“Ocean Acidification”: A Sweet or Sour Talking Point FAIL?

There’s the science of man-caused global warming and there are the semantics of the issue. A major global warming talking point label begs for a deeper look into why it has every appearance of becoming an exceedingly inconvenient wipe-out, when it implodes under a simple exercise in common sense.

As a simple idiot having no science expertise, I’ll leave it to the scientists to explain why “ocean acidification” isn’t what it’s cracked up to be – the scientist at this link does indeed use that common label, but offers a caveat in the second paragraph. I submit that the mainstream media is enslaved to the mental picture people have in their minds of “acid”, and descriptions of anything less spectacular only undermine the ‘scary scenario’ of global warming. Without belief in scary scenarios, faith in the need to solve the issue evaporates no less differently than faith in an investment that turns out to be a ponzi scheme.

There is the pH scale, simple to understand, where the numbering system goes from 0 to 14, acid to alkaline (a.k.a. basic), with 7 representing a purely neutral state, neither acid nor alkaline. The recognized pH value for the world’s oceans is a bit over 8, as seen in the above EPA illustration link and at a pair of NOAA graphs here (5th slide at this “acidy” presentation where the first slide appears to be a color-altered ocean photo) and here. (9/16/13 Author edit:  NOAA changed their web site page where that last link was seen, so here is the archive link of the  page showing the oceans current pH balance.)

Now to hammer home the semantics problem of ocean acidification, consider another even easier scale of comparison, sweet to sour. Add a Kool-Aid flavor and sugar to water and you get a sweet drink. Then there’s a mixture made from sour eggs. Add more water to each to dilute them and then ask a drinker what the effect is.

Any reasonable person on the planet who isn’t first aware of what I’m up to here will confirm the Kool-Aid is still sweet and the egg drink is still sour. Just a bit less so in each case. You will not hear the person say the Kool-Aid has become more bitter nor that the egg drink is now sweeter. Neither crossed over the dead-even bland water taste.

And so it goes with what’s happening with the oceans. Nobody denies the change in pH value overall, but the oceans will never become “more acidic” until they cross the dead-even value of 7. But when a breathless reporter appears on the TV to say ocean creatures will dissolve under slightly less alkaline conditions, the average viewer is going to wander off to the fridge to get more beer and pretzels. And for Al Gore and his followers, that is an inconvenient truth that must be dealt with.

Meanwhile, the PBS NewsHour aired a discussion segment titled “Endangered Coral Reefs Die as Ocean Temperatures Rise and Water Turns Acidic” just two days ago. As I said in a comment at their site yesterday in response their segment on sea-level rise, this constant barrage of scary scenario reports begs for a bad movie title, “Attack of the Zombie Ponzi Scheme Issue”.

Russell Cook’s collection of writings on this issue can be seen at “The ’96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists.” You may also follow him at Twitter via @questionAGW

9 thoughts on ““Ocean Acidification”: A Sweet or Sour Talking Point FAIL?”

  1. The ocean and CO2 reached equilibrium , based on the temperature of the water and solubility of the gas, eons ago…….The ocean is warming (slightly), this means that it can only hold LESS CO2 and therefore it is NOT becoming less base! (more acidic). BASIC PHYSICS, the talk on acidifcation of the ocean is all balderdash!!!

  2. Thanks, Russell. You’re right. The link I posted is to NOAA’s “information page” on the proposed listing of the 66 coral species, which they announced on November 30. But the instructions on how to comment links back to the original 2010 petition to list 83 coral species. Perhaps it’s too early to comment. Or else the federal government made a mistake, but that can’t be.

  3. I’m lost about the NOAA Fisheries page you link to – the “Submit a public comment online” link and the keyword they suggest seems to bring up results where the comment periods have expired. Perhaps a typo at that very obviously dated Nov 30 2012 page for the keyword?

  4. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed listing 66 coral species (59 in the Pacific and seven in the Caribbean) under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA identified 19 threats, including three major threats: rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and disease. NOAA states that these major threats are all directly or indirectly linked to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Public comments are due in 90 days. Please comment and try to inject science into the debate.

  5. No real surprise here. Virtually all aspects of the Green movement are agenda/politically based. I may be 1 or 2 points high, but 100% of the AGW/Green alarmist spewage is pure propaganda.

  6. As ever, our NewsHour friends leave out details to their peril, viewers like yourself ask rough questions and go looking for answers on your own rather than accept what is said at face value.

    I recalled a Jo Nova piece on varied pHs and have it here http://joannenova.com.au/2012/01/scripps-blockbuster-ocean-acidification-happens-all-the-time-naturally/ but of course she’d never be allowed to appear on the program.

    Call me weird, I do dislike Joe Romm’s call to his web followers to inundate media outlets with angry emails by using the contact info he provides along with his own talking points. It evokes ‘mind-numbed robot’ activism. But I will say this: there’s a couple of ways to contact the NewsHour, a little searching on your part will turn it up. I’d advise letting ’em know about tonight’s program like you’ve done here.

    I can attest that it works ’cause I received a personal email from National Journal’s Coral Davenport over a specific item she said on Monday’s NewsHour ( http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/climate-change/july-dec12/climate_12-03.html ) as a result of my protest. I could be wrong, but my follow-up might have caused her to lose a bit of sleep over a larger problem in her reporting about politicians’ knowledge or alleged lack thereof about AGW. Any new developments on that – if they happen – will be announced at my Twitter page.

  7. Today they ran a second part of this nonsense. The issue was the commercial rearing of oyster larvae to small seed individuals. The main hatchery had a failure and traced it to the pH of the water they pumped in from the sea. The implication was that the pH was below 7, though no number was given. There was also a implication that the adult farmed oysters would succumb as well. I am having a hard time figuring how CO2 can be responsible, Rather, having worked in research bivalve hatchery many years ago, I can see where fouling or excessive bacterial activity in the settling inpoundment ( usually a large open to the air and light concrete tank could have flipped the pH of the incoming sea water. This is a stretch, PBS and Iffle push this stuff out on the viewer as if it were gospel. Furthermore, they get quotes from an economist specializing in shellfish fisheries to give the what if conclusions, with little discussion of if “what if ” may not be real. PBS has bought into the Gorebull and is not objective in its reporting. The FCC should be made aware of this and PBSs license as a public trust entity needs to be examined.

  8. I cannot believe that dissolution of carbon dioxide in sea water with dissociation to bicarbonate and carbonate (carbonic acid if you wish) can ever dissolve calcium carbonate.

    First, we have the concept of solubility product constant, which tells us if the concentration of either ion of a compound increases, the solubility of the compound decreases. Thus additional carbonate in seawater will make calcium carbonate less likely to dissolve.

    Second, do a thought experiment with calcium carbonate and acids. Calcium carbonate plus hydrogen chloride becomes calcium chloride and carbon dioxide. Calcium carbonate plus carbonic acid becomes calcium carbonate plus carbon dioxide. It makes no sense.

  9. I’ve read, or heard, that 1/3 to 1/2 of all the bacteria in the ocean(s) is killed off by viruses every day – every day – and all that carbon has to go somewhere. Does it sink to the ocean floor, or is it released into the atmosphere? No one knows.

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