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« Green Deal claptrap | Main | Another one bites the dust »

'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go...


Just in case you thought things were getting better....The Internationalist knows the end of the world is nigher than ever.

Of the many catastrophic consequences of climate change, ocean acidification may be the worst. The oceans, which cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, produce fifty percent of the oxygen we breathe. They are also the planet’s biggest carbon sink—absorbing 50 percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Unfortunately, absorbing all that carbon is dramatically altering the ocean’s pH balance. Since the industrial revolution began, average acidity of the upper ocean has jumped 30 percent. The ocean is now more acidic than it has been for fifty million years. Unless CO2 emissions decline, ocean acidity could surge another 100 percent by the end of the century.

This slow-motion disaster threatens the survival of ocean life. Acidification is already stressing shellfish, corals, and plankton whose shells or skeletons are made of calcium carbonate. If these small creatures disappear, ocean food webs will collapse. Simultaneously, the sea temperatures are rising, as the ocean stores 90 percent of the energy from the warming Earth. Over the past century, the mean ocean surface temperature has increased 0.7 degrees Celsius. By 2100, it will rise another 3 degrees. Meanwhile, several hundred “dead zones”—areas with insufficient oxygen to support marine life—have emerged throughout the world.

This triple whammy —ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation—is placing unprecedented stress on species. Microbes, plankton, corals, mollusks, fish, and marine mammals are struggling to adapt to new ocean biochemistry, ecosystems, food webs, currents, and circulation. Unless humanity reverses course, the predicted “Sixth Extinction” will unfold not only on land, but in the sea

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Reader Comments (73)

So, what you are all saying is that freshwater, at pH 7, is 1200% more acidic (sic) than seawater (at around pH 8.1)?

And yet, we let all this much more acidic so called 'fresh' water run off into the oceans all the time?

This is a global catastrophe! Stop all rivers flowing into the oceans immediately for Gaia's sake!

Jul 24, 2015 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Street

@ Stephen Richards at 9:40 AM

Why write it now? Simple, the UN has to prepare the next gravy train because they fear defeat in Paris at the end of the year.

Not that this garbage is any more likely to run than CAGW.

Jul 24, 2015 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

If we get less oxygen, my car will last longer before it rusts. But wait, if I go to the seaside it might get wet and rust faster.
It's all so confusing. but at least I'll be warm

Jul 24, 2015 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

EternalOptomist, you've probably just given them something else:
Global Warming will make your car rust faster, cause more car crashes, and put up your insurance.

And they'll have to re-paint the Forth Rail Bridge more often.

Jul 24, 2015 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The background to the 30% increase in acidification is here: "Acid Seas – Back To Basic"

The claim that “ocean acidity” has increased by 30% since before the industrial revolution was calculated from the estimated uptake of anthropogenic carbon between 1750 and 1994, which shows a decrease in alkalinity of 0.1 pH unit, well within the range quoted by IPCC. So, a calculation from an estimate in one tiny corner of the Pacific becomes a scare story.

"We need look no further than the IPCC for the starting point on acid oceans.
Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis, Ocean Acidification by Carbon Dioxide.

The statement is made:
The uptake of anthropogenic carbon by the ocean changes the chemical equilibrium of the ocean. Dissolved CO2 forms a weak acid. As CO2 increases, pH decreases, that is, the ocean becomes more acidic. Ocean pH can be computed from measurements of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and alkalinity. A decrease in surface pH of 0.1 over the global ocean was calculated from the estimated uptake of anthropogenic carbon between 1750 and 1994 (Sabine et al., 2004b; Raven et al., 2005), with the lowest decrease (0.06) in the tropics and subtropics, and the highest decrease (0.12) at high latitudes, consistent with the lower buffer capacity of the high latitudes compared to the low latitudes. The mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open ocean, so the ocean remains alkaline (pH > 7) even after these decreases.

The consequences of changes in pH on marine organisms are poorly known (see Section 7.3.4 and Box 7.3). For comparison, pH was higher by 0.1 unit during glaciations, and there is no evidence of pH values more than 0.6 units below the pre-industrial pH during the past 300 million years (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003)12. A decrease in ocean pH of 0.1 units corresponds to a 30% increase in the concentration of H+ in seawater, assuming that alkalinity and temperature remain constant.

Hence we get the claim that “the ocean” has become 30% more acidic since the start of the industrial revolution. There can be no single pH value for the world’s oceans, any more than there can be a single surface-air temperature for the globe. The range of pH can vary extensively as described here:

Chris Jury, Center for Marine Science, Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina,
“On some reef flats pH values have been measured to vary from as low as 7.8 to as high as 8.4 in a single 24 hr period (Yates and Halley, 2006). In some lagoons, pH has been measured to vary as much as 1 pH unit in a day (e.g., 7.6 to 8.6). Seasonal and even multi-decadal cycles of pH variation in reef water have also been measured (Pelejero et al., 2005). While some of the pH values that organisms see in the field may be less than ideal for growth, many are able to tolerate a fairly wide range of pH values, at least for short periods of time.” (meaning decades, not days or weeks,)."

Australia's former Climate Czar, Tim Flannery, thought CO2 produced carbolic acid! That would really clean up the oceans.

An "interview" with Flannery, at a Tata conference.

A. Sometimes the issue of climate change does seem overwhelming and there are fears about acknowledging climate change and what it means. It means that we are responsible for changing conditions on the surface of the earth. However, much of the science is self-evident. One example is the issue of coral reefs. In Australia we have conducted a series of experiments where we have taken sea water, reduced its acidity and temperature to create conditions as they were 200 years ago and then put coral in that; the coral thrives in that water. We can take sea water as it is today and coral does not grow so well. We can put coral into water with conditions as they will be in 10 years’ time and we will see that the coral is stunted and dying. We can see that this will happen — carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produces carbolic acid in the ocean, the ocean becomes acidic and things die.

He must have picked it up from his European friends,

This blog was started in July 2006 as a “one man” effort. It is a product of EPOCA, the European Project on Ocean Acidification since May 2008 and it is sponsored by the IMBER and SOLAS projects since January 2010.

This blog is coordinated by:

Jean-Pierre Gattuso, CNRS Senior Research Scientist, CNRS-Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 6, France
AR5: The list of authors and review editors of IPCC Working Group II, 5th Assessment Report, includes Jean-Pierre Gattuso from EPOCA.

If this blog is co-ordinated by Gattuso, a lead author on AR5 WGII, you would assume he would read what is written there.

“Too much carbon is flooding the ocean with carbolic acid, with devestating (sic) effects on life in the sea.” (no wonder!)

The Australian Academy of Science chimed in with:
“Chemists have known for a long time that a beaker of water sitting in a lab will absorb carbon dioxide from the air and turn acidic. Would it happen at a larger scale? If we greatly increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere, for example, would the oceans become a vast acid bath? What would be the ecological effects? Over the next century or so, we are going to find out.”

Jul 24, 2015 at 6:19 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Am I missing something here? Is a change in ocean chemistry the same as climate change? Can the same molecule of CO2 be in the ocean and in the atmosphere at the same time?

Jul 24, 2015 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

"AIUI pH is a logarithmic scale so something with a pH of 5 is 10 times as acidic as something with a pH of 4 and 10 times less acidic than something with a pH of 6. If so, it is thus highly misleading to discuss relative acidity as a "percentage"." --Justice4Rinka

Not exactly. Something with a pH of 5 is 10 times less acidic than something with a pH of 4. But the general statement about percentages is true. I never heard a chemistry professor talk about relative percentages of acidity.

Jul 24, 2015 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

whilst they sorted out who ordered 7 nan breads, when there were only 3 of them having curry.

Jul 24, 2015 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commenter golf Charlie

It wasn't fast fingers Ward was it?

Jul 24, 2015 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Can we use this ability of sea water to selectively absorb the man-made CO2 in the elusive carbon (wot, no Oxygen?) capture process which so eludes all those who want to burn nasty coal with a clean conscience?

Jul 24, 2015 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoonhamer

The IPCC number comes from Station Aloha, where the ocean is barren. Where it is fertile, pH is a diurnal and seasonal function of biology. The extreme is Florida Bay. In the winter off the mangrove fringe of the Everglades, pH is 5.8, lowered by the freshwater inflow. In summer 30 miles away at Islamorada in the Florida Keys the summer PH reaches 9.8 because of Thallassia seagrass photosynthesis, plus evaporative elevated salinity driving calcium carbonate precipitation. Both are famous fishing spots. Essay Shell Games has more on how 'ocean acidification' grows as a scare the longer the pause goes, and how much junk science (including pretty clear academic misconduct) has been put out there on the topic.

Jul 24, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

golf charlie - re: your comment about the plankton reminds me of a solo sketch by Michael Palin, who was an occasional guest on Tiswas in the early 80s. He was doing a piece to camera as a spokesman / director of SLOP, ("Save lots of Plankton") and was campaigning in support of the honourable nations of Japan and Iceland who were as he said doing their best to rid the planet of these evil whales who, in just one gulp could could kill over 1 million plankton...

Brilliant satire on the eco-activists, and years ahead of the current debate over 'species facism'. Not sure if all the kids that watched Tiswas got it, but the programme was aimed more at hungover adults anyway. I was too young to drink in those days, but grew up on the Goons (tapes, not the original broadcasts) and python so rarely missed it in case Palin or Jones were on.

Jul 24, 2015 at 8:42 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

@ Steve

"Peter C....!

Don't discredit the strong arguments against AGW with global government conspiracy damages us all."

I was not actually advocating a 'global governance conspiracy theory'. The question was asked why Mr Stewart would peddle a load of unscientific, misleading and inaccurate twaddle. I was pointing out that he is Director of an organisation dedicated to One World Government and thought it unnecessary to point out that CAGW/CC hysteria is an extremely powerful tool for anyone that wishes to promote OWG.

The other point that the political and Establishment elites in a majority of Western, Developed countries are also firm supporters of OWG is also not conspiracy theory, one only has to compile a list of International or pan-national Organisations that have actual power to see just how much OWG is already established, be it the thirty, yes 30, International Courts or the 4,000 or so International NGOs with their back door access to the political classes, etc. etc.

Jul 24, 2015 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

'The oceans, which cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, produce fifty percent of the oxygen we breathe'


I'm totally baffled by this. How does the ocean produce oxygen? And given that 20% of the atmosphere is already oxygen, to what does the 50% refer?

Any ideas?

Jul 24, 2015 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Latimer: Didn't you know that all whale, dolphin and polar bear farts are pure oxygen? Without them we will all suffocate.

Jul 24, 2015 at 10:37 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Will this approach help or hinder the world's economies:

credit = bank balance above 0
debt = bank balance below 0

If I have $1000 dollars in my bank, and I take out and spend $100, have I:

Increased my debt
Decreased my credit


Climate science would have it I have increased my debt, even though I have no debt.

Jul 24, 2015 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterclimatebeagle

Between 1996 and 2009 the intake seawater, drawn from a depth of 50ft, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium varied between 7.75 pH and 8.15 pH.

The pH varies by season and longer term events such as El Niño. No fish or other marine life in the Aquarium were affected by these changes.

Call me when the global average goes below 7.7 pH.

Jul 24, 2015 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

I apologise for the lack of snark in this comment. I just need something explained.

According to the models, as the oceans warm they will outgas CO2, increasing atmospheric CO2 abundance and accelerating warming.

But as atmospheric CO2 abundance increases, the oceans will take up more CO2 and become acidic.

How do these two phenomena reconcile with each other?

Okay so maybe this is a bit snarky.

Jul 25, 2015 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterShadeburst

Ivor Ward

Acidsharknado -- I am in awe.

Eugene WR Gallun

Jul 25, 2015 at 2:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterEugene WR Gallun

strange how no comments are being allowed?


Jul 25, 2015 at 7:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

@ Latimer Adler "How does the ocean produce oxygen? And given that 20% of the atmosphere is already oxygen, to what does the 50% refer?"
I think that means that 50% of photosynthesis takes place in the ocean - probably mostly by the ever-present cyanobacteria.

<< At right is a layered stromatolite, produced by the activity of ancient cyanobacteria. The layers were produced as calcium carbonate precipitated over the growing mat of bacterial filaments; photosynthesis in the bacteria depleted carbon dioxide in the surrounding water, initiating the precipitation. The minerals, along with grains of sediment precipitating from the water, were then trapped within the sticky layer of mucilage that surrounds the bacterial colonies, which then continued to grow upwards through the sediment to form a new layer. As this process occured over and over again, the layers of sediment were created. This process still occurs today; Shark Bay in western Australia is well known for the stromatolite "turfs" rising along its beaches...
The oxygen atmosphere that we depend on was generated by numerous cyanobacteria photosynthesizing during the Archaean and Proterozoic Era. Before that time, the atmosphere had a very different chemistry, unsuitable for life as we know it today.>>

In fact, the atmosphere would have been largely methane with some CO2. The O2 produced by cyanobacteria would first have oxidised methane to CO2 and water, as well as oxidising surface iron to iron oxides.

Jul 25, 2015 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterrotationalfinestructure

Shadeburst, in the simplified ocean-in-a-bottle model it is possible if you are also adding extra CO2 to the bottle.

Thus imagine your ocean-in-a-bottle at temperature A. You heat it up to temperature B, and more CO2 will be expelled from solution into the air space above the liquid. If you now continuously add extra CO2 to the air space, keeping the temperature at B, then the amount of dissolved CO2 in solution will slowly increase again.

Of course, as a model of the real world, this is so oversimplified as to be best described as useless. The reasons are too many to list/explain in a short post, but many of them stem from untenable assumptions about equilibrium or even about steady-states.

It is interesting that the ocean thermal out-gassing effect actually seems to have been put on a back burner by alarmists for many years now. Probably because they think "it gives fodder to skeptics".

Jul 25, 2015 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@ Latimer Adler "I think that means that 50% of photosynthesis takes place in the ocean - probably mostly by the ever-present cyanobacteria.

Yes - cyanobateria raised the oxygen content of the atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago, but since then oxygen levels have hardly changed at all.

Jul 25, 2015 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

All that carbon going into the oceans. We're doomed I tell you:

6C+6H2O = C6H12O6.......we're doomed to death by sugar.

Jul 25, 2015 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris moffatt

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