The “Kinda” New Warmer Narrative–Ocean Acidification

Because global temperatures were not responding to increasing atmospheric CO2, the warmers began looking for new narratives to use to frighten the public into giving them more money. The oceans were thought to be a good target. To explain why global temperatures were only inching up, they jumped on the sea shellsimagestheory that the heat was being trapped in the ocean. Just like that, the “heat” decided to go into the ocean and not warm the atmosphere. The logic of that proposition was viewed as somewhat problematic, to say the least.

Another narrative was to say that the ocean was being made acidic and that would have a devastating effect on sea life. This narrative, acidification of the ocean, had been around for a number of years. But it needed some spicing up. Former head of NOAA, Jane Lubchenco, referred to ocean “acidification” as global warming’s “equally evil twin.”


So what is it we know about the oceans? First of all, they are basic, not acidic.  Most everyone learned in school that a way to distinguish acid from base was to put litmus paper into a solution. If the litmus turned red, it was acidic and if it turned blue it was basic. Specific measurement of acid/base is pH.   pH is defined by Wikipedia as:

“pH is a numeric scale used to specify the acidity or basicity(alkalinity) of an aqueous solution. It is roughly the negative of the logarithm to base 10 of the concentration, measured in units of moles per liter, of hydrogen ions or H+.”

On the pH scale, water is nominally 7 (neutral), battery acid is 0 and liquid drain cleaner is 14. Dennis Ambler demonstrates the significance of the scale being logarithmic as follows:

  1. The pH scale is logarithmic and as a result, each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the next higher value. For example, pH 4 is ten times more acidic than pH 5 and 100 times (10 times 10) more acidic than pH 6.
  2. The same holds true for pH values above 7, each of which is ten times more alkaline (another way to say basic) than the next lower whole value. For example, pH 10 is ten times more alkaline than pH 9 and 100 times (10 times 10) more alkaline than pH 8.
  3. IPCC WGI state that the mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open ocean, so the ocean remains alkaline. It is dishonest to present to a lay audience that any perceived reduction in alkalinity means the oceans are turning to acid.

The mechanism here is that oceans absorb CO2. CO2 then reacts with the ocean water and forms a weak acid. This has been going on for millions of years. But according to warmers and their NGO operatives, the addition of CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuels, has produced more of the weak acid and it is making the oceans acidic. If the acid level increases dramatically, it would dissolve the shells of sea creatures and destroy the sea corals.

But is this likely to occur? According to Tony Thomas writing in the Quadrantonline:

“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.”

He also notes that adaptation happens in places where the pH is less than 7:

” 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”.

Another report uses 1100 peer reviewed studies to refute the warmer’s contentions. It is as follows:

” 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.

Future postings will look at the New York Times attempt to write a story about acidification that would really be frightening.   They did write it. A freedom of information request demonstrated that the story was deceptive.

Further, a look at a study that was supposed to show that acidification of the ocean was moving quickly. But it wasn’t.  Another victim of the”freedom of information act”.







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