A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Farmed fish doing alright at CO2 levels twenty, fifty, seventy times higher than today

The World Wildlife Fund tells us that global CO2 is bad for global fish stocks, but ponder that professional fish farms can reach levels of CO2 twenty or even seventy five times higher, and the fish appear to be doing OK. Current guidelines for fish farms even suggest that “safe limits of CO2 range from >5000 to >30 000 µatm*” which are “12.5 to 75 times higher than current atmospheric levels”.

So in another few thousand years we might really get into trouble with fish farms and climate change then? (Or maybe we won’t. James Hansen estimates if we burn every last barrel of fossil fuel on Earth we’ll get to 1,400ppm. The experience of fish farms all over the world is that fish can apparently adapt to levels ten times higher even than this worst case scenario.)

We have a situation where there are scores of reports fish suffering from ocean acidification and high CO2 levels, but they don’t mesh with the reality that fish farms have been dealing with for decades.  A new paper tries to figure out why this is so. The study doesn’t prove that there are no bad effects from higher CO2, but [...]

NOAA scientists admit in private that they can’t name any place affected by ocean acidification

There’s the truth, then there’s the whole truth.

From a climate expert at NOAA, the study of ocean acidification is so young “they don’t have any data sets that show a direct effect of OA on population health” and they can’t name any place in the world that is definitely affected by it.

Steve Milloy at FOI’d emails among NOAA scientists discussing a NY times op-ed draft.The editor was serving up an apocalyse:

…and he wanted all the dirt:

Can the authors give us more specific, descriptive images about how acidification has already affected the oceans?

Tony Thomas writes that Dr Shallin Busch, who works for NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program discussed the draft of the article with fellow scientist Ms Applebaum. She warns that they can’t say that OA (Ocean Acidification) was definitely a problem anywhere at the moment:

Unfortunately, I can’t provide this information to you because it doesn’t exist. As I said in my last email, currently there are NO areas of the world that are severely degraded because of OA or even areas that we know are definitely affected by OA right now. If you want to use this type of [...]

Life adapts — fish evolved from salt to fresh water in just fifty years

In 1964 an earthquake made some parts of the Pacific into ponds on a few islands. Fifty years later and the fish in those ponds are now freshwater fish. Apparently the genes for dealing with that sort of wild extreme change are held by some of the fish in the crowd and natural selection can work its wonders in a decade.

In terms of ocean acidification, this is as catastrophic as it gets, not only did the ocean become “more acidic” but it stopped being an ocean.

I can’t get much worse than this for a fish, and yet somehow life on Earth had the answer.

What’s the pH of those ponds — The ocean pH is 8.1, rain is 5.5. Those ponds will be somewhere in between.

And some people think a man-made “ocean acidication” that’s smaller than this and slower, will devastate the ocean.


Science Daily

Evolution is usually thought of as occurring over long time periods, but it also can happen quickly. Consider a tiny fish whose transformation after the 1964 Alaskan earthquake was uncovered by University of Oregon scientists and their University of Alaska collaborators.

The fish, [...]

Researchers astonished: Coral reefs thriving in a more “acidic” ocean

Palau Islands

The researchers at Woods Hole have spent four years doing a comprehensive study at Palau Rock Islands in the far Western Pacific, where pH levels are naturally “more acidic” (which is  big-government speak for less alkaline). Because of laboratory experiments Barkley et al [1] expected to find all kinds of detrimental effects, but instead found a diverse healthy system they describe as “thriving” with “greater coral cover” and more “species”.

A new study led by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that the coral reefs there seem to be defying the odds, showing none of the predicted responses to low pH except for an increase in bioerosion — the physical breakdown of coral skeletons by boring organisms such as mollusks and worms. The paper is to be published June 5 in the journal Science Advances.

‘Based on lab experiments and studies of other naturally low pH reef systems, this is the opposite of what we expected,’ says lead author Hannah Barkley, a graduate student in the WHOI-MIT joint program in oceanography.

Experiments measuring corals’ responses to a variety of low pH conditions have shown a range of negative impacts, [...]

Does ocean pH shift with the PDO cycle?

The man who uncovered the 80 years of missing empirical data on ocean pH is Mike Wallace. That hidden data suggested the ocean had been getting slightly more alkaline in the 20th Century –the opposite of the man-made acidification theory — but that pH change hasn’t been a linear shift. The pH has been cycling up and down, and on his blog back in February Wallace suggested that the pH of the ocean was varying naturally as the PDO cycled*.

It’s an interesting theory. He’s used the PDO index and his global ocean pelagic zone pH time series chart that was based on 1.5 million pH readings.

It’s nice to watch a real scientist at work. His blog is worth a look.



*PDO means Pacific Decadal Oscillation – the 15 – 30 year long cycles of warmer or cooler sea surface temperatures in the northern Pacific. In a positive phase the western side is cool and the east is warmer, it rains more in California and less in Australia. The negative phase is the opposite.

Oceans not acidifying – “scientists” hid 80 years of pH data

Co-authored James Doogue and JoNova

Empirical data withheld by key scientists shows that since 1910 ocean pH levels have not decreased in our oceans as carbon dioxide levels increased. Overall the trend is messy but more up than down, becoming less acidic. So much for those terrifying oceans of acid that were coming our way.

What happened to those graphs?

Scientists have had pH meters and measurements of the oceans for one hundred years. But experts decided that computer simulations in 2014 were better at measuring the pH in 1910 than the pH meters were. The red line (below) is the models recreation of ocean pH. The blue stars are the data points — the empirical evidence.

James Delingpole on ‘Breitbart’:

NOAAgate: ‘ocean acidification’ could turn out to be the biggest con since Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick


[CFACT] Marita Noon:

The alleged fraud was uncovered by Mike Wallace, a hydrologist with nearly 30 years’ experience now working towards his PhD at the University of New Mexico. While studying a chart produced by Feely and Sabine, apparently showing a strong correlation between rising atmospheric CO2 levels and falling oceanic pH [...]

Look out! Climate change makes fish reckless

AIMS researchers found that fish near a natural CO2 vent were not as scared of predators as their colleagues from more alkaline water: “Ocean Acidification robs reef fish of their fear of predators”.

They compared populations in reefs with normal pH levels with those near the vent. I note this line in the abstract didn’t make it to the press release:

“Contrary to expectations, fish diversity and community structure differed little between CO2 seeps and nearby control reefs.”

So the natural laboratory of the vent has biodiversity and a community, despite the “acid” (which is not acidic of course). Milne Bay, I gather, has pH of 7.7.

The abstract points out that there might be a reason why fish are bolder:

“Our results suggest that recruitment of juvenile fish from outside the seeps, along with fewer predators within the seeps, is currently sufficient to offset any negative effects of high CO2 within the seeps.”

Less predators, anyone?

So these might be well adapted little fish that suit the natural environment around them? Call the press…

If warming were politically correct, then people might say the fish became more confident. : -)

Indeed shouldn’t we worry that fish in higher [...]

What the CSIRO State of the Climate report forgot to tell you

The CSIRO decided to leave out some information about the state of our climate in their  State of the Climate Report CSIRO.

CSIRO published these “Fast Facts” in bold. I’m publishing the things they didn’t say, but could have, in points in between.

UPDATE: The CSIRO budget is $1.2 billion a year and the BOM’s is $300 m. Why is it left to unfunded volunteers to provide the full story?

Fast Facts from the CSIRO and BOM “Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910, and the frequency of extreme weather has changed, with more extreme heat and fewer cool extremes.” The CSIRO-BOM team could have said: Scientifically, extreme weather measures are lousy indicators. They’re noisy and not very meaningful. They are however useful for getting newspaper headlines. It depends on what your aim is… Australia’s had extreme hot days for as long as we’ve been measuring the temperature. Charles Sturt recorded 53C in 1828 which seems fairly extreme. Thomas Mitchell did it too in 1845 and are many others (see the map below, check Trove, ask the BOM — no don’t ask the BOM). The records prior to 1910 seem to have gone down the memory hole, [...]

Monckton responds: the economics, the creatures, the acidification!

UPDATED with another reply (See below)

Across my desk came another one of Christopher Monckton’s many analytical entertaining parries, which I see SPPI has published already. Monckton and SPPI have supporting information in the documents linked from the images. – Jo

Dear Professor Bada,

You reply to my earlier email as follows (with some ad-hominem instances of the ignoratio elenchi fallacy removed):

“OK so you accept global warming but say from an economic standpoint we would destroy our societies by trying to mend our ways. What about all the other creatures on the Earth? Do they have any say in your economic based claims we should to do nothing? What about ocean acidification from increasing CO2 and its affects on photosynthetic organisms?”

Let me deal with your three points seriatim.

First, mitigation economics. You may like to look at the attached reviewed paper that was published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the World Federation of Scientists. The analysis is in line with the reviewed literature in concluding that attempted mitigation today would be 1-2 orders of magnitude costlier than adaptation the day after tomorrow. The calculation, which is simple and survived unchallenged after 90 [...]

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

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 [...]