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January 01st 2016 print

Tony Thomas

The Fishy ‘Science’ of Ocean Acidification

With an obstinate atmosphere failing to warm as predicted, another peril was needed to sustain the junk-science industry and keep lazy reporters supplied with bogus scoops. No problem! Conscript a Disney character, garnish with misrepresentations and there you have it: ocean acidification

nemoHow scary is “ocean acidification”?  Very scary. The previously scary “global warming” stopped 19 years ago, but do stay scared because all that CO2 since 1997 has instead been “acidifying” the oceans. Please imagine baby oysters dissolving in the equivalent of battery acid, and hermit crabs raising a nervous feeler to discover that their protective shells have disappeared. Curse you, horrible human-caused CO2 emissions!

In one celebrated episode involving Climate Science™,  a lone oyster farmer in Maine put his oysters into  a bucket and then found that the bivalves at the bottom were crunched because their shells were weakened.[1] Can any reasonable person ask for better  scientific proof of ocean “acidification”?

“Ocean Acidification”, the evil twin of global warming, is  scary because the chemistry is so simple. For example, the Australian Academy of Science in its curriculum for secondary schools, organizes an experiment for 16-year-olds where crushed ocean shells go into a test tube of sea water. You add acid or vinegar or something, and then watch the shells fizz and dissolve!

Two years ago, I noticed in Melbourne’s Fed Square a $50,000 competition for schoolkids for the best drawing about ocean “acidification”, sponsored by the green Ocean Ark Group. The theme was “Imagine losing all this color and life”. Guidance text included,

There are approximately 10,000 Coral Reefs and we are destroying one every other day…Left unchecked Ocean Acidification could trigger a Great Mass Extinction Event…

Now that union corruption has been exposed, maybe our next Royal Commission should be into Abuse of Children’s Intelligence, and the Academy and Ocean Ark could justify their teachings under cross-examination.[2]

Meanwhile, a trans-Atlantic team of top “ocean acidification scientists” has published a scary op-ed in the New York Times. Congrats to skeptic blogger Steve Milloy at Junkscience.com for successfully obtaining under FOI the emails among them collaborating over the op-ed draft. This material runs to 440 admittedly repetitious pages.[3] The named authors were Richard W. Spinrad, chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser to UK’s Department of Environment.

The trove of FOI emails include some beauties. Here’s what  NOAA’s Dr Shallin Busch  had to say, privately, to her NOAA colleague Madelyn Applebaum on September 30 about the  draft.  They had been asked by the New York Times to sex it up with some specific hurts allegedly being caused by all this acidification. The editor asked,

It’s very interesting, but in order to work for us it needs to be geared more toward the general reader. Can the authors give us more specific, descriptive images about how acidification has already affected the oceans? Is the situation akin to the acid rain phenomenon that hit North America? What can be done to counteract the problem?

Dr Busch, who works for NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program and Northwest Fisheries Science Center at Seattle, responded to Ms Applebaum:

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 language, you could write about the CO2 vent sites in Italy or Polynesia as examples of things to come. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful on this!

Dr Busch had the integrity to admit that science can cite “NO” significant ocean “acidification” impacts. But she was nonetheless happy for the article to include, as agitprop, the effects of natural CO2 venting through the ocean floor, as though this somehow corroborated the “acidification”  story.

Dr Busch, in the course of vetting many drafts, also wrote to Applebaum:

Thanks for letting me chime in on this piece.   My two general impressions are the following:

1) This article is mostly gloom and doom, which research has shown that people don’t respond to well. In fact, people just stop reading gloom and doom environmental stories. It could be good to highlight ways we can and are dealing with OA [Ocean Acidification] now and that we have an opportunity to prevent the major predicted impacts of OA by stopping carbon emissions before larger chemistry changes happen…

2) I think it is really important to resist the NYT editor’s impulse to say that OA is wreaking all sorts of havoc RIGHT NOW, because for ecological systems, we don’t yet have the evidence to say that. OA is a problem today because it is changing ocean chemistry so quickly. The vast majority of the biological impacts of OA will only occur under projected future chemistry conditions. Also, the study of the biological impacts of OA is so young that we don’t have any data sets that show a direct effect of OA on population health or trajectory. Best, Shallin. [My bolding].[4]

And here’s Dr Busch on the Great Barrier Reef. The “Chris” she refers to is Chris Sabine, director of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

I’m not sure that I agree with Chris’s statement about the impact of OA on the Great Barrier Reef, [namely] ‘but underlying all of those factors is the fact that the corals are so stressed from ocean acidification that they can’t recover from those other impacts the way they used to be able to recover.’ Given my knowledge of the literature, OA is more of a future problem than a problem right now for the Great Barrier Reef. I think it is important to resist the NYT editor’s impulse to say that OA is wreaking all sorts of havoc RIGHT NOW, because for ecological systems, we don’t yet have the evidence to say that.

If you’ll permit a digression, Dr Sabine’s CV notes that not only was he a NOAA Employee of the Month in 2007 but his awards include:

Nobel Peace Prize (co-shared with Al Gore and other members of IPCC) – 2007

As an aside, I keep reminding these people of an IPCC ruling banning them from claiming Nobel Peace Prize status. Sometimes people like Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor Jane den Hollander even referred to the (subsequently) abruptly-resigned ex-IPCC head, accused sex criminal and all-around dirty old man Rajendra Pachauri as a “Nobel Prize” winner.[5] Our own CSIRO is full of   bogus Nobel Peace Prize winners. You can follow the preenings here, here and here, just for starters. The best solution would be for the IPCC to issue them all with lab coats recognizing their special status, e.g. with a purple satin sash, gold buckles and ostrich plumes.

Digression over, in the NYT’s other wordage and pics, we learn from the top scientists that sea butterflies, a food for salmon and herring, undergo shell weaknesses, showing why ocean acidification is often called [by whom?] ‘osteoporosis of the sea’”. The NYT editor had been badgering the authors for pics to go with the article in order to spruik all this damage from “acidification”. The authors, via the indefatigable Madelyn Applebaum, were desperate to find such before-and-afters — a dauntingly hard quest,  given there isn’t any damage and maybe never.

So what did Applebaum come up with to make the NYT happy? Why, twin pics from NOAA of sea butterflies (Pteropods) — the first had lived in a laboratory tub with “normal waters” (whatever “normal” means) for six days, and was in the pink of health. The other specimen inhabited a tub with “acidified water” for the six days. (Did the animal anti-cruelty people  sign off on sea-butterfly torture?) Would you believe, the poor little acid-dunked Pteropod showed a tracery of white lines where the acid had etched its shell surface. What more pictorial proof of the harm of ocean “acidification” could a NYT editor (or climate scientist, or Academician) possibly require?[6]

All such articles have to point to harm to people too. We read emails  that “Human health, too, is a major concern.” This is because the NOAA labs   show toxic growths when water in the tubs is artificially acidified. So assuming (heroically) the same thing happens in the wild, the authors warn that people could get sick from eating acidy shellfish. Eating this nasty sea-stuff could “sicken, even kill, fish and marine mammals such as sea lions.” I imagine that right now, hundreds of NOAA IT people are modeling ocean-life die-offs based on that algae in a NOAA lab tub.

To climate scientists, the most important sea creatures in the entire planetary eco-system are not whales[7] or other coelecanths but Walt Disney’s celebrated clownfish. That’s because little Nemo is a sure-fire tear-jerker in any climate-catastrophe scenario.

In the  long piece about the global oceans by the top dogs of US/UK climate science, we learn:

We cannot yet predict exactly how ocean acidification will affect connections among the world’s many different marine organisms, but we do know the consequences will be profound. [i.e. we don’t know but we do know. Send more grant funding immediately.] Research already points to the unnatural behavior of coral clownfish in an acidified environment. These fish wander farther from their natural protection, making them more vulnerable to predators.

This published reference to clownfish was the fruit of  much angst involving the UK department’s determination to shoe-horn Nemo into the PR exercise.

Jane Phenton, Senior Flack for UK Environment Dept, 30/9/15:

The [UK]  team have added some examples (Nemo the clown fish a particularly good one I think!) and a few thoughts.

Comments on a draft:

Hearing loss/impairment in Nemo, the coral clownfish, is just one of many potential impacts that have been identified in laboratory studies…

Oh no! Nemo, too, has been subjected to laboratory acid torture, but in a good cause. The boffins found “he” began wandering further from his protective home, inviting danger. But couldn’t Nemo, if still right side up in the tub, now be fitted with a sea-going Cochlear implant? (editor: shouldn’t that be a conchlear implant?)

However, things got more complex, because, says a NOAA scientist,

Apparently one study called Nemo ‘deaf’ – problem was attributed to brain damage that affected capability to hear. I’ll word carefully.

Someone else chips in,

He [Nemo] can’t smell his predators when they are near, and engages in risky behavior, making him more vulnerable to predators.

Someone else bells the cat, or fish, by pointing out that Nemo’s lab tub isn’t literally acidic, just less alkaline. And, anyway, Nemo might work out how to adapt  [assuming Nemo’s brain damage isn’t terminal].

Then on September 30 a NOAA heavy Dr Chris Sabine, Director, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, weighs in to Madelyn:

I have asked everyone I can reach and nobody is aware of a study that suggests that Nemo’s hearing would be impaired by ocean acidification. I did find one article on the web that suggested the opposite. I am aware of studies indicating that Nemo would lose sense of smell or ability to detect predators and therefore would be more likely to be eaten. Perhaps you can ask the UK people to check on that sentence. Chris  [my emphasis]

Be aware that these collaborators obsessing about Nemo are taxpayer-funded scientists and PR flacks, all hard at work on a journalism piece to puff their organisations.The article continues,

In the past three decades, the number of living corals covering the Great Barrier Reef has been cut in half, reducing critical habitat for fish and the resilience of the entire reef system.

I looked up the 2014 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Outlook Report which re-quoted a 2009 study, (p31),

There is little detailed information about the status and trends of many habitat types within the Great Barrier Reef … However, there is some evidence of a small decline in coral reef habitat over recent decades.

 A “small decline”? So what’s this halving that NOAA is talking about? It seems to come from a 2012 paper  by De-ath et al from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

By analyzing 27 years of data, the authors found that the Barrier Reef’s coral cover was down from 28% to 13.8% by area, in other words, half the initial coral cover had been lost.  But why? The losses were due to cyclones (48%),  crown-of-thorns starfish (42%) and coral bleaching (10%) – none of this involves the “acidification” peril.  And the pristine northern Reef area showed no decline. If it wasn’t for the cyclones, starfish and bleaching, the coral overall would have grown by nearly 3% a year. Even with cyclones and bleaching, the coral would grow by nearly 1% a year if the starfish were neutralized. To stay politically correct, the authors added that climate change had to be (somehow) stabilized, otherwise there would’s be more bleaching and cyclones, they think.

The NYT International piece was published under the ludicrous headline: Our Deadened, Carbon-Soaked Seas. A graphic (below) showed a big fish whose head above water was intact but whose body underwater was reduced to an acid-etched skeleton.

 

times on acid

The scientists’ preferred headline had merely been “In a high CO2 world, dangerous waters aheadand the authors had nothing to do with the lurid graphic. But the NYT likes to greenwash its readers with terrifying climate capers. The broadsheet gives several pages of boilerplate specs for contributors on fact-checking, and has an army of its own fact-checkers to ensure against embarrassing corrections. But this “professionalism” is trumped by a headline-writer’s whim and an artist’s ignorant sensationalism. As with our own demented and dying Fairfax papers, sensationalism is given the tick of shock-horror approval all the way up the editorial chain.

The top-tier science authors commiserated among themselves about the “quite inflammatory” re-write of their headline, but made not one word of complaint to the NYT. After all, the luridness was in the right direction – mega-scariness –  and the authors were keen to get more NYT coverage in future. Principles be damned.

The NYT article made a lot of mileage out of US west-coast  oyster industry problems ostensibly caused by ocean currents pushing “acidified” water towards the oyster beds, causing “baby oysters” to expire.  The infant oysters had in fact been killed by a faecal organism Vibrio tubiashii from sewage.)  And in any event, that pesky Dr Busch throws in an email saying

In fact, production in the Washington oyster industry is higher now than at the start of the [supposed acidification] crisis…Just as an FYI, we can’t yet attribute any large patterns in shellfish yield to OA [ocean acidification].

Dr Busch also wrote, re specific fish communities, “It might be good to mention that some species will be harmed by OA, some will benefit, and some won’t respond at all!” This is complete heresy, as global warming must always be presented as a bad thing. But Dr Busch knew what the NOAA playbook demanded and constructed a new draft paragraph dotted with the conditional — words like “may affect some fish populations” and “may” reorder ecosystems.  In this way any references to positive impacts on marine life are made to disappear.

The Australian Academy of Science in its educational materials is likewise unable to actually admit that  lower pH can have positive impacts on sea life. Instead, it glooms,

not all calcifying animals react in the same way to lower pH conditions. But although some animals and plants may not fare so badly as others, the impacts upon marine biodiversity have the potential to be severe.

The NYT piece revels in ridiculous analogies and apparently-massive numbers isolated from any planetary context, eg:

Over the past 200 years, the world’s seas have absorbed more than 150 billion metric tons of carbon from human activities. Currently, that’s a worldwide average of 15 pounds per person a week, enough to fill a coal train long enough to encircle the equator 13 times every year.

Hence

ocean and coastal waters around the world are beginning to tell a disturbing story”. (My emphasis. Note how the bolded words fudge that there is actually  no story  so far).

Innocent readers might imagine NOAA embarked on this new op-ed project to educate the public about a serious scientific matter. No, the project’s prime and explicit function was to puff NOAA as a funding-worthy institution, and to add ammunition to the COP21 climate talks in Paris in December, 2015. As Dr Libby Jewett, director of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program, briefed:

The article would fit well with NOAA’s resilience and observational priorities and could go an important distance  in recognizing NOAA’s leadership in growing an international ocean observing system…We want visibility for NOAA’s pioneering global leadership to be prominent, too!

The final 250 words — 20% of the 1250-word NYT piece — are all about the need to send money to the scientists for their planet-saving endeavours,

Smart investments in monitoring and observing are critical to building resilience and hedging risks that can directly affect economies at all levels. There is urgency to such investments. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts round-the-clock monitoring of global CO2. The rate of increase has never been higher than during the past three years, accelerating the ocean acidification process… We ignore the risks of ocean acidification at our own peril, and that of future generations.

Tim Flannery, head of Australia’s Climate Council, is of the view that CO2 falling into the ocean produces “carbolic acid” or phenol,  that useful disinfectant which can still be bought on eBay in the form of soap bars. Flannery is, as always, correct in terms of the prevailing hysteria, if not real-world facts. His prophecy is affirmed by Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OAICA) and the International Atomic  Energy Agency (IAEA), which agree that

Too much carbon is flooding the ocean with carbolic acid, with devestating (sic) effects on life in the sea.

This is devestating (sic) news for chemistry textbooks.[8]

Here’s a contrary view to all that. The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, run by sceptic scientists, agrees with the orthodox group that, since pre-industrial times, the oceans have become less alkaline by about 0.1 pH unit. But it  considers results from modeling that posits a further pH reduction of between 0.3 units to 0.7 units by 2300 to be far-fetched. It marshaled about 1100 peer-reviewed studies on impacts of lower pH on ocean life and, after excluding those with wildly unrealistic assumptions, checked the rest in terms of five factors: calcification, metabolism, growth, fertility and survival. It plotted the experimental results involving pH falls from 0.0 to 0.3, the latter number being what the IPCC predicts for 2100, and found that the fall in pH led to

an overall beneficial response of the totality of the five major life characteristics of marine sea life to ocean acidification, which result is vastly different from the negative results routinely predicted by the world’s climate alarmists.

It said the results would be even more positive if studies had also allowed for the ability of generations of sea life to adapt to changed conditions. The studies testing lower pH on life forms typically involved a mere four days duration and some trials lasted a mere few hours, preventing any favorable evolutions, it said.

Footnote: My studies in high-school chemistry ceased at age 16, but here’s my take on ocean acidification technicalities.

The oceans’ alkalinity (pH) varies from place to place, in a range 7.9 to 8.3 on a logarithmic scale where 14 is most alkaline (or basic), 7.0 is neutral and below 7 to zero is acidic.   The log scale means each change of one unit is ten times the value of the adjacent unit.[9]

The scare term “ocean acidification”[10]  first popped up in Nature in 2003, followed by the Royal Society in 2005[11],  and has since been seized on as a substitute frightener, given that global warming has stalled. Climate scientists now “calculate” that the average ocean alkalinity has declined from 8.2 to 8.1 on the scale since pre-industrial times, except that the measurement error margin is several times the alleged reduction (and each of the five oceans has its own pH characteristics). pH levels at given points can also swing markedly even within the 24-hour cycle.

In past geological ages C02 levels in the atmosphere were ten or more times what they are now (400ppm) and ocean life thrived. Indeed our current fossil fuels are the residue of vast oceanic life that thrived and died in such super-high CO2 environments.

In the parts of the oceans where alkalinity is low (i.e. tending towards neutral), fish, corals, and sea flora have managed and adapted  perfectly well. Freshwater lakes and rivers are slightly acidic (pH of 6 to 8),  as is rainwater, pH 5.6, and drinking water, 6.5 to 7.5. Life has adapted and thrives in fresh water notwithstanding the, ahem, “acidification”.

Hat-tips to Dennis Ambler and John McLean for some assistance.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here, I Hope

 

 

 



 

 

[1] An earlier draft: In Maine, clam farmers can no longer fill their buckets to the top because shells on the bottom will shatter from the weight. The lone clam farmer later bred into multiple clam farmers all ostenisibly reporting the same bucket problem.

 

[2] “…Some of the octopuses in the ocean can’t breathe from gas pollution … I started off my poster design of drawing the octopus first and wanted to make it look as if he was dying. Then I drew dead coral coming and surrounding him like there’s no escape from the acid ocean…” – one child’s  entry in the Victorian schools contest for “ocean acidification” art

[3] Strangely, NOAA has been fighting tooth and nail to thwart Republican congressmen’s requests for its emails about a NOAA study by Karl et al purporting to show there has been no 15-year pause in warming . It is now conceding defeat and starting to hand over documents.

[4] The 2014 5th IPCC report Summary for Policymakers, written by politico-bureaucrats, waxes fearful about ocean acidification. But the scientists themselves in their non-sexed-up findings in body text, WG11 Chapter 6, say, for example,

# “Few field observations conducted in the last decade demonstrate biotic responses attributable to anthropogenic ocean acidification” pg 4

 

# “Both acclimatization and adaptation will shift sensitivity thresholds but the capacity and limits of species to acclimatize or adapt remain largely unknown” Pg 23

# “To date, very few ecosystem-level changes in the field have been attributed to anthropogenic or local ocean acidification.” Pg 39

 

[5]As well as helping fulfil Deakin’s prophecy, teaming up with TERI is a major coup for Deakin University. The organisation’s Director-General is Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri, the Nobel Prize winner”.

[6] Or the Australian Academy of Science, which has recycled the Pteropod before-and-after pics for schoolkids.

[7] Some say whales aren’t fish, but I say they look more like fish than coelecanths.

[8]  The OAICC and IAEA warn that climate is putting  the world  “in a dangerous position, just as the US was when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor… This segment reports on “global warming’s evil twin”, ocean acifidication, which results from too much carbon in the water.” The audio segments begin with air-raid sirens and crashing bombs.

[9] Vinegar, for example, at 2.5, is almost a million times more acidic than seawater.

[10] Compare it with its twin verbal Orwellism, “carbon pollution”

[11] With authors in common. By linearly extrapolating   18 years data from a single Pacific Ocean Station Aloha, both parties forecast perilous ocean acidity by 2100 – and even took the perils out further to 2300. This became ‘settled science’.

Comments [13]

  1. [email protected] says:

    The term ‘acidification’ only has legitimate meaning when describing a drop of pH to below pH 7.0, which is neutral, and the point where the term ‘acidification’ has meaning in the real world. The ‘average’ pH of the world’s oceans and seas is probably around 8.0 or 8.1 or thereabouts (alkaline) and can show appreciable variation (remember that pH is measured on a logarithmic scale) depending on latitude, time of year, or even time of day (in shallow pools). The pH of the world’s seas and oceans have never been lower than 7.0 in the entire history of the planet, since oceans were first formed. A drop of pH from say, 8.0 to 7.9 should be described as a drop in alkalinity, not an increase in ‘acidity’. This sort of basic science and bogus language should be exposed by our Chief Scientist and the Australian Academy of Science but alas, both are missing in action. It is impossible for me to make a contribution to debates like this when I refuse to succumb to corruption of the language. Keep up the good work Tony.

  2. Jody says:

    I’m still reeling from Ross Garnaut’s comments, post Paris, that “if you’ve invested in traditional energy companies you’ve done your money”. I’m sure the ACCC should have something to say about somebody who can spook the market, cause shares to drop, buy up then sell later after they recover.

  3. en passant says:

    Tony,
    When will we ever learn? When will weeeee evaaa learn? Climate ‘science’ ain’t science.
    However, we need these pseudo-scientists to ignore you, the facts, history, chemistry, mathematics, physics, data, etc, etc, and keep on going otherwise we will have a huge recession with thousands of unemployable unemployed activists and academics causing chaos on the streets. Models have shown conclusively that the ‘Climate Con Crash of 2016′ would be even worse than the disaster known as the ‘Alchemists Abattoir’ when dozens of prominent alchemists cashed in their chips rather than find real jobs or something useful to do with their lives. Once you are locked into the ‘Climate Monkey Magic’ business (and have status and the admiration of fellow fools, politicians and psychophants you simply cannot evaaaa give up as that would mean reducing your life’s work as a Lysenkoist to ashes.

    Counter intuitively, although oil spills make the seas around them quite acidic, as oil is made up of complex Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen molecules, they actually benefit the environment in the long run. After the largest manmade oil spill in history in Kuwait in 1991 when 866M gallons of oil were spilled the following happened:

    “A combination of ultraviolet rays, warm sea water (which is saltier in the Persian Gulf, and therefore contains more chemicals than the open sea) and 1st year school chemistry turned these balls of oil and tar into nuts of coke. Eventually the coke rocks became saturated and sank, carpeting the seafloor. Carbon being the stuff of life, and a basis for fertiliser nutrients, caused the seagrasses to explode in a huge bloom. Seagrass is the food of fish and within 5-years the ‘greatest man-made ecological disaster of all time’ had the Gulf teeming with more fish than had ever existed there before. By the end of those initial 5-years the beaches were again pristine and the fish and sea creatures were more abundant than ever.”

    The prediction had been that the corals in the Persian Gulf would not survive, but the pesky little suckers ignored the ‘acidity’ and bloomed as there was more food than ever before. The obvious conclusions are that more oil spills and less salt would be a good thing for the sea.

  4. Ian MacDougall says:

    How scary is “ocean acidification”? Very scary. The previously scary “global warming” stopped 19 years ago, [wrong!-IM] but do stay scared because all that CO2 since 1997 has instead been “acidifying” the oceans. Please imagine baby oysters dissolving in the equivalent of battery acid, and hermit crabs raising a nervous feeler to discover that their protective shells have disappeared. Curse you, horrible human-caused CO2 emissions!

    Thus Tony Thomas begins by erecting a straw man, which he then proceeds with laboured and cynical humour to knock down.
    Very droll.

    • Davidovich says:

      Obviously, not all Quadrant readers are perceptive enough to comprehend the clear demolition of the “ocean acidification” mantra which is well set out by Tony Thomas. Instead, typical of the alarmist breed, they simply state “wrong!” when they don’t agree but fail to engage in useful debate.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Davidovitch:
        “Wrong!”
        I presume you are referring to slack-on-perception me. I can only say in my own defence that I was away from school the day we had perception. ;-)
        What I objected to amongst Tony Thomas’ barrage of attempted humour at mainstream science’s expense was:

        The previously scary “global warming” stopped 19 years ago…

        Climate ‘sceptics’ like Thomas usually make their ‘no warming’ assertions on the basis of thermometry records. I make my ‘warming’ ones on the basis of sea-level trends: and the world’s ocean is rising. Check it out at http://sealevel.colorado.edu/.
        A rising ocean can only be due to melting glaciers, thermal expansion of ocean water, or both. Whichever way, and for good or ill, the planet is warming.
        Thomas is wrong on that.
        As for ocean acidification: since around 1750 AD we have been burning all the fossil carbon geologically sequestered over hundreds of millions of years, and in the twinkling of an eye on the scale of geological time. It is going into the air as CO2 gas and into the oceans as dissolved CO2, with God knows what long-term consequences for the biosphere. We humans have been unintentionally performing an uncontrolled experiment on the planet, and ‘sceptics’ like Thomas attempt to justify this after the fact by coming up with rationalisations as to why it can have no possible adverse consequences for the biosphere as a whole.
        Well I sincerely hope they are right. But the planetary fossil-carbon experiment was always all about steel-making, cement-making, power generation and other industrial processes, and never about finding the effects of massive release of CO2 upon the Earth’s biosphere.
        PS: ‘Sceptics’ range from asserting (1) there is no planetary warming; (2) if there is, humans cannot be responsible for it; (3) if there is and humans are responsible, it can only be a Good Thing anyway. They spread or progress from (1) through to (3).
        Thomas seems to be stuck at (1).

        • en passant says:

          Ian,
          You really are a very droll troll, but you never answered the points raised in our exchange in another Quadrant article “Mining Sun Sets in the West”, so you have recycled your comments here. After all recycling is a good thing.
          So, let me repeat the questions and points you did not answer.
          “Ian,
          You need help.
          “I have blasphemed your Business As Usual religion” – Wrong! We need more CO2 as 400ppm is far too low. Also as the Earth is cooling again we need all the greenhouse gas help we can get. I did a detailed study in 2010-2012 and:
          ‘The conclusion I reached is that 2,000ppm – 4,000ppm is the optimum level of CO2 for the majority of life on the planet, with a probable/maybe rise of 2° – 3° centigrade increase in temperature, mainly in the temperate regions. Note that US nuclear armed submarines operate with a CO2 level up to 8,000ppm for extended periods without harm to the sailors breathing it. The USN has set a maximum limit of 12,000ppm before they become concerned, so no doubt that still contains a safety margin.
          So, to seriously answer the question I think we need MORE CO2 – and soon – as the quiet Sun is going to cause havoc in the coming decades with serious cooling the result. Ah, skiing in Melbourne.”
          Now you have some real facts.
          “SHOUTING YOUR HEAD OFF in block caps” – Umm, No. When I read through my inserted comments I realised that it was hard to separate them from your original text, so I PUT THEM IN CAPS SO SIMPLE FOLK COULD SEE WHAT WAS MINE AND what was yours. Even that was not enough for you
          “As for thermometers, tide guages (try gauges) and the like, they all had holes blown in them by none other than Ian Plimer in his ‘Heaven + Earth’, which as you probably know is a total dump on climatology; AGW; the IPCC; the works.” – I have asked Professor Plimer to comment. Perhaps you (Ian) could explain what the thermometer error bars are. If the recorders (all honest people) make a mistake of 0.5F then the 1828 temperature in Sydney drops to 53.2F, the highest ever recorded. I do not remember anywhere in H&E saying that – and I have read the book. [NEW SHOUTING COMMENT: I HAVE JUST REREAD H&E Pages 298-317 [TOPEX is on P.309] ON SEA LEVEL RISE AND IT SAYS NOTHING REMOTELY AS YOU ALLEGE. PLEASE PROVIDE THE REFERENCE WHERE IAN ‘BLOWS HOLES IN THE RECORDS OF TIDE GAUGES’!!!] As you are wrong, will you apologise?
          “… the world’s ocean rising by (from memory) 3.6 mm/yr +/- 0.4 mm/yr. [TOPEX says 2.4mm] So until I see evidence to the contrary, I accept that the ocean is rising.” I referred you to the contrary evidence in Hobart and Sydney … Anyway, thank you for your reference as I looked it up. Let me quote:
          “Since the Topex/Poseidon-Jason missions began in 1992, global sea-level rise has occurred at about 3 mm a year, resulting in a total change of 70 mm (2.8 inches) in 23 years, according to researchers.” & “The series has observed about 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) of global sea level rise in 23 years” No error bars are given. As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly?
          Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?”
          So please stop making things up to suit your views unless you first alert readers by beginning “Once upon a time …” Note that your TOPEX reference is a bust as far as fear-mongering is concerned.”

  5. Ian MacDougall says:

    en passant:

    As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly?


    Tsunamis are caused by crustal motion in the sea floor, and are not triggered as far as anyone seems to be able to determine, by global sea level changes. For refreshment:
    GMSL Rates
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
    CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

    I take these as a given, remembering Julia Gillard’s memorable slam-dunk of Tony Abbott : “I get my advice on climatology from the CSIRO. Mr Abbott gets his from Alan Jones.”
    The above little data set is not graphed, but you find your error bars in the commonest stated accuracy of ’± 0.4 mm/yr’.

    Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?”


    The atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and the global human economy are each incredibly complex systems, and I would be the last to succumb to the simplistic temptation to see a +4C change in global average temperature as one to turn the whole globe into a tropical south sea island paradise, or ten such for that matter. I cannot of course, speak for your worthy ‘sceptical’ self.
    The aforementioned Mark Lynas does cover it. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/11/six-degrees/
    Never mind six degrees. Four degrees: I don’t think you would want to go there.

  6. Ian MacDougall says:

    As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly?

    Tsunamis are caused by crustal motion in the sea floor, and are not triggered as far as anyone seems to be able to determine, by global sea level changes. For refreshment:
    GMSL Rates
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
    CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

    I take these as a given, remembering Julia Gillard’s memorable slam-dunk of Tony Abbott : “I get my advice on climatology from the CSIRO. Mr Abbott gets his from Alan Jones.”
    The above little data set is not graphed, but you find your error bars in the commonest stated accuracy of ’± 0.4 mm/yr’.

    Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?”

    The atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and the global human economy are each incredibly complex systems, and I would be the last to succumb to the simplistic temptation to see a +4C change in global average temperature as one to turn the whole globe into a tropical south sea island paradise, or ten such for that matter. I cannot of course, speak for your worthy self.
    The aforementioned Mark Lynas does cover it at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/11/six-degrees/
    Never mind six degrees. Four degrees: I don’t think you would want to go there.

  7. Ian MacDougall says:

    As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly?

    Tsunamis are caused by crustal motion in the sea floor, and are not triggered as far as anyone seems to be able to determine, by global sea level changes. For refreshment:
    GMSL Rates
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
    CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

    I take these as a given, remembering Julia Gillard’s memorable slam-dunk of Tony Abbott : “I get my advice on climatology from the CSIRO. Mr Abbott gets his from Alan Jones.”
    The above little data set is not graphed, but you find your error bars in the commonest stated accuracy of ’± 0.4 mm/yr’.

    Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?”

    The atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and the global human economy are each incredibly complex systems, and I would be the last to succumb to the simplistic temptation to see a +4C change in global average temperature as one to turn the whole globe into a tropical south sea island paradise, or ten such for that matter. I cannot of course, speak for your worthy self.
    The aforementioned Mark Lynas does cover it at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/11/six-degrees/
    Never mind six degrees. Four degrees: I don’t think you would want to go there.

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      It appears sea rise varies around the world and can be due to wind and currents too. The main point is whether CO2 is causing the rise and if warming is natural, anthropogenic, a combination and what are the attributions to either. So far there is no science but much speculation that the .16% contribution of CO2 by humans is causing the climate to run amok. Has the 99.84% attributed to nature no effect? Listening to Tim Flannery, the IPCC and Obama one would think not. That is patently nonsense as is the belief that the UN can control the weather if only we give them more money. My disappointment is with the politicians who allowed this scam to progress so far. As Forest Gump would say “Stupid is as stupid does”.

  8. Tony Thomas says:

    The Australian Academy of Science’s Q&A on Climate Change 2010 makes two bald references to CO2 making the oceans more ‘acidic’ (p10 and 14).
    The AAS updated version (2015) repeats one of the assertions and ramps the scare up further:
    “Absorption of CO2 into the oceans causes “ocean acidification” impeding the shell formation of organisms such as corals and causing coral deterioration or death.”p25. This statement is referenced to a 2007 paper by Hoegh-Guldberg.
    “Acidification” gets a further scare mention on p31:
    “The other possible intervention would be to reduce Earth’s net absorption of sunlight, for example by generating a stratospheric aerosol layer or placing shields in space. While this could offset the surface warming caused by increasing greenhouse gases, it would do nothing to stop ocean acidification, would need to be maintained in perpetuity, and would carry multiple risks…”
    This material is tailored for school students. The 2010 version, as I recall, got to approx 1m students. As the last quote above suggests, the AAS is almost doing self-parody.

  9. Ian MacDougall says:

    Tony:

    This material is tailored for school students. The 2010 version, as I recall, got to approx 1m students. As the last quote above suggests, the AAS is almost doing self-parody.

    Shields against sunlight have been suggested for years, but not to my knowledge by the AAS. If they point out the problems, they are only doing their job. And they are not the only ones who aim their stuff at high school students. See below.
    .
    http://www.connorcourt.com/catalog1/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=181#.VpGJIvl97IU