15 years time, when the natural climate variability gives another long dry spell.. We will see !

            Tillegra would have provided a very large extra storage. Another option is to build a new Chitchester about 2km downstream from the current tiny dam, but with a wall top higher than the old dam. This would greatly increase the holding capacity.

            The time to act on increased storage is NOW.. not in the middle of a drought. !!!


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          • #
            AndyG55

            And yes, even the local environmental “scientists” (as if), admit there is a problem.

            “If only we all stopped using water”.. roflmao…. many of the environmentalists around here, probably have !!!


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          • #
            KinkyKeith

            Well Andy the Chichester thing sounds very interesting, wasn’t aware of the potential for that.

            They finished building it in 1926 which is getting on to nearly 100 years ago.

            As the French environmentalists say:

            “What do they want with water, let them drink Lemonade”.

            KK :)


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          • #
            AndyG55

            I can’t remember where I heard about the possible Chichester expansion, but iirc, the underlying rock formations would be an issue and greatly increase the cost over a normal dam, so it really isn’t in consideration. Tillegra is a far cheaper option costs less and provides lots more water storage. I know that its been taken off the agenda for now, but NSW is now Libs, and in the not too distant future the whole federal Lab/green failure will also be over.

            Maybe common sense will then prevail


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      • #
        Charles

        The CO2 content of the atmosphere is 390 ppm not 5000 ppm and this does not change radically at any point in the atmosphere, let alone the lower atmosphere.


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      • #
        Andrew McRae

        I wish to issue a partial retraction and correction to my comment above.
        Whilst the pH of ground level fresh water is lower due to more dissolved CO2, the greater CO2 is not generally because of higher CO2 concentration in the air (as stated above).

        Reader Charles below says CO2 doesn’t change much with height. I found this to be counter intuitive – surely a molecule slightly heavier than N2 would be more concentrated lower down? Finding any observational data on this was surprisingly difficult. If anyone knows where to get it, please tell me. In an hour of searching the only one I have found is a diagram on page 21 of “Atmospheric Composition and Vertical Structure” by Thomas W. Schlatter which refers to “Brasseur GP, Orland JJ, and Tyndall GS (eds.). Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change. Oxford University Press, New York, Chapter 5“.
        According to that diagram the only gases which change in mixing ratio to any degree in the first 30km of altitude are ozone and water vapour. CO2 is constant (at any point in the calendar).

        An explanation for why can be found in a 2007 FAQ on ozone depletion:

        Vertical transport in the troposphere takes place by convection and turbulent mixing. In the stratosphere and in the mesosphere, it takes place by “eddy diffusion” – the gradual mechanical mixing of gas by motions on small scales. These mechanisms do not distinguish molecular masses. Only at much higher altitudes do mean
        free paths become so large that _molecular_ diffusion dominates and gravity is able to separate the different species, bringing hydrogen and helium atoms to the top. The lower and middle atmosphere are thus said to be “well mixed.”
        [Chamberlain and Hunten] [Wayne] [Wallace and Hobbs]

        As stated in the Wikipedia article, the carbonic acid concentration in water depends on partial pressure of CO2 above it. The partial pressure (of CO2) is higher at sea level simply due to total pressure being higher. The same mole fraction is being multiplied by a larger total pressure to yield a higher partial pressure. It is not a ppm difference because you have more molecules of every kind of gas.
        I believe this still means the raindrop would decrease in pH as it fell, but the mechanism is different.

        Seeing as how CO2 can accumulate in certain places such as hollows and forests, not to mention the work of Beck in uncovering pre-1950 high CO2 measurements at ground level, I’m sure the effect I hypothesised could still occur in specific barrels and tanks but probably not as a generality in your typical babbling brook.

        I hate being incorrect, but I’m a stickler for detail and it would wrong to leave the comment on the web uncorrected.

        Yay for peer review?


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          AndyG55

          Andrew, You need to also consider difference in concentration of substances.
          Diffusion always tries to even out concentrations of missible elements in a mixture if it can.
          Diffusion is quite a powerful force.
          It can actually even out carbon differences between welds and adjacent steel over time !

          In this case we have things working for and against, a weight difference vs a concentration difference. In a perfectly still atmosphere, you can get some separation of CO2 and the rest of the air (eg an adiabatic inversion), but as soon as there is any movement whatsoever, ie convection, wind, etc etc, the tiny weight difference becomes irrelevant, and diffusion takes care of the rest.

          Convection basically ensure even(ish) mixing of CO2 because almoost all CO2 comes from near the surface of the Earth, whereas ozone is created “up top” an there are far fewer mechanisms for moving it downwards.


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            KinkyKeith

            “It can actually even out carbon differences between welds and adjacent steel over time ! ”

            Interesting, is that at elevated working temperatures?

            Must check that out and look at miscibility too.

            KK :)


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            Rereke Whakaaro

            You need to also consider difference in concentration of substances.

            Diffusion is quite a powerful force.

            Well, I certainly get diffused when I have had a concentration of substances …


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      Dennis

      The desalination plants were constructed because it would never again rain enough water to fill existing dams and that alarmist fact was reason enough to greatly increase the need for electricity, so a carbon tax con was the next thought bubble.


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    Jean-Paul

    What I find especially disturbing – or informative – in all of those so called studies, is the simple fact that what the supposed scientists call “acidification”, is in fact nothing more than an eventual neutralisation. At 7.75, the pH is still basic. Why do they call it acid, then, if not for propaganda purposes?
    In the same perspective, an often cited study of the effects of sea water acidification on crustaceans was conducted by mixing sulfuric acid to the sea water in which oysters were kept. Sorry to have to say that, but H2SO4 is a much stronger acid, with very different properties, than H2CO3 wich reverses very easily in CO2 and H2O again.


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    pat

    read this earlier today, but didn’t post it. lots of anecdotal stuff besides what i’ve excerpted:

    5 Oct: TourismPortDouglas: Mathew Churchill, The Newsport: Reef report “misleading” says local expert
    A report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science has claimed around half of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral has been destroyed by cyclones, crown-of-thorns starfish, and bleaching in the last 27 years…
    We spoke with expert observers Peter Wright from Poseidon Outer Reef Cruises and Ben Cropp, underwater film maker who has dived the reef for 60 years, for their thoughts.
    The Newsport: What is your take on the Australian Institute of Marine Science report?
    Peter Wright: In a way it’s a good thing that it has alerted the public to the risk, but it is also a bad thing in that it has been a bit over-blown. Somebody in California that’s planning to come here on a holiday is going to read that and think ‘I won’t bother coming to Australia as the reef is stuffed’, and it isn’t.
    Ben Cropp: I found the report very misleading. The outer reef in this area is in very good condition. It’s only the inshore and coastal reefs that are suffering and this is due to pollution, not crown-of-thorns starfish or cyclones…
    PW: At the moment our reefs are pretty clear. We very occasionally find a juvenile crown-of-thorns, which is part of the normal eco-system.
    The Agincourt coral is in particularly good condition. There was a little bit of damage from Cyclone Yasi in some of the more exposed sections, but very limited. It was only the fast growing stag horn coral and the occasional plate coral that were damaged, and they replace themselves within a couple of years…
    TN: What is the biggest threat to coral reefs?
    BC: Pollution has been and will continue to be the biggest killer of coral reefs, and is the major destructor of coral reefs around the world, along with over-development and over-fishing.
    The worst pollution is sewerage, the second is land runoff of soils and fertilisers that smother and kill the corals and allows algae to take over. Most inshore coral reefs around the world and here are mostly dead because of this.
    Our saving grace for the Great Barrier Reef is it is well offshore and very little pollution reaches it and it is still in good condition. However, massive dredging at Gladstone and soon at Cairns does destroy the corals of the inner reef and turbidity can reach up to more than 30 miles offshore and spoil the viewing of the reef by divers…
    PW: The positive side of a report like this is that it encourages the Government to fund protective measures…
    http://www.tourismportdouglas.com.au/Reef-report-misleading-says-local-expe.8417.0.html
    FIRST COMMENT BY BENSON KANE: The king of thorns star fish has been a long time problem to the barrier reef demise. Back in the 1960 scientist back then where desperatley trying to erradicate this pest but without any sucsess, for decades after the 1960s the king of thorn star fish was like the Queensland cane toad and still is today.But then global warming became the flavour of the month and the king of thorns star fish was forgotten then, and many areas of the barrier reef that this pest has destroyed was blamed on climate change.Now they finally have to face reality and try and face the real problem that has been causing the damage to the reef, and was allowed to flourish because of the false science of global warming


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      Last Saturday the first coral spawn for the season came in with the tide- as thick and smelly as I can ever remember- bright purple and bright green. So the reef is certainly healthy enough to reproduce. The AIMS report was very exaggerated. 50% cover gone? Tell ‘em they’re dreamin’.


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    Bruce D Scott

    In the words of the late great Jackie Gleeson, “How sweet it is Alice”.


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    handjive

    Some more links-

    * via wuwt:

    The fishes and the coral live happily in the CO2 bubble plume

    There are several places at the eastern end of that country where carbon dioxide is continuously bubbling up through healthy looking coral reef, with fish swimming around and all that that implies.

    What that implies is that ocean acidification is no threat at all.

    If the most delicate, fragile, iconic ecosystem of them all can handle flat-out saturation with carbon dioxide, what is there to worry about?

    That lack of a threat is a threat to a human institution though – the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) based in Townsville, north Queensland run by Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.

    ** via Donna Laframboise:

    Ka-Ching! More Greenpeace Money

    After serving as a contributing author to the 2007 climate bible, Hoegh-Guldberg received a big promotion.
    In the upcoming edition, currently underway and expected to be completed in 2013, he is now a coordinating lead author – the most senior of the IPCC’s three author designations.

    Another day another Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) author with ties to Greenpeace.

    Hoegh-Guldberg has been cashing paycheques from activist organizations for the past 17 years.

    *** Chance coral can survive warmer ocean

    A team of scientists from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the University of British Columbia in Canada and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US made the discovery after studying the health of coral in the remote Pacific island republic of Kiribati.

    Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS One yesterday.


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    Rob JM

    I’ve always love the increased CO2 will damage coral crud! Ignoring the fact that the oceans have a buffering system (ie the presences of chalk) corals exist in a symbiotic relationship with algae and benefit from increased CO2!


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    michael hart

    The very first sentence of the abstract:
    “Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since preindustrial times due to the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 and is projected to rise by another 120% before 2100 if CO2 emissions continue at current rates.”

    I sincerely hope that the authors are not playing fast and loose with established pH scales as a means of quantifying acidity. It would be ambiguous, inappropriate, and might sow confusion among those with, and without, a Chemistry background.

    Unfortunately I see this cropping up more and more often in reports about Oceans, CO2, and Climate. Is it not strange? I cannot help but pause and wonder about the motivations of those who choose to do this, unless they plead ignorance.

    But two can also play the same game. For example: Pure water at pH 7.0 could be described as over 1500% as acidic as seawater at pH 8.2 Yes, One Thousand Five Hundred Percent. That puts a different perspective on the matter, doesn’t it?


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    Roy Hogue

    Does anyone wonder how they can be so sure of what ocean ph was in preindustrial times?

    I remain impressed with nature and very unimpressed with science.


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      Speedy

      Roy

      By the warmist logic, you can expect that the pH might have been lower when the earth’s CO2 content was about 15 times what it is today (e.g. in the Carbonaceous period). Ocean life has been thriving throughout.

      There’s probably a lot more effect from SO2 emissions (typically volcanic) as H2SO4 is a somewhat stronger acid than good old carbonic.

      Cheers,

      Speedy


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        KinkyKeith

        Hi Speedy

        Ever heard of Gypsum.

        And no, it’s not about taxpayers being Gypped out of a large Sum of money via phoney Environmental Schemes.

        KK :)


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    Doubting Rich

    I notice they use the dishonest term “acidification” for a drop of pH from 8.1 to 7.75.

    Since water is only acidic at all below pH 7 it cannot be acidified at any pH higher than this. It is becoming less basic. This is important as it is pure propaganda, using a term that suggests an increase in a quality everyone knows to be widely corrosive. Bases and alkalis can be as damaging as acids.


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    • #

      See my note at #14.3, and yes, I’ve even seen other researchers call water of pH 7.7 “corrosive” compared to pH 8.1.

      Jo


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      Roy Hogue

      Funny thing — if you’re worried about harmful effects, a ph of 8.1 would be more damaging to anything organic than 7.75.

      I’m left wondering how so many people spend so much time cavorting around in the ocean and yet aren’t harmed by the “corrosive” water. Where did these nuts go to school?

      Well, don’t answer that, I figured it out. Advanced degrees come in cereal boxes now I bet.


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    Ian L McQueen

    @ Peter Miller
    October 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm · Reply
    If there is one subject which has me spitting nails, it is the supposed acidification of the oceans by CO2.

    Peter-
    I haven’t yet looked into the math of your posting, but I am initialy bothered by:
    *****
    2. The maths show the overall CO2 acidification factor is miniscule [minuscule] and therefore irrelevant:
    a) Volume of oceans: 1.37 billion square kms, 1.37 billion billion tonnes
    *****
    “Volume” is incompatible with “square kms”. I presume that the latter units should be “cubic kms”.

    IanM


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    Ian L McQueen

    MY OOPS!

    As I read on I saw that Peter Miller had corrected his units to “cubic” from “square”.

    IanM


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    Mattb

    Scenario: Jo posts a paper that demonstrates science is learning more about impact of changes in pH on cold water corals.

    Bog reaction: completely miss the point and harp on about how preposterous the concept of ocean acidification is, in fact even the term.

    Comedy gold folks.


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      memoryvault

      how preposterous the concept of ocean acidification is, in fact even the term.

      Okay, how about we discuss the current “peacification” between Syria and Turkey instead?


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      MaxL

      What’s even funnier Mattb, is that the word “acidification” is used 17 times in Jo’s article, and you think we have missed the point?

      Even you acknowledge that the subject matter is about the “impact of changes in pH on cold water corals”.

      You are a funny bloke Matt.


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      Guys, clearly I should have added a line or caveat to note that the ocean is a long way from being acidic, and the term ocean acidification is the usual “spin”. Sorry.

      I did ponder using “less alkaline” and other variations, but in the end, no one searches the internet for corals that are affected by “lowered alkalinity”, but many will search for “acidification”. Since I wanted this post to turn up in those searches, I had to speak their lingo. Next time I’ll add a note about the term.

      Jo


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      Otter

      mattb~Scenario: Jo posts a paper that demonstrates science is learning more about impact of changes in pH on cold water corals.

      And what did we learn, mattie?

      ….things are NOT as bad as claimed, because the corals evolved and adapted to such situations, a very long time ago.

      I do agree with your side: MORE RESEARCH!

      But don’t Ignore the research when it proves your side wrong. Which is happening with increasing frequency.


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    Neville

    This is O/T but it’s important and deserves a seperate post somewhere on web blogs.

    This is the talk to the Sydney institute by professor Murry Salby now on youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVCps_SwD5w&feature=autoplay&list=PLILd8YzszWVTp8s1bx2KTNHXCzp8YQR1z&playnext=2

    It includes the powerpoint presentation and I hope Jo and others have the time to watch it.


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    Roy Hogue

    I hope Jo won’t object to this being put here because I think it needs to be publicized…

    This is Agenda-21.

    I’ll leave you to decide if it’s on topic or not. But it’s the best summarization of Agenda-21 and what it’s doing that I’ve seen.

    It’s time to expose these madmen before they can finish us all off, because this can only be bad, bad, bad.

    [link fixed] ED


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      Andrew McRae

      You think Agenda 21 is bad? You `aint seen nothin’ yet.

      Pharmacological induction of altruism and empathy

      Many environmental problems are collective action problems, in which individuals do not co-operate for the common good. But if people were generally more willing to act as a group, we may be able to enjoy the sort of benefits that arise only when large numbers of people act together.

      Pharmacological induction of altruism and empathy may help here. There is evidence that altruism and empathy have biological underpinnings. For example, test subjects given the prosocial hormone oxytocin were more willing to share money with strangers and to behave in a more trustworthy way. Also, a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor increased social engagement and co-operation with a reduction in self-focus. Furthermore, oxytocin appears to improve the capacity to read other people’s emotional state, which is a key capacity for empathy. This suggests that interventions affecting the sensitivity in these neural systems could increase the willingness to co-operate with social rules or goals.

      Again, I am not proposing that we coerce someone to take up these pharmacological measures. Instead, there might be someone who wants to do the right thing, but owing to a weakness of will, cannot get himself to do the right thing. Having the option to use pharmacological means to increase altruism and empathy may allow this person voluntarily to overcome his weakness of will and enable him to do the right thing.
      [...]
      given fixed allocations of greenhouse gas emissions, human engineering could give families the choice between having one large child, two medium-sized children or three small children. Human engineering seems more liberty enhancing than a policy that says you can have only one or two children.

      Remember it’s all totally legit, the professor says so. Just wait until what starts as voluntary progresses to a trial period and then becomes mandatory.


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        Roy Hogue

        Andrew,

        This headline

        Hand-made humans may hold the key to saving the world

        leads me to wonder if we can engineer people to stop thinking so stupidly.

        Anyway, this guy is just talk. Agenda-21 is here now.

        Roy


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          Andrew McRae

          Fair enough, Roy. It’s a really way-out-there idea. But it is sad how many ideas that were way-out-there 15 years ago have already come true.

          Please note that the URL you posted above stopped working the day after you posted it.
          The document has been updated and renamed to
          http://deltacountyagenda21.yolasite.com/resources/Agenda%2021%20in%20Delta%20County%2C%20Colorado%20and%20Worldwide%2C%20Updated%20Oct%206%2C%202012.pdf
          If you have copy of the previous one you might be curious enough to compare them and see what has changed.

          It looks like quite a long read, but I’m encouraged by page 10:

          Thus we have an unfortunate overlap between coercive AGENDA 21 sustainable
          development (that’s based more on social justice) and responsible local
          sustainable development that fits the Wikipedia definition above. The first needs
          to be renounced, the second needs to flourish.

          It’s actually paradoxical that the new world order would use sustainability as their cover story. There has never been a tyrannical government that lasted very long before being overthrown. There’s nothing sustainable about tyrannical world government.


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            Roy Hogue

            Please note that the URL you posted above stopped working the day after you posted it.

            Thanks for the tip about the link. And wouldn’t you know it?

            I unfortunately didn’t save a copy of the document. But you can bet I’ll save this one.


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            Roy Hogue

            It appears to be largely the same. I can’t tell if small changes were made — memory’s not that good.


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          Andrew McRae

          Sorry Roy, no, actually this is all much closer than you think.

          http://naturalsociety.com/biofarms-vaccines-pharmaceuticals-gmo-biopharmaceutical-crops/

          These GMO companies can put genes for making contraceptives and pharmaceuticals into the DNA of corn, so you can have your cornflakes for breakfast and by the time you get home at night you’ll be both infertile and thankful for Big Brother, and you won’t know why.

          I haven’t even heard of anything like this since THX-1138.
          Gonna have to keep an eye on what happens in this… erm… field.


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    elva

    I’m really tired of hearing about the imminent demise of the GBR. This scare has been going on for decades.

    A Dr. Endean of UQ fought with Joh Petersen in the 60s for funding to eradicate the starfish. Turned out that the starfish were a natural and essential part of the biodiversity of the GBR. Cyclones have been hitting the GBR since time immemorial and certainly not just since 1985. A lot of permanent boaties say that the GBR has never been in better condition.

    I think the poor reports are a strategy to gain more funding. After all, if the GBR was reported as doing OK then funding to marine biologists might be reduced.

    The tourism industry must be furious. If the forecast is that by 2020 the GBR will be gone (8 years from now!) then the tourist operators and resorts may as well close up shop. This goes along with the Green policy of no resorts in National Parks.

    Of course, if the GBR is going to be ‘dead’ in 2020 then there is no need to worry about increased coal shipping near it. The Greens should worry about their death wish of the GBR.


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    handjive

    Warning. Going off topic.

    Government starts review of draft IPCC working report

    The Australian government has begun its review of the latest draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, pledging ‘‘an open and comprehensive approach’’ as it taps selected input.

    Earlier this week, CSIRO scientists released analysis showing a big drop in autumnal rains over southern Australia in recent decades, with a warming atmosphere deemed to be part of the cause.

    The time to discredit this with real science starts now, so by the time the report is ready, it is proven rubbish.

    Wuwt has already kicked a goal with this post:

    So much for the theory that AGW increases water vapor and positive feedback

    AW comments:

    REPLY: The story is that none of you supposed climate experts have any real clue of how it all works, nor does anybody for that matter, and this is just another example of the uncertainties of a science in its infancy.
    Reminds me of “knobs”.
    A few years ago they were predicting “permanent drought” for Australia, now its floods. Sure whatever.
    See the update above. See also Dr. Tim Ball’s comment. – Anthony


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      Debbie

      Interestingly that supposed ‘drying trend’ is specifically for Autumn and SE Australia.
      2010/11/12 are the 3 wettest SE Aust Autumns on record ( as a continuos) and the SE catchment at end of Autumn 2012 is also a record wet.
      Figs available from BoM.
      So much for ‘projective trends’!


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    pat

    i posted this on WUWT’s friday funnies thinking Minnesotans for global warming could have fun with this NYT piece which insists on bookending the article with references to how hot it is in texas!

    5 Oct: NYT: Timothy Williams: It’s Snowing in Minnesota! Yes, October Is Early for That
    ***Early Friday morning, the temperature in Houston was gradually cooling from a high of 88 degrees, part of a Texas summer that just will not quit. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 miles to the north in Minnesota, a different kind of cooling was taking place: More than a foot of snow was coming down…
    In Middle River, Minn., eight inches fell.
    But the heaviest snowfall was in Roseau, Minn., 10 miles from the Canadian border, where 14 inches of wet, heavy snow fell, snapping tree limbs and causing power failures in the town of 2,500, which bills itself as the birthplace of snowmobiling.
    “We’ve gotten snow this early, but not like this,” said Greg Sorensen, a dispatcher at the Roseau County Sheriff’s Department…
    Patrick Slattery, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, said that given the abrupt temperature shift — autumn crispness to freezing cold — even more snow than the accumulated amount may have fallen, but the rest had quickly evaporated…
    National Weather Service meteorologists say snowfall will be above normal this winter in an arc of the country stretching from Minnesota to New York.
    Mr. Slattery said that heavy snow was anticipated for Wyoming and parts of Nebraska later Friday, and that it would continue Saturday into northeastern Colorado and northwest Kansas.
    “It would seem to indicate that winter has started,” he said.
    ***Just not in Texas, where the high on Saturday is expected to hit 85 degrees in Houston, and 92 in Corpus Christi.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/06/us/october-snow-falls-in-minnesota.html?_r=0

    the corrupted MSM doesn’t give up easily.


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    Speedy

    Morning all.

    Perhaps someone can help me here. According the “Rubber Bible” (CRC Handbook of Physics and Chemistry) there is about 50 tonnes of CO2 in the oceans for each tonne in the atmosphere. OK. So lets just assume that 100% of that atmospheric CO2 went into the oceans. Then the CO2 concentration in the oceans would increase by 2%. Are we really going to see any difference in 2%, given the diverse range of pH already existing in the oceans?

    As usual, it’s a case of a solution (e.g. give me the money / Carbon tax) desperately looking for a problem to solve. (Global warming/climate change / disruption / ocean acidification.)

    The cause of the problem is always the same – industrial society. The solution is always the same – government control and taxation. But the justification / excuse changes constantly as soon as the most recent one is exposed as a fraud.

    Cheers,

    Speedy


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    pat

    so many words, so many lies:

    5 Oct: National Geographic: Josie Garthwaite: Coal-Fired Australia, Buffeted by Climate Change, Enacts Carbon Tax
    Australia’s enormous coal deposits long seemed like an unmitigated gift in an expansive land of sweltering summers. On the planet’s driest inhabited continent, fossil fuel delivered cheap, reliable electricity through both extreme heat and torrential storms.
    But drought, rampant wildfire in the outback, and the degradation of the treasured Great Barrier Reef have forever altered how Australia views its energy endowment. Facing a future as one of the places on Earth most vulnerable to climate change, and one of the nations with the world’s highest per capita carbon emissions, Australia has taken steps to change its fate…
    Climate activists have hailed the law as a hopeful sign that even one of the world’s most carbon-intensive economies can commit to a different future. But the work is only beginning. In just one indication of the long road ahead, an International Energy Agency fuel economy report last week ranked Australia’s new car fleet as worst among the world’s major economies in carbon emissions per kilometer. Emblematic of Australia’s failure to invest in energy efficiency, it has no binding automobile fuel economy standards. (Related Pictures: “A Rare Look Inside Carmakers’ Drive for 55 MPG”) Historically, only the United States has surpassed Australia in its appetite for powerful engines. And this year, as U.S. drivers have begun flocking to smaller, more efficient cars, Australia has seen an SUV boom. SUVs made up 28 percent of Australia’s new vehicle sales in August, compared to just below 25 percent a year earlier.
    Joshua Meltzer, a former Australian diplomat who now is a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute, says his country, much like the United States and Canada, must now grapple with the economy it has built since the Industrial Revolution around its huge fossil fuel deposits. “You have greater urban sprawl, cheaper fuel, greater use of cars, less use of public transportation, larger houses,” than in Europe or Japan, Meltzer said. “At the end of the day,” he added, achieving ambitious emission targets “is going to involve some very significant changes in how people live their lives.”…
    Support for action on climate change increased during the years-long drought that has gripped the continent, punctuated by a record-breaking heat wave in the summer of 2009. Temperatures climbed high enough to buckle train lines in Adelaide and cook moths landing on sunbaked tennis courts in Melbourne. The sweltering heat exceeded 104°F (40°C) in some cities in late January, and stayed there for days on end. On February 7, a dry, windy scorcher of a day now known as Black Saturday, bushfires raged through Victoria, leaving 173 people dead and 500 injured.
    “The long drought in Australia made people think this is what Australia would look like in climate change,” Meltzer said. “The environment is dry and arid and fragile, and very susceptible to changes in the temperature. That galvanized support.”…BLAH BLAH BLAH…
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/10/121005-australia-carbon-tax/


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    pat

    young Lenferna (see his pic in the second Rhodes link) means well, but am posting this to show how universities have been taken over by CAGW activism:

    4 Oct: AllAfrica: Alex Lenferna: South Africa: A Case for South Africa’s Carbon Tax
    A carbon tax could be one policy instrument to tackle climate change, poverty and unemployment if it is designed and used correctly.
    “To expect governments funded and appointed by [the upper] class to protect the biosphere and defend the poor is like expecting a lion to live on gazpacho.” – George Monbiot
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201210050814.html
    (Alex Lenferna is a South African Fulbright Scholar pursuing a PhD at the University of Kansas, Philosophy Department)

    6 June: Rhodes University Sth Africa: Three Fulbright scholars to broaden horizons
    For Philosophy Masters student Alex Lenferna, however, the University of Kansas did not initially look like a good fit because it didn’t have a specialist in his field. But he soon realised the advantages of broadening his horizons in philosophy while applying his strong background in environmental ethics and law to other fields.
    “It was a difficult decision, but it turned out to be the best one in the end. After all that, I’m really excited to go,” says Lenferna, who was also selected as a research associate for the KU C-CHANGE program, which aims to advance scientific knowledge about global climate change by connecting researchers, disciplines, and institutions…
    http://www.ru.ac.za/latestnews/name,58842,en.html

    National Science Foundation
    University of Kansas
    KU C-CHANGE
    Mission Statement
    Climate change and its impact on the planet’s biological, ecological, and social systems has been identified as one of the “grand challenges” of the 21st century by the National Academies of Science. The KU C-CHANGE program creates collaborative classroom and field research experiences to examine the human and natural causes and consequences of climate change by bringing together students and faculty in the social and natural sciences and engineering. Our goal is to advance scientific knowledge about global climate change by connecting researchers, disciplines, and institutions.
    http://web.ku.edu/~crgc/IGERT/index.html


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    pat

    how appropriate is the writer’s name!

    6 Oct: Bloomberg: Justin Doom: First Solar Declines on Concerns Over Panel Reliability
    First Solar Inc., the world’s biggest maker of thin-film panels, fell the most in five weeks after the company said as many as 232,000 panels in the field may need to be replaced.
    First Solar declined 11 percent to $20.07 at the close in New York, the most since Aug. 30.
    he panels, made between October 2008 and June 2009, “may over time develop a loose cord-plate attachment,” Ted Meyer, a company spokesman, said today in an e-mail.
    The company is working with owners to repair or replace the affected panels and will replace roof-mounted units at no cost, he said. The issue isn’t expected to have a “significant impact” on earnings because it was included in financial guidance released in August, he said.
    Solar panels with loose cord plates put at risk the units’ wiring, increasing the risk of electric shocks and fires, Mark Bachman, an analyst at Avian Securities Inc. in Boston, said in an interview. Bachman downgraded the shares to the equivalent of sell from buy today and removed his 12-month price target…
    “Some of those modules that have this problem may have already been replaced, but where this is a big concern is with the European installers who were putting them on rooftops.”
    First Solar has had other mechanical issues. It reported a $164 million charge in February for warranty payments related to flawed panels that may have premature power losses.
    “It’s the second time that something’s gone wrong,” Bachman said. “First Solar is going to have to communicate that they don’t have any issues going forward. Investors are going to want to know, ‘What’s the third issue going to be?’”
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-05/first-solar-declines-on-concerns-over-panel-reliability.html


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    pat

    putting off the tinkering til next february seems to have raised alarm bells in some quarters:

    5 Oct: Reuters Point Carbon: Power firms urge EU to map out 2030 goals
    Europe’s biggest power generators on Friday urged the EU to unveil a full package of measures to permanently fix its carbon market.
    http://www.pointcarbon.com/news/1.2010231?&ref=searchlist

    5 Oct: Bloomberg: Ewa Krukowska: EU Carbon Pares Gains After Parliament Sets Carbon Vote
    EU carbon allowances for December fell to as low as 7.55 euros a metric ton today, a 5.7 percent decline from 8.01 euros just before the announcement…
    EU permits ended the session at 7.64 euros, 4.6 percent down from the level before the announcement on the parliamentary calendar, and up 0.7 percent from yesterday’s close. The contract lost 28 percent in the past year, also weakened by sales of allowances for Phase 3 from this month…
    “Phase 3 auctions are likely to have a much more bearish impact now,” said Konrad Hanschmidt, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London. “The market will need to start absorbing full auction volumes without even a first official signal about the viability of backloading.”…
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-04/eu-carbon-pares-gains-after-parliament-sets-carbon-vote.html

    now there’s a suggestion “talks” (not action) are back on to try to do some tinkering earlier than february:

    5 Oct: West Australian: Reuters: Commission seeks to speed up EU carbon market remedy
    Talks are under way to hasten a deal to prop up the European Union’s ailing carbon trading scheme, a senior European Commission official said on Friday.
    Traders of allowances on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) have been waiting for months for details and decisions on Commission plans to hold back some of the massive surplus of carbon allowances that has depressed the market.
    To reinforce the plan’s legality, the Commission has also announced a legislative amendment, on which the parliamentary environment committee is scheduled to vote on February 19 next year, far later than advocates of taking action foresaw.
    “We are not entirely thrilled with the timetable the European Parliament has proposed,” Joe Delbeke, director general of the Commission’s climate department, told a conference in Brussels on Friday.
    “We are continuing to discuss with the European Parliament and we hope to bring the timetable forward.”
    He said he could not be more specific, while parliamentary officials said a vote by the year-end was technically possible.
    Delbeke insisted the “Emissions Trading Scheme is here to stay” and the Commission was not flinching in the face of international opposition to the inclusion in the ETS of all airlines flying in and out of Europe…
    “We support a phase three backload in order to signal the EU’s long-term commitment to a strong ETS,” Hans ten Berge, secretary general of Eurelectric, which represents the electricity industry in 32 nations, said.
    Other sections of business and industry oppose the Commission’s backloading plans, either because they are against intervention altogether or because they say only long-term measures are valid.
    “Short-term measures such as changes to the ETS auctioning regulation to backload allowances must be avoided as these would interfere with a more constructive discussion on how to achieve a systemic solution,” Philippe de Buck, director general of Business Europe, said in a letter to the European Parliament…
    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/a/-/world/15048825/commission-seeks-to-speed-up-eu-carbon-market-remedy/


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    pat

    so why are we demonising coal?

    2 Oct: Australian: Lauren Wilson: EU coal power ‘may boost carbon price’
    EUROPEAN power companies are set to ramp up their coal-fired power capacity over the next four years, a move experts warn could affect Australia’s domestic carbon price after 2015.
    Financial analysts UBS have predicted power producers across Europe will open six times more coal-fired power plants by 2015 than gas facilities, and Goldman Sachs has warned that coal-power profits could double by then.
    Experts have attributed the investment in new coal-power facilities to the closure of nuclear plants and the plummeting price of the cheap UN-administered offsets known as Certified Emissions Reductions, making coal a more profitable energy source…
    Opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt said that rather than advancing its climate policy, Europe was “stepping back from the purpose of its ETS — to bring about a transition from coal to gas and from coal to renewables”.
    “One interpretation may be that more coal in Europe leads to a higher price there and higher electricity prices here because the government has itself conceded that we have completely lost control of our carbon price and our electricity price going forwards,” Mr Hunt said.
    But Climate Change Minister Greg Combet’s office said the free market would work to determine the lowest cost of abatement.
    “Under emissions trading, Australia and the EU will each cap the amount of carbon that can be emitted — this guarantees emissions reductions at least cost,” Mr Combet’s spokesman said
    “Australia and the EU are confident the market is best placed to find the most cost-effective solutions.”
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/eu-coal-power-may-boost-carbon-price/story-e6frg6xf-1226486164609

    what free market would that be, mr. combet?


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    Graeme No.3

    Nice One:
    If that paper you linked is any indication of peer review then any rude comments made here are quite justified.

    For your information, the pH figures involving rain water don’t apply to sea water which contains salts (note plural). These include calcium and magnesium salts which react with carbonate ions making it insoluble. “the addition of 1 μmol kg−1 HCl to distilled water at pH 7 reduces the pH to very close to 6. The same addition to seawater at pH 7 and ΣCO2 = 2000 μmol kg−1 at T=15°C and S=35 only reduces the pH to 6.997″.

    Secondly, the claim that the pH of the ocean has dropped by 0.1 units is a calculated one, and refers to 1750 to 2003. There is some doubt that they are completely uniform e.g. “In the Pacific, the aragonite lysocline can be as shallow as 500 m and ~3 km in the Atlantic. The calcite lysocline lies at ~3−4 km in the Pacific and between 4 and 5 km in the Atlantic”.

    Thirdly, oceans vary in pH between 7.8 and 8.25. The drop is stated as from being approx. 8.16 to 8.05. That is not a 30% drop at all. The scale between 7 and 8 is 10 times that between 8 and 9. In other word the actual change is more like 2.9%.

    Fourthly, if you look at the graphs in your link you will see that they start well above current CO2 levels. That is obviously not based on observation, just on “a model”.

    Fifthly, corals are quite ancient species. They have seen earth temperature vary between 6 degrees above and 7 degrees below present, and CO2 levels between 170 and 1500 ppm. in the last 50 million years. They are probably ignoring the doomsayers and I would suggest you do the same.


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    [...] One vulnerable coral type adapts to ocean acidification in just 6 months Credit: S. Ross et al., UNCW [...]


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    Speedy -”Are we really going to see any difference in 2%, given the diverse range of pH already existing in the oceans?”

    Yes. Remember that the natural variation is occurring against a backdrop of declining oceanic pH. There was a paper published earlier this year which shows that ocean acidification already exceeds pre-industrial natural variation: Detecting regional anthropogenic trends in ocean acidification against natural variability – Friedrich (2012)

    From the paper:

    “Using three Earth system models we show that the current anthropogenic trend in ocean acidification already exceeds the level of natural variability by up to 30 times on regional scales. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the current rates of ocean acidification at monitoring sites in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans exceed those experienced during the last glacial termination by two orders of magnitude.”

    This is why oysters, mussels and other marine calcifiers are being killed along the coasts of Oregon and Washington. Other human-driven effects also factor in; such as euthrophication ehancement of ocean acidification (from nutrient run-off), and increased upwelling of acidified deep water along the North American Pacific coast – a result of global warming too (ironically).

    The important point to realize is that these stressors do not occur in isolation. To accurately simulate coral response to climate change, one would need to factor in both ocean warming, and ocean acidification.

    One thing is for sure, if the recent survey of coral collapse on the Great Barrier Reef, and it’s current trend, is correct, then coral had better start adapting pretty darn fast! In this respect Earth history is not encouraging. Although not the same coral that exist today, ancient coral repeatedly went extinct. These are known as “reef gaps” in the paleo records.


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      MaxL

      Gosh Rob,
      I’m sorry to hear that those 3 nasty models are killing off your simulated corals.

      Maybe you could take heart from a real experiment that Jo’s article describes, and take notice of the conclusion from someone wiser than you and I put together.

      “If this study tells us anything for sure, it’s that we don’t know a lot about marine life. The corals considered to be the “most vulnerable” turned out to not decalcify at all under more acidic conditions.”


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    Max – I suspect this may be your cognitive filters kicking in, but ocean acidification, and ocean warming, are already killing marine life – no models required, only observation. Models are, of course, required to make sense of the observations, which I suspect is where your objection enters the frame. If you ain’t modelling, you ain’t doing science – that’s for sure.

    You also have yet to demonstrate how this one observation is going to help save the Great Barrier Reef for instance – a warm water reef-building coral ecosystem.

    So just to recap, there are a number of crucial points here:

    1. We have a physiological expectation of coral being negatively affected by ocean acidification, because they utilize carbonate ions (derived from bicarbonate ultimately) to form their calcium carbonate skeletons. Ocean acidification is reducing the concentration (activity) of carbonate ions, thereby making shell formation energetically more costly. This reduces growth and makes the coral skeleton mechanically weaker.

    2. As ocean acidification progresses eventually seawater will become physically corrosive to marine calcifiers such as coral.

    3. At no point in the last 300 million years is there any evidence of a time on Earth when the rate of atmospheric CO2 increase has been anywhere near the current human-caused rate. Even the intense volcanic activity of the Permian Extinction saw atmospheric CO2 increases around 15-30 times slower than modern-day (as far as can be ascertained).

    4. The preferential extinction of marine life that relied heavily on calcification, and that possessed little buffering capacity, is strong evidence for ocean acidification during the Permian.

    5. Ancient reef-building coral were extinguished numerous times in Earth’s history, and the emergence of new coral forms has typically taken millions of years. Those are the “reef gaps” I referred to in my previous comment. This only occurs when atmospheric CO2 increases rapidly, and overwhelms the rate at which chemical weathering is able to supply alkalinity back to the ocean. You get the double-banger effect of ocean acidification and ocean warming – both of which are detrimental to coral once certain thresholds are exceeded.

    6. Huge chalk deposits during the Cretaceous, a time of high atmospheric CO2 is evidence that slow rates of atmospheric CO2 increase do not cause the ocean to acidify. This is because the slow chemical weathering rate can keep up, thereby supplying alkalinity back to the ocean. The dissolution of ocean carbonates over these long intervals also helps. The chalk deposits are made from coccolith shells – tiny surface-dwelling plankton whose shells are made of calcium carbonate (chalk). The classic example are the now-uplifted White Cliffs of Dover.

    6. Current observations show that coral cover is declining world-wide, and this includes regions far away from human activity (pollution/nutrient run-off etc). This demonstrates the pervasive nature of the coral decline.

    7. More, and more studies are being published that reveal ocean acidification, and coral bleaching, are reducing the rate of calcification at reef sites around the world. On current course these reefs will collapse once the effects of bio-erosion outpace the rate at which coral, and other reef-builders, can grow new skeletal material fast enough, and of sufficient mechanical strength.

    Ocean acidification may not eliminate all coral, but many reefs will not be around in the future. And, barring some miracle, the Great Barrier Reef looks like it may be the first major casualty of the Anthropocene (human-caused) Extinction.


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      KinkyKeith

      Junk Science.

      I particularly like the bit at No7. ” More and more studies”.

      What this means is that people are finding new ways of getting more funding and finding out about coral.

      It’s funny that the oil companies use estimates of the age of death of a fossilised coral bed together with depth below current sea level to plot the Geologic history of sea level change world wide.

      It seems that dying coral has always been synonymous with “present sea level”.

      Do I need to say that man has only been herein significant numbers for the last few hundred years and there are no signs of any man made catastrophe yet apart from the real issue of chemical pollution.

      Strangely Governments let lots of pollution issues go past because they may have friends who “contribute” to the next election fund.

      You have been misled into barking up the wrong tree.

      KK


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      MaxL

      Well Rob, maybe your simulated corals aren’t as resilient as real corals.

      If you ain’t modelling, you ain’t doing science – that’s for sure.

      Gosh, I wonder what scientists did before we invented computer models?


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        KinkyKeith

        Hi Max

        These people have no idea how top use a model.

        They live in Faerey Land that is crashing down fast in Europe and the only thing that is holding Renewables

        up at the moment is artificial government support while their friends get their money out before the final crunch.

        Corruption followed by more corruption.

        KK


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          MaxL

          Hi KK,
          Yes I think you’re right about the corruption and government support etc.

          On the use of computer models, many years ago, before computers, I was thinking about an electronic circuit that would indicate when a device was correctly grounded (earthed). Recently I was able to devote time and effort to attempting to build and test the device. It worked perfectly, first time. As I was tutoring a student in electronics at the time, and this was relevant to the topic, I wanted to use a circuit simulator to illustrate some of the principles. Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain a simulator which could illustrate what I was able to see in the actual circuit.

          The computer simulation said that the circuit wouldn’t work, but real life said it would.
          Me, I believed real life.
          Computers are good at virtual reality, but reality is not virtual.


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      Andrew McRae

      Mr Painting,

      I am aware of your Skeptical Science pedigree. No doubt you would be well acquainted with all aspects of the global warming phenomenon by now, after years of service for The Cause.

      Though I could easily nitpick and attack some of the things you have said above, I feel I must presently restrain myself, partly out of a modicum of respect for someone so well-to-do in warmist circles, but mainly since there is an opportunity here to advance a higher level strategy.

      It’s a bit boring around here with our usual warmist provocateurs providing insubstantial arguments.

      Will you promise to return repeatedly to Jo’s blog so that us skeptics can understand why you believe what you believe, and so that we may debate discuss with you the evidence for CAGW or (if you prefer) Catastrophic Anthropogenic Ocean Acidification?

      I can’t speak for all JoNovian commentators, but personally I will either be right or else I will learn something, and for me that is a win-win proposition.
      I suggest you are in the same position.


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      Graeme No.3

      Let me see.
      Ocean acidification (which isn’t occurring), and a rise in temperature (which isn’t occurring) are combining to kill all the corals. How?

      That “rapid” rise in CO2 is less than occurred about 12,000 years ago after the Younger Dryas, when the temperature also changed rapidly. About 90 ppm and 7 or more degrees in less than a century.

      There is no way that rising CO2 levels are ever going to “acidifying” the oceans. And for your information carbonate doesn’t form acid when it becomes bicarbonate.


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      Peter Miller

      Almost sounds logical unless you think about it for a few seconds – my comments in orange:

      1. We have a physiological expectation of coral being negatively affected by ocean acidification, because they utilize carbonate ions (derived from bicarbonate ultimately) to form their calcium carbonate skeletons. Ocean acidification is reducing the concentration (activity) of carbonate ions, thereby making shell formation energetically more costly. This reduces growth and makes the coral skeleton mechanically weaker. Probably correct in a small laboratory scale situation, but as there is no indication of ocean acidification other than by sources not related to CO2. i.e. nitric and sulphuric acids , plus human and animal waste, so what? Increasing ocean concentrations of CO2 by one part per million, or around 1% per century, is not going to cause the unfounded alarmist situation you seek to portray. In any event, life adapts and evolves in order to best survive in the conditions in which it lives.

      2. As ocean acidification progresses eventually seawater will become physically corrosive to marine calcifiers such as coral. To which planet are you referring? It is totally, utterly impossible for man to acidify the oceans in the way you describe. Complete alarmist BS.

      3. At no point in the last 300 million years is there any evidence of a time on Earth when the rate of atmospheric CO2 increase has been anywhere near the current human-caused rate. Even the intense volcanic activity of the Permian Extinction saw atmospheric CO2 increases around 15-30 times slower than modern-day (as far as can be ascertained). Possibly partly true, but so what? CO2 levels fell to historically low levels during the last Ice Age, to a point where life became almost impossible. We are recovering to levels well below the norms of the last one hundred million years. Anyhow, we are talking about the oceans, where the current rate of increase of CO2 is around 1.0% per annum. The Permian extinction event was caused by a combination of exceptional events, I hate to quote Wikipedia, but this demonstrates that your comment is typical alarmist BS. http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=permian%20extinction%20event&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&sqi=2&ved=0CCUQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FPermian%25E2%2580%2593Triassic_extinction_event&ei=J2NxUMn6LIrN0QWUqYHwCA&usg=AFQjCNE4IVkxzmBwHQe3bMqaWPkbZMJ_2Q

      4. The preferential extinction of marine life that relied heavily on calcification, and that possessed little buffering capacity, is strong evidence for ocean acidification during the Permian. The conditions which caused the Permian Extinction Event bear absolutely no relationship to what is happening today. That was a catastrophe series of events – it is like saying that a ripple on a pond is like a 100 foot high tsunami.

      5. Ancient reef-building coral were extinguished numerous times in Earth’s history, and the emergence of new coral forms has typically taken millions of years. Those are the “reef gaps” I referred to in my previous comment. This only occurs when atmospheric CO2 increases rapidly, and overwhelms the rate at which chemical weathering is able to supply alkalinity back to the ocean. You get the double-banger effect of ocean acidification and ocean warming – both of which are detrimental to coral once certain thresholds are exceeded. And the last time this happened was 252 million years ago, caused by a series of extreme and unusual reasons from the volcanism of the Siberian Trappes, a possible asteroid hit and the effects of only having one super-continent, namely Pangea. – once again the pond ripple to tsunami comparison.

      6. Huge chalk deposits during the Cretaceous, a time of high atmospheric CO2 is evidence that slow rates of atmospheric CO2 increase do not cause the ocean to acidify. This is because the slow chemical weathering rate can keep up, thereby supplying alkalinity back to the ocean. The dissolution of ocean carbonates over these long intervals also helps. The chalk deposits are made from coccolith shells – tiny surface-dwelling plankton whose shells are made of calcium carbonate (chalk). The classic example are the now-uplifted White Cliffs of Dover. I am sorry, but this comment totally undermines your argument. What do you mean by slow rates? Right now, ocean CO2 levels are rising by around 1% per century – yes, that is really scary.

      6. Current observations show that coral cover is declining world-wide, and this includes regions far away from human activity (pollution/nutrient run-off etc). This demonstrates the pervasive nature of the coral decline. Thanks for the references – I think the reality is professional divers will by and large disagree with comments made by grant-addicted ‘climate’ scientists.

      7. More, and more studies are being published that reveal ocean acidification, and coral bleaching, are reducing the rate of calcification at reef sites around the world. On current course these reefs will collapse once the effects of bio-erosion outpace the rate at which coral, and other reef-builders, can grow new skeletal material fast enough, and of sufficient mechanical strength. Any references, other than from grant-addicted ‘climate scientists? Hmm, I thought not. Even if you were correct, life adopts/evolves very quickly to meet any changes in environment.

      Ocean acidification may not eliminate all coral, but many reefs will not be around in the future. Sure, sulphuric and nitric acids, industrial pollution, human and animal waste products will kill corals, but not CO2 at current levels and not at any level, short of a repeat of the Siberian Trappes vulcanism . Re: The Great Barrier Reef, once again it is the opinion of professional divers and those who really care about this wonder of the world on one dide, versus the opinions of grant-addicted ‘climate scientists’ on the other. And, barring some miracle, the Great Barrier Reef looks like it may be the first major casualty of the Anthropocene (human-caused) Extinction. Oh please! Man is causing extinction of certain species on land, and by over fishing is threatening the extinction of some species of fish. Pollution is causing some local problems, but not extinctions. My BSometer went off scale with this comment.


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      Peter Miller

      And then there is this:

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/10/ocean-acidification-chicken-of-the-sea-little-strikes-again/

      Once you leave the world of grant addicted ‘climate scientists’ and enter the world of real facts, then the incredible amount of BS on the future of the Great Barrier Reef, is exposed for exactly what it is: BS.

      Considering the number of Great Barrier Reef scare stories on ocean acidification, then you think you should be able to find some actual statistics on the subject somewhere. Well, I can’t find any statistics on Great Barrier Reef acidification over the past few decades, all I can find are scare stories – there are gazillions of these, but I guess that just goes to confirm ‘climate science’ doesn’t like using real data unless it has either been suitably ‘homogenised’ or is just hearsay.


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    Max“Gosh, I wonder what scientists did before we invented computer models?”

    Unless you believe events in this universe happen randomly, then you must invoke some model in order to explain how things are the way they are. The more complex the phenomena, the more complex the model must be to approximate the behaviour of that phenomena.

    Andrew McRae – not every marine organism will be directly, and negatively, affected by ocean acidification. However, enough critical organisms, such as coral, face the prospect of collapse. If this does happen it will be catastrophic. I know contrarian blogs use the term “catastrophic” as a form of personal incredulity, but the ocean acidification-induced marine mortality along the Pacific coast of North America, and this alarming decline of living coral on the Great Barrier Reef, are suggesting that those so-called alarmist scientists have underestimated the rate of change yet again.

    I can’t guarantee how often I’ll be back, but I do have a number of posts on ocean acidification in the pipeline at SkS. The posts rely heavily on the peer-reviewed scientific literature, so readers can see how all the research ties together. I don’t expect to convince ideologues, but the genuinely undecided can see how the chemistry, physiology, paleo, and current observations all demonstrate coherence and consilience. The same cannot be said for contrarian claims about ocean acidification.

    And one final comment; I would welcome being wrong about ocean acidification, and the negative impact of ocean warming on marine life, but the scientific literature, and current observations, make this an unlikely prospect. Sadly.


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      MaxL

      Yes Rob, you can keep your computer models, one day they might be able to simulate current flow in a semiconductor. Please see #29.2.1.1

      By the way, what did you think of the nuclear powered corals?
      Would your models have predicted that outcome after 50 years?
      Did you even look at the link?
      Or should we just not mention it?


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      Andrew McRae

      The ocean acidification scare is the soft underbelly of the skeptic position. It receives almost no attention. That doesn’t mean it is true, but it does not get taken to task nearly as often. What little I have heard has been mixed. I think NOAA are probably not lying when they show time series measurements proving the pH has decreased in many places.

      It completely sidesteps the whole climate sensitivity quagmire, but it unfortunately substitutes it with a new quagmire that is in some ways more impenetrable. The vagaries of the dynamics of a living ecosystem surely make statements of ACO2 attribution even more difficult to prove.

      Coral bleaching due to river sediment cloudiness has happened regularly for thousands of years and by itself would not be a threat. In particular I note the opinion of marine biologists at JCU in Queensland is that sediment washout from rivers after heavy storms, plus the extra anthropogenic load of fertiliser runoff from sugar cane farms, are the sole causes of coral dieoff in the GBR around Cairns.
      The word on the street is… the coral of GBR is pretty good wherever you look a long way from agriculture and rivers. Of course, that is the kind of opinion that ought to backed up with measurement.

      The posts rely heavily on the peer-reviewed scientific literature, so readers can see how all the research ties together. I don’t expect to convince ideologues, but the genuinely undecided can see how the chemistry, physiology, paleo, and current observations all demonstrate coherence and consilience.

      That is good news. I will be most interested in how CO2 will be blamed for these outcomes.

      At the outset, agricultural runoff seems a genuine environmental problem for corals which ought not be conflated with the nonsense of CAGW. Happy to go wherever observational evidence points.


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      Peter Miller

      A classic case of grant addiction, government bureaucrat and CAGW fanatic.

      It is hard to conclude this comment as being anything other than the typical warmist mantra of: “I alarm, therefore I am, therefore I have a comfortable lifestyle.”

      “it’s worse than we thought,” is another alarmist mantra, which I see used here.

      This from an obviously alarmist commentator, who has not read your script:

      “The Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its coral in the past 27 years, according to a new study.

      Researchers from The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville say that the loss was due to storm damage (48%), crown of thorns starfish (42%) and bleaching (10%), which is caused by the warming of the ocean.

      “We can’t stop the storms but, perhaps we can stop the starfish. If we can, then the Reef will have more opportunity to adapt to the challenges of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, said John Gunn, CEO of AIMS.

      Dr Peter Doherty, Research Fellow at AIMS, said that the study has taken over 25 years to complete.”

      Well, OK, but out there in the real world there are these really inconvenient things called facts. You know, that stuff that ‘climate scientists’ like to ignore. As can be seen here, the sea temperature in the Great Barrier Reef has done absolutely nothing over the past 30 years – the original source is NOAA:

      http://jennifermarohasy.com/2009/01/sea-surface-temperatures-along-the-great-barrier-reef/

      So assuming NOAA’s temperature records are correct, that means 100% of the coral losses have been caused by either storms or crown of stars starfish. With the greatest respect, even sceptics cannot be accused of being responsible for this.

      Meanwhile, this is what the Australian government officially says:

      http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=great%20barrier%20reef%20health%20coral&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&ved=0CDkQFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gbrmpa.gov.au%2Foutlook-for-the-reef%2Fclimate-change%2Fmarine-park-management%2Fcurrent-conditions-on-the-great-barrier-reef2&ei=OJpxUL7pF–20QWu64DwDA&usg=AFQjCNHmjFJC4FT0IsvAzZXhaSZvt_0tMQ

      Umm…….


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        But what is not widely publicised is that reefs destroyed by storms, bleaching, crown of thorns, can recover rapidly if in protected areas (such as the Great Barrier Reef). The study reported here was of the Keppel Reefs, off Rockhampton.


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    KinkyKeith

    It’s on the wall but it’s not a Painting, its just a mess.

    “then you must invoke some model in order .. ” blah blah blah.

    You wouldn’t know what to do with a model if it fell on you.

    What you are reading is not “scientific literature” but a poor caricature of a previous period when science

    was done done by Scientists, not publicists and political spin merchants.

    KK


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      MaxL

      You know Kinky, when I think of names like Maxwell, Gauss, Einstein, Tesla and oh so many, many, many more and I read what Rob says about complex science which can only be done by complex computer models.

      I wonder if he is saying that these people performed only simple science?
      Does he really think that Mann, Trenberth, Hansen and co. are within cooee of the aforementioned?


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    The bottom line has always been that corals went on living and evolving through geological eras when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were much higher than they are now. In addition to the geochemical evidence, even stomata densities on plant leaves show CO2 levels were higher in the Cretaceous and Palaeogene.


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      Andrew McRae

      What do you say to the frequent retort that today’s corals are not prepared for the elevated levels of CO2 that their ancestors ate for breakfast?


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        Gee Aye

        yeah, you go Andrew!

        Or as I would put it, they are not the same creatures.

        And as I would also put it, they are not the same ecosystems.

        And as I would also also put it, you have no idea how these now extinct corals coped with changes of any scale and how exactly their metabolism differed from today’s corals.

        Or as I might also put it, the corals of which you speak are less similar to each other than pigeons and T.rex, and I don’t see too many T.rex’s flying about.


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      Graeme No.3

      Yes,
      you’ve touched on the circular reasoning of AGW, that the CO2 level controls the temperature, and if the CO2 level is known then so is the temperature.
      They reach this idea because they believe that they can measure CO2 accurately in ice cores. Since these measurements rarely exceed 280ppm they have decided that any level of CO2 above that must cause warming, followed by disaster.

      They then reverse this and claim that if their measurements don’t exceed 280 ppm then the Earth cannot have been warmer anytime in the last 10,000 years, hence their denial of the Medieval & Roman Warm periods. The Holocene optimum has to be ignored along with stomata records indicating 450ppm CO2, despite the Sahara being green and teeming with life as the Tasili frescoes show.

      Somehow they never stop to ask how it is that the previous 3 interglacials were all warmer (by up to 3 degrees) despite their beloved ice figures showing much lower CO2 levels than at present. Given that in the last interglacial there were elephants, giraffes, hippopotami and lions roaming the Thames valley as well as across middle Europe, you might think that these indicate much warmer temperatures that today.

      But such ideas are ignored, it comes down to “CO2 controls the Earth’s temperature (except when it doesn’t)”. Any evidence that contradicts this they refuse to accept. It’s the believers in AGW who are the real deniers.


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    Ian L McQueen

    According to http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/innovations/great-barrier-reef-virtual-tour/1025518:

    “Renowned Australian marine scientist Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is its chief scientist, he is from the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland.”

    Just thought you’d like to know the high regard in which he is held by the ABC…..

    IanM


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    Andrew McRae – “What do you say to the frequent retort that today’s corals are not prepared for the elevated levels of CO2 that their ancestors ate for breakfast?”

    See points 5 & 6 @ comment 29. Slow rises in atmospheric CO2 concentration does not acidify the ocean. This is because the slow process of chemical weathering (of carbonate & silicate rocks) is able to supply alkalinity back to the ocean. The dissolution of ocean carbonate, again a slow process, also aids in maintaining non-corrosive (to calcifiers) seawater. That was my point about the White Cliffs of Dover – they provide ample evidence that the extremely high CO2 levels of the Cretaceous (named after the chalk deposits) did not acidify the oceans.


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    Graeme – “There is no way that rising CO2 levels are ever going to “acidifying” the oceans”

    This is, of course, wrong. The mechanism is relatively easy to understand. Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures describes that the total pressure exerted by a gas mixture, is equal to the sum of the partial pressures of the individual gases in that mixture. Henry’s Law stipulates that, at a constant temperature, the amount of gas that dissolves in a liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid.

    What it means is that as humans have burnt fossils fuels and released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it has increased the CO2 partial pressure in the air. Following Henry’s Law such an increase in partial will cause more CO2 to dissolve into the oceans. There are several long-term monitoring stations, one in Hawaii, and one at Bermuda, that show a decline in pH matching what we would expect given these two simple physical laws. See Figure 1 in: Present conditions and Future changes in a high-co2 World – Feeley (2009).

    This process is demonstrated by considering a can of soft drink. The carbon dissolved dioxide in the soft drink gives it its fizz. Once you open the can, the CO2 in the can is able to come into equilibrium with the lower CO2 content in the atmosphere, and consequently the soft drink loses its fizz.

    So to recap: Ocean acidification is supported by the theoretical chemistry basis, it is actually being measured, and there is paleo evidence of it having occurred in the Earth’s past.


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      Graeme No.3

      “This is, of course, wrong. The mechanism is relatively easy to understand. Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures describes that the total pressure exerted by a gas mixture, is equal to the sum of the partial pressures of the individual gases in that mixture”.

      (Are you postulating that an increase in CO2 will cause a rise in atmospheric pressure?

      “Henry’s Law stipulates that, at a constant temperature, the amount of gas that dissolves in a liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid”

      (for an ideal gas and provided that the gas does not react with the solvent).
      Did you by any chance calculate the partial pressure of CO2? Around 40 Pa versus an atmospheric pressure of 101,000 Pa?

      Graeme – “There is no way that rising CO2 levels are ever going to be acidifying the oceans” 
 “There are several long-term monitoring stations, one in Hawaii, and one at Bermuda”

      (these global warming types get all the best jobs), ….

      “that show a decline in pH matching what we would expect given these two simple physical laws”.

      NO, they don’t match! Calculate the figures.
For pH = 8.08, the Caldeira and Berner relation gives a value for pCO2 of 613 ppmv, and that of Pearson and Palmer a value of 413 ppmv. The actual value today is ~384 ppmv. The discrepancy shows that even if the assumption of constant carbonate ion concentration or constant total dissolved inorganic carbon concentration can be justified on theoretical grounds, other factors must be involved.

      In any case the observed drop was 0.03 units from 1990 to 2008. The 285 ppm figure quote was derived by linear extrapolation as are the figures for CO2 concentration in the future. Leaving aside a certain Professor’s dictum that “linear extrapolation is best done in private among consenting adults” there is no ACTUAL evidence of either figure.

      “This process is demonstrated by considering a can of soft drink. The carbon dissolved dioxide in the soft drink gives it its fizz”.

      SBW (so bloody what?) soft drink is carbonated when very cold and under a multiple atmospheres of pressure of CO2. Of course there is more CO2 in there!

      “
So just to recap, there are a number of crucial points here:
      We have a physiological

      (psycological?)

      expectation of coral being negatively affected by ocean acidification, because they utilize carbonate ions (derived from bicarbonate ultimately) to form their calcium carbonate skeletons….making shell formation energetically more costly. This reduces growth and makes the coral skeleton mechanically weaker”.

      You are assuming that
      a) current conditions are ideal and that extra CO2 won’t enhance plant (symbiotic algae) growth and
      b) higher temperatures won’t help growth, e.g. the enzyme, carbonic anhydrase which catalyses carbonic acid production will not be more active at slightly higher temperature or
      c) the corals will just grow more slowly.
      “As ocean acidification progresses eventually seawater will become physically corrosive to marine calcifiers such as coral”. Unlikely if seawater is still basic, and various calculations show that it will be..
      pH 8 at 550ppm.
      pH 7.8 at 850 ppm.
      pH 7.38 at 1900 ppm.

      Caldeira and Wickett [7] project a maximum pH reduction in 2300 of 0.77 units (i.e. 7.31 pH) for an atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide of 1900 ppmv.

      Concentration at 1xCO2 pH 8.17
      Concentration at 2xCO2 pH 7.93

      “At no point in the last 300 million years is there any evidence of a time on Earth when the rate of atmospheric CO2 increase has been anywhere near the current human-caused rate”.

      (except at the start of the Holocene; various commentators, who believe in the AGW idea) have queued up to explain that the abrupt rise in temperature of 7C was caused by an equally abrupt rise of 90 ppm in CO2 in less than 100 years)

      “Even the intense volcanic activity of the Permian Extinction saw atmospheric CO2 increases around 15-30 times slower than modern-day”

      (as far as can be ascertained).
      Are you contradicting James Hansen? Volcanoes release various sulphuric species which are hundreds of time more acid than CO2.

      “The preferential extinction of marine life is strong evidence for ocean acidification during the Permian”.

      Then the extinction of 90% of land dwelling creatures is evidence of ?
      I would agree that here is the most probable time of ocean acidification.

      “Ancient reef-building coral were extinguished numerous times in”

      I presume you mean various species went extinct once?
      Yes, but a lot of that reef building was not necessarily by corals.

      “Earth’s history, and the emergence of new coral forms has typically taken millions of years. Those are the “reef gaps” I referred to in my previous comment..all at times of mass extinction”.

      Let’s see
      Ordovician CO2 3000 ppm, ice age.
      Devonian CO2 high, temperature high
      Permian CO2 lower, temperature low
      Triassic CO2 high, temperature cold.
      Cretaceous CO2 double present, temperature warmer than present.

      “This only occurs when atmospheric CO2 increases rapidly, and overwhelms the rate at which chemical weathering is able to supply alkalinity back to the ocean”.

      Is there any evidence for a rise in CO2 level at the KT level?
      If higher atmospheric CO2 increases ocean “acidity” surely rainwater becomes more acid, enhancing weathering. Rain water can be at 5.7 pH at current levels of CO2, far more corrosive than sea water at 7.5-8 pH. (and closer to the new rocks).

      “Huge chalk deposits during the Cretaceous, a time of high atmospheric CO2 is evidence that slow rates of atmospheric CO2 increase do not cause the ocean to acidify”.

      Considering that the Cretaceous lasted 80 million years surely those high CO2 levels must have affected the ocean? Or are you saying that the higher CO2 levels enhance weathering (as distinct from above) and balance the effect?
      So, high CO2 levels won’t cause the oceans to be more acid?

      ” Current observations show that coral cover is declining world-wide, and this includes regions far away from human activity (pollution/nutrient run-off etc).”

      Not according to reports from divers, and for what it is worth, various tourist bureaus.

      “More, and more studies are being published that reveal ocean acidification, and coral bleaching, are reducing the rate of calcification at reef sites around the world”.

      Aren’t you forgetting that the corals all live on top of the skeletons of dead coral (calcium carbonate unprotected by any organic layers?). That huge mass of dead coral would provide buffering if the equilibrium shifted to favour carbonate dissolving?

      [b-quotes added to improve clarity] ED


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        Gee Aye

        thanks to the ads as I can finally read this. Graeme, what systematic studies are you citing? What data can you show us?

        can you please show us anything that links this

        Ordovician CO2 3000 ppm, ice age.
        Devonian CO2 high, temperature high
        Permian CO2 lower, temperature low
        Triassic CO2 high, temperature cold.
        Cretaceous CO2 double present, temperature warmer than present.

        with organisms alive today. Please note that some of the organisms alive today are as closely related to some of the sea creatures in the oceans at these times as you and me.


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      KinkyKeith

      “and there is paleo evidence of it having occurred in the Earth’s past.”

      SO TALK TO US ABOUT IT!

      Or can’t you do any better than post links.

      If you can’t explain it YOU don’t understand it.

      kk


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    Graeme No.3 -”Unlikely if seawater is still basic, and various calculations show that it will be.”

    Actually this is a common misconception. Although the pH of the global oceans is important for various chemical processes in living organisms, it’s not really the key issue for the stability of calcium carbonate (chalk) shells and skeletons. The lowering of the carbonate ion concentration, through increased levels of dissolved CO2, is. The building blocks of calcium carbonate are derived from the surrounding seawater. Chemical reactions in a solution, such as seawater, are essentially two opposed processes occurring at the same time, but they generally have a preferred direction. When sufficient concentrations of calcium and carbonate ions are dissolved in seawater it is deemed to be saturated (supersaturated in reality, because of several factors), in other words the oceans favours the formation (precipitation) of calcium carbonate. Lower either the calcium, or carbonate ion concentration sufficiently and the ocean favours the dissolution of calcium carbonate – seawater becomes physically corrosive to vulnerable marine calcifiers.

    So the corrosiveness of seawater is not directly tied to the ocean pH (as you erroneously seem to think), but rather indirectly – through the shift in the carbon species dissolved in seawater caused by dissolving more CO2 into the global oceans.

    “Considering that the Cretaceous lasted 80 million years surely those high CO2 levels must have affected the ocean? Or are you saying that the higher CO2 levels enhance weathering (as distinct from above) and balance the effect? So, high CO2 levels won’t cause the oceans to be more acid?”

    As discussed earlier – slow rises in atmospheric CO2 do not outpace the slow rate of chemical weathering, and the ocean is therefore able to supply alkalinity back to the oceans. Therefore the oceans do not become corrosive, despite the high atmospheric CO2 – remember the discussion about the White Cliffs of Dover being made from calcium carbonate shells? And yes, higher CO2 levels and higher rates of rainfall in warm periods, enhance the chemical weathering process. This still takes around a hundred thousands years or so – as happened after the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Not much use on human timescales.

    “Not according to reports from divers, and for what it is worth, various tourist bureaus”

    Hardly a reliable source of information. The “Mayor of Amity Island Syndrome” perhaps?

    “That huge mass of dead coral would provide buffering”

    A handful of studies demonstrate there will be no buffering effect fast enough to stave off ocean acidification, and there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any buffering yet occurring – ocean acidification is increasing at a rate which matches the increase in atmospheric CO2. And you seem to be contradicting yourself here – you seemed to agree about OA at the Permian Extinction, where preferential extinction of marine calcifiers is evident.


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      Andrew McRae

      So the first thing we should do is drop the alarmist name of “Ocean Acidification”.
      We can abbreviate this calamity as “FLACCID” : Fire Lynches Aqueous Calcifiers by Carbonate Ion Depletion.

      When sufficient concentrations of calcium and carbonate ions are dissolved in seawater it is deemed to be saturated (supersaturated in reality, because of several factors)

      But if it is supersaturated, how is there danger of not being enough carbonate ions??

      My chemistry teacher back in high school told us that acidification due to global warming was virtually impossible because the ocean was a highly buffered solution. Surely Mr B was not fibbing. Since he was a prize-winning research chemist I’m sure he knew what a buffered solution was and whether the ocean qualified as one. So I must ask, Mr Painting, what new evidence is there that the ocean is losing its carbonate buffering ability?

      Surely the slight pH drop lasts only as long as it takes for aCO2 to become well-mixed in the ocean (and before it hits the seabed and starts weathering)?
      At the mid-latitudes and poles there is surely enough temperature similarity between the top 6m and the next 100m that significant mixing can occur?
      And for that matter, isn’t the MOC (aka THC aka ocean conveyor belt) going to mop all this up in less than 500 years?

      Still not seeing how FLACCID can even happen, certainly not as far as -0.3 in pH.


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    Graeme No.3

    Thank you for your explanation of the Lysocline, which occurs at far deeper depths than corals inhabit. Yes, the depth is reduced by higher atmospheric CO2 levels, such as occurred in the Jurassic and Cretaceous, yet there were lots of calcite skeletons deposited as you noted.

    We don’t know what caused the Permian extinction, we can only speculate.
    What is known is that 90% of ALL species went extinct and that there were massive volcanic eruptions. Other mass extinctions have coincided with huge volcanic effects, even at the KT boundary.

    The volcanic fumes may well have acidified the oceans, but that doesn’t explain the extinctions of land species. Volcanoes do emit large amounts of CO2 (1), and also large quantities of sulphurous gases. Hydrogen sulphide is quite toxic and might explain the far reaching extinctions.
    It would eventually oxidise to sulphurous acid, and then cause ocean acidification, but only after wiping out a lot of life forms on both land and sea.
    Another theory recently blamed arsenic compounds.

    You claim that ” ocean acidification is increasing at a rate which matches the increase in atmospheric CO2″ on the basis of measurements at a few spots. The maximum decrease MEASURED is around 0.08 – 0.11. So a 40% rise in CO2 has been matched by a 3% increase in the hydrogen ion concentration? You have convinced yourself, so let us leave it at that point.

    (1) except in AGW theory where volcanoes only emit sulphate aerosols, which cause a temporary reduction in temperature. If they were allowed to emit CO2, then that would, under AGW theory, cause on-going warming.


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    Ian L McQueen

    This talk of “ocean acidification” due to CO2 stimulated my memory cells into informing me that I had read an article on WUWT at some time in the past about the effect of naturally-occurring CO2 bubbles on nearby coral and other tropical lifeforms. It took a while to find it, but I finally succeeded. Please read the postings and comments at:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/28/the-fishes-and-the-coral-live-happily-in-the-co2-bubble-plume/

    IanM


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    Andrew McRae –

    But if it is supersaturated, how is there danger of not being enough carbonate ions??

    Calcium carbonate doesn’t just spontaneously precipitate when the oceans are saturated with respect to these minerals. Virtually all marine calcium carbonate formed in the ocean today requires a biological agent – like coral for instance. Spontaneous precipitation doesn’t occur because of the presence of other compounds which inhibit precipitation.

    In other words; the threshold for an ocean favouring the dissolution of calcium carbonate is actually one where the oceans are theoretically super-saturated. So, as I described in my earlier comment, the opposed chemical reactions which favour the precipitation/dissolution of calcium carbonate shift toward dissolution. Indeed, reef-building coral of the world are only found where the surface ocean is strongly supersaturated.

    My chemistry teacher back in high school……

    Was wrong. Ocean buffering, through the dissolution of marine carbonates, occurs on timescales too long to prevent ocean acidification. That’s why the oceans acidified in the past. This process does, however, help restore alkalinity back to the ocean long after acidification events. See: Ocean Acidification in Deep Time – Kump (2009).

    what new evidence is there that the ocean is losing its carbonate buffering ability?

    The oceans are not losing their ability, they simply cannot respond fast enough. If they could we would not see the ancient ocean acidification events in the paleo record.

    ……certainly not as far as -0.3 in pH.

    Convert that 0.3 units into a percentage and you’ll find it’s a huge change in the pH of the global oceans. Your comment suggests that you don’t understand this.


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      Andrew McRae

      Your comment suggests you do not understand what the “p” in pH means. No, a -0.3pH drop is small, it is a logarithmic scale for a reason. A few extra hydronium ions make a lot of difference when you don’t start out with many, like pH 9 or 10, but make less incremental difference when you have a lot already, like pH 4 or 5. Converting to a percentage means you no longer have a pH.
      You may as well tell me to multiply by 100000 and then be shocked at the answer, it is manufacturing a mountain out of a molehill.

      But that is all beside the point. I did not base my nonchalance about “-0.3 in pH” simply on the written appearance of the number, I base it on the (at worst) very mixed evidence of how bad that actually is for various species in calcification experiments. At -0.3 the Coccolithophores are completely unaffected, the clams can still grow but at half their usual rate, and your precious corals generally drop in calcification rate by a mere 2%, though we may have to kiss goodbye to the “Ivory Bush Coral” whatever that is (world’s smallest violin). No other kingdoms on that page have enough samples to draw conclusions. It’s not exactly the “coral Auschwitz” that we keep hearing about. Hell, the pillow corals seem to do slightly better than normal in the only study that reports on them.
      Based on this data the alarm sounds unjustifiable.

      Presumably you are aware of compendiums of pH experiments with greater breadth and depth than this one?

      Because if you ain’t testing models against measurements, you ain’t doing science – that’s for sure.


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    Graeme –

    So a 40% rise in CO2 has been matched by a 3% increase in the hydrogen ion concentration? You have convinced yourself, so let us leave it at that point.

    Best not to leave it there – something is dreadfully wrong with your math here. Perhaps you might want to show how you came by your 3% claim?


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      Graeme No.3

      The Ph scale is logarithmic (base 10)

      That means that the hydrogen ion concentration at pH 8 is 10 times that at pH 9 etc.

      So the pH concentration at pH 7 is 10 times that at pH 8.

      Therefore any pH drop between 8 and 9 can’t exceed 10%.

      If you have a calculator, the conversion to hydrogen ion concentration is 10 raised to the power of -pH. Or you could use a spreadsheet.

      I must admit that I didn’t record my figures. As far as I remember I used between 8.15 and 8.08 and compared that to 7.5, which seemed to me to be a likely endpoint.

      If you use the drop from the assumed figure of 8.25 to 8.08 and compare it with the neutral point (reminder 7.0) the change in hydrogen ion concentration is 2.7% , so that may have been what I used.

      However, I must admit an error; I said a 40% increase in CO2, using the current concentration compared to 280 ppm. Whereas I should have used the figure of 260 ppm. claimed to have been the concentration in 1760; the date that they extrapolated back to for the pH of 8.25. So my comment should read that a 50% rise in CO2 has been matched by a 2.7% increase in the hydrogen ion concentration.


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    So the pH concentration at pH 7 is 10 times that at pH 8.

    Okay – that explains why a lot of people struggle with the pH scale. Rather than a 10% increase in hydrogen ion concentration, a drop of one unit of pH is in reality a ten-fold increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions. A 1000% increase not 10%. See this NOAA primer on pH for instance. The link gives the away the answer to the question of the percentage change in ocean pH since pre-industrial times, but it’s not that difficult to calculate yourself.

    But the bottomline is clear: seemingly small changes in ocean pH, represent large changes in hydrogen ion concentration.

    [Please use the "reply" function so that comments stay nested.] ED


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    Graeme No.3

    Oh, the old 4 apples is 33% more than 3 apples trick.

    30% certainly sounds much more scary. So the natural variation on your scale is 250 and it would take 1312 to get to neutral.

    By the way, the graphs illustrating the article might repay study. They don’t expect the ocean to go below 7.8pH even at 850 ppm. As that pH has already been found (transiently) in some oceanic waters, what level of CO2 do you have in mind that could cause acidification?


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      Oh, the old 4 apples is 33% more than 3 apples

      Good, so you understand your mistake.

      what level of CO2 do you have in mind that could cause acidification?

      The oceans have already acidified i.e. the hydrogen ion concentration has increased by around 30%. Ocean acidification has nothing to do with whether the oceans are alkaline or acid (they will likely always be alkaline), but has everything to do with the increase in hydrogen ion concentration – it’s that which is important because it lowers the carbonate ion concentration (activity) which many marine calcifiers depend upon to build their shells.

      This is one of the reasons why vulnerable calcifiers, such coral, are showing signs of decreased skeletal growth around the world. It is energetically more costly to build their skeletons as the carbonate ion concentration drops. Calcification will decline unless they are able to take in more nutrients, either via their symbiotic algae, or through themselves filtering more food from the surrounding seawater.

      If fossil fuel use continues as it has, the oceans will be depleted in carbonate ions such that they will become physically corrosive to many calcifiers (not all though). If that were to happen, a lot of marine life, including a lot which humans rely upon for protein intake, will shuffle off their mortal coil. This is the greatest concern for humanity, because the oceans will not be restored to their former chemical state for around 100,000 years – effectively forever on human time frames.


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    Alex Lenferna

    @Pat, I am not sure what you are trying to prove by listing my background. Please do ellaborate. If it is simply to show that some within universities are beginning to use their academics to reflect critically on important issues such as global warming then I am happy to represent that emerging group of academics. However, I am not sure why you felt the need to bring out my background and so on on this page. Please advise.


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