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More on calcifiers

In response to my comments on her appearance on BBC news, Daniela Schmidt has tweeted some thoughts. Recall that I highlighted some comments she had made in a Geology paper about calcifier exctinctions occurring tens of thousands of years after extreme temperatures were reached, contrasting this with her on-air claim that the oceans were doomed by the end of the century:

My children will be alive in 2100. I would like them to be able to swim above a coral reef and enjoy its beauty. I would like them to be able to eat mussels and oysters and crayfish and if we continue to release CO2 at the current rate this is not going to happen.

Prof Schmidt has apparently told Roger Harrabin that I have misunderstood her work. In a tweet she notes that her comments in Geology represented a citation of other scientists:

the document is a news item and not a scientific paper. Nobody ever claimed it was.

this is not my finding. I am spectically discussing data of others as cited in the news item

Fair enough. But if the scientific literature is contradictory, how is it justifiable to say the things she did to Roger Harrabin about corals, mussels and oysters?

She goes on to recommend some reading for me.

please look at Hoenisch et al 2012, Rigdwell, Schmidt NatGeo 2010 before you make claims

Ridgwell is paywalled, but it is a computer simulation anyway, so I'm not hugely interested, although I note that the abstract contains this:

Although the associated changes in the carbonate chemistry of surface and deep waters may adversely affect marine calcifying organisms2, 3, 4, current experiments do not always produce consistent results for a given species5.

Hoenisch et al is here and I must say it's fascinating stuff, but it seems to conclude that it's quite hard to use paleo records of the oceans of the past as analogues of current changes, because it's so hard to disentangle everything that's going on. Indeed, she concludes that on at least one consideration:

...the response of marine calcifiers to ocean acidification and seawater geochemistry during the [Permian–Triassic] and [Triassic–Jurassic] would arguably be closer to the modern than, for example, during the PETM (67). Improved estimates of past seawater–Mg/Ca composition are necessary to better evaluate all of this.

This all makes something of a nonsense of Roger Harrabin's report, which implied that the PETM was telling us something about the present.

So if I have misunderstood, it is in thinking that her work was relevant to what she said on air or to the question at hand, namely how much of a problem, if any, the oceans are facing.  I've tweeted back to Prof Schmidt, asking her to justify her claims about corals, mussels and oysters. I will report back if and when I get a response.

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Reader Comments (38)

She will not reply in any sensible way I feel sure.

1) the oceans steadfastly refuse to become acidic with pH remaining above 7.4

2) Even at the ocean smokers where pH can be as low as 4.5 shellfish thrive by covering themselves with an acid proof mucas.

3) ocean waters are an iconic solution and the more carbonate ions floating about the better for the shellfish building their shells.

4) Despite atmospheric CO2 levels being ten times higher than today during Cretaceous times shellfish thrived and limestones abound fron those times.

I am afraid reality trumps models every time.

Jul 6, 2015 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

As Percy Bridgman, 1946 Nobel prize winner in Physics, warned about " the inscrutable character of the future"-
" I personally do not think that one should speak of making statements about the future. For me, a statement implies the possibility of verifying its truth, and the truth of a statement about the future cannot be verified."
Without the possibility of verification, " truth" becomes meaningless. This concept seems to be foreign to many climate scientists.

Jul 6, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterHerbert

Questions questions

1. Most of this stuff is no particle physics: it is written in plain English and its meaning should be easy for anybody able to get a GCSE or equivalent. What prevented Harrabin from looking it up?

2. Did Roger reach out to Prof Schmidt for a soundbite on the specific topic? If so, why did the Prof agree to talk about something that isn't her finding?

3. How many of the "scientists say" that forever grace all of Roger's reports, are talking about stuff that isn't their finding?

4. How many other topics has Prof Schmidt spoken about, that aren't her finding?

5. How bad is the BBC Science reporting, especially on particle physics?

Jul 6, 2015 at 11:21 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Why would she send you her justifications when you would only try and find something wrong with them? ( © Phil Jones)

Jul 6, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

If the oceans are warming "faster than previously thought", how come CO2 is not degassing, with the oceans becoming more alkaline?

Jul 6, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

1. Most of this stuff is no particle physics: it is written in plain English and its meaning should be easy for anybody able to get a GCSE or equivalent. What prevented Harrabin from looking it up

Lack of a GCSE ?

Jul 6, 2015 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

As usual, the predicted doom is far enough down the road that she will be dead and forgotten long before she'd have to witness her failure.

Jul 6, 2015 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

In other areas it is also quite common to see such a large disparity between what is actually said in the literature, and what is fed to journalists for them to further exaggerate.

A person who says they have a "breakthrough" (yawn) in cancer treatment usually doesn't, as we all know. The field moves on and they usually sink into oblivion, sometimes taking a venture capitalist's money with them.

If, like much 'climate science', they are not even trying to do something of value for the human race, then what can they do to big themselves up? Cry wolf. Again. And again. And again. And again. Because they have nothing else.

Jul 6, 2015 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I went to the Great Barrier Reef some two years ago and was rather surprised that the fish did not sparkle in tke pristine waters a la David Attenborough and some tastefully placed lighting. Indeed the view was akin to the scene from cheap child goggles in the waters near Port Talbot steelworks. To quote this tosh ad nauseam makes me angry.

Jul 6, 2015 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

Sorry Schmidt, but when you sup with the devil you need to use a long spoon. in other words when you go pimping yourself to the press , for funding or status reasons , then you no one else are to blame should the press react in their normal way .
I like to be fair if possible , and it is fair to say that although climate 'science' does lack honesty and good scientific practice , they are world leaders in the ego steaks and never let the reality of the data get in the way of their claims.

Its is therefore their own fault when others point out this credibility gap .

Jul 6, 2015 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

I don't suppose Harrabin, or his employers the BBC have issued an apology for misrepresenting science fantasy models as science fact?

If chaos theory was started with the idea that the flap of a butterfly's wings could cause a hurricane, climate science chaos chaos theory seems to assume that a single dose of food poisoning from a dodgy oyster, can lead to champagne corks popping at the BBC and Guardian.

Jul 6, 2015 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

A simple fart at the BBC causes climate science chaos.

Jul 6, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

" it's quite hard to use paleo records of the oceans of the past as analogues of current changes, because it's so hard to disentangle everything that's going on. "

That didn't stop erstwhile astrophysicist Willie Soon from politicizing the palaeomalacolgy of giant clams in the service of coal polemics.

Jul 6, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Perhaps Prof Schmidt, having been a contributor to the IPCC, should have pointed out to Hazzabin that she was a Nobel Laureate....But the question that needs to be asked is, how much of her funding depends on her maintaining the fiction that is AGW? Is she obliged, like ex-Commissioners of the EU, not to speak ill of the IPCC?

Jul 6, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

The author of this study is implying coral reefs are going to die by 2100.
That is as realistic as the climate hype studies that claimed Tibetan glaciers would be melted by 2035 or that the Arctic sea ice would be melted by 2014.
In other words, more mindless claptrap from an alarmist idiot.

Jul 6, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Mini-transcript of the Harrabin item, here:

Jul 6, 2015 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

How dare you question a Scientist [genuflect].


Jul 6, 2015 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

I see they are still asserting that computer modelling is akin to "experiments"! What a fantasy world they live in!

Jul 6, 2015 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

German scientists seem to be as good as German economists

Jul 6, 2015 at 2:11 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

A simple fart at the BBC causes climate science chaos a whirlwind of climate obsession propaganda.

Jul 6, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPiperPaul

Kind of strange that most limestone deposits ( made of algal, micro and macro fauna, including coral remains ), are composed of carbonate minerals and seem to have been deposited when water was warm and dissolved CO2 concentrations were high. Have a look at the White cliffs of Dover some time.

Corals have been around continuously in the geological record for several hundred millions of years - there is a good chance they will survive all Daniela Schmidt's descendants , never mind her children.


Jul 6, 2015 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaleoclimate Buff

Reality is not like the computer and laboratory. Healthy reefs in acidic waters exist -- and researchers don't know why.

Jul 6, 2015 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnonyMoose

This database somewhat undermines our IPCC "Laureates".

Jul 6, 2015 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Jul 6, 2015 at 3:46 PM | Paleoclimate Buff

The whole way carbonate and silicate rocks get laid down is fairly complicated and an interesting subject.

Jul 6, 2015 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

I think everyone on this thread is confusing simple science as we all learnt at school, with complex climate science that only exists in expensively ludicrous computer models, paid for with grant funding, resulting from the previously most ludicrous model's output.

If the funding is cut, no more of this unrepeatable science will be inflicted on this benign planet.

Jul 6, 2015 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Does the pH of pHictious pHatal ocean acidipHication pHarts change with political pHunding?

Remember, there is no f in climate science.

Jul 6, 2015 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Rob Burton

The whole way carbonate and silicate rocks get laid down is fairly complicated and an interesting subject.

I did my undergraduate research project on the sedimentation of the carbonate mud flats s of the Persian Gulf Sabkha. I would say " fairly complicated " is an understatement.

Jul 6, 2015 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaleoclimate Buff

Paleo Buff, My knowledge is all from an undergraduate Paleoclimate course in Southampton Oceanography. It was the only non-physics thing I did but I was fascinated by it. The amount of great historical data obtained from the Deep Sea Drilling Project and Ocean Drilling Program is amazing.

Jul 6, 2015 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

BBC science editor is David Shukman B.A. Geography Durham
1985-99 Defense reporter
1999-03 World Affairs
2003-12 Environment and science reporter
2012-15 science editor
Chosen for his political correctness not his experience of science

Jul 6, 2015 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Clague

Re Jul 6, 2015 at 11:21 AM | Registered Commenter omnologos

There is that story about an accountant selected on the basis of answering the question "What is 2 + 2?" with "Depends what you had in mind".

I get the feeling that candidates for such interviews are selected on a similar basis.

Jul 6, 2015 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

My children will be alive in 2100.
85 yo and still swimming, obviously CAGW isn't going to do them much harm.

Jul 7, 2015 at 5:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld44

Palaeoclimate Buff, seeing your note about sabkhas brought back memories of my undergraduate years and being taught sedimentology by Graham Evans and Doug Shearman. Happy days!

Jul 7, 2015 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

"the things she did to Roger Harrabin"

Quite unlike what the Bishop would like to ?

Jul 7, 2015 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMuon

Update on Jul 6, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Thanks to reader Anonymoose for pointing us to this paper, a study of a coral reef in the Western Pacific where pH is already at levels projected for global averages for the end of the century. It's flourishing. The authors also compare this finding to other naturally lower pH reefs:

What we have out there is a vast band of scientists who are not interested in the truth. FUBAR

Jul 7, 2015 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

"My children will be alive in 2100"

Either her children aren't born yet, or she's pretty optimistic. Their demise is unlikely to be anything to do with AGW anyway!

Jul 7, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

There is an explanation : The article alludes to that that particular coral has evolved to local conditions and includes the qualifier.
"The researchers think that these acidic conditions have existed for thousands of years, potentially giving organisms a chance to evolve or adapt. Human-induced acidification, on the other hand, has occurred at a much faster rate and has not necessarily allowed affected reefs to adjust in the same way, ....
- The team next hopes to identify the biological and/or chemical explanation for the coral's success in this particular region' .."
- Yet that was Jan 2014, so I conclude it is like other coral, but the Greenblob doesn't want to turn down the coral alarmism.

Jul 7, 2015 at 11:58 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Bishop, you commented on a woman's appearance? Was that prudent?

Jul 7, 2015 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

Talk of another champagne socialist: she wants her children to swim in coral reefs..

If everyone were to do this there wont be any coral reefs soon

The biggest threat to coral reefs is people swimming in them with their suntan lotions chemicals dissolving in the water.

Jul 8, 2015 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

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