[Coral-List] Matt Ridley's article in the Wall Street Journal
douglasfenner at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 11 15:44:41 EST 2012
As far as I can tell, the term "acidification" means that the pH is going down, not that the water is "acid." Yes, the ocean is basic, over pH 7. Perhaps it would be clearer to say "lowering of the pH" instead of saying "acidification." I'm all for clarity, but scientists like to use big words, maybe to show off. I notice people like to say "embayment" instead of just "bay." Sounds more impressive to say embayment. There are lots of other technical terms of course. If people are misinterpreting the word "acidification" then we should use clearer terminology, but we may be stuck with "acidification" since everybody uses it.
One additional comment on the Wall Street
Journal (WSJ) article (oh, and could people please explain your
acronyms, as is normally required in journals? A lot of people reading
coral-list may not know what they mean, I for one am often left puzzled
by them). They claim that since pH changes on a daily basis, and has
large fluctuation in lakes, much larger than projected decreases by the
end of the century, the coming acidification is nothing to worry about. But consider for a minute sea level rise. There are daily changes in
sea level (called "tides") that are vastly larger than the annual rise
in sea level. Tides in many locations are also larger than the
projected rise by the end of the century. Yet not only can the yearly
increase be measured, but the increases over a few decades is enough to
cause real problems, and if it meets projections for the end of the
century, could force the people of entire nations to have to find new
places to live. Places like Maldives, Kiribati, and the Marshall Is.,
all atolls. So the fact that there is short term variation that is
larger than the change over long periods does not mean that the change
over long periods can't have some pretty drastic effects.
Communicating the science of climate change (includes a powerful review)
Scientists sound alarm over Southern Ocean warming, threshold for shell formation may be reached around 2030 instead of 2050 as previously thought
Climate change: high risk of permafrost thaw causing huge methane release
Climate summit faces big emitters' stalling tactics
Rich nations 'give up' on new climate treaty until 2020
Cold Comfort: Frigid Months Will Still Come in a Warming World
Greenhouse gases soar: no signs warming is slowed
Ex-skeptic tells US Congress climate change is real
In 2010, a survey of more than 1,000 of the world's most cited and published climate scientists found that 97 percent believe climate change is happening and primarily caused by humans. Anderegg, W.R.L. et al 2010. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107: 12107.
From: "Gattuso, Jean-Pierre" <gattuso2 at obs-vlfr.fr>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 6:31 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Matt Ridley's article in the Wall Street Journal
Eugene Shinn mentioned Matt Ridley's article in the Wall Street Journal
(http://tinyurl.com/77xnp24). Make sure that you also read the comments.
I am appending below one of mine.
Matt Ridley does not provide an accurate account of ocean acidification
I agree with him that some media have used catchy but inaccurate
headlines and I often post comments on the ocean acidification blog
(http://oceanacidification.wordpress.com/) to explain that the
definition of “acidic” in the Oxford English dictionary is “having the
properties of an acid; having a pH of less than 7?. Despite the process
of ocean acidification (the acidity of seawater has increased about 30%
since preindustrial time), the oceans are alkaline (pH higher than 7)
and will not become acidic in the foreseeable future. Hence, the "acid"
or “acidic” should not be used when referring to seawater. Note that
there are few exceptions, seawater can be acidic in the immediate
vicinity of CO2 vents or in purposeful perturbation experiments.
That being said, and in contrast to Matt Ridley's statements, ocean
acidification does impact marine organisms and ecosystems. Some seem to
benefit from it (certain, but not all, plants), others are negatively
impacted. The papers alluded to in his article precisely show that
biodiversity is considerably less in the CO2 vent sites of Ischia
(Italy) and Papua New Guinea. At the pH level expected at the end of
this century, 30% of the species are eliminated in Ischia (Hall-Spencer
et al., 2008). Likewise, in Papua New Guinea, the considerable diversity
of Indo-Pacific corals takes a hit at the acidity level projected in
2100, with a taxonomic richness of hard corals down by 39% (Fabricius et
Matt Ridley claims that "Laboratory experiments find that more marine
creatures thrive than suffer when carbon dioxide lowers the pH level to
7.8". This is also incorrect. Five experts in the field have recently
concluded that there is a high level of confidence that "Ocean
acidification will adversely affect calcification" (Gattuso et al., 2011)..
Informing its readership by providing accurate accounts should be a aim
of the press. The best way to achieve that goal for the Wall Street
Journal and the journalists who contribute to it is to seek the input of
the scientific community.
Scientific Coordinator, European Project on Ocean Acidification
Fabricius K. E., Langdon C., Uthicke S., Humphrey C., Noonan S., De’ath
G., Okazaki R., Muehllehner N., Glas M. S. & Lough J. M., 2011. Losers
and winners in coral reefs acclimatized to elevated carbon dioxide
concentrations. Nature Climate change 1:165-169.
Gattuso J.-P., Bijma J., Gehlen M., Riebesell U. & Turley C., 2011.
Ocean acidification: knowns, unknowns and perspectives. In: Gattuso
J.-P. & Hansson L. (Eds.), Ocean acidification, pp. 291-311. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Hall-Spencer J. M., Rodolfo-Metalpa R., Martin S., Ransome E., Fine M.,
Turner S. M., Rowley S. J., Tedesco D. & Buia M.-C., 2008. Volcanic
carbon dioxide vents show ecosystem effects of ocean acidification.
-- Jean-Pierre Gattuso | http://www.obs-vlfr..fr/~gattuso
European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA): http://epoca-project.eu/
"Ocean Acidification", new book (http://tinyurl.com/5skzxb5)
Jean-Pierre Gattuso | http://www.obs-vlfr.fr/~gattuso
European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA): http://epoca-project.eu
"Ocean Acidification", new book (http://tinyurl.com/5skzxb5)
Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
More information about the Coral-List