Threatened Island Nations

by Judith Curry

The Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School and the Republic of the Marshall Islands recently co-sponsored a conference on “Threatened Island Nations: Legal Implications of a Changing Climate.

Columbia’s Law School Climate Law Blog has a comprehensive summary of the conference, separated into 3 posts for each of the three days of the conference.

Some excerpts that give a flavor of the conference:
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The Honorable John Silk, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, then took the podium and emphatically stated that the long-term risks of climate change are something which the Marshall Islands can no longer ignore. He urged that a strong and scientifically agreed upon agreement is necessary for the future

Jacob Werksman of the World Resources Institute opened the discussion charting the history of legal remedies pursued thus far in regards to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing upon international customary and treaty law, Werksman focused on the legal actions that can be taken to obligate countries such as the United States to do their due diligence in reducing emissions.

Professor Brad Blitz of Kingston University London began by asking the question why people migrate in the first place. He explained that migration decisions are typically based on partial information and projected outcomes. Blitz emphasized that how people evaluate risks depends on resources, perceptions of the threat, and options; livelihoods above all encourages people to migrate meaning that there must be some trigger.

Bronen advocated for the use of the term “climigration” to describe climate change-induced migration to differentiate it from other conventional forms of migration. She defined climigration as “permanent community relocation due to on-going ecological change, caused by repeated extreme weather events and on-going ecological change.” She stressed that it should be a part of human rights doctrine that communities that are being relocated are given autonomy over the methods of relocation. She described this to be a “dynamic adaptive governance process.” Bronen went on to delineate macro and micro-level strategies in resettlement, arguing that we must be more concerned with the micro picture if we are to be successful. During the Q&A session, a representative from Bangladesh voiced strong agreement with Bonen’s micro-approach to migration, illustrating the issues that Bangladeshis currently face.  A 45 minute discussion followed exploring the details of the panelists’ resettlement strategies and raising the very real resistance of local communities to resettlement planning.

The third session of the conference today pitted advocates, Professor Michel Pieur (Centre International de Droit) and Professor David Hodgkinson (University of Western Australia), advocating for a new international framework convention to protect the victims of climate change, against Professor Jane McAdam (University of New South Wales). Pieur and Hodgkinson were mainly in agreement over the reasons for why such a convention should be created. They both argued that current refugee provisions were inadequate in dealing with the unique circumstance posed by climate change and that current conventions only deal with individual rights, not collective rights which would be necessary for persons displaced by climate change. Furthermore, Pieur stressed that the non-binding nature of current legal protections made the need for a binding convention all the more important.

McAdam’s response started on the note that a “one-size-fits-all” approach cannot be expected to work. She differentiated between climate change-induced scenarios as forcing rapid movement and slow movement. Building on these initial statements, her main arguments against a new international convention were: 1) that treaty proposals are premised on unproven assumptions on climate change; 2) that suggesting climate change alone causes movement is problematic; 3) that political appetite for such a proposition is absent; and 4) that focusing on a treaty may obscure other approaches that better align with the needs of displaced persons. She then drew on her fieldwork from Bangladesh and the Pacific Islands to claim that most movement is internal and climate change tends to multiply preexisting stresses rather than causing movement of its own. Capitalizing on previously made causality arguments, McAdams said that a climate change convention would struggle in proving the impacts of climate change.

The Q&A session afterwards involved several questions from both sides of the issue.  Among the issues raised in support of a convention were that the particular focus on this issue would allow the issue particular attention from the international community.  Among the arguments against were a questioning of the distinction between helping people facing difficult living situations due to climate-related displacement, versus those facing the same difficult living situations due to economic or other problems.  What basis, it was asked, is there to distinguish between people in need of aid?  The response to this argument focused on the unique responsibility of the developed world for climate-displaced peoples, that may impose an additional responsibility.

The last day of the conference began with a panel that analyzed the adaptation needs and strategies for threatened islands. Professor Klaus Jacob of Columbia University presented a risk assessment model using the variables of hazards, assets, and vulnerability. He outlined two approaches to the model: 1) using loss estimates for scenario storms, waves, ties, and relative flooding; and 2) using annualized flood losses as a function of sea level rise. The conclusion of his research predicted that the population density in the Majuro Atoll would need to be reduced by the time that sea level rise exceeds 0.3-0.5m.

Albon Ishoda, the Executive Director of the Marshall Islands Conservation Society, stressed that there cannot be a “one-size-fits-all” approach to adaptation because each atoll has different geographic characteristics that cause its vulnerability to sea level rise and climate change to vary. He explained the community-based process that his group has been pursuing, emphasizing that social factors cannot be ignored. He also highlighted the two challenges to this approach: difficulties associated with translating the scientific and legal language to a more accessible form for the locals; and the need to garner the necessary funding and assistance to launch adaptation projects. He added that even the meager funding that is provided unfortunately largely comes with stipulations, which do not necessarily benefit the local communities.

Professor Gerrard continued the conversation putting the urgency for action into perspective. He asserted that the larger threat in the near future is extreme weather events and that perils to statehood are not imminent. He stressed that legal remedies may not be necessary and that political action could certainly serve as a solution. He endorsed the use of bilateral and regional agreements to deal with issues of migration and resettlement until an international agreement is made, if one is necessary.

Greenpeace has a post on the conference, entitled “Threatened Pacific Nation makes legal history by challenging European carbon emitter.”
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A social justice perspective on this issue is provided by the Climate Justice Project at the University of Washington School of Law:

At least here in the U.S., lawyers (and I am one of them) are trained to respond to individual, not systemic, problems. As a legal community comprised of litigators, judges, professors, elected officials, etc., lawyers aren’t proving deft enough at applying the kind of complex calculus capable of rendering climate-displaced communities justice. Perhaps the first realization worth articulating is the value of knowing our limitations. How might the law fail here? How might we—as lawyers—fail here? What other solutions might we be ignoring by focusing so heavily on the law?

Persistence of atoll islands under sea level rise

A concise readable summary of the issue of sea level rise and atoll islands is provided by this report by Climate Analytics.  From the Summary:

Reports of a recent study showing that 43% of 27 central-Pacific Atoll islands have grwon in net area over recent decades, with only 145 of these studied islands decreasing in net land area, have led to claims that risks to these islands from projected sea slevel rise due to global warming have been overstated. 

“While the islands are coping for now, any acceleration in the rate of sea0level rise could overtake the sediment build up”  (New Scientist, 2 June 2010).”

Give the persistence of Atoll islands in the Holocene during periods of sea level variations at rates not very different from those observed in recent deades, it is to be expected that these islands can respond dynamically to limited sea level rise and fall.  However, the dynamics of atoll islands formation and persistence depends strongly on local conditions and morphology, as well as anthropogenic influence on shorelines, including infrastructure.  Hence net increases in area may not correspond to enhancement of present resources and could also be associated with significant loss of useable area.  

More importantly, acceleration of sea level rise is expected due to global warming.  Recent estimates of the rate of sea level rise by 2050 and 2100 are a factor of five higher than the observed rate over the study period.  These expected rates of rise are about ten times higher than those found in reconstructions of sea level over the Holocene in periods were atoll islands are known to have formed and persisted in the long term.

JC comments:  Threatened island nations have often been used as poster children for dangerous AGW.  Issues facing island nations are complex mash of geophysical and societal factors.  Tying AGW and sea level rise to the current problems facing the island nations is not at all straightforward.  Trying to fix the problems of island nations by reducing CO2 emissions would probably be ineffective, even if stabilization targets are met.  Extensive societal development on atoll islands is associated with risks from extreme weather events and the geodynamics of the atoll itself.  In the face of this geophysical vulnerability, there are some potentially thorny political, legal and social justice issues associated with challenges facing the island nations.    The dynamics of the Threatened Island Nations Conference provided some interesting insights into the challenges of demonstrating and dealing with dangerous AGW.

402 responses to “Threatened Island Nations

  1. Thorny issues my blue bippy. The entire exercise is a (failed) rent-seeking effort; the islands are doing fine, sea level is nearly stable and certainly well within recorded historical bounds, etc. Chopping down tell-tale shoreline trees that inconveniently haven’t sunk or been killed by salt water isn’t going to make anyone pony up billions for Tuvalu or the Maldives, however much they squawk, and however damp their cabinet meetings.

    • Precisely, Brian. This conference seems to have started out with the assumption that there is a problem. There is no problem with sea level rise. Have these people never heard of length of day (LOD)? I believe LOD can be measured to +/- 2 milliseconds. With the conservation of angular momentum, if sea level rises LOD must increase as well. Take a look at the data. There is no evidence that LOD is changing

      • Big Brother always has a problem to solve, Jim. e need more bureaucrats working on these issues.

      • I should have added that I have recently seen a report, admittedly anecdotal, that there was a yatch cruising some of the remote islands of the Pacific. The only charts available were those produced by William Blyth, captain of the “Bounty”. The report was that these charts were still remarkably accurate, particularly with respect to sea level.. Surely, it should no be too difficult to get Vice-Admiral Blyth’s old charts, resurvey the islands, and see how much change there has been. Or, maybe the people who have the money to do such a study, dont want to know what the answer is.

      • There is too much alarm over these low lying coral atolls. They have stayed there ground for over 50 years in the face of sea-level rise.

        New Scientist – June 2010
        “For years, people have warned that the smallest nations on the planet – island states that barely rise out of the ocean – face being wiped off the map by rising sea levels. Now the first analysis of the data broadly suggests the opposite: most have remained stable over the last 60 years, while some have even grown….During that time, local sea levels have risen by 120 millimetres, or 2 millimetres per year on…

        Reference:

        The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise
        2010
        Results contradict existing paradigms of island response and have significant implications for the consideration of island stability under ongoing sea-level rise in the central Pacific. First, islands are geomorphologically persistent features on atoll reef platforms and can increase in island area despite sea-level change.

      • Apparently the Maldives is planning a new runway and terminal. I hope they aren’t planning on using local materials. ;)
        http://maldivestraveller.mv/details/Local+News/mott-macdonald-appointed-to-run-mal%C3%A9-international-airport-redevelopment-project

        Tourism in Maldives started with just two resorts with a capacity of about 280 beds in Kurumba Village and Bandos. At present, there are over 80 resorts located in the different atolls constituting the Republic of Maldives. Over the past few decades, the number of tourists in Maldives has risen continuously. Today, more than 500,000 tourists visit the Maldives each year.”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_the_Maldives

        Sea level rise is not their problem.

      • I would propose as a first step in resolving climate change, air travel to island nations threatened by climate change should be banned.

        There won’t be many people left to worries about then.

      • What I find alarming is that they encourage co2 spewing tourists while at the same time complaining about man-made co2 warming / sea level rise.

        What is the carbon footprint of the 500,000 tourists a year visiting the Maldives? What about all the other low lying islands?

      • Latimer Alder

        Surely the weight of 500,000 people on the vulnerable coral means that the island would subside anyway? And a tourist-laden jumbo weighs in excess of 450 tonnes.. Big heavy stuff.

      • Looks like we were being led up the garden path.

        Tropical Pacific Sea Level DROPPED From 1958 – 2007, New Study Shows
        H/t Notrickszone

    • Brian had all the data on this scam, but the dog ate it.

  2. Barry Woods

    The cliam that sea level rise is accerating is subjetc to some controversy is it not?

    Charles Darwin explained how these island rise and fall with sea level.. Why is it a surprise that they rise and fall with sea level to some environmentalists, etc?

    The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs – Charles Darwin – 1842
    http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F271&pageseq=1

    The whole mechanism of build up includeds storm piling debrsi onto the islands.. great for a bit of poster child environmentalism, (flooded islands) but this is partly how they came about..

    ALL the real knownm human local environmental damage and impacts being done by the local populations (including the fact that increasingisland populations are adding to the pressure) on islands that are at the margins for human habitation, (ie resources ) are ignored….

    instead they are encouraged to sue a coal plant somewhere…and the real human enviromental damage gets ignored (all mentioned in working group 2)

    BBC: June 2010 – Low Lying Islands growing not sinking.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10222679

    • You probably should read the entire BBC article unless you want to be left with the wrong impression. Near the end of the article it says this …
      “But although these islands might not be submerged under the waves in the short-term, it does not mean they will be inhabitable in the long-term, and the scientists believe further rises in sea levels pose a significant danger to the livelihoods of people living in Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia.”

  3. Very curious. There are many many atolls in the Pacific, but you only hear about threatened islands from those on the poorest nations (Kiribaty, Tuvalu, Marshall is., etc), and not from the richest (Cook is. -New Zealand-, Tuamotu -French Polynesia-, etc). Is sea level related to economy? I have been to many of them, and never realized a difference in height above sea level.

    • Barry Woods

      How about a real estate price – sea level index….

      Want to buy/sell some futures ;)

      • Cook islands are atolls and volcanic islands. More atolls. Tuamotu are only atolls, and you have some more atolls in French Polynesia, as the very famous Bora-Bora. Lots of sea hotels and bungalows in B-B,, but you never hear about a sea level problem there. Still building more.

        You see, atolls are surprisingly similar, with about the same height above sea level. They are dynamic islands, driven by … wow!, the sea level.

      • Sorry, this one was in response to Sceptical Wombat

      • Atolls are growing like crazy. Who knows when all islands will be atolls and all the other islands will be under water?

    • Sceptical Wombat

      Volcanic islands such as NZ etc are mountainous whereas coral atolls are flat and close to sea level. While NZ might lose significant near sea level infrastructure the atolls stand to lose the entire island.

  4. Again, i have to question the validity of the central premise for this meeting.

    The issue is by no means clear cut (i.e. islands sinking,. rising, land use changes, sea level rises, land ‘wobble’ etc etc), there is no way in hell you could pin this to CO2, even the most basic lawyer could argue his way out of it in minutes.

    Not suprising then, that greenpeace are involved. I used to respect that orginisation, not anymore.

  5. Straight out of State of Fear by Michael Crichton

    From the plot synopsis on Wikipedia:

    A subplot parallels the main plot and is the driving force for many of Evans’ actions later on, at the behest of Morton. Morton has promised to donate $10 million to support a class action lawsuit on behalf of the people of the fictional island nation Vanutu (not to be confused with non-fictional Vanuatu.) The suit claims that by its inaction to curb global warming the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has doomed Vanutu to destruction, technically an act of war, because when sea levels increase by the amount that “most” climate models predict the nation will be underwater. At Morton’s behest, Evans pays a visit to the offices of the legal team that is preparing the suit, where he volunteers to be a pre-jury selection interviewee. The interviewer is Jennifer Haynes, who presents him with various pieces of evidence that she feels the defense will use in an attempt to discredit the “science” behind the lawsuit. Later she reveals that the lawsuit is just an elaborate publicity stunt. The parties who initiated it know that it will never succeed. They only want to create a legal action that will drag on for years, giving them numerous opportunities to dramatize the plight of the islanders as they cope with the “catastrophe” of global warming. Later, Haynes reveals herself to be Kenner’s niece and in league with him.

  6. Willis Eschenbach

    Oh, dear, the dreaded “drowning islands” meme resurfaces. This sucker is hard to kill. For the uninitiated, an atoll with an undisturbed reef will rise as fast as the sea level rises. Since coral growth rates vastly exceed even potential sea level rise, this will continue as long as the reefs are healthy.

    Unfortunately, many reefs have been damaged, mainly by coral mining and the killing of parrotfish, accompanied by above-ground erosion and over-pumping of the fresh-water lens. This is the real danger, not AGW.

    See my discussions of the question in my posts “Floating Islands” and “The Irony, It Burns“. Originally pushed by well-meaning but deluded folks who never heard of Darwin’s explanation of coral atolls, at this point this whole thing can best be described as a deliberate attempt to get industrialized nations to pay for the environmental sins of those islanders who are slowly destroying their own reefs…

    In other words, at this point, and knowing what we know now, it is a scam.

    w.

    • Mike Jowsey

      Thoroughly agree Willis. A transparent scam, one which the honorable Foreign Minister for the Mashall Islands is bound (probably by job description) to milk for all its worth.

      And as for this quote: “While the islands are coping for now, any acceleration in the rate of sea level rise could overtake the sediment build up” (New Scientist, 2 June 2010).”, this is a plain admission that there is currently NO PROBLEM. (But there could be!)

    • Mike Jowsey

      Btw, the link in your article The Irony It Burns to your doc is broken. (The Sierra Magazine article was what impelled me to write my 2004 paper (Word Doc) on Tuvalu.)

      I would like to read the doc.

    • That’s a pretty callous attitude, but understandable if you wouldn’t be affected.

      • Ah, no – it’s a very educated attitude. And we will be affected – by the costs – if these islanders have their way.

      • Sea level has rise 120m in last 20,000 years.

        At what point will the islands be “affected”?

        120.1m?
        120.2m?
        121m?

  7. Its a conference about how best to organize shake down of the ‘developed’ world to provide cash for poor Island nations . The science is just an extra and what is notable is the proof of their currently being as problem directly related to AGW is missing. Instead its models and predictions which of course can tell you what you want depending on what models and predictions you use , which is argument is based on.

    Ironically in law there has been valid proof so that your case can be proved successfully , as these people most know. Models and predictions do not provide such proof in a legal sense , they are merely opinions.
    So going down this route would require the ‘evidenced’ to be produce to the standards legally required, and so far that has not been done and it may very be done .
    Guilt trips have of course no legal nor scientific value , so provide no evidenced at all in a scientific or legal sense.

  8. Tomas Milanovic

    Greenpeace has a post on the conference, entitled “Threatened Pacific Nation makes legal history by challenging European carbon emitter.”

    Lubos Motl blogged about this ridiculous issue already 2 years ago :
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/05/micronesia-escalates-sea-level-lawsuits.html

    This is because the power plant in Prunerov is Czech and the Greenpeace Czech aparatchik who made up this story and unfortunately suffered an “irreversible brain damage” was a former school friend of him.
    The point being that even if one admits all IPCC hypothesis (and this is a non trivial admission) , the contribution of Prunerov to the sea level rise would be a whooping 42 microns in … 50 years :)

    Of course Greenpeace doesn’t care and they are ready to make everybody waste any amount of time provided that they get media coverage and money .
    The only mind boggling thing is that they indeed succeed to get media (and not only media !) coverage for something that is wrong and insane on so many levels that it would take pages to describe.

    The only lesson from this Kafka’s Castle is that it is scandalous that clinically crazy people and organisations like Greenpeace write “reports” which are allowed to be uncritically amplified by supposedly scientific and objective bodies like IPCC.
    No wonder that nobody trusts then that such “reports” and organisations have anything to do with science or even just normal sane human behaviour.

    When will Greenpeace sue Germany bacause they banned nuclear power and will replace it by coal power plants on a much bigger scale than the Prunerov Czech facility?
    Or won’t they … ? ;)

    • Greenpeace is supposed to have press releases on
      Christopher C. Horner, but I can’t find them.

      According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, where Mr. Horner is a Senior Fellow, Greenpeace has repeatedly targeted Mr. Horner by stealing his garbage weekly and issuing press releases announcing with whom he dines.

      http://cei.org/expert/christopher-c-horner

      I’m interested in Greenpeace’s press releases about Mr. Horner, so I Googled ” Greenpeace Horner press release,” but found no press releases. So I went to the Greenpeace site, where the organization’s press releases can be accessed as far back as 1991, but again found nothing.

      http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/#tab=0&st=Climate%2Bchange&page=48

      If anyone knows if these press releases exist, please tell me where I can find them.

  9. Barry Woods

    Populations pressue adds to this:
    IPCC working group 2
    http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR4/website/16.pdf
    pg 692 Other Stresses…

    Pressure on island resources
    Most small islands have limited sources of freshwater. Atoll
    countries and limestone islands have no surface water or streams
    and are fully reliant on rainfall and groundwater harvesting.
    Many small islands are experiencing water stress at the current
    levels of rainfall input, and extraction of groundwater is often
    outstripping supply.Moreover, pollution of groundwater is often
    a major problem, especially on low-lying islands. Poor water
    quality affects human health and carries water-borne diseases.

    Box 16.2. Non-climate-change threats to coral reefs of small islands
    A large number of non-climate-change stresses and disturbances, mainly driven by human activities, can impact coral reefs
    (Nyström et al., 2000; Hughes et al., 2003). It has been suggested that the ‘coral reef crisis’ is almost certainly the result of
    complex and synergistic interactions among global-scale climatic stresses and local-scale, human-imposed stresses (Buddemeier
    et al., 2004).
    In a study by Bryant et al. (1998), four human-threat factors – coastal development, marine pollution, over-exploitation and
    destructive fishing, and sediment and nutrients from inland – provide a composite indicator of the potential risk to coral reefs
    associated with human activity for 800 reef sites. Their map (Figure 16.1) identifies low-risk (blue) medium-risk (yellow) and highrisk
    (red) sites, the first being common in the insular central Indian and Pacific Oceans, the last in maritime South-East Asia
    and the Caribbean archipelago. Details of reefs at risk in the two highest-risk areas have been documented by Burke et al.
    (2002) and Burke and Maidens (2004), who indicate that about 50%of the reefs in South-East Asia and 45%in the Caribbean
    are classed in the high- to very high-risk category. There are, however, significant local and regional differences in the scale
    and type of threats to coral reefs in both continental and small-island situations

  10. Tying AGW and sea level rise to the current problems facing the island nations is not at all straightforward.

    While you can always make the point that things are complex, and always be right, there is also an important part of this issue that is very straightforward: a half a meter to a meter and a quarter of sea level rise (roughly the amount estimated for this century) will be devastating to a large number of islanders.

    • Barry Woods

      Actually AVOID : Tyndall Centre, Hadley Centre, Grantham Institute, Walker Instiute, said up to 1 – 2 feets most likley, after a review of the science last year…

      About a foot would be totally within in the historic record of natural rises, (so where is the human element)

      I’ll track the link later.. (off to Infants school – bring a parent to lunch week)

      • Barry, in the AVOID funded meta analysis of sea level rise research, Jason Lowe from the Hadley Centre/Tyndall suggests a range between 1 and 2 meters (not feet):

        “a 21st century sea level rise of 2m could not be ruled out, a rise of less than one metre by 2100 was judged more likely on grounds of physical plausibility”

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/avoid/files/resources-researchers/AVOID_WS2_D1_13_20090518.pdf

        This was, though, a 2009 report and there are a lot of conditions on the analysis and there are, of course, local effects that make a difference.

        This is, of course, NOT within the coping range of many costal areas.

        In 2007 the IPCC suggested a 0.18-0.59M range, which does indeed fit with your 1-2 feet rise (although not your analysis of “within in the historic record”) but also remember that is not a peak or stabilisation projection.

      • Latimer Alder

        At least you missed ‘Have a Parent for Lunch’ week. Or maybe that’s a treat still to come?

    • Is there any sign ,outside of models , that is half a meter or a meter of sea level raises on a world wide scale in a reasonable time scale ?
      Island come , island go and they also have .

  11. Barry Woods

    The BIGGEST cause of problems? : – Governance
    Actually on the scale of things, CO2 and ‘potental agw induced se level rise on the back of AGW projections, seems to be the least of their worries (read the whole section on Small Islands)

    http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR4/website/16.pdf

    pg 699

    There is another category of ‘stress’ that may inadvertently result in damage to coral reefs – the human component of poor
    governance (Goldberg and Wilkinson, 2004).

    Recognising that coral reefs are especially important for many small island states, Wilkinson (2004) notes that reefs on small
    islands are often subject to a range of non-climate impacts. Some common types of reef disturbance are listed below, with
    examples from several island regions and specific islands.

    1. Impact of coastal developments and modification of shorelines:
    • coastal development on fringing reefs, Langawi Island, Malaysia (Abdullah et al., 2002);
    • coastal resort development and tourism impacts in Mauritius (Ramessur, 2002).
    2. Mining and harvesting of corals and reef organisms:
    • coral harvesting in Fiji for the aquarium trade (Vunisea, 2003).
    3. Sedimentation and nutrient pollution from the land:
    • sediment smothering reefs in Aria Bay, Palau (Golbuua et al., 2003) and southern islands of Singapore
    (Dikou and van Woesik, 2006);
    • non-point source pollution, Tutuila Island, American Samoa (Houk et al., 2005);
    • nutrient pollution and eutrophication, fringing reef, Réunion (Chazottes et al., 2002) and Cocos Lagoon,
    Guam (Kuffner and Paul, 2001).
    4. Over-exploitation and damaging fishing practices:
    • blast fishing in the islands of Indonesia (Fox and Caldwell, 2006);
    • intensive fish-farming effluent in Philippines (Villanueva et al., 2006);
    • subsistence exploitation of reef fish in Fiji (Dulvy et al., 2004);
    • giant clam harvesting on reefs, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea (Kinch, 2002).
    5. Introduced and invasive species:
    • Non-indigenous species invasion of coral habitats in Guam (Paulay et al., 2002).

    There is another category of ‘stress’ that may inadvertently result in damage to coral reefs – the human component of poor
    governance (Goldberg and Wilkinson, 2004). This can accompany political instability, one example being problems with
    contemporary coastal management in the Solomon Islands (Lane, 2006).

  12. International Law is a collection of handshakes. There is no judicary or police force. It’s a hodgepodge of agreements between the parties concerned. To pretend that there is something to be “enforced” is to believe in toothfaries and Santa Claus, Easter Bunnies and gooblins. If we progress as a species and manage to survive another 1,000 years and history continues it’s relative upward track, maybe in 3011 there will be something more firm to stand on. Between now and then, if you’re a nobody country in the middle of an ocean, make some friends fast and align yourself with a Giant who agrees to protect you, don’t think for a moment that you’re going to force some Big Cats to help you if you call them names and act like a spoiled brat.

    • There may be no international police force for international law, but it would be a mistake to think that it therefore is just a “collection of handshakes.” In this context, and from a U.S. perspective, the biggest threat of such international agreements is that we have a progressive dominated Supreme Court that has begun to use international law as an excuse to push their progressive views on the country.

      You might think that some trumped up scam treaty giving rights to poorly governed countries is no big deal. But trust me, there are plenty of progressive U.S. judges who would love to start awarding judgments of billions of dollars to foreign plaintiffs against U.S. corporations, to further their agenda.

      Such a treaty is highly unlikely to be ratified, but the Obama administration simply signing such an agreement could prove to be problematic for the U.S. economy. It would be a mistake to take any of the left’s machinations on climate change too lightly, at least while the White House is held by the most progressive president this country has ever had. It’s good to shine a light on these conclaves, sunshine is a great disinfectant.

  13. The following is an extract from a speech I made a couple of years ago, but it is apposite to this thread. Please forgive the length.

    The Media, and the example of the Maldives

    What I would like to do now is to illustrate for you what has happened in the media with respect to this issue, by examining in close detail a climate-change story typical of scores that I have seen over the past couple of years. This one comes from Toronto’s quality newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and I read it while I was in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. The half-page story sat around a wonderful aerial photo of Male, the capital of the Maldives, and the point of the story was that the new Prime Minister of that island state intends to set up an investment fund to buy a new home for the Maldiveans ‘should global warming raise sea-levels and submerge their picturesque but low-lying homeland’. The photo was superb, because it shows a small city absolutely surrounded by the sea, and the PM’s proposal, to say the least, is a novel one. So far, so good.

    But the reporter, Siri Agrell, then added some comment on the Maldivean situation provided by ‘climate-change expert’ Hadi Dowlatabadi, the holder of a Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia. Dr Dowlatabadi agreed that it was likely that the Maldives would one day disappear. ‘It depends,’ he said, ‘on how Greenland melts, but easily within a century.’ If all of Greenland melts, the sea-level will rise seven metres. But even if climate-changing emissions were stopped today, sea-levels will rise by 1.5 metres in the next 300 years.

    Then the reporter moved to another source altogether, probably the newspaper’s back files, which stated that ‘In PNG, residents of the Carteret Islands have already had to relocate because of rising sea-levels attributed to climate change. Residents of Tuvalu and Kiribati are also at risk of becoming climate refugees.’ Next we learn that an alliance of small island states recently held a press conference at the United Nations urging international support for projects that would aid their survival in the face of climate change. ‘Members of the 44-nation alliance described the new reality of hurricanes, tsunamis and other weather phenomena that are already affecting their fellow citizens…’ Dr Dowlatabadi re-appeared at the end of the story to tell us that people who are relocated never recover from this event, and tend to have very high suicide rates.

    Now, what would the casual reader get from all that? The detail of the story is pretty grim. The Greenland ice-cap is melting; the Maldives could disappear easily within a century; if Greenland melts completely, seas will rise by seven metres; in any case seas will rise by 1.5 metres over the next 300 years; and there is a new reality of hurricanes and tsunamis connected to global warming. We know all this because Dr Dowlatabai is a climate-change expert. The subliminal ethical message is that we should help because we are the cause of the global warming.

    What evidence is there for any of this? Let me start with Dr Dowlatabadi, whom I have never met. You do not get a Canada Research Chair easily, so he is plainly a proficient and well-regarded academic. He may have not been properly reported, and there can be no real doubt that he said a lot more to Siri Agrell than appears in the article. All newspaper stories are constructions, as are all books and films. But let me say, as gently as possible, that in my opinion there are no climate change experts, in the sense that such people cover all aspects of the domain with authority: climate change is a vast topic and it has as yet no central body of knowledge. All those who speak about climate change, myself included, do so from their own knowledge base and with their own capacity to deal with argument and evidence, much of it from disciplines other than their own.

    Now let us look at the other details in that story. They centre on four propositions — that the seas are rising, that the Greenland ice-cap is melting, that hurricanes and tsunamis are related to these changes, and that they are all connected to our emitting greenhouse gases. You will see that this is the central IPCC story, with some details that are relevant to the Maldives. So are the seas rising? I think that the moderate answer is that, yes, the seas are rising and that they have been doing so for a couple of centuries, at about 20cm a century. You will appreciate that it is really difficult to be sure, especially about what has happened in the past. But a slowly rising sea-level would be consistent with a slow warming of the planet, partly because as glaciers and ice-caps retreat the melted ice finishes up in the sea, and partly because a warmer body of water will grow in volume and rise for that reason. Land sinks, too, which is why Venice is in trouble. But are rising sea-levels happening right now? Well, they may be, and they may not be. The IPCC projects a possible sea-level increase of 18cm to 59cm this century. Satellite measurements go back to 1992, and they show an average increase of 3.2mm a year, which is in the middle of the IPCC projection. In the past few years, however, the sea seems to have cooled and the satellite measurements suggest a slight fall in sea level. What are we to make of that? What about the Maldives themselves? A Swedish group has been studying sea levels in the island chain, and reported at the American Geological Society congress in 2003 to the effect that the current sea-level has been much the same for the last 4000 years, with an increase of 30 cm from 1790 to 1970, and no increase since. It’s not hard to find articles about any subject you are interested in. Why didn’t the reporter find that one?

    What about the Greenland ice-cap? Here again there is divergent evidence. There is good satellite evidence that the ice-cap is retreating at the edges, which is consistent with what has been happening to glaciers for the past 150 years. At the same time, it seems that the ice-cap is growing vertically at about 5 cm a year, which is consistent with other evidence that the average summer temperature at the summit of the ice-cap has decreased at the rate of about 2 degrees Celsius a decade over the past twenty years. We should keep remembering that a lot depends on how long a time-span we are considering. We know that Greenland has been a good deal warmer in the past than it is now (there is at least one Viking burial ground from several centuries ago that is now under permafrost), and it seems that Greenland experienced a short but rapid warming in the 1920s and 1930s that could not have been connected with postwar greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, the Greenland ice-cap sits in a huge valley, so it can’t slide into the sea or do other extraordinary things. All told, the Greenland ice-cap seems pretty safe to me.

    What about hurricanes and tsunamis? The weight of evidence is that as carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere, the incidence of hurricanes and violent storms has actually decreased. I am not proposing any causal link at all. No one has suggested, with any credibility, that the great tsunami in 2004 was connected in any way with greenhouse gas emissions. Whatever the ‘new reality’ referred to by the small island leaders in the story about the Maldives, it seems to have little or no relationship to available facts or to anthropogenic global warming. Why then did the islanders refer to it? Because, surely, it is a rhetorical weapon, and they have very little in their armoury other than rhetoric. Certainly the 2004 tsunami produced a metre-high wave that caused death and destruction in the Maldives, as it did elsewhere. People are leaving the Carteret islands, which are not far from Bougainville, and they attribute the rising seas to global warming. But the Carteret stories given by the old men suggest a process that is at least fifty years old, and as powerful then as now, which is not consistent with the greenhouse gas emission theory. In any case, sea levels do not seem to be rising in nearby Bougainville. The Carteret Islands sit on top of an ancient volcano. Perhaps the land is subsiding; perhaps the fringing reefs are sinking. I do not know, and I could not find a paper on that subject. But the hypothesis that the sea is rising rapidly there and nowhere else is plainly wrong. People have left Tuvalu, too, fearing that the seas will rise. But the evidence points strongly toward that island’s experiencing a sequence of sea-level rises and falls mostly related to the El Nino Southern Oscillation: during the El Nino spike of 1998, the sea-levels at Tuvalu fell about a foot. About Kiribati there is little evidence one way or the other, save that people fear that the seas will rise.

    I have gone into a lot of detail here to make what I think is an important point. I have little doubt that one could analyse almost every scary climate-change story in the same way, and with much the same result. The story about the vanishing polar bear, for example, seems at the pictorial level to have been akin to fraud, and there is no evidence that polar bear numbers are declining. The original Maldives story was plainly much more frightening than it need have been. The reporter and the climate-change expert added to the scares with a repetition of possibilities that were not strongly based in argument or evidence. In my view, despite the wonderful photograph, it was a sloppy and tendentious article. But there is nothing sinister or novel in this state of affairs. Bad news sells; good news doesn’t. There was a spate of stories about the shrinking Arctic ice-cap in 2007, but virtually none about the much greater Arctic ice area in 2008.

    • Don

      I agree with everything you say. One point is especially pertinent as it is one I make as well;

      “But let me say, as gently as possible, that in my opinion there are no climate change experts, in the sense that such people cover all aspects of the domain with authority: climate change is a vast topic and it has as yet no central body of knowledge.”

      There are undoubted experts on aspects of climate change.There are others that thread several aspects together. There are many whose work and models are predicated on the ‘fact’ that increasing co2 will have certain effects, where the end result of any research is therefore pre ordainded.

      The only climate scientist is therefore arguably the IPCC themselves who stitch the patchwork quilt of research together to create an end result that they themselves have already decided on, as finding the ‘correct’ answer is the rationale for their very existence.

      Throw in the idea of this very new science already being post modern and normal standards of evidence and proof seem to be set aside in some sort of noble cause corruption.

      Tonyb

      • Joe Lalonde

        Tonyb,

        When their are experiments in labs with CO2, what happened to the heat that generated it?
        These are two separate areas that science combined as one.

      • Latimer Alder

        Even for you that is a bizarre comment. Has the doctor increased your dose today? Or has a new shipment from Colombia just arrived?

      • Don & TonyB. I got it all figured out but you’ve gotta read the blogs to get it. There’s too much to read and I can’t remember all I wrote.
        =================

  14. Joe Lalonde

    Pushing the AGW threat will just keep science and scientists looking like complete idiots when the bottom falls out.
    This age of computers records all and does not forget.
    Misinterpretate or misquote is for an excuse is usually the case.
    All based on keeping science in the box of bad knowledge with many government grants flowing.

  15. “The response to this argument focused on the unique responsibility of the developed world for climate-displaced peoples, that may impose an additional responsibility.”

    If they think that carbon dioxide is a problem, and thus a responsibility exists for it, then they should agree that China is producing a lot of it. Why is the developed world responsible for what China is doing?

    • Joe Lalonde

      China is holding a great deal of world debt that can be used as leverage. Is the US going to force China to do what is in the best interest of the US or will it be in the best interest of China? China does have the power to boot out any company that does not play by their rules. This does effect the profitability and competition the company has against any competitor.

  16. “Climigration”?

    Gimme a break!

    The only real “climigration” is that of retirees moving south to get a bit more sunshine.

    All other emigration is either to get away from despotic governments or for economic reasons (or both).

    Max

    • Indeed…I find it hard to believe that those leaving those nations are saying “I put up with the grinding poverty, the disease, and the corruption…but that last 3mm of water was the last straw!”.

    • I agree it is an ugly word (like stagflation and glocalisation), but there is already some evidence from Bangladesh of such mirgation:

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-change-refugees-bangladesh

      • Latimer Alder

        @paul haynes

        I’m sure you read the article with great attention I have only skimmed it, but found no evidence in it at all of any migration due to ‘climate change’ . There are quite a lot of academic experts; saying ‘Its gonna happen soon’ , but nothing at all to say that it is actually happening.

        Please summarise – for those like me with only limited time – the evidence from the article you cite that such migration is actually occurring. A couple of sentences will do, Thanks

      • paul haynes

        The purported wave of emigrants from Bangladesh is like any group of emigrants leaving the abject poverty, corruption, war, famine or religious intolerance in their home countries. Calling these people “climate refugees” is absurd.

        In the late 1940s hundreds of millions of Hindus fled areas of India that became Muslim Pakistan and hundreds of millions of Muslims did the opposite. Many died along the way.

        Were these “climate refugees”? (Of course not.)

        Nor are the ones fleeing Bangladesh now.

        Max

  17. People on island nations have to accept the risks of living on a island in an ocean, just like people living in a flood plain in New Orleans SHOULD be held accountable for their decision to live there. If sea levels do rise, and certainly global warming hasn’t been demonstrated to be the cause, they simply need to move.

  18. David L. Hagen

    The sea level for Maldives may be stable rather than rapidly rising. cf
    New perspectives for the future of the Maldives
    Nils-Axel Mo¨rner,*, Michael Tooley, Go¨ran Possnert
    Global and Planetary Change 40 (2004) 177–182

    Novel prospects for the Maldives do not include a condemnation to future flooding. The people of the Maldives have, in the past, survived a higher sea level of about 50–60 cm. The present trend lack signs of a sea level rise. On the contrary, there is firm morphological evidence of a significant sea level fall in the last 30 years. This sea level fall is likely to be the effect of increased evaporation and an intensification of the NE-monsoon over the central Indian Ocean.

    Bad news sells. Balmy weather does not.

    How are we to shift such wheat from chaff given the very strong profit/funding bias towards bad news?

  19. We have gone through most of this on the “barrier island” thread.

    Summary:

    – Long-term tide gauge record shows no acceleration in sea level rise in latter part of 20th century versus earlier periods.

    – IPCC claims of accelerated rate of rise are based on changing the method and scope of measurement (from tide gauges measuring sea level at selected shorelines to satellite altimetry measuring the entire ocean except areas near shorelines or the poles, which cannot be captured by satellite altimetry); satellites give rates of rise around twice those seen from tide gauges

    – As Willis Eschenbach has pointed out, coral reefs grow more quickly than sea level rises

    “Threatened island nations” are looking for some sort of “hand-out” from the (rich) “industrialized nations”.

    Why not? As long as we are stupid enough to consider something so absurd.

    But, in a democratic society with a representative government, it will be the general public who decides whether or not to “ante up” to help the “threatened island nations”, regardless of what a few legal eggheads at Columbia think about it.

    So this discussion is really a lot of hot air.

    Max

  20. Norm Kalmanovitch

    I am somewhat of an expert on Devonian pinnacle reefs having not only discovering the Shekelie oil pools in pinnacle reefs but actually identifying for the first time the Shekelie basin in which they were growing. Coral islands are essentially pinnacle reefs and they grow upwards as sea level rises to keep the corals in the photic zone. This growth is rapid in geological time of millimeters/year producing growth of meters in the course of a thousand years but on the human time scale of a hundred years this is only in the order of 10cm or 2.54inches.
    To claim that sea level rise of under a foot in 100 years is in any way serious is pure and outright fraud and must be delt with appropriately. To make these claims based on global warming from CO2 emissions when the world has been cooling since 2002 as demonstrated on all five global temperature datasets is beyond fraud and simply ludicrous.
    People making these claims should be challenged not pandered to as we are currently doing and instead of creating laws to deal with fabrications we need laws to deal with those who created these fabrications.

  21. “Reports of a recent study showing that 43% of 27 central-Pacific Atoll islands have grwon in net area over recent decades, with only 145 of these studied islands decreasing in net land area”
    This looks like some typo occurred in the figures. Probably 27 is a typo for something like 270 or some other figure, more consistent with the idea that 145 can be described as “only” 145.

  22. And how about the very real danger of dynamite fishing on reefs? Do the island nations take any responsibility for that?

    • My understanding is that use of cyanide and other destructive methods of collecting tropical fish have been outlawed in most places. Last I knew (10 years out of date, I’m afraid) it was pretty much down to just the Philipines.

      Of course, there’s a difference between “outlawing” and actually “stopping” a behavior.

  23. Hmmmm……
    Corrupt mini kleptocracies and ambulance chasing ‘progressives’ fabricate a tort that enriches both slimeball kleptocrats and slimier ‘progressives’.
    Sounds like a really good cause.

  24. As a lawyer, I am appalled at the remarks about the role of lawyers. Assume for the sake of argument that the CAGW garbage is all true. What role do US lawyers play? None. This would be a matter for international diplomacy.

    The first step toward wisdom is said to be the recognition of one’s ignorance, one’s limitations. It’s obvious that wisdom never got within shouting distance for these people. The hubris of some American lawyers to think that they should have a role in matters like these is just breathtaking. A little self-restraint would go a long way.

    • Stan,

      Progressive lawyers think they should have a role in such matters because progressive judges and legislators often give them one. The latest climate class action suit, American Electric and Power v, Connecticut, just lost before the Supreme Court the other day. The only reason the plaintiffs lost was that the progressive justices decided that the EPA was doing a better job of taking over the energy economy, and the lawyers might get in the way.

      The Clean Air Act, the Endangered species Act, and many other environmental laws are designed to allow private parties to act as independent attorneys general to enforce those law. The progressives who write them know they will not always be in control of the bureaucracies (because of those damned elections), so the “private attorney general” concept was hatched to give progressives the right to use the courts, even when they are not in power.

      What place do lawyers have in regulating cigarettes? That’s the FDA’s job. Yet a number of lawyers made many millions of dollars off of the suit against cigarette companies. The state’s got billions in new taxes, the lawyers got rich, everybody went home happy. The class action field is increasingly peopled with lawyers who are willing to risk millions, to make potentially billions.

      This idea of giving poor people in poorly governed countries standing to sue for damages is not a real threat right now, but it is one that should still be watched.

      • Sure, that’s all true, but stretching their already thin reed of justificiation from the domestic realm within the US to cover island nations in the Pacific is beyond ridiculous.

  25. I am Maltese, 59 years old, and have lived on this rocky island al my life. I have been swimming and boating along the rocky shores these last 50 years. We have boat moorings along our harbour coast that are centuries old, city walls having foundations just a meter +/- above sea level, boat launching ramps and many other markers that show that the mediterrenean sea has not had any noticeable or significant level changes during the course of our history, even from the Roman times. The level may have go up and down by a few cms during the centuries, but on average remained static.

    Our rgeologically stable rocky island is, in my opinion, a very good place to study sea level changes. The link below is a live webcam on the main harbour, showing centuries-old fortifications and valletta city. But there are other areas around the harbur that are even older.
    http://www.visitmalta.com/webcam1

    • Alex, All I can say is PRECISELY. The problem with the supporters of CAGW is they only seem to believe in the output of non-validated models. They are not interested in actual observed data, which, generally speakling, shows that the output of the non-validated models is just plain wrong.

    • While stationed in Sicily I had the good fortune to get to Malta before the English closed Luga Airforce Base. Velletta is a lovely city and I truly enjoyed my short stay. It was somewhat odd having an American aircrew of 15 people in town at the same time a Soviet warship was in harbor. Siteseeing was nice, the weather great but too many rocks on the beaches.

  26. Although many oceanic islands are coral-based, probably a majority are not, but are rather Volcanic in origin, and vulnerable to submersion if sea level rise continues at the pace of about 3.1 mm/year recorded by satellite altimetry in recent decades. As noted in previous discussions, the pace has slowed very recently, and the altimetry data show a higher rate than that recorded in the tide gauge records, but based on past fluctuations, it seems reasonable to expect a rise at some level over coming decades even if the precise figure is subject to uncertainty.

    The circumstance with coral atolls is somewhat different, because coral reefs have the potential to grow upward as sea level rises, thereby forestalling encroachment by the sea. However, this phenomenon requires the corals to remain healthy, and coral health in many regions has been damaged by a multiplicity of factors. Some have been mentioned in this thread, but a critical one, not yet cited, is the effect of Ocean Acidification on the viability of Coral Reefs. This topic was discussed at length in the barrier island thread, and additional references and data can be found there.

    Because both islands and their local environments vary greatly, the consequences of sea level rise will also vary. This is probably not a cause for complacency, however, in regard to those islands that are threatened. Even if only a minority of inhabited islands are at additional risk, their submersion would not be compensated by the fact that a larger number escaped submersion or even rose to higher levels above the sea. A danger is that the level of risk and the number of vulnerable islands will become a surrogate for disagreements about the more general issue of anthropogenic climate change. Regardless of why island inhabitants are at risk, it will be important to anticipate the dangers and undertake remedial actions. Reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions may be of value in the long term, but the logistics of resettling threatened populations can’t afford to wait for that to happen.

    • Fred,
      Again, you are the most polite true believerin AGW I have met.
      But that does not make AGW more real.

    • “Regardless of why island inhabitants are at risk, it will be important to anticipate the dangers and undertake remedial actions. ”

      If someone takes up a collection to pay for those remedial actions, I’m sure you will pitch right in. And I will steadfastly support your right to do so.

      If someone tries to tax innocent people to pay for such stupidity, however, they should be impeached.

    • Latimer Alder

      Copied this into its rightful place..it somehow got misplaced

      @ Fred Moolten

      You say

      ‘Although many oceanic islands are coral-based, probably a majority are not, but are rather Volcanic in origin, and vulnerable to submersion if sea level rise continues at the pace of about 3.1 mm/year recorded by satellite altimetry in recent decades’

      Volcanoes are big things and can stick out of the sea a long way. Like Hawaii. Or Santorini. Or Etna. Or the unpronouncable place that brought Western European airspace to a standstill last year

      If the sea level rises even at 3.1 mm per year for 100 years, it will actually go up just about 12 inches (1 foot).

      Please name the volcanic islands that you know of that are today within 12 inches of submersion and hence vulnerable within the next century as you claim.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Fred Moolten | June 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

      Although many oceanic islands are coral-based, probably a majority are not, but are rather Volcanic in origin, and vulnerable to submersion if sea level rise continues at the pace of about 3.1 mm/year recorded by satellite altimetry in recent decades.

      You are correct that a number of islands are volcanic … but by virtue of that, they are not only a couple of metres tall like atolls. The threat to atolls has been claimed to be because a sea level rise of a couple of metres could theoretically overtop them (although if the reefs are healthy, they won’t be overtopped because the atolls continue to rise).

      So the volcanic islands are in absolutely no danger of inundation as they are from hundreds to thousands of metres tall.

      As noted in previous discussions, the pace has slowed very recently, and the altimetry data show a higher rate than that recorded in the tide gauge records, but based on past fluctuations, it seems reasonable to expect a rise at some level over coming decades even if the precise figure is subject to uncertainty.

      Yes, sea levels may indeed continue to rise.

      The circumstance with coral atolls is somewhat different, because coral reefs have the potential to grow upward as sea level rises, thereby forestalling encroachment by the sea. However, this phenomenon requires the corals to remain healthy, and coral health in many regions has been damaged by a multiplicity of factors. Some have been mentioned in this thread, but a critical one, not yet cited, is the effect of Ocean Acidification on the viability of Coral Reefs. This topic was discussed at length in the barrier island thread, and additional references and data can be found there.

      The threat to coral atolls is not, and has never been, rising sea levels. It is the damage and destruction done to the reefs. If the reefs die or even lose productivity, the atoll is at great risk.

      Because both islands and their local environments vary greatly, the consequences of sea level rise will also vary. This is probably not a cause for complacency, however, in regard to those islands that are threatened. Even if only a minority of inhabited islands are at additional risk, their submersion would not be compensated by the fact that a larger number escaped submersion or even rose to higher levels above the sea. A danger is that the level of risk and the number of vulnerable islands will become a surrogate for disagreements about the more general issue of anthropogenic climate change. Regardless of why island inhabitants are at risk, it will be important to anticipate the dangers and undertake remedial actions. Reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions may be of value in the long term, but the logistics of resettling threatened populations can’t afford to wait for that to happen.

      You seem to think that because atolls are sinking as a result of reef damage from some combination of overfishing, pollution, erosion, overpopulation, and coral mining, it “may be of value” to reduce CO2 emissions.

      You’ll have to explain the details of exactly how reducing CO2 will be able to solve those problems, because it looks like you are proposing putting a bandaid on a cut thumb to try to staunch life-threatening bleeding from the carotid artery … in other words, your proposed “solution” doesn’t touch the real problems at all.

      Next, you claim that the “resettlement of threatened populations” can’t wait … you’ll have to specify exactly which “threatened populations” you are talking about before that makes any sense at all.

      Finally, if some folks on an atoll in mid-Pacific decide to kill all their parrotfish, and dynamite their reef, and mine it for blocks of coral, and overpopulate the island, and overpump their freshwater lens … how is that any problem of mine? Why are you involving me (and more to the point, my wallet) in their self-imposed problem? If they have chosen to doom their atoll by killing their reef, I’m sorry, but they can deal with their own “resettlement” issues. Not my problem. I pointed out the real issues that are threatening the atolls a number of years ago, and Charles Darwin pointed the way more than a century ago. If they choose to ignore that and commit ecocide through gross trashing of their environment, that’s their business. Yes, as you say,

      Regardless of why island inhabitants are at risk, it will be important to anticipate the dangers and undertake remedial actions.

      But it is important to the island inhabitants, not to the rest of the world, and the destruction is the responsibility of the island inhabitants, not the rest of the world. And shelling out good money to rescue folks from their own stupidity? Sorry, I’ll pass. They broke their reef, it’s their responsibility to fix it. I have enough trouble and expense paying for my own mistakes and those of my countrymen to take on the task of saving people halfway around the world from the monumental idiocy of trashing the reef that is crucial to the survival of their own atoll … they have to fix that one themselves.

      w.

      • Willis:

        The threat to coral atolls is not, and has never been, rising sea levels. It is the damage and destruction done to the reefs. If the reefs die or even lose productivity, the atoll is at great risk.

        Rising sea levels are a threat if the atolls don’t rise commensurately due to reef growth. Some will, but even if a minority don’t, their loss isn’t compensated by the fact that other islands remain unharmed.

        You seem to think that because atolls are sinking as a result of reef damage from some combination of overfishing, pollution, erosion, overpopulation, and coral mining, it “may be of value” to reduce CO2 emissions…. You’ll have to explain how reducing CO2 will …solve those problems

        Ocean acidification due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is a major cause of coral reef damage, and adds to the damage from other forces, human and “natural”. I did include one acidification reference above, at 6/23, 10:59 AM, but there are others in the Barrier Reef thread, with multiple references. To avoid repeating all that content here, I think it would be easier to visit that thread.

        Regarding who is responsible for solving these problems, I don’t know. I agree with you that if islanders are in part responsible for the damage via overfishing, coral mining, etc., they should be responsible for solving that part of the problem. They are not responsible for the increases in anthropogenic CO2 that constitute a severe long term threat and are already responsible for coral damage in many regions, and so I would argue that part of the responsibility falls on the larger community of high-emitting nations. I don’t think, however, that these nations are likely to see it that way, or to accept much responsibility, but I may be overly pessimistic.

      • Fred, it is obvious you are not a diver. I have dove off reefs all over the world. If ocean acidification were a cause of damage it would be happening on a global scale due to our well mixed gas CO2. This is not the case there are many pristine reefs that are growing without an invented acidification problem. Listen to Willis on this, he has seen it too first hand from his years in the south pacific. I’ve seen it too and you frankly don’t know what you are talking about.

      • It is happening on a global scale, Hum, even if not to every reef. The references in this thread and the Barrier Island thread should give you a good idea of magnitude.

      • Fred Moolten,

        I’m curious, Willis Eschenbach describes the damage to coral atolls as being a result of “overfishing, pollution, erosion, overpopulation, and coral mining.” You maintain that ocean acidification resulting from human CO2 emissions is also causing significant damage on a global scale.

        Do you know of any such atolls that have been suffering the type of damage discussed, without “overfishing, pollution, erosion, overpopulation, and coral mining?” In other words, if ocean acidification is already so damaging, surely there must be examples of it, distinct from the other known causes?

      • Gary – The vast majority of the world’s coral formations are not inhabited atolls, and most are not involved in direct human interactions. The atoll damage may be due mainly to the other factors mentioned, but on a global scale involving corals in general and their role in the marine ecosystem, the damage is mainly from CO2-mediated ocean acidification, and to a lesser extent, warming. The best suggestion I can offer you for the data is to visit the references I linked to above in the 10:59 AM comment, plus additional references and evidence in the Barrier Island thread.

      • I should add that the current harms are less of a concern than the damage that would be anticipated from significant future CO2 rise, based on both the paleoclimatologic evidence and the chemistry involved in the process of shell calcification. But again, the references should be able to supply more detail.

      • Nope Fred, I don’t by the acidification references. I’ve seen the reefs all over the world Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Solomon’s, Carribean, Hawaii. I’ve seen bleaching in coral where it was in colder water than many other reefs. Bleaching is not understood, possible causes are current changes, cyclone/weather/tide, disease, overfishing, pollution, natural coral cycle, and not just temperature and not just acidification. As Willis alluded to and I can attest to, everywhere local authority have implemented good policy as to fishing, anchoring, limiting dumping and pollution the reefs usually are healthy. Even after the tremendous damage caused by the tsunami or a cyclone. There are always going to be areas of the world that go through bleaching episodes like the Seychilles 20 years ago, but if that was caused by CO2 and CO2 is worse today those reefs wouldn’t be recovering. BTW are here the Great Barrier Reef is doing quite well thank you, I hear the Crown of Thorns did not eat everything. I think most scientists don’t give nature enough credit for being resilient enough, if it wasn’t coral reefs would not have survived for millions and millions of years. A small increase of CO2 won’t hurt it, but sticks of dynamite and gallons of cyanide sure will.

      • mhummer – This is why it’s a good idea for readers to visit the references on ocean acidification to judge for themselves. Corals are only one of the species vulnerable to acidification, and perhaps not the most important for the food chain, but are major havens for fish and other species. The referenced articles can provide specifics on the chemistry relevant to carbonate ion unsaturation and the biological consequences.

        Damage to corals involves warming as well as an increase in hydrogen ion concentration, and in some regions is probably the predominant mode. At current CO2 levels, the effect on corals globally appears to be sporadic, but as concentrations rise, it is likely to become more extensive. Massive decimation at the level incurred during other high CO2 climate regimes in the past is not likely in the immediate future, but would be likely if CO2 doubles its current concentration.

        I agree with you about the need for policies to abate damage from inappropriate fishing, from pollution, and from other forms of human disregard for the health of corals and other marine populations.

      • Fred,

        I looked at the articles you linked to above, and neither of them addressed the question I asked. The first in fact showed much more uncertainty in the current ability to measure the change on ph, and effects thereof, than your comment suggested.

        The paper states:

        “Recent studies examining extension and calcification rates and the density of growth bands within coral records have provided evidence for a decline in calcification since the 1990s [73–75]. Ascribing this decline unequivocally to ocean acidification is difficult, but identification of this trend across a wide array of habitats suggests the involvement of a global factor such as the acidification or warming of the oceans, rather than local factors such as water quality.”

        The study also goes on to state there is conflicting evidence regarding the effect of ph changes on calcification. Nowhere is there a discussion of any study controlling for the other possible causes of any observed deterioration of coral reefs.

        The second study seems to support Willis Eschenbach’s statement of the current state of the science, at least for the present:

        “If conditions were stabilized at the present [CO2]atm of 380 ppm, that is, Coral Reef Scenario CRS-A (Figs. 1B and 5A), coral reefs will continue to change but will remain coral dominated and carbonate accreting in most areas of their current distribution. Local factors—i.e., those not directly related to global climate change, such as changes to water quality—affecting levels of sediment, nutrients, toxins, and pathogens, as well as fishing pressure, will be important determinants of reef state and should demand priority attention in reef-management programs.”

        Again, no study controlling for other causes of deterioration, to isolate the current alleged impact of a modest change in ph level.

        The CAGW literature is always full of predictions and prognostications based on extrapolations. I was just curious if you knew of any study which isolated the impact of ocean ph in the present on coral reefs, as suggested by your comment above that “Ocean acidification due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is a major cause of coral reef damage….” (Notice the present tense.)

        I don’t mind doing my own reading, and you are under no obligation to provide me with any direction, but having read the first two studies on the issue that you suggested, and finding they do not support your original statement, or answer my question, I wonder if you know of any other study that does.

      • Here is a quote from a recent study on theGreat Barrier reef

        “the latest research by Townsville’s Australian Institute of Marine Science:

        Monitoring data collected annually from fixed sites at 47 reefs across 1300 km of the GBR indicate that overall regional coral cover was stable (averaging 29% and ranging from 23% to 33% cover across years) with no net decline between 1995 and 2009…. ”

        I thought you told us that reefs were in decline all over the world Fred?

        Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks and storm damage were responsible for more coral loss during this period than either bleaching or disease despite two mass bleaching events and an increase in the incidence of coral disease.

        While the limited data for the GBR prior to the 1980’s suggests that coral cover was higher than in our survey, we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995. Instead, fluctuations in coral cover at subregional scales (10–100 km), driven mostly by changes in fast-growing Acroporidae, occurred as a result of localized disturbance events and subsequent recovery.

      • Startling Discovery in Chemistry !

        Calcifying organisms need low pH.

        You heard it first here.

        HA HA !

      • Brainiac, that’s biology, not chemistry!

      • Another Startling Discovery!

        Calcification not affected by chemistry

        Calcification affected by magic,

        You heard it here first.

    • Fred,
      All coral atolls are volcanic based by defintion.
      Darwin described this well:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atoll
      Scroll down to the ‘atoll formation’ section.
      Atolls exist because volcanic rock erodes.

  27. And beside this all, the total population of all these atolls is, what? maybe 200,000 ?
    They are not relevant to anything.

    About 1 billion (repeat 1 billion) people on earth suffer from malnutrition and hunger.
    Which problem is more important or acute ? Which problem should we dedicate our eforts and resource to ?

    Isn’t this obsession with trendy non-problems a little bit insane ?

    • It is very much insane. CO2AGW is primarily not scientific, not even political. It’s psychological.

  28. Latimer Alder

    Fred

    You say

    ‘Although many oceanic islands are coral-based, probably a majority are not, but are rather Volcanic in origin, and vulnerable to submersion if sea level rise continues at the pace of about 3.1 mm/year recorded by satellite altimetry in recent decades’

    Volcanoes are big things and can stick out of the sea a long way. Like Hawaii. Or Santorini. Or Etna. Or the unpronouncable place that brought Western European airspace to a standstill last year

    If the sea level rises even at 3.1 mm per year for 100 years, it will actually go up just about 12 inches (1 foot).

    Please name the volcanic islands that you know of that are today within 12 inches of submersion and hence vulnerable within the next century as you claim.

    • Lat,
      I’d add not only current elevation above sea level as an issue but seismically stable enough to have the same elevation even without a sea level change.

    • “Volcanoes are big things and can stick out of the sea a long way”

      I think that’s true – at least for the best known volcanic islands. However, there are hundreds, and probably thousands of such islands of various smaller sizes, down to the tiny ones such as Surtsey that are too small for human habitation, with others of intermediate size harboring permanent residents in various numbers. Many are undergoing dynamic changes that are already threatening them with subsidence, and sea level rises are likely to exacerbate these local effects. In many cases, the islands are elevated in their center relative to their coasts, and encroachment by the sea would leave the elevated areas above water, but displace inhabitants elsewhere. This is a more probable scenario than total submersion.

      I don’t know how many people would be at risk by 2100. It may be a very small number, but relevant to the topic of this thread. The particular point I was making was that not all inhabited islands are built on coral. An additional point was that corals themselves are being decimated in some parts of the ocean by a variety of forces that include anthropogenic increases in the hydrogen ion concentration of sea water, which impairs their ability to calcify. In some regions, corals are also damaged by ocean warming, resulting in a “bleaching” effect due associated with the loss of their symbiotic algae.

      Curtailing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions as discussed in the Conference described above may be an appropriate long term remedy, but won’t eliminate threats to current island residents. In that sense, raising that issue by Conference participants struck me as less a solution to population displacement than an attempt to prompt the international community to accept some responsibility for the displacement problem, but I’ll be surprised if many nations respond with enthusiasm.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Fred

        You write

        ‘In many cases, the islands are elevated in their center relative to their coasts, and encroachment by the sea would leave the elevated areas above water, but displace inhabitants elsewhere. This is a more probable scenario than total submersion’

        So why open your earlier essay with

        ‘‘Although many oceanic islands are coral-based, probably a majority are not, but are rather Volcanic in origin, and vulnerable to submersion’

        BTW I translated your first sentence from Fred-ese into English. Here it is:

        ‘The high bits of islands can be away from the coast. If the sea level rises, the bits very near the water will get wetter’

        which seems to be a perfectly acceptable – if rather bleeding obvious observation to me.

      • Fred,
        You fail to address the fact atolls are volcanic, and your entire discussion seems bent on imposing conrete actions based on theoretical concepts.
        Perhaps it will be more productive to reconile the ability of atolls to manage their relationship with sea level rises and less on things that are not happening.
        Back to your persistent repetitious arguments about pH, you still lack the most important part: evidence.
        And you have ignored those points which have pointed out atht the projections and models of coral problems are not based on actual evidence.

      • Hunter – I’ll leave the evidence regarding ocean acidification and its biological consequences for the Barrier Island thread, where the discussion was extensive, along with references documenting the effects on corals and other calcifying organisms. Readers can revisit that thread to form their own opinions.

        Regarding atolls, you’re right that the coral is typically superimposed on a volcanic base, but I was referring to volcanic islands that are independent of corals. Some are already sinking vis-a-vis the sea and others are likely to experience encroachment on coastal areas with sparing of internal high regions.

        I wasn’t proposing any “concrete actions”. I don’t know what the appropriate actions should be, because curtailing anthropogenic emissions won’t ameliorate the short term vunerabilities of some of the islands. Near term solutions will have to address issues of population resettlement, including legal issues and questions as to who pays. I don’t feel qualified to offer a solution to those questions.

      • Fred,
        All volcanic islands, once they are formed and the volcanic hotspot is left behind or the volcano becomes extinct, sink in reference to the sea level.
        Yes, your rehashing of AGW talking points on OA is well documented, as is your lack of counters to the evidence against any significant impact from increased CO2 levels on marine life.
        If one takes some time to study the history of island shoremargin based life and culture, one finds that they are always vulnerable to either being left high and dry or drowning,
        Once again, a major AGW talking point is shown to be, as has been pointed out regarding Mann’s latest manifestation of his obsession, not as represented by the AGW community.

      • I don’t think you can generalize about the survival of volcanic islands without superimposed coral – many can and have survived for millennia. If any are vulnerable to sea encroachment, their vulnerability will be increased by sea level rise and reduced by averting the rise.

        Regarding the impact of CO2 on marine life through ocean acidification (and to some extent via warming), it’s probably better for interested readers to revisit the discussion and references in the Barrier Island thread than to repeat the entire ocean acidification discussion here.

      • Fred,
        Your drumbeat on OA is starting to be indistinguishable from trolling.

      • Uh, Fred –
        I don’t think you can generalize about the survival of volcanic islands without superimposed coral – many can and have survived for millennia.

        You can’t say that if you want to be believed. It “may” be true – but there are no written records and the first likely ones are in Chinese. nature of the islands precludes the application of Mannomatic paleo techniques.

      • Even if there are a million, I say we immediately offer them land in Montana. There to be relocated in say September of this year. Do you really think they will come? Or do you think they want money?

      • ‘I’m movin’ to Montana soon.
        Gunna be a dental floss tycoon.’

      • randomengineer

        It figures that a non-alarmist appreciates Zappa. Something about being surrounded by absurdity and noting it…

      • I learned something about Zappa yesterday. His music is deeply rooted in the tonal and rhythmic experimentation of modern classical. All very obvious if I had ever bothered to listen to any modern classical.

        There was also an excerpt from a late 50’s Dave Allen show of Zappa playing the bicycle. Very, very funny.

        A true American protean genius.

      • Call any vegetable, and the chances are good…..

  29. Anyone who hasn’t read Willis Eschenberg’s ‘Floating Islands’ empirical research on coral atolls, ‘Hey, someone has to do it.’ posted on WUWT, should do so. :-)

  30. It is interesting that they want $ in response to FUTURE harm, which may not occur (anywhere or in any particular case). Wow. Just wow.

    • Craig,
      These guys are taking ambulance chasing to a new level.
      They are going to sue for damages before the accident occurs or blame assigned or dmages measured. And they get to keep the money even if the accident does not occur.
      Sounds like plaintiff paradise to me.

      • The concept is no different from carbon taxes that are justified by taxing for supposed future “externalities” that “could” arise in the future and “might” then damage someone.

        Where would the CAGW movement be without the words “could” and “might?”

      • I’m no fan of the carbon tax (because I don’t believe it’s been shown that carbon has negative externalities), but I don’t agree that the carbon tax is no different from the prospective tort claim for island nations.

        Torts, by their nature, are supposed to link specific harms and the corresponding tort feasors with specific people who were hurt. Taxes which, like the carbon tax, are designed to internalize negative externalities, are, on the other hand, intended as a sort of fudge factor for the free market system to produce a more economically efficient amount of a given behavior and to capture a portion of “unjust enrichment” profits.

      • Torts, by their nature, are supposed to compensate an actual victim, from actual harm, caused by an actual, identifiable defendant. The “tort” suggested in this case has none of those qualities. It is virtually identical to a carbon tax, the only difference being that the money taken is given to foreign “plaintiffs,” and their attorneys, rather than to local government progressives to spend.

        And a carbon tax is not intended as a fudge factor to improve market efficiency and capture “‘unjust enrichment’ profits.” A carbon tax is intended to shut down the fossil fuel industry and transfer massive amounts of wealth from citizens to government functionaries to dispose of as they see fit.

        So called “pigouvian” taxes are nothing more than an attempt to convert rational nuisance tort law, which developed as part of the free market to address real, measurable externalities, and convert it into an excuse for collective (ie. progressive) action. They are an attempt to dress progressive policy up as free market policy. Pigou was to taxation what Keynes was to government spending. The arguments are all about the public good, the reality is all about political power.

      • hunter

        Sounds like plaintiff paradise to me.

        Only if we are stupid enough to fall for it.

        Max

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      To paraphrase a famous moocher:

      I’ll gladly suffer Tuesday, for compensation today!

      • John Carpenter

        Or Wimpy from Popeye,

        I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today! :)

      • Latimer Alder

        The counter to these used to be seen in pubs

        Free Beer Tomorrow.

      • Here is a direct quote from an AGW opinion leader on what to do with skeptics:

        “Andy Semple of the Menzies Institute claims it’s “refreshing” for someone with Murray’s standing to take on the global warming “scam” by expressing such views.
        Really? I’m prepared to keep an open mind and propose another stunt for climate sceptics – put your strong views to the test by exposing yourselves to high concentrations of either carbon dioxide or some other colourless, odourless gas – say, carbon monoxide.
        You wouldn’t see or smell anything. Nor would your anti-science nonsense be heard of again. How very refreshing.”

        http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/sideshow-around-carbon-tax-must-stop/story-fn56az2q-1226079531212
        And skeptics are the unreasonable ones. Not.

      • randomengineer

        This speaks to the asymmetrical issue. I don’t think I have read anything like an op-ed in a major mag or paper where a skeptic suggests doing horrid things to believers, but this sort of attack from believers is now common enough that it no longer seems surprising. Coal trains and death camp imagery are all part of the trve believer oeuvre.

        Noting that the Joshuas of the world will protest — sure, there are skeptics responding to blog entries on political sites (e.g. Pajamas media) where they feel free to respond in kind, but these aren’t widely distributed mainstream syndicated venues read by all. Joe and Jane Sixpack reading their paper at breakfast never see attacks of any variety by skeptics, but they are treated to a never ending tirade from the alarmists. Asymmetry indeed.

        Any of you trve believers can try to claim this observation isn’t accurate, but your claim would be utterly wrong. Anyone paying even slight attention can attest to the validity of my observation.

      • Joshua is so stupified by his faith that he thinks he is OK to rail away on someone using swastika imagery, even as he calls skeptics ‘deniers’.

  31. Daniel Suggs

    JC- I had just finished reading this article:
    http://notrickszone.com/2011/06/23/leading-german-meteorologist-michael-manns-sea-level-story-a-quack/
    on icecap.us, then checked in over here. It seems pertinent to your article as well.

  32. You can hear Rajendra Pachauri speak about sea level rise here (audio is some way down the page (large file to download))

    http://www.unesco.org/ngo/issc/3_activities/3_worldforum_audio.html

    Can Science Save Us? Challenges for the Social Sciences from Climate Change

    The bit I have in mind is around 24 min where he says (to paraphrase) he was told in the Maldives ‘ten years ago, this place where we are now meeting was under a foot of water’ (…huh?)

    O= :-) =O

  33. Your inability to engage with participatory assessments by major stake holders or the societal impacts and adaptation options actually on the table really distresses me sometimes, Judith.

    Do you even know what a participatory, integrated assessment method looks like?

    Sure you do; but you prefer to ignore the process.

    I hope you are around for several decades, Judith. I want to speak with you — in about 30 years.

    • Rob Starkey

      Martha

      You religious like belief that your position is correct and others are wrong is amusing. Fortunately, much of the world is learning that your position is based upon very marginal science and is economically stupid

    • “Your inability to engage with participatory assessments by major stake holders or the societal impacts and adaptation options actually on the table really distresses me sometimes, Judith.”

      And your inability to write using anything other than pretentious and meaningless prose distresses me, Martha, but I keep takng the medicine.

      • “meaningless prose”

        Your bottomless ignorance is not a superpower. It’s doesn’t magically make things you don’t understand meaningless.

    • Martha,
      You are dependably a narrative version of a near perfect vacuum.

    • John Kannarr

      Stakeholder theory is a fraud committed by those who seek to wipe out private property rights (at least those of others), and substitute claims by anyone who has the virtue of non-ownership of the property at issue. Yes, everything in the universe is ultimately connected in some way or other, which is the guise for saying that one is somehow a stakeholder in anything that someone else does. How convenient.

      The rest of us are responsible for maintaining our own property and advancing our own interests, satisfying our own needs, and dealing with changes in our environment. By the magic of stakeholder-dom, some assert a claim to a share of what others have accomplished for themselves, If “stakeholders” manage to destroy prosperity, or merely reduce it significantly in the industrialized world, by their demanded subsidies and proposed regulations imposed on others, will we be able to sue them for the effects of their anti-development policies? Or are some stakeholders more stakeholdy than others?

      • Stakeholder theory is a fraud committed by those who seek to wipe out private property rights (at least those of others), and substitute claims by anyone who has the virtue of non-ownership of the property at issue.

        These kind of comments are why I love Climate etc. so much.

    • Bruce Cunningham

      Oh, in 30 years time, provided all three of us are still here, I’ll buy dinner for all of us so that said discussion can occur. Only problem is, I’ll bet $1000 you wouldn’t show up. I know you won’t want to!

    • Latimer Alder

      I am not afraid to admit that

      I do not know what a participatory, integrated assessment method looks like.

      Please explain in detail so that I can understand what I missed.

      BTW In a 30 year career in business and IT I have facilitated many workshops – both technical and more general – but none using a methodology of that name. A facilitator’s guide for it would be really helpful. Thanks.

      • Latimer,

        The first secret is in telling people what they want to hear. Here is an extract from a publicity blurb I wrote yesterday.

        ‘We want sustainable development and are not prepared to compromise on this. The key environments are found everywhere. Agricultural land and the water (both surface and sub-surface) that supports it, key terrestrial environments and the important values of the marine environment.

        What I would like to see is more upfront consultation for engineering projects. As development professionals we need to get in early, be prepared to amend projects in response to reasonable concerns, put an honest case forward that is diligently researched and be prepared to give a real determination to locals. The alternative is simmering resentment that will erupt unexpectedly.’

        A few years ago I was water sampling for cholera and other nasties in Mt Hagen in PNG. These guys were protesting a dysfunctional sewage plant – and they tend to protest with axes and arrows. A participatory integrated assessment suggested that I should not only go along with the protest – but give a speech in my best rabble rousing manner.

        The second principle is to appeal to self interest and greed. I was once causing the most outrageous dust nuisance. Totally appalling – couldn’t see anything in the dust cloud. The integrated participatory least cost solution was to hand out air conditioners.

        The third and final principle is to apologise and grovel convincingly when it all goes pear shaped. I was blowing up things in Airlie Beach and managed to bombard the local resort with rock shrapnel. A mere week of general arse kissing and I was back in business.

        I am sure that if you diligently apply these principles – you too can succeed in the modern world of participatory, integrated assessment.

        Cheers

      • Like Latimer, I too have led workshops. I’m lucky to still have a have sense of humor and common sense left since those are the firsts things to disappear in “a participatory, integrated assessment”.

        I’m sure it’s different at the IPCC so it would be unwise of me to generalize.

    • Calamity Martha rides again.

  34. Over the years as I’ve read the alarmist stories on coasts and islands drowning, I’ve often wondered why people live there. Rather than attempt the impossible to stop climate change, wouldn’t the more commonsensical approach be for those concerned to leave? I suppose however, there isn’t any money in it for the plantiff’s attorneys.

    • In the US we make it a no-brainer. When you see a flood victim say “I’m gonna rebuild”, it’s your tax dollars at work.

    • Gary, Two stories. Some years ago, a major storm hit some barrier islands off the US Atlantic coast. Property owners had time to take away one car load of treasures. When asked, one such owner stated they would rebuild; it is too nice a place NOT to rebuild.

      Near Anchorage, Alaska, after an erthquake, an expensive housing estate was obliterated. The city declared it to be a park, so that such an event could never occur again. This lasted just 17 years; the city was losing tax revenue; the rich people wanted to live there.

      Enough said?

    • I looked up the Vanuatu tide tables. About 1.4 meters = 1400mm.

      People are used to 1400mm of tidal changes in a day.

      Whats an extra 2mm a year? I think people can adapt.

  35. James Evans

    Things could be really, really bad. They’re OK at the moment, somehow, but in the future… they could be really, really, really bad. If you don’t care about how bad things could be in the future, then you’re probably some sort of selfish right winger in denial about how bad things really, really, really, really could be. Think of the children. Won’t somebody please think of the children?

    P.S. Can I have some money?

  36. Judith. You say ” The dynamics of the Threatened Island Nations Conference provided some interesting insights into the challenges of demonstrating and dealing with dangerous AGW.”

    After nearly 100 comments, there is very clearly, almost no-one who who beleive that any Pacific island is facing “the challenges of …….. dealing with dangerous AGW.”

    • Jim Cripwell

      After nearly 100 comments, there is very clearly, almost no-one who who beleive that any Pacific island is facing “the challenges of …….. dealing with dangerous AGW.

      Is that perhaps the message Judith was trying to get across at the start, when she mentioned that the Threatened Island Nations Conference “provided some interesting insights into the challenges of demonstrating and dealing with dangerous AGW”?

      Max

      • Latimer Alder

        Fred M believes it,

        The tsunami like sealevel rise will get to them shortly before the acidified ocean engulfs them in fuming baths of concentrated aqua regia.

      • Latimer Alder

        Following Fred’s latest remarks (below), I’d like to withdraw this post as he now appears to be asking some more searching questions about the whole situation.

      • Why believe it if you don’t live on an island?

    • Latimer Alder

      Ah irony…..

      I took Judith to be writing with her tongue firmly in her cheek.

      But it is one of those cultural things that doesn’t always travel well……..which might explain why Englishmen sometimes appear as ;crusty’ in the USA.

    • After nearly 100 comments, there is very clearly, almost no-one who who beleive that any Pacific island is facing “the challenges of …….. dealing with dangerous AGW.”

      Because you’re deniers. Denying reality is what you do. This surprises you?

  37. Earlier in this thread, Jimbo commented on an important aspect of this topic that would benefit from further data, pointing out that a study of 27 Pacific atolls showed most to be stable or increasing in area, while only a minority (apparently 4 out of the 27) were losing land to the sea.

    I think three points deserve attention. First, none of the 27 appeared to be in imminent danger of total submersion. That possibility can be considered as a long term threat to the shrinking islands from future sea level rise if the trend continues, but the more immediate concerns are less severe.

    Second, if an inhabited island loses land or disappears entirely, displacing its residents, the fact that most islands appear secure from this danger doesn’t lessen its consequences or compensate for the losses. If 4 islands disappeared and 23 remained above water, this must be considered a net loss.

    Third, and probably most important, we can’t draw adequate conclusions from a small sample. The theme of this post implies a large-scale threat to inhabited islands, and worldwide, there probably hundreds if not thousands of inhabited islands, but it would be important have some idea of the actual number, and to know what fraction of this number are threatened, how severe is the immediate threat in terms of sea encroachment, how severe would be the long term consequences for loss of most or all the land, and how many people are at risk. Until then, this discussion will be taking place in an information vacuum. If anyone can identify a source of relevant data, that would be helpful.

    • Latimer Alder

      Bravo Fred!

      This is much much better stuff.

      You are actively thinking about the ‘problem’ and actively looking for relevant data, Not just taking what others tell you in papers and regurgitating it without thought, And you are thinking through the possible consequences of the various scientific possibilities, not simply accepting the scariest as the inevitable consequence of the effect.

      Just keep on asking the questions until you get to the bottom of whatever you study.

      What, where,, when ,why, who, how many, how much, what actually happened.

      And remember that if theory and observation don’t match, it is theory that is wrong.

      A bientot!

    • If anyone can identify a source of relevant data, that would be helpful.

      Here’s an interesting directory I found with a little Googling:

      http://islands.unep.ch/IKQ.htm

      Islands’ population, area, and area <5m above sea level are listed.

      • Thanks, Robert. It’s a long but incomplete list comprising 2000 islands. The areas <5 m above sea level are indicated, in some cases involving the entire island area. That figure exceeds any expected sea level rise by 2100, but does tell us something about those areas particularly vulnerable to waves or storm surges, with an unknown fraction of the area vulnerable to loss from a rising sea level. The site also lists the islands according to population. Although I haven’t done it, it should be possible to estimate the number of inhabitants in <5 m areas; I have the impression it exceeds 100,000, possibly by a large extent. How many might actually be displaced by a rise in sea levels can only be guessed at.

      • What is the effect that you expect on storm surges?

      • Teddy – A storm surge is built on the existing sea level. Its total height, and therefore the total momentum of the moving water is increased by the extent of a sea level rise. In some cases, the result is that a surge that would not surmount seawall barriers or other impediments can reach land. In the case of a large surge (e.g., from a tropical cyclone), the momentum from the added water, which can total additional millions of tons of water moving forward at high speed, can inflict extensive damage on property and death or injury to humans and animals. Storm surges are the most lethal element of tropical cyclones, with the momentum effects probably of greater consequence than the overall flooding that eventually ensues. An illustration of surge power can be seen at Storm Surge.

        Based on sea level rises over the previous 100 years, Typhoon Nargis, which killed more than 100,000 people in 2009, included something in excess of half a billion extra tons of water from the additional 20 cm of sea level height. This represented about 4-5 percent of total surge volume, and so at least a few thousand extra deaths may have been attributable to the increase. A small rise of several mm would cause less harm, but perhaps deaths in the hundreds for unprotected dense populations from more than 10 million extra tons of water. For sparser populations on small islands, the harm would be less, and protective barriers could mitigate it even further.

      • If the storm surge is based on the existing sea level why are you adding 20 cm and the extra volumes? ie where do you get 20cm and what are you attributing it to?

      • Teddy – By “existing sea level”, I refer to the level before the storm arrives. That existing level has increased by about 20 cm over the past century, and the result is the addition of hundreds of millions of tons of water to a tropical cyclone storm surge beyond the quantity that would otherwise have surged. The devastation from the extra water, given storm surge momentum, can be very severe.

      • It seems you have 2 definitions for “existing”. One is existing before the storm an the other is existing as of over the past century. The extra water over the century is relative(Galilean relativity) so there is no extra relative effect on the storms due to this rise over the past century.

      • DrPew – This is explained below in replies to Teddy and Latimer Alder.

      • Latimer Alder

        @fred

        ‘Teddy – A storm surge is built on the existing sea level. Its total height, and therefore the total momentum of the moving water is increased by the extent of a sea level rise’

        That is complete balderdash.

        You get the first sentence right

        ‘A storm surge is built on the existing sea level’….but then draw exactly the wrong conclusion

        ‘the total momentum of the moving water is increased by the extent of a sea level rise’

        A moment’s thought will tell you that the momentum of the water is completely unaffected by the current sea level relative to land and its past behaviour.

        I didn’t have the fortitude to read the rest.

      • Latimer – It may be that I wasn’t clear that “existing sea level” refers to the level before the storm surge arrives. As I explained to Teddy above, this has risen by about 20 cm over the past century vis-a-vis the adjacent land, and therefore adds an enormous burden of extra water to the momentum of a storm surge, with consequent increases in destructiveness.

      • Latimer Alder

        Fred

        Look at it another way

        There is a storm. It contains a certain amount of energy. Some part of that energy gets translated into the ‘momentum of the storm surge’.( I think you mean the kinetic energy). It is affected by the intensity of the storm, but I can see no connection between that and the height of sea level relative to a bit of land. And the energy of the storm surge is there whether it ever makes landfall or not..

        Neither do I see how it can ‘add an enormous burden of water to the momentum of a storm surge’.

        Please explain.

      • Latimer – Take another look at the Storm Surge video. The hurricane energy has created a surge that elevates the surging water by a particular height above the calm sea that preceded the storm (it was 4 to 5 meters in the case of Typhoon Nargis). How much of that surge impacts a given structure on land – a house for example – depends on the elevation of the structure above the pre-existing sea level on which the surge was built. If the structure was 4 meters above that level, a 4 meter surge will have no impact, but if the structure was only 3.8 meters higher because the sea level had previously risen by 20 cm, then tons of extra water at high speed will hit it over the hours of high surge. In the video, the seawall gives you an idea of how much of the surge is blocked and how much surmounts that barrier. Raising the pre-existing sea level is equivalent to lowering the seawall.

      • Hmmm… I know nothing of storm/surge behaviour, but for a given storm, surely the surge effect depends on the volume of water? If there is now a greater volume of water to move, then the surge would be lower. There is after all no extra energy is there?

        In any case, the effects of storm surges etc will depend on the local sea level change relative to the land, not to the global average. Many shores see no rise or a drop. The islands in question from what I’ve read seem not to have suffered a 20 cm change over the past century, it’s rather less. It would be dangerous to assume that all locations are at risk.

      • Although I haven’t done it, it should be possible to estimate the number of inhabitants in <5 m areas; I have the impression it exceeds 100,000, possibly by a large extent. How many might actually be displaced by a rise in sea levels can only be guessed at.

        Probably the people on land displaced will dwarf the number on islands. Islands attract more attention, I think, because some are very flat indeed, and because you are talking about an entire homeland destroyed completely in our lifetimes.

      • Which inhabited islands are that flat? If anyone lives on an island that’s highest point is <2 meters above sea level then they already have problems or already have solutions for living in that sort of place.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Teddy, you ask good questions:

        Which inhabited islands are that flat? If anyone lives on an island that’s highest point is <2 meters above sea level then they already have problems or already have solutions for living in that sort of place.

        Coral atolls are that flat (not two metres, but generally not more than five). They are best thought of as a hesitation in a river of coral sand and rubble.

        This river is created by the reef growth of coral. It flows from the reef and is driven up onto the atoll by the storms. The same storms, of course blow sand off the atoll. So it never gets too tall. And it never rests. The sand comes up on the atoll and is there a while, but eventually as much sand flows off the atoll and into the lagoon (or back into the ocean) as flows on to the atoll. The ancient balance persists.

        As you say, people have ancient solutions for living on atolls. However, modern things like pollution and dynamite fishing and mining the reefs for coral to construct buildings damage the reef. This damage reduces the river of coral sand and rubble, sometimes to a mere trickle. As you can imagine, the atoll then starts to shrink. The ancient balance has been upset. But not by CO2, by the usual suspects—us.

        There’s an odd player in all of this, the parrotfish. These lovely creatures break up the coral with their parrot-like beaks, grind up the coral with plates in their throats, and excrete the pure white sand that makes up the lovely beaches and the body of the atoll.

        Unfortunately, the parrotfish sleeps at night on the reef. In the ancient days this didn’t matter. The advent of the waterproof underwater flashlight changed all that. When humans could hunt underwater at night, parrotfish were easy pickings, and on many atolls are now very scarce. This has had the predictable effect … beaches start disappearing, to the chorus of “Rising sea level is the root of all evil!”.

        Above the waterline, increased population means increased pumping of the freshwater lens … leading to salt intrusion into the wells and people claiming that sea level rise from CO2 is the culprit.

        Nonsense. When you overpump the lens of freshwater under an atoll, at some point the water will start to be saltier and saltier. Has nothing to do with sea level.

        Increased population also leads to increased erosion – every step on an atoll moves sand downhill, back towards the ocean.

        The sad truth is the whole “sinking atoll” story at this point has graduated from honest mistake to scam. The islanders know it. My last trip to the South Pacific I was talking to a friend just back from Tuvalu. He said, “Yeah, people there know it’s not CO2 … but they say it’s their only chance of getting money.” I can relate to that, a pile of sand in the middle of the Pacific doesn’t have a whole lot of money-making opportunities.

        The part I can’t relate to is anyone falling for that in the year 2011 …

        w.

      • So all that pristine white sand is really…fish excrement?

        Sounds like Kopi luwak coffee, that mega expensive type that is made from coffee beans eaten and excreted by civets.

        Ya gotta love nature’s sense of humor.

      • Yup, natures tropical beach manufacturing plants.

        http://www.oceanfootage.com/video_clips/JB05_180

      • Yup Gary, and you should really see them in action especially the BumpHead Parrotfish. They are huge up to 6ft long and they school. When they swim by there is a huge cloud of sand that they are “sh**ing. They are beautiful fish and not very shy. Also when you are underwater you can hear all the parrotfish on the reef grinding the coral away, its amazing how loud it is. As Willis said they sleep at night so night dives are much quieter.

      • I watched the video posted by Jeez. I wonder how you put that job on a resume, “I followed fish around with a camera filming them while they….”

        It is a visual I will now be stuck with for days I fear.

      • Willis – Your perspective is both well-informed and misinformed from your own familiarity with coral atolls. It’s clear that you know many more details than most of us about their composition and maintenance – the parrotfish relationship is fascinating. At the same time, your reluctance to concede that the atolls are threatened by increasing sea level is unfortunate. As CO2 increases, the oceans warm, and sea levels rise accordingly. Their pH also declines, and both the warming and the ocean acidification are damaging to corals. Currently, the damage is limited to scattered locations, some of them remote from inhabited islands, but we already know that ocean pH has dropped to a point where further acidification threatens widespread impairment of coral calcification and growth. As this happens, atoll growth will no longer keep pace with sea level rise, and islands will lose more and more land to the sea. Complete disappearance of inhabited islands may still be a ways off, but encroachment and population displacement are probable within the next half century.

        The fact that human negligence in terms of fishing, pollution, and reef mining is also contributing to coral damage in regions inhabited by humans exacerbates the problem, but the problem will ultimately become severe even if we control those excesses.

        Corals are still less vulnerable than a variety of other marine fauna to the effects of declining pH, but the focus of some of the recent commentary has been on corals because of the “island threat” issue.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘we already know that ocean pH has dropped to a point where further acidification threatens widespread impairment of coral calcification and growth. As this happens, atoll growth will no longer keep pace with sea level rise, and islands will lose more and more land to the sea’

        I am currently diligently reading the paper by Peljero et at that you recommended, Please guide me to the part that tells us that we actually ‘know’ the things you describe above. Especially the bit that we ‘know’ that atoll growth will no longer keep pace with sea level rise.

        A few people might fear that or have speculated about it or shaken a collecting tin in its behalf or been to a conference about it. But that is a stretch from ‘knowing; as you claim we do.

        Please tell me how we ‘know’.

      • I don’t think either the Pelejero review article or the other two explicitly address harm to coral atolls, although I don’t know whether some of the references might. What the articles do is detail how corals are damaged by the reduction in carbonate saturation that occurs when pH declines. This is already happening in sporadic locations at current atmospheric CO2 concentrations and levels of ocean pH. As mentioned in Pelejero, coral growth is impaired when the supersaturation of carbonate ion relative to aragonite is less than 3.3 (expressed as the quantity Ω, the term used for [Ca2++][CO3- -]/Ksp, where Ksp is the solubility product equilibrium constant). The value of Ω is below 3.3 currently in some regions. The main concern though is with the future rise in CO2 and hydrogen ion concentration that is likely to prevent corals from keeping pace with sea levels on a widespread basis. The damage from other human activities such as overfishing or water pollution adds to the problem, but corals are important elements in the marine ecosystem even where they are remote from human inhabitants, and in those locations, it will be mainly pH and temperature that impact their health.

      • Fred,
        Do you know the difference between carbonates and bicarbontes?
        Which increases when when CO2 increases?
        Please, while you are at it, show us the studies that are based on actually increasing the pCO2 in the atmosphere over the ocean (or experiment) that results in damage to marine life, and at what levels of pCO2.
        Experiments based on tricklilng HCl or H2SO4 are not really valid, as you should easily recognize.
        Also, fwiw, you keep harping on skeptics who make generalizations on islands, yet you were the one who combined all volcanic islands into one class until it was pointed out that atolls are by definition volcanic.
        Then you tried to turn this around by talking about non-atoll volcanic islands being in trouble, yet even there you cannot show an island being damaged because of the ~2.x mm per year increase in sea levels, much less attribute the increase to CO2.
        You do go on about storm surges and tsunamis, but the plain truth is that
        1- the global sea level figures are not telling us much about particular shoreline or low lying areas
        2- the increases are still trivial.
        3- sea walls and otehr flood/storm adaptations are often built where subsidence is much more of a real problem than is ~30 cms. per century. IOW, the walls and levess and barrages, etc. are wearing out and replaced to local needs much more quickly than any alleged changes in sea level globally, wheether CO2 or intrinsic.
        It would be good, since you are the most reasonable believer, to at least consider pointing out where AGW claims on things like sea levels and OA and other disaster claims (storms, extreme weather events, etc. etc. etc.) have been over stated. This would allow you to show that your reasonableness is more than simply repeating AGW talking points politely.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Fred

        Sorry, you have not answered the question. You stated that we knew something. I have asked you to tell me how we know it.

        You have replied with some peripheral remarks about a related but different issue. But have not indicated why you believe that your previous statement is true

        You made the absolute unqualified assertion in your own words that :

        ‘We know ocean pH has dropped to a point where further acidification threatens widespread impairment of coral calcification and growth. As this happens, atoll growth will no longer keep pace with sea level rise, and islands will lose more and more land to the sea’

        Please explain your source for this belief.It is not apparent to me from reading the paper you recommended (Pelejero et al 2010) that this is at all ‘known’.

        PS I also note that the only actual time series of actual measured pH data that is anywhere near reliable (and this is very scanty) is discussed in Dore et al (PNAS 2009). They made about 100 measurements off Hawaii over 20 years (1989-2009, but with a big gap in the middle).

        They claim to be able to see decline on measured pH at that location from 8.12 to 8.09 over the twenty year period. And that is said to be the best measured evidence of any effect of ocean neutralisation at all. H’mm -0.03 units in 20 years isn’t really a big deal.

        I also note that Pelejero remarks that

        ‘several physical variables and biological processes drive this variability in pH, including temperature, salinity, upwelling, water currents, river runoff, sea ice melt, photosynthesis, respiration, calcification and dissolution’. Reliably finding the CO2 needle in such a large haystack seems ‘challenging’ to say the least.

        So you;ll forgive me if I decline to lose a great deal of sleep over a problem for which the physical evidence seems to be ‘scanty’ at best.

        As ever, happy to be corrected if I have misunderstood, but if the evidence of a big problem is really there, it is proving very difficult to find it.

      • Hunter – If you review my comments, I think you’ll find I’ve already addressed all the points you raised. retarding carbonates, ocean acidification, volcanic islands vs coral atolls built on subsided volcanoes, storm surges, etc. Some of it is in the Barrier Islands thread, and some here.

      • Fred,
        With all due respect, you have not adressed the points. You have ignored them.

      • ferd berple

        “As CO2 increases, the oceans warm, and sea levels rise accordingly. Their pH also declines, and both the warming and the ocean acidification are damaging to corals. ”

        On what basis? The oceans are not acidic, they are caustic with PH levels at near record levels. For most of the past 100 million years the oceans have been much less caustic (more acidic) than they are now and the fish and corals had no problem surviving. Otherwise they would not be here now.

        Our blood is more acidic than the current oceans from which we evolved, which is further evidence that in the past the oceans were more acidic. Human beings die if their blood reaches PH levels equal to the current oceans.

      • Willis, as Fred speaks to below, you do acknowledge that the potential of effects from anthropogenic climate change and other known anthropogenic effects are not mutually exclusive. Right?

      • Joshua,
        Can you also see that obsessing on CO2 is at the expense quite often of doing things that would actually make a positive difference?

      • Can you also see that obsessing on CO2 is at the expense quite often of doing things that would actually make a positive difference?

        I have a hard time evaluating where the balance lies in assessing the negative versus positive outcomes of “obsessing on CO2,” but I certainly acknowledge that there is at least some truth to the reality of “opportunity cost” with a focus on the AGW impact of increased C02 – no doubt.

        And not to diminish those “opportunity costs,” I do feel compelled to point out that this is an imperfect world. It isn’t always possible to focus ones efforts on enterprises that return optimally beneficial outcomes. Simply pointing out that there are sometimes mistakes in the priorities of some of those concerned about the harmful effects of increased C02 emissions does not suffice to prove that a focus on the harmful effects on increased CO2 emissions is negative in the balance.

        And you know, hunter, if you ask me what I believe then I’ll tell you. It is a much more accurate way for you to understand what I believe than for you to fantasize about me and build your understanding based on your assumptions derived from your fantasies.

      • Joshua,
        Please tell me what you believe about the AGW issue.

      • Ah, here you mean.

        That’s a bit of a unfair question – as the topic is immense and it would be hard to consolidate a concise answer (and anyone who’s read my posts realizes that I prioritize conciseness!!!!).

        I don’t have time to give you even a brief answer right now – but I’ll get back to you with a brief answer – with the caveat that I’m not intending it to be comprehensive nor completely thought out. In the end I think you will be surprised with the degree to which I am agnostic about AGW.

        Here’s one thing I will say for now that I know for a fact – you have made accusations and assumptions about what I believe that are flat-out wrong, borne out of a misplaced confidence about conspiratorial influences on my reasoning process and the reasoning processes of (virtually?) anyone who identifies with the left side of the political spectrum. I “believe” that your tendency towards, with full confidence, mischaracterizing what I do or don’t believe is quite representative of a type of tribal thinking that is ubiquitous in the “denier/skeptic” blogosphere.

        But since you have finally gotten around to asking me rather than simply making such assumptions, I’ll assume a good faith intent on your part, and I look forward to letting that all be water passed under the bridge.

      • Joshua, I look forward to your response, concise or otherwise.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Joshua | June 24, 2011 at 11:04 am

        Willis, as Fred speaks to below, you do acknowledge that the potential of effects from anthropogenic climate change and other known anthropogenic effects are not mutually exclusive. Right?

        Not sure what you mean by “other known anthropogenic effects”, Joshua, but in general the answer is yes.

        w.

      • ferd berple

        Willis has the descriptions of atolls exactly right. We sailed to many remote Pacific atolls and lived there for as much as a year at a time. It is population pressure, not CO2 that harms the reef. On the unpopulated atolls such as Palmyra (Gilligan’s Island) the reefs are thriving.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmyra_Atoll

        We know that coral reefs have no problem keeping up with sea level rise, because of the very rapid increase in sea levels that took place at the end of the ice age. It is very likely that even greater increases have taken place in the past 100 million years when CO2 levels were much higher.

        Atolls generally form around volcanoes and as the volcano sinks into the ocean because its great weight deforms the crust of the earth, the corals are left behind in the form of a ring.

        It would be a mistake to think of an atoll as a persistent structure like a hunk of rock. It is a living organism on a massive scale. Like all living creatures the atoll has stages in life from birth to maturity to death. Humans living on atolls think of them as permanent only because the atoll is long lived as compared to humans.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingman_Reef

      • ferd berple

        It is interesting to note that Kingman reef is today 5 feet above sea level, while 130 years ago it was described as completely underwater at high tide. This argues strongly against there having been any significant increase in sea levels in the past 130 years, consistent with what we found sailing the pacific.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingman_Reef

        There are two small strips of dry land composed of coral rubble and giant clamshells on the eastern rim with areas of 2 acres (8,000 m2) and 1 acre (4,000 m2)[4] having a coastline of 3 kilometres (2 mi).[2] The highest point on the reef is less than 5 feet (1.5 m) above sea level,[4]

        Thomas Hale Streets described its state in the 1870s, when it had: … hardly, as yet, assumed the distinctive features of an island. It is entirely under water at high tide, and but a few coral heads project here and there above the surface at low water.

      • Ferd – You are repeating here (and above) some inaccurate statements you made previously. Corals are threatened by CO2-mediated ocean acidification as well as CO2-mediated warming. Sporadic damage has already been observed in some ocean regions. It has not been widespread, but is likely to increase markedly if CO2 concentrations rise further. Anecdotal evidence of reefs you’ve visited does not address these concerns. The historical record tells us of massive reduction in corals at times of very high CO2 and low pH, and the record shows that current pH is lower than at almost any other time during the last 20 million years, when corals have thrived. Humans damage coral atolls in other ways as well, but that doesn’t diminish the future danger from rising CO2. I believe you’ve already seen links to some relevant articles, but for others who want to pursue this further, two links are to Corals and Acidification and Ocean Acidification.

        The second article also discusses threats to other marine calcifying organisms, some of them more vulnerable than corals.

      • Latimer Alder

        @robert

        If they live that close to the sea, then it seems far more likely a really damaging and rapid sea level rise (eg a tsunami. a cyclone) will kill them long before an extremely gentle and predictable rise in level will do so. It’s a dumb place to live.

        Tough, perhaps, but true.

        But maybe undersea earthquakes are also affected by 400 ppm atmospheric CO2? Any takers to explain the mechanism?

  38. Climate change is natural but now it is a political and economic phenomenon because the theory of it is a scientific hoax and scare tactic.

    “The concept of achieving a ‘stable climate’ is a dangerous oxymoron.” ~Stott

  39. If islands are rising faster than sea level, the land area covered by these islands will increase as a proportion of the globe’s total land area, increasing the value of island real estate, since mainland area will shrink with rising sea level.
    Of course the globe could swell from within and increase it’s total surface area, negating the effect of rising sea level. Don’t ask me what could cause the globe to swell from within, but I have seen this happen with balloons.

  40. MC, Your first paragraph made me swell with pride as I realised that you do have logical thought, despite my earlier doubts.Sadly, the second paradiddle took me back to despair again when, I realised that you’d reverted to type when you revealed that you’d misunderstood what the balloons had told when they whispered to you that the ‘Hot-Spot’ and the ‘Tooth-Fairy’ were one and the same.
    Sleep tight and don’t let those bed-bugs bite!

  41. Frankly Professor, I’m a darn sight more worried about the effect of climate-change on the small islands thanks to climate-change legislation than I am about climate-change itself!
    I’ve a slight suspicion that the political leaders of these ‘threatened’ nations will end up dry, relocated and just dandy. Unlike their voters who’ll end up being dry and very, very poor.
    Just a thought.

  42. MC, Tell me more about why, and when, your factual denialism originated?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing you, I am genuinely interested as to why you persist in supporting the un-supportable. Is there anything that would make you reconsider?
    If so, what?
    Just curious.

  43. RotFOMR,

    Well, falling on my head hard enough to knock me permanently senseless might make me reconsider.
    But $10,000,000,000 would definitely make me reconsider.

  44. edward getty

    LOL. Really. These people are becoming the real deniers – of reality.

    I suppose this dead bandwagon has enough inertia to get it this far, but this extortion scheme has become such a pathetic joke I am surprised they are still flogging it at all.

    Re sea level BS, was just reading this:

    http://notrickszone.com/2011/06/23/leading-german-meteorologist-michael-manns-sea-level-story-a-quack/

  45. This is off topic, but we don’t have a week in review post for this week sooo….

    I wonder what the progressive denizens here think of the Obama administration deciding to release 2 million barrels of oil per day from the U.S.’s strategic petroleum reserve, for the next 30 days?

    Given that the administration has done everything it could to cause energy prices to “skyrocket,” including preventing drilling in proven off shore and Alaskan oil fields, whatever could be the reason for temporarily forcing down the price of oil, and thereby the price of gasoline? I thought higher energy prices were a good thing? It couldn’t have anything to do with his falling poll number could it?
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

    I thought energy policy was all about the science?

    • I am somewhat liberal/progressive/libertarian/anarchist, but generally these are all distractions from the real stuff. Left/right, progressive/conservative… are all false dichotomies.

      What matters and would make everyone happier is:

      – LESS hypocrisy
      – LESS corruption…

      Today’s political (ond other) systems are such that only hypocrites and corrupted (or easily corruptable) stand a chance. This has to change.

      Regarding Obama, he’s just another easily corruptable hypocrite, like all politicans and bureaucrats.

  46. Alexander K

    The elephant in the room assigned to the allegedly sinking Pacific Islands is the behaviour of the Islanders themselves. Pragmatic and adventurous people, they have developed environmental behaviours as a direct response to their immediate problems, such as rapid population growth, that have not been appropriate to the physical properties of their environment.
    It is very easy for unprincipled organisations such as Greenpeace and WWF to persuade them of the the evils of AGW and thus convince the Islanders that ‘evil foreign industries’ are the cause of the problems.
    The utterly cynical behaviour of some NGOs in foisting bad science on to native populations is fraudulent and should be seen for what it is.

  47. “Most theories in social and political psychology stress self-interest, intergroup conflict, ethnocentrism, homophily, ingroup bias, outgroup antipathy, dominance, and resistance.
    System justification theory is influenced by these perspectives—including social identity and social dominance theories—but it departs from them in several respects. Advocates of system justification theory argue that (a) there is a general ideological motive to justify the existing social order, (b) this motive is at least partially responsible for the internalization of inferiority among members of disadvantaged groups, (c) it is observed most readily at an implicit, nonconscious level of awareness and (d) paradoxically, it is sometimes strongest among those who are most harmed by the status quo. This article reviews and integrates 10 years of research on 20 hypotheses derived from a system justification perspective, focusing on the phenomenon of implicit outgroup favoritism among members of
    disadvantaged groups (including African Americans, the elderly, and gays/lesbians) and its relation to political ideology (especially liberalism-conservatism).”

  48. Compare the BA charts of Island nations from 200+ years ago, before the industrial age with today’s records. From my experiences sailing the Pacific and Indian Oceans, there has been no significant change in sea levels today as compared to 200+ years ago.

    Remote Pacific atolls that were 6 feet above sea level when Bligh charted them when he sailed with Cook aboard the Resolution in the 1700’s are still 6 feet above sea level. These heights are clearly marked on the BA charts from this time.

    Coral atolls are threatened much more by human encroachment. Corals are dredged for navigation and construction while sediments from logging and construction kill the corals. Add to this unhealthy changes to the coral that result from over fishing. Corals require constant grazing by fish to stay healthy. When these fish are removed the corals become overgrown by algae and die.

    • I’d like to see a formal study of all of these navigation charts etc compared to conditions today. It would be a most illuminating practical investigation of the matter.

      On the question of sea level rise, would it have any effect on river levels and flow rates, or on sea-joined lake levels? If so that might be another avenue for investigation?

    • From my experiences sailing the Pacific and Indian Oceans, there has been no significant change in sea levels today as compared to 200+ years ago.

      You have experience of the sea level two hundred years ago? Would this by any chance have involved a white albatross you were forced to wear around your neck?

  49. Paul Dunmore

    I live on a Pacific island (New Zealand), about 3m above sea level, since I choose to live at the beach. At current rates of sea level rise, when the useful life of my house ends in another century or so, the then owners may decide not to rebuild it. I find it hard to justify a demand that global development should be stopped now in order to prevent this happening, but maybe I just need a good lawyer and an NGO….

    I looked up the Pacific atolls (excluding places like Fiji, Samoa, etc, which are high volcanic islands). The inhabited low-lying states are Kiribati (population 100,000 or so, foreign aid is 20-25% of GDP), Nauru (9,000; aid pays for essentially everything), Niue (1,300; aid 50% of GDP), Tokelau (1,400; aid 80% of government budget), and Tuvalu (10,500; renting the “.tv” domain name suffix is a major revenue source). For comparison, the largest Polynesian city in the world is Auckland, New Zealand (180,000 Pacific Islanders, another 130,000 Maori, out of a total population of about 1.5 million). So if push comes to shove, we could take the whole lot (except Kiribati), drop them all into Auckland, and nobody would even notice. The Kiribati population could easily be shared out among Australia, New Zealand, and maybe Hawaii. The conditions would obviously be that these countries cease to exist (give up their UN seats, for example), that their (mostly) incompetent governments be dissolved, and that we get their Exclusive Economic Zones. The savings in our aid budget to these places would far outweigh the costs, and the people would get real jobs and proper integration into the world economy.

    All that may sound very callous, and I have worded it with a distressing lack of sympathy for the plight of these displaced people. But look again at that number: 180,000 Pacific Islanders (and more elsewhere in New Zealand) have already made the move at their own expense. If the atolls ever do become uninhabitable, we can provide support and the same new life opportunities for the rest, and it could be arranged quickly and cheaply. And if the atolls remain above sea level, I guess we will just have to go on forking over aid money to them for ever.

    As an argument for big cuts in emissions, there is a certain lack of proportion with the size of this particular problem.

    • Paul,
      The more AGW believers harp on about slr and invoke the ‘do it for the grandchildren’ argument, the more ignorant they appear.
      Neither argument of their, slr nor the grandchildren, holds up under ratinal review.

  50. Good post Paul. I agree entirely that a sense of proportion is key.

  51. I find it hard to justify a demand that global development should be stopped now in order to prevent this happening, but maybe I just need a good lawyer and an NGO….

    Maybe you need to clear your head and think about the problem rationally. You are choosing one of the many known impacts of global warming, then taking its impact on a single structure, then comparing it to a hyperventilating hyperbole of the potential consequences of getting our electricity from different mix of source (global development stops now!)

    You need to look realistically at all the impacts, on everybody, not just yourself or your home, and maintain the same sense of skepticism about predictions of doom from mitigation that you have regarding predictions of doom from warming. That would be viewing the matter with a sense of proportion.

    • Paul Dunmore

      Hi Robert
      Sorry, I should have put tags where necessary in my post.
      My house is like millions of others near sea level around the world. Capital is always being replaced anyway, and houses, bridges, factories, whatever, come to the end of their useful lives. As it becomes clearer how much and how fast the sea will rise, we will (in most cases) reduce the new capital that we put in harm’s way by not rebuilding things in places where thay are likely to be destroyed soon. In that case, the eventual losses can be relatively small. My house is a tiny but typical example.
      I did not mention other impacts of global warming because this thread is about the effect of sea level rise on atoll states. A back of the envelope estimate suggests that this is a minor problem. It does not follow that other consequences will be minor, nor did I suggest that they will be.
      As for development being stopped now, you should take that up with the Chinese. China has become the largest emitter of CO2 because their government is frightened of the political consequences of seriously slowing their development. And they use every electricity source that they can make to work, both fossil and renewable. They are certainly keen to deploy non-emtting technologies, but not keen enough to stop building new coal-fired plants to keep development going. China’s per capita emissions are still low, of course, but the atmosphere cares about gigatons, not per capita rates.

      • Paul Dunmore

        First line should have read:
        Sorry, I should have put (*sarcasm*) tags where necessary in my post.
        The blog software stripped the angle brackets.

      • As it becomes clearer how much and how fast the sea will rise, we will (in most cases) reduce the new capital that we put in harm’s way by not rebuilding things in places where thay are likely to be destroyed soon.

        Let us hope that we proceed in that sensible way.

        In that case, the eventual losses can be relatively small.

        Some people have actually put a significant amount of effort into calculating the eventual losses. Have you looked at any of this work, or are you going by your intuition?

        For a number of reasons, lowlands tend to be the most valuable and heavily settled parts of the globe. Moving beach homes may be a small expense, but relocating some of the world’s major ports (which are consequently some of the richest and most historically important cities in the world), losing highly productive river deltas, salting of aquifers, loss of coastal highways and so on are apt to be expensive.

        I did not mention other impacts of global warming because this thread is about the effect of sea level rise on atoll states.

        You cannot talk about cost versus benefits of mitigation unless you make an effort to look at all of the costs; that’s my point. “We don’t need to make expensive efforts to reduce CO2 emissions — I can just move my house” is a disingenuous argument, because no one impact — sea level or anything else — captures more than a tiny fraction of the total cost of warming, and you are comparing it to the whole cost of mitigation.

        As for development being stopped now, you should take that up with the Chinese.

        Given how sensible you sound overall, I think you realize that “stopping development” is an exaggeration. If the Chinese cannot be persuaded that it is in their interests to slow climate change — and the costs of environmental degradation as a whole are already recognized as significant in China today — then we should politely ask them what effect they think it would have on their growth rate if the EU and the US banned imports from countries that refused to sign a global emissions treaty. Of course, before pressuring others to get on board, we need to start setting an example ourselves.

      • Paul Dunmore

        Hi Robert

        Thanks for your reply. I did not actually suggest that my house would be moved – it can’t be. But a century from now it will have reached the end of its design life and will be knocked down anyway. Then the owner can choose to rebuild or to walk away from the site. If sea level has risen a couple of metres, he will walk away. There is a loss from this, but nothing like the current value of the property. I have seen estimates of the cost of sea level rise which ignore this point, and simply add up the current value of all assets close to the sea – don’t read these, they are rubbish.

        To go over the top, suppose sea levels rise 20 metres in the next century, making lower Manhattan unsalvageable. What would happen? To begin with, some time would be bought by raising seawalls. As soon as it was clear that this could not be a permanent solution, investment would stop. Trust me – any would-be developers would not be able to get insurance or finance. The existing buildings, subways, and other infrastructure would be maintained for a while, but they would be allowed to run down. When the seawalls broke and lower Manhattan disappeared, the value of what is lost would be a tiny fraction of its value today. By that time, Wall Street would have moved away, City Hall would have relocated to higher ground, new concert halls would have been built, and so on. This is totally different from the loss that would occur if Manhattan were hit today by a tsunami, which is what the usual loss estimates implicitly assume (without saying so).

        Ports are an interesting example. A century ago, the world’s busiest port was the London docklands. Today it is a residential and financial district; the port moved to Tilbury. The same happened to Darling Harbour in Sydney, and to the ports of Manhattan, and many other places. These moves cost a lot of money, but were done anyway. Capital is always being demolished and replaced with something new and economically preferable. In the future, one of the factors in those investment judgements will be climate change. Nobody can make good estimates of the extra cost due to climate change, but it will clearly be very minor compared to what we are going to spend anyway. In many cases, an investment decision made with regard to climate change will be exactly the same as the decision that would have been made without it; in that case, the extra cost of climate change is exactly zero. In other cases, the decision might be to move from the current site to a new site A instead of site B, or to adopt new technology A instead of B; in that case, the climate cost is the difference between the cost of A and B, not the cost of the whole investment. Anyone who claims to know what A and B are for millions of decisions to be made decades in the future is a charlatan. This is self-evident to business people and economists, but it does seem less obvious to scientists, who easily fall for the claim that Manhattan is now worth $X billion which will all be lost.

        This is a more general point than my original one about low-lying atolls. It applies to almost any form of capital investment, but it may not apply to other kinds of resources which we do not construct and which have an indefinite expected life; aquifers and atolls might be examples of the latter. But even for the atolls, I suggested that the cost of adapting if they get flooded would be small enough that even New Zealand would hardly notice it.

        I don’t remember saying, or even thinking, that the whole cost-benefit argument can be settled by looking at one item. But this particular item was the occasion for a 3-day conference, the topic of this thread, and keeps coming up as one of the arguments for CO2 reductions. Realistically, it seems to me to be a non-issue.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Robert, thanks for your comments. Inter alia you say …

        Robert | June 25, 2011 at 8:00 am

        Some people have actually put a significant amount of effort into calculating the eventual losses. Have you looked at any of this work, or are you going by your intuition?

        I’ve read a lot of absolute garbage on the subject. Your suggestion would be more useful if you told us which calculations you think are valid and valuable, and exactly why.

        You cannot talk about cost versus benefits of mitigation unless you make an effort to look at all of the costs; that’s my point. “We don’t need to make expensive efforts to reduce CO2 emissions — I can just move my house” is a disingenuous argument, because no one impact — sea level or anything else — captures more than a tiny fraction of the total cost of warming, and you are comparing it to the whole cost of mitigation.

        My problem with the cost/benefit analyses of possible warming are twofold. First, they ignore the historical evidence. Second, they generally greatly minimize the benefits and exaggerate the costs.

        By the historical evidence I mean that the world has warmed something on the order of a couple of degrees C since the Little Ice Age. Please point out for me, Robert, the huge losses that occurred as a result of that warming.

        (Please avoid the argument that the warming will be faster. The difference in the speed of change between a couple of degrees in a hundred years and a couple of degrees in three hundred years is 2°/100 year minus 2°/300 years, or 4°/300 years, or a bit over a hundredth of a degree per year. That is an undetectable difference that makes no difference.)

        As for development being stopped now, you should take that up with the Chinese.

        … If the Chinese cannot be persuaded that it is in their interests to slow climate change — and the costs of environmental degradation as a whole are already recognized as significant in China today — then we should politely ask them what effect they think it would have on their growth rate if the EU and the US banned imports from countries that refused to sign a global emissions treaty. Of course, before pressuring others to get on board, we need to start setting an example ourselves.

        Before claiming that we should be “setting an example ourselves”, you need to first do a couple of difficult things:

        1. Show that the changes in climate are somehow different than the changes in climate that have occurred since forever. This is called “falsifying the null hypothesis”, and to my knowledge has not occurred.

        2. If and only if you have completed Step 1, once you have shown that the climate is acting anomalously or outside the historical norms, you then need to show that your hypothesis of choice is the reason that the climate is acting strange. As far as I know that has not occurred either.

        Once you have done those things, only then you can talk about “setting an example”. Unless you have chosen a “no-regrets” path, to act before you have taken those fundamental scientific steps is a mistake. And as the failed Kyoto Treaty has shown, it can be a very expensive mistake.

        Regards,

        w.

      • Perhaps we should gently ask the Chinese to take the airplanes for free, so Europe’s factories can stay open.
        =============

  52. I have long maintianed that the way that CAGW will, in the end, be shown to be a hoax is with hard measured, observed data. Several times on this thread people have mentioned Willima Blyth, and his survey of pacific islands in the 18th century. One only needs to sample a few of the islands on his survey, go out an re-survey these specific islands, and actually see what has happened over the course of some 2 centuries. Nice, clean, simple, hard, measured data.

    Yet no-one has done this. Instead we have the usual output of non -validated models to try and pretend there is a problem, when a problem might not exist at all. Could some of the proponents of CAGW, e.g. Dr. Curry. Fred Moolton, M. Carey, who have posted on this thread tell me, in nice simple terms, why no-one has done the obvious. Apart form the equally obvious reason…

    THE PROPONENTS OF CAGW DONT WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE ANSWER IS.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      I was mystified by your comment about “Willima Blyth” until I realized it was a typo for Captain William Bligh, of the Bounty Mutiny fame. True, he was a surveyor of international renown even in his own time.

      This kind of comparison has been done by using photographs. See my comments here.

      Surveys are not quite as useful as photographs. A photo is taken at a given instant, and you can calculate the tidal levels at that location at that time.

      A survey in the 1800s was done over say several days, with no contemporaneous knowledge of the level of the tide. As a result (particularly on atoll islets with nearly flat beaches on one side) the exact boundaries vis-a-vis the mean tide level are not known.

      Having said that, however, there’s no reason in principle that one could not reconstruct the hour-by-hour swing of the tides. Let me think about that one. Is there a digital compilation of his surveys? Did he survey any atolls?

      w.

  53. Willis Eschenbach

    Fred Moolten | June 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm |

    Ferd – You are repeating here (and above) some inaccurate statements you made previously. Corals are threatened by CO2-mediated ocean acidification as well as CO2-mediated warming. Sporadic damage has already been observed in some ocean regions. It has not been widespread, but is likely to increase markedly if CO2 concentrations rise further. Anecdotal evidence of reefs you’ve visited does not address these concerns.

    As other people have noted, you keep repeating this claim over and over. And every time people ask you for a citation, you say you already have provided them … but when we read the citations they say nothing of the sort. You might want to take a look here and let us know why all of those scientists are wrong …

    Here’s the deal with citations. You need to not only cite the paper. You need to identify (and preferably quote) exactly where the paper whatever your claim is.

    The truth is that coral reefs emit CO2, and as a result the water over reefs can change pH by one full pH point in 12 hours. The truth is that the inlet waters of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium change pH by more than half a pH point in a couple of weeks … and you want us to believe that a possible change of a tenth of a point of pH in a century is a huge problem? Sorry, I’ll pass.

    You are free to worry about that, of course, but insisting that we do so as well is a bridge too far …

    w.

    • Latimer Alder

      @willis

      Excellently put,

      I fear that Fred has hoped that his tedious and verbose prose style will be so soporific that we will all be comatose before gathering the energy to check his vague and non-specific references.

      I resolve to do a better job of holding him to account in future,

    • Willis,
      Thank you for putting what should be (but sadly is unlikely to be) an end point on a significant AGW talking point.
      It is the ability of even the most pleasant true believers to persist in simply repeating their summary and claim that since it was repeated before it must be true that intrigues me.

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      Thanks Willis:

      You have arrived in the nick of time. Fred has been known to amuse himself by provoking his detractors into unintelligible meltdowns. Some of them have yet to fully recover.

    • Willis – I had thought that the articles I cited were explicit enough for readers to find the sections documenting the threats to marine calcifiers from ocean acidification, including threats to both corals and other species. In the long term, it is the other species that may prove more important for the health of the food chain, but existing sporadic damage to corals and the prospect of more severe damage if CO2 and ocean hydrogen ion concentrations continue to rise is certainly a source of concern. A number of studies note the same pH variations you mention, but conclude that long term effects are significantly affected by long term changes in mean pH.

      Two of the articles I’ve mentioned earlier are linked to at Comment 79530 and a third one has been cited several times in other comments. The Pelejero et al review provides a variety of data showing the sensitivity of corals to pH reduction, including evidence from the paleoclimatologic record and reference to laboratory studies demonstrating impaired calcification under simulated ocean acidification.

      In Box 3, the Pelejero article states:
      “reef- building corals are sensitive to ocean acidification
      [4,5], with calcification rates falling sharply as carbonate ion
      concentrations decrease. Given that the rate of erosion is often
      _90% of the rate of calcification (e.g. [105] and references therein),
      small changes in the calcification rates can put coral reefs into a
      negative carbonate balance. Under these conditions, coral reefs no
      longer grow and, in many circumstances, begin to crumble and
      disappear. These issues are exacerbated by the high degree of
      sensitivity of reef- building corals to the synergistic effects of increased
      sea temperatures [91] which further decreases calcification and
      survivorship of coral polyps. Taken together, most of the evidence
      suggests that carbonate coral reefs are likely to disappear as atmospheric
      CO2 approaches 450 ppmv and average global temperatures rise to 2 8C above the pre-industrial period”.

      It’s impossible to completely simulate ocean phenomena in the laboratory, but one can look at changes in corals in the wild to determine whether their changes over time conform to what the experiments predict. Two such studies, including the Cooper study referenced by Pelejero, examined the Great Barrier Reef, with the following conclusions:

      De’ath et al – Declining Coral Calcification

      “Reef-building corals are under increasing physiological stress from a changing climate and ocean absorption of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals from 69 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia. Their skeletal records show that throughout the GBR, calcification has declined by 14.2% since 1990, predominantly because extension (linear growth) has declined by 13.3%. The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400 years. Calcification increases linearly with increasing large-scale sea surface temperature but responds nonlinearly to annual temperature anomalies. The causes of the decline remain unknown; however, this study suggests that increasing temperature stress and a declining saturation state of seawater aragonite may be diminishing the ability of GBR corals to deposit calcium carbonate.”

      “Declining Coral Calcification in Massive Porites in Two Nearshore
      Regions Of The Northern Great Barrier Reef
      Timothy F COOPER*1,2, Glenn DE’ATH1, Katharina E FABRICIUS1,
      Janice M LOUGH1 Global Change Biology 14:529, 2008
      1Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia, 2School
      of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsvile,
      Australia
      Temporal and spatial variation in skeletal density, linear extension and
      calcification rate in massive Porites from two nearshore regions of the
      northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) were examined over a 16 year study
      period. Calcification rates declined by approximately 21% in the two
      regions, which are ~450 km apart. This is a function primarily of a
      decrease in linear extension (~16%) with a smaller decline in skeletal
      density (~6%). These changes were linear over time. Averaged across
      colonies, skeletal density declined over time from 1.32 g cm-3 (SE = 0.017)
      in 1988 to 1.25 g cm-3 (0.013) in 2003, equivalent to 0.36% yr-1 (0.13).
      Annual extension declined from 1.52 cm yr-1 (0.035) to 1.28 cm yr-1
      (0.026), equivalent to 1.02% yr-1 (0.39). Calcification rates (the product of
      skeletal density and annual extension) declined from 1.96 g cm-2 yr-1
      (0.049) to 1.59 g cm-2 yr-1 (0.041), equivalent to 1.29% yr-1 (0.30). Mean
      annual seawater temperatures had no effect on skeletal density but a
      modal effect on annual extension and calcification with maxima at
      ~26.7ºC. There were minor differences in the growth parameters between
      regions. A decline in coral calcification of this magnitude with
      increasing seawater temperatures is unprecedented in recent centuries
      based on analysis of growth records from long cores of massive Porites.
      This talk will discuss the decline in calcification within the context of
      known environmental controls on coral growth. Although these findings
      are consistent with studies of the synergistic effect of elevated seawater
      temperatures and pCO2 on coral calcification, further data on seawater
      chemistry of the GBR are required to better understand the links
      between environmental change and effects on coral growth.”

      The two field studies are appropriately conservative, given that they are correlative n nature. However, I believe that when the paleoclimatologic data and laboratory studies are combined with field observations, the evidence at this point strongly implicates ocean acidification as a source of damage to marine organisms, probably in concert with rising temperature, and more importantly, shows it to be a potential source of very substantial damage.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Fred:
        When a reef or a portion of a reef dies – for whatever reason – the window of time that is available for recovery must be related to the rate at which the dead reef is dissolving and crumbling. Some portions were at the lower threshold for acceptable light levels before dissolving began. Recovery would seem less likely in those areas, unless dissolution is a very slow process. Do you have a handle on this?

      • BlueIce- That’s a good question. I don’t have quantitative data, but it’s probable that recovery may need to be fairly rapid in some circumstances. As Pelejero et al point out, corals in the wild, unlike those studied in laboratory experiments, are subjected to powerful erosive forces from predators, storms, waves, tides, etc. As a result, their calcification rates must be higher, and require a substantially higher figure for carbonate supersaturation, Ω, to maintain adequate calcification – e.g., values of 3.3 as opposed to lower values that suffice in the laboratory. Also, corals are capable of maintaining tolerable pH levels internally if the external pH is not too divergent, but since gradients of this type require metabolic energy, it’s likely that limitations in nutrient supply may also compromise their ability to recover in the face of damage from acidification or other forces.

        I should probably emphasize I point I’ve tried to mention in these discussions, but perhaps not strongly enough. I perceive ocean acidification (and in some cases heat stress) to be a significant threat to calcifying marine organisms., but I also suspect that in the case of corals, the damage to date such as cited above is relatively modest and sporadic, and it is future pH reductions that will be much more dangerous. A particular reason lies in the fact that as long as carbonate saturation in the immediate environment is sufficient, a decline in the actual value of Ω from declining pH won’t compromise calcification rates. It is only when saturation declines below a threshold value that calcification falters. That threshold appears to have been reached in some regions and conditions already, but probably not to a widespread extent. As pH declines further, it is likely to become far more extensive.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        No quantitative data on dissolution rates? Really? That’s hugely disappointing.

      • I didn’t say that – only that I don’t have those data, but that the rates are not likely to be extremely slow in the wild. You and I can both search to see if we can find more data. I’ll comment if I come up with something.

      • Some quantitative data on turnover can be found at Coral Carbonate Budget.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Related to the issue of shell forming ocean creatures I found this 2000 Nature article: Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years. It touches on many issues, but I will focus on shells.

        The scientists used the shells of ancient foraminifera to determine past atmospheric CO2 and ocean pH, which 60 Myr ago was 3500 ppm and 7.42! This could be good news for shell forming ocean creatures, Fred.

        On the other hand, I noticed that the same species was not present throughout the entire fossil record. There appears to be numerous extinction events with a relationship to pH. Prior to extinctions there is a transition period where a dominant species is replaced with ‘various’ followed by either a new dominant species or return to the old one.

        The current regime is indicated by ‘various’, which correctly suggests we are in a transition period. In the long view, I suppose the unanswered question is will the next period be one of expanding glaciers or of expanding rainforests.

      • Fred,
        Corals use bicarbonate, not carbonate.
        http://www.coralscience.org/main/articles/biochemistry-2/how-reefs-grow
        And focusing soley on carbonate, instead of the entire carbon cycle in sea water, is misleading.
        http://www.livingreefs.com/sea-water-buffer-system-t358.html
        Additionally,
        You cannot show an experiment that uses CO2 in the atmosphere to cause the problems you claim are occuring.
        In fact, to get noticeable problems from CO2 in the atmosphere imapcting sea water will take levels of CO2 much higher than present or even increased future levels.
        What needs to happen is for the AGW community to deal with these problems, instead of droning on and on and on with bogus crap.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Fred, you say:

        Willis – I had thought that the articles I cited were explicit enough for readers to find the sections documenting the threats to marine calcifiers from ocean acidification, including threats to both corals and other species.

        Fred, I looked at the first of your two citations from above, from Pelejero. First, it starts by saying “Ocean acidification: the ‘evil twin’ of global warming” … and you call that science? But it gets worse from there, because the usual climate-science check-kiting starts.

        Pelejero says flat out that:

        The surface waters of the oceans have already acidified by an average of 0.1 pH units from pre-industrial levels [2],

        Sounds like a fact, right? I’m sure you believed Pelejero, Fred, that the oceans “have already acidified”. I mean, would a scientist say that if it weren’t true:

        Me, I’m a suspicious man, I don’t believe anything until you show me. Following the path to reference [2], which is Raven et al., I find that it is not actually the source of the claim either. It says:

        This dissolution of CO2 has lowered the average pH of the oceans by about 0.1 units from pre-industrial levels (Caldeira & Wickett 2003).

        So after cursing Pelejero for being too stupid to properly cite his work, I duly plod on to Caldeira and Wickett 2003, and what do I find?

        Well, I find that neither Raven nor Pelejero were telling the truth. Caldeira and Wickett 2003 doesn’t say that the dissolution of CO2 has lowered the average pH of the oceans anywhere.

        Instead, it says that in one climate model, ocean pH went down by 0.1 units when they changed the CO2 levels … be still, my beating heart. This is not even an aquarium study, it’s a computer model, and without external verification and validation, the results represent nothing more that the codified prejudices of the programmer.

        This is why just waving your hands at a huge document and saying “the answer’s in there” doesn’t work. If you want me to take your claims seriously, you need to give me chapter and verse, and not just say “It’s in the Bible.”

        Because I don’t have time to track down further garbage such as the Pelejero puff piece. He can’t even be bothered to properly cite his own claims, and the first citation I look at turns out to say something totally different from Pelejero’s specious fantasy. Tracking the junk to its lair before you cite it is your job, Fred, and you are failing at it spectacularly.

        Color me totally unimpressed with that kind of scholarship, Pelejero can’t even cite his own “facts” properly.

        w.

      • Willis – If you review the various papers, you will find they reference pH measurements documenting the pH decline. The fact that the same conclusions also follow from elementary acid/base chemistry and more sophisticated models reinforces the point. There are still unresolved questions surrounding various aspects of ocean acidification and its biological consequences, but the pH decline itself is not one of them- it’s now well established.

        Your reluctance to accept the basic evidence makes it difficult to discuss any of the less certain aspects, and your use of terms such as “garbage”, “junk”, and “fantasy” bespeaks a non-rational stubbornness in your reaction that makes a rational dialog unlikely to happen. I sense that you are determined not to believe that the acidification is occurring regardless of what evidence I or others can refer you to. My hunch, though, is that your intelligence and obvious interest in the oceans will someday require you to accept the evidence. At this point, my only response can be to invite other readers to review the data to form their own judgments. So far, I’ve cited six references between this thread and others, and quoted excerpts from three. Readers with sufficient interest can probably take it from there, although as Dr. Curry knows, I’ve suggested that an entire thread be devoted to ocean acidification if we can come up with someone actively working in this area to do a guest post.

      • Fred – FYI – I don’t know how you evaluate the Skeptical Science website, but they will be running a series of posts on the question of ocean acidification:

        http://skepticalscience.com/Mackie_OA_not_OK_post_0.html

  54. http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO60101/IDO60101.201105.pdf
    See graph Figure 11
    Measurement shows Tuvalu is safe!

  55. If you read the article carefully, I think you’ll see that maintaining adequate carbonate saturation and adequately high pH (e.g., about 8.2) is necessary to prevent the shells from redissolving after their formation. The bicarbonate from either internal metabolism of the external seawater (where it is plentiful) is the precursor to the carbonate in the shells, but the danger comes from not from inadequate bicarbonate but inadequate carbonate to maintain supersaturation. The mean ocean pH drop from 8.2 to 8.1 since preindustrial times is already creating that hazard in some ocean regions.

    • This was a response to Hunter. The chemistry described in the article is basically the same as described in the paper by Pelejero et al that I linked to earlier.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Fred, take a look at the paper BlueIce2HotSea linked to below. It shows that your claim that maintaining a pH of 8.2 is “necessary to prevent the shells from redissolving” is clearly not true. The authors used shells (in particular their Boron levels) to determine the paleolithic pH. They said (using the info from the shells) that the ocean pH went as low as 7.4 U, and guess what?

      The shells must not have dissolved, since the scientists measured them …

      This is the problem with many of the assumptions made about the ocean. People forget that we are not dealing with chemistry … we are dealing with life. And life can do a host of things that chemistry can’t do. It can drive chemical reactions “uphill” and does so as a matter of course.

      w.

      • The reference to pH 8.2 involves sufficient carbonate saturation to avert impaired calcification by corals in the wild, where they are subjected to predation, erosion by waves and storms, illnesses and other stresses.
        At lower pH values, corals can survive but may grow poorly or decline in number. The optimum pH values for foraminifera will not necessarily be the same as for corals. In addition, pH values that are too acid for a species to thrive do not necessarily imply that all shells will disappear completely.

      • I replied earlier but it apparently didn’t go through. The pH 8.2 value refers to corals, and to impairment of calcification in the wild when lower pH reduces carbonate saturation to the point where they can no longer keep pace with the demands imposed not only by growth but also predation, physical erosion, disease, and other insults. This results in impaired growth, and a loss of viability in some cases, but doesn’t mean that all the corals will die or decalcify. Under laboratory conditions, corals can tolerate lower pH values without impairment, particularly when nutrient supply maximizes their ability to use metabolic energy to adjust their internal pH. The relevant pH thresholds for foraminifera are not necessarily the same as for corals. In addition, a failure of a species to thrive in an environment too acidic for optimum growth will not necessarily mean that every calcified shell has dissolved. Species have been seriously depleted in the past while still surviving to replenish themselves when conditions improved.

  56. BlueIce2HotSea

    I have turned to the issue of shell forming ocean creatures and found this 2000 Nature article: Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years. It touches on many issues, but I will focus on shells.

    The scientists used the shells of ancient foraminifera to determine past atmospheric CO2 and ocean pH, which 60 Myr ago was 3500 ppm and 7.42! This could be good news for shell forming ocean creatures, Fred.

    On the other hand, I noticed that the same species was not present throughout the entire fossil record. There appears to be numerous extinction events with a relationship to pH. Prior to extinctions there is a transition period where a dominant species is replaced with ‘various’ followed by either a new dominant species or return to the old one.

    The current regime is indicated by ‘various’, which correctly suggests we are in a transition period. In the long view, I suppose the unanswered question is will the next period be one of expanding glaciers or of expanding rainforests.

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      Oops, I ought to have said: the unanswered question for terrestrial creatures is will the next period be one of expanding glaciers or of expanding rainforests.

  57. Talk about output…threatened-island-nation

    http://maestro.haarp.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/scmag/disp-scmag.cgi?date=20110226&Bx=on&By=on&Bz=on

    Once you are there move day by day until you reach 3/11/2011
    Looks like a bunch of watts were sent somewhere, over my head.

  58. Willis Eschenbach

    Fred Moolten | June 29, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Willis – If you review the various papers, you will find they reference pH measurements documenting the pH decline.

    Fred – If you review our discussion, you’ll find I tried to do just exactly what you recommend. And when I tracked the first one of your claims down the rabbit hole to its lair, it turned out to be, not an observation of declining pH as you had clearly stated, but merely the output of some Tinkertoy™ climate model. I wasted an hour of my life that I’ll never get back, just to find out that you were merely a parrot regarding that claim. You just repeated it and apparently never even considered investigating its provenance. In climate science, this is always a mistake.

    As a result, I invited you not to just wave your hands at something as is your habit, but to provide the precise chapter and verse (or page and paragraph) so we can see exactly what you were talking about. I said it was up to you to find out which of your claims had observational support. I said that I’m not going to follow your citations to see if they are 100% bulldust like your first ones.

    And what do you do in response? You say “If you review the various papers …”

    If I review the various papers? Is my writing really that unclear? Let me try again.

    Fred, you can take your “various papers” and put them … put them … you can put them on your desk and review them yourself. When you do, you should look for actual observations of changing pH levels. It seems you may not too familiar with that concept, but you can tell because it’s the stuff that doesn’t come from computers. Make sure that (as in your original citation) they are not merely repeating someone else’s claim—track the claim back to its lair. And if you find any observations there, come back and let us know exactly where you found them. Not vaguely or generally, not in “various papers”, but exactly where you found the information.

    Because I’m done with following your nonsense down its rabbit hole. That’s your job. Come back when you are willing to do it.

    w.

    • Willis –

      “Direct observations of basin_wide acidification of the North Pacific Ocean” (Full text available with your AGU membership, or email the authors for a PDF.)

      From the conclusions:

      “The P16N data, which quantitatively characterize changes in directly measured pH over 34° of latitude, 6000 m of depth, and 15 years of time, confirm on a large scale what has been observed at three time-series points in the north Atlantic and Pacific — significant upper ocean acidification, roughly keeping pace with rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

      • Here is another one, free from PNAS. Observed pH declihe Hawaii -0.0019 +- 0.0o02 yr^-1.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Thanks, Nick. However, you need to read the document a bit more carefully. It says that the measured pH change was 0.0014 ± 0.0002 (bottom p. 12236, left side) and the modelled pH change was the number you gave. In any case, I did not find their evidence very convincing. Here’s my first impressions.

        Unfortunately, although the study boasts that:

        Since October 1988, the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT) program has measured a suite of physical and biogeochemical properties at Station ALOHA (22.75 °N, 158 °W) in the North Pacific subtropical gyre …

        in fact the measurements of pH in the study started in 1992, went for five years, had a five-year hiatus, and then picked up for another four years. So what we have is nine years of pH data with a gap in the middle.

        Second, the authors make no mention of autocorrelation in their work. This is always very un-nerving, as autocorrelation affects whether the results are significant. So I digitized their results. Using normal statistics the results look significant.

        But adjusted for autocorrelation, the p-value of the trend in the measurements is 0.11, not significant. Another study damaged by the climate scientists’ allergy to statisticians …

        Next, I question whether what they are seeing is what they think they are seeing. The paper I discussed in The Electric Oceanic Acid Test shows pH decreasing the most at the surface, just as we’d expect if it is driven by atmospheric CO2.

        But the Hawaii data shows the greatest decrease in pH occurring at depth … which makes it much less likely that what they are seeing is related to CO2 at all. They go through a very convoluted possible explanation of this problem, but at the end of the day the data is too poor and too short to say a whole lot about that.

        Finally, a big underlying problem is that the two chunks of data are five years apart, and are different from each other. Unfortunately, the paper didn’t show the actual data, just monthly averages. Fortunately, the data is available online, so I downloaded it and looked at it. The first chunk (1992 – 1998) has a non-significant trend of -0.0008/year, not statistically different from zero.

        The second chunk (2003 – ), strangely, has a huge negative trend of -0.04 U/year, which is statistically significant with a p-value of 0.03 (adjusted for autocorrelation).

        Since the two data chunks are separated by 5 years and have such widely differing trends, and since the trend of the second chunk is higher than anything I’ve seen (0.4 units per decade??), I’ll pass on drawing any conclusions from this Hawaii data. It’s too short, too split, and too internally inconsistent to show anything. The second chunk in particular appears quite suspect. Plot it up for yourself and take a look.

        To the more general questions. Do I think that the ocean will grow slightly more neutral over time, given the increasing atmospheric CO2 levels? Yes, I do.

        Do I think that a slight increase in neutrality will harm the ocean (their paper says that in around 500 years, the pH in Hawaii will be about the same as the current pH in Alaska)?

        Both history and common sense say no. The ocean has been significantly more neutral in the past, the pH of the ocean is changing constantly, and creatures seemed to have survived quite well. I’d be much more concerned if it were getting more alkaline.

        Interesting paper, thanks for the cite,

        w.

      • Willis,
        The value I gave is the one quoted in the abstract. It isn’t a modelled value, and they don’t do any modelling in the usual sense. You can measure pH directly in sea water, but it’s hard, because H+ is present in low concentration, and is easily changed during the measurement process.

        The more reliable measurement is to work through the COx species. They usually use DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon) and alkalinity (basically a measure of weighted carb and bicarb. From those you can determine the chemical equilibria, and hence the pH. It’s a little indirect, but more reliable, because they are measuring much higher conc species. The equilibrium constants can be measurement under lab conditions. That’s where the .0019 number comes from.

        In fig 1 they are showing that the two measures match up quite well.

        So while it’s true that there are gaps in the direct pH measurement, the more reliable DIC/TA measures are continuous over about 19 years.

        Incidentally, “direct” pH is not as direct as it sounds. The pH meters are calibrated against buffer solutions, using equilibrium constants just like the DIC/TA system.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Nick, next you can tell me how to tie my shoes or teach your grandma to suck eggs. Yes, it’s not “modelled” in the usual sense, so perhaps I should have said the “proxy” value. In either case it is not the measured value. It is modeled, however, in that it is constructed from an empirical formula with adjustable parameters.

        Is it “more reliable” to work through the COx species as you say? Well, if I had a definition of “more reliable” I might be able tell you. The authors don’t say it is “more reliable”, whatever that might mean. They also make no claim that the calculated value is more accurate. pH is hard to measure, so the indirect method of calculating it is sometimes used.

        It is worth noting that the formula that converts e.g. TA and DIC to pH is not strictly a first-principles physics-based formula. It is a “bulk formula” with parameters set by experience. There are no less than four parameters (K1, K2, Kf, and Ks) with a variety of values used for the parameters depending on temperature and salinity.

        In any case, the authors say:

        Additionally, there were differences between the pH trends based on measured values and those based on values calculated from DIC and TA. From the surface down to 600 m, the agreement between the corresponding directly measured and calculated results was good. However, the trends based on istotpHcalc and 25totpHcalc indicated small increases in pH over time in the deeper waters; those based on istotpHmeas and 25totpHmeas displayed a gradual diminishment in magnitude with depth but never turned positive (see Fig. 2).

        Gosh … despite Nick Stokes saying the calculation method is not modeling and it’s “more reliable”, the calculated values DON’T AGREE WITH THE MEASURED VALUES. Not only that, but the authors haven’t invoked the “Stokes Rule” and just used the calculated values.

        Now, is there “good agreement” between measured and calculated values? Well, they didn’t archive the calculated values, so it’s kinda hard to know … which makes their claim kinda irreproducible. And when a climate scientist doesn’t provide data, but instead just waves his hands and says “the agreement is good, these are not the droids you are looking for”, I get suspicious.

        This is particularly true when they’ve just told me (see the quote) that the measurements show a trend that is not only different but different in sign from that of the calculations … how good can the agreement be if one is going up and the other is going down?

        Next, they say that the RMS error of the calculations is 0.012 U … and the trend is 0.0014 U/year, less than a tenth of the RMS error of the calculations.

        You might call having an average error (not the biggest error but the average error) that’s ten times the size of your claimed trend “more reliable”.

        Me, I call the calculated values a reasonable but not great proxy for pH. The errors shown in their graph reach as high as .02 U when averaged over a month, so I hesitate to think what they might be on an individual basis …

        Before you get all passionate about this study, guys, I advise you to plot up and graph the data. Then you can try to explain why one five-year batch of pH measurements shows no statistically significant decline, and the second batch shows a huge, unbelievable, and statistically significant decline of 0.4 pH units per decade.

        The authors neatly avoided the necessity for doing that by making a “data mashup” of the first and second groups of data … bad authors, no cookies.

        However, Nick, you and Joshua have the opportunity to make good where they failed … you can explain to us why the Hawaii data shows pH plunging through the floor, dropping at a never-before-seen rate of 0.4 units per decade.

        And it’s important that you do so, because you see, if someone can’t explain that very strange and bizarre result, there’s no reason for us to believe the Hawaii measurements are valid.

        w.

      • “Not only that, but the authors haven’t invoked the “Stokes Rule” and just used the calculated values.”
        Well, in the abstract they do – they simply say:
        “Here we report the results of nearly 20 years of
        time-series measurements of seawater pH and associated parameters
        at Station ALOHA in the central North Pacific Ocean near
        Hawaii. We document a significant long-term decreasing trend of
        0.0019 +- 0.0002 y^-1 in surface pH, which is indistinguishable
        from the rate of acidification expected from equilibration with the
        atmosphere.”

        That number is the DIC/TA number that I quoted.

        Yes, “meas” and “calc” trends diverge with depth. But it doesn’t make sense to describe one as merely a proxy. The “meas” is from colorimetric measurements using p-cresol purple – now that’s certainly a proxy for pH. And it’s calibrated in the traditional way for proxies – against buffer solutions, which gave their own pK’s.

        Anyway, whether or not you think DIC/TA measures are more reliable, the fact is that we have a longer continuous record of them.

        On the 0.04U/yr issuee, I actually doubt your figure. That would be 0.2U over five years, and just looking at Fig 1, there’s nothing like such a spread. Even at 250 m, all the 2003-2008 readings are within a 0.1U band.

      • ; the observed rate of pH decline (0.0019  0.0002 y1) compared well with the rate predicted based on equilibration of atmospheric CO2 with the surface seawater (0.0016  0.00003 y1; see Table S1). Although based on fewer data, the trend in surface layer istot pHmeas (-0.0014  0.0002 y1) was only slightly less negative than, and statistically indistinguishable from, the trend in istot pHcalc (see Fig. 1 and Table S1)

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Joshua, if the authors had adjusted for autocorrelation those might be a valid numbers. Since they didn’t, their error bars are meaningless.

        Like I said before, the allergy that climate scientists have to statisticians is very damaging to the field.

        w.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Pat Cassen, I’ve discussed that very paper at length in “The Electric Oceanic Acid Test“, which I invite the interested reader to peruse including the comments.

        w.

  59. Nick, Pat, Joshua, Willis – Thanks for the update. Willis seems to be conceding that ocean pH is declining, albeit perhaps somewhat grudgingly. I think it’s unfortunate, though, that he insists no harm will ensue, particularly since evidence has already been cited above that is best interpreted as including damage from declining pH. Controlled experiments are not feasible in the open ocean. However, the evidence (e.g., from De’ath et al, Cooper et al), when combined with paleoclimatologic data and laboratory experiments converge to make it very unlikely that the observed reduction in calcification in corals remote from human habitation is totally unrelated to ocean acidification. It’s important to point out that in the wild, reduced carbonate saturation from ocean acidification exacerbates damage to corals from other influences, including bioerosion, physical erosion, and diseases, and so coral preservation requires attention to all these threats. This is in fact why the carbonate supersaturation level, Ω, needed for coral integrity significantly exceeds 1.0 in the wild (e.g., values exceeding 3.3 may be optimal), whereas Ω values close to 1.0 are tolerable in the laboratory.

    Corals may be an accessible source of information on the effects of increased hydrogen ion concentration, but it is likely that the greater effects will be on plankton and other small organisms at the bottom of the food chain, even though these effects may be inapparent until they have become more severe.

    In response to increasing CO2, the ocean pH declines faster at the surface than at depth, but over long intervals, the decline descends to lower and lower levels. Even small changes at lower levels can be detrimental, because pH is already lower as one proceeds to lower, cooler waters, and carbonate levels are accordingly closer to unsaturation.

    The regional differences, particularly between low and high latitudes, are well known, but these differences do not preclude harm to marine organisms at any given latitude. Many organisms, and certainly the smallest ones, are not migratory individually, and their range is set by conditions tolerable to them. When local conditions change, organisms that are best adapted to the earlier conditions will suffer. If the stress is severe, they may disappear from that environment.

    We know from paleoclimatology that under extreme high CO2, low pH conditions, very severe damage was experienced by marine organisms, characterized by extinctions and massive decimations of some species, with recovery times for surviving species measurable in millennia. I would have to agree that this is not a formal proof that ocean acidification at the rate we are currently observing will exact anywhere near that toll on a human timescale – certainly it would not in the next hundred years. However, a continuation of the recent rates in the rise of atmospheric CO2 are consistent with a near doubling of ocean hydrogen ion concentration over that interval. The effect on marine organisms would probably be substantial, with significant consequences for us to the extent that our civilization depends on the health of the sea.

    Earlier, I linked to an abstract of the De’ath et al paper. Here is a link to the full paper. It is interesting that despite increasing CO2 for more than one hundred years, the decline in calcification did not begin until the 1970s, and became steep only in the 1990s. Part of the reason probably reflects the fact that changes in carbonate saturation do not pose a threat until the saturation level declines past a threshhold. Other factors include the likelihood that at the sampled GBR locations, rising temperatures during the past century enhanced coral growth and its metabolic ability to adjust internal pH (although heat stress has been associated with detrimental effects elsewhere), thereby delaying the threshold effects. Changes in other factors affecting coral health – anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic – would also affect the process, but as mentioned above, reduced saturation values impair the ability of corals to respond to unrelated threats.

    • Willis does not say any particular thing like what you imply, Fred. None of your links showed anything significant. And Willis took apart the link given by Nick. And you are here talking about pH variation in the 4th decimal with split data, with a 5 years interlude, showing different and trends, effectively data not worth it.

      And Fred, verbosity does indicate quality or content. Say in a few words what you have to say with facts. And Fred, the correct word is not ” acidification “. It is a slight, very slight ” neutralisation “, in correct scientific and chemical terms. Ad the oceans have been a lot neutral before.

      And lastly, nobody has the capacity to measure directly pH variations to the 4th decimal in oceans. What is being done is indirect measurements and at those decimal levels, measurement errors can more than outweigh anything and such results have no meaning.

      • Venter – Your points were already addressed, including six references I’ve cited, excerpts from three of them, papers cited by Pat Cassen and Nick Stokes, and my above comment as well as the others. Also, as Nick pointed out, pH can be calculated via the relationships between bicarbonate and carbonate (easily measurable) at a given CO2 level, and doesn’t require the direct measurements you mention.

        At this point, ocean acidification is pretty well established, and the critical questions involve the future pace, and the consequences to marine biology. There’s now enough material in all the commentaryin this and other threads for readers to get some sense of the problem, but even more time devoted to it would be worthwhile.

      • Fred, learn to use proper terms first. A ” slight neutralisation ” of an environment to the 4th decimal of pH that was alkaline and continues to be alkaline is not ” acidification “.

        And your links don’t say anything you think they purport to say. Your accuracy in terminology and reading capacity of your own citations leave a lot to be desired.

      • There is a long, long history of language being used as ammunition in tribal conflict. We can see many, many examples across a range of political skirmishes – none the least today in this country. Death tax versus inheritance tax, end of life consultation with medical professionals versus death panels, etc.

        It is not in the least bit surprising that some people will skirmish about language in a way that reflects a tribal approach to the debate about climate change.

        What I find particularly interesting, however, is when people who are generally aligned with the crowd that blames many of our contemporary problems on what they consider to be irrelevant linguistic concerns about what they like to call “political correctness,” then turn around and spend much energy focusing on linguistic battles about the “correctness” of specific terms.

        Perhaps you aren’t concerned about “political correctness,” Venter – but let me ask you this. Is there anything of scientific significance in whether your term increasingly acidic ocean water “acidified” or “neutralized?” Does the term used change the affect of that phenomenon on ocean life? Does it change any of the chemical properties of the phenomenon being discussed?

        If your answers to those questions is “no,” then let me ask you further, do you voice objection to what you see as tribal or political influences in the work of scientists who think that climate change is likely anthropogenic in nature?

      • Joshua,

        Very simple answer. Neutralisation is the correct term and I’ve explained why. You can also study basic chemistry texts. A very slight neutralisation of oceans does not sound scary. So the pro-AGW team deliberately use the word ” Ocean Acidification ” as to Joe Public it gives the impression that the oceans are becoming acid and that’s all our fault.

        Reduction of 0.0002 points pH by a indirect calculation methods which is at odds with observed values is not anything to be concerned about for anyone. Especially when error bars are 10 times the value indicated. And even more especially when pH measurement is such a difficult task that I call BS on anybody who claims that they can measure to such 4th decimal levels. And also when they claim significance on two separate databases showing different trends with a gap of 5 years and then try to mix and ” homogenise ” such data. Such practices are unacceptable in real science. So in essence that entire study is baseless and it’s a travesty that such studies get published. But hey, it is PNAS, that vanity press of the pro-AGW group which published this paper. What else would one expect from that organisation? It has long since abandoned science.

        You see in my line of business we analyse substances every day and every batch of every drug has to go through vigorous analytical tests before being released. And I’m in this line since over two decades. So I’m well aware of the limits of analysis.

        So what is being sold here is a lie by semantics which has no scientific basis and so it is very important to call BS on that.

      • Venter –

        In fact, you didn’t answer my questions.Given your level of experience doing analytical work, frankly, I’m kind of surprised.

        I understand the putative purpose for debating the term acidification.

        Please read my questions again. I would be curious to know your answers.

      • Joshua –
        Your own words –
        Words count Judith – especially when your blog is full of right-wing political rants/arguments about climate science.

        I think that the positive effect of your efforts will only be magnified if you take the time and care to be specific and precise in your language. I think that your the negative effects of your efforts will only be diminished when you fail to take the time and care to be specific and precise in your language.

        You harangue Judith about being specific and preciseness and then question Venter wrt his insistence on being specific and precise. There are words for that, Josh.

      • I just realized that maybe I shouldn’t have said “increasingly acidic ocean water.” Maybe, instead, I should have said “less alkaline” instead.

        Which got me to wondering…

        I was going to ask whether or not you could confidently state that in the history of the relevant literature, it would be unprecedented, or at least virtually unprecedented, to use the terms “less alkaline” and “more acidic” more or less interchangeably.

        What’s funny about that is before I got to post the question, I read the following comment from ferd, below – where he was arguing against the use of the term acidification with respect to ocean water:

        The current oceans are much LESS acidic than in the past.

        Are you getting my drift?

        When you read that comment, are you at all confused about its meaning? Do your scientific hackles stand up on the back of your neck in protest?

      • I’m not arguing against precision, Jim.

        I see the battle about “precision” in this case to be a proxy for political battles. Is it more precise to say “panel of expertise to consult with on end of life decisions,” or to say “death panel?” The precision there is in the eye of the beholder. In the discussion I was having with Judith – she herself later qualified her original statement. In doing so, it was a tacit admission that her original statement lacked precision.

        Is the use of the term “acidification” confusing in some way? Does it in some way diminish precision or clarity? Would using the term “neutralized” add some clarity in meaning with respect to the chemical effects of the phenomenon we’re discussing?

        When ferd said that the oceans are “less acidic” than in previous times, were you confused about what he meant because his statement lacked precision. Would you have understood it better if he had said that the oceans are “more alkaline” or “less neutral” than they have been in the past?

        Really?

        I’ll ask you the same question I asked Venter. Have the terms been used interchangably in the past? Can you give me one example in the literature where “more acidic” was used in the way we’re discussing, and scientists raised an objection because they felt the use of the term was imprecise?

      • Is the use of the term “acidification” confusing in some way? Does it in some way diminish precision or clarity? Would using the term “neutralized” add some clarity in meaning with respect to the chemical effects of the phenomenon we’re discussing?

        Yes to all of the above. The term is imprecise and has no utility other than the political implication. It does NOT describe the process or the effect with any precision.

        You recently wanted to use the word “skeptic” in ways that everyone else would have to translate every time you used them. Were you being trying to be precise? Maybe – BUT 1) terminology had been hashed out on another thread several months ago and 2) the word has had specific meaning wrt science for several millenia and 3) your definition did nothing but add confusion to the mix. IOW – YOU were not being precise in terns that others would easily understand.

        Language changes – I’ve been exposed to linguistic – I was 17 the first time – and a lot older the last time. I have no problem with that – but I DO have a problem when one group of scientists appropriates a word that hides the precision of the physical process in order to promote a political agenda. Like Venter, I consider that dishonest at best.

        Oh, yeah – “Death panel” – you can use the weasel words – but “death panel” is absolutely precise if you understand the application. Or do you not understand the application of your “panel of expertise to consult with on end of life decisions,” as applied in the Netherlands. End of life decisions are not the business of a panel of expertise – they are the business of the person involved and that persons chosen physician. Your “panel” is an intrusion by the government into the personal liberties of every citizen. Pick another example, Josh. That one is a fail.

      • Well – Jim – it seems that you should be taking this up with Venter – because he has insisted that the distinction is semantic in nature.

        I’ll tell my girlfriend, who is a hospice nurse, and who works with all sorts of people that counsel the dying and their families, that a “death panel member” is an appropriate term for their work I’m sure they’ll be pleased to know how to more precisely refer to themselves. We wouldn’t want them being “weasels,” now would we?

        I’m sorry for being a failure, Jim. I do my best.

        PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘Death panels’
        By Angie Drobnic Holan
        Published on Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 5:15 p.m.

        Seniors and the disabled “will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”

        Sarah Palin, Friday, August 7th, 2009.

        Ruling: Pants on Fire!

        A winner in our “Lie of the Year” contest!

        Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

        “Death panels.”

        The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.

        http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2009/dec/18/politifact-lie-year-death-panels/

      • Too bad the Politifact article was written before Obamacare started to actually be implemented. Perhaps they would have learned something when the IPAB (the Independent Payment Advisory Board) was formulated by the bureaucrats who get to write the actual rules that were left unstated in that 2000+ piece of legislative malpractice.

        The IPAB will not “consult” on “end of life decisions.” It will decide what end of life care the government will or will not fund. In other words, it is a government panel that will make decisions of life and death for the poor souls whose fate depends on government healthcare.

        This panel will ration care, it will deny coverage under Medicare and Medicaid for certain commonly practiced medical procedures now covered, and people will die as a result of the denial of care.

        The honest progressives admit this, and claim that it is a necessary process. The dishonest ones, and those who are just sucker progressives repeating what they get from the Huffington Post and MSNBC and who don’t have a clue, will not admit anything. Kinda like in the climate debate.

      • We’re getting a bit far afield, and I’ve certainly wasted enough time here for one day – but.. one last post and then I’ll catch you on another thread.

        We already have rationing in our healthcare system – rationing on the basis of ability to pay. And part of the reason for that is end of life care is so expensive that it strains the pool of available resources. And we already have panels deciding what kinds of end of life procedures will or won’t be paid for – they’re called insurance companies.

        Personally, I think that it only makes sense to take look systematically at the types of decisions that are made regarding end of life care as the costs of medical care in this country present a serious and on-going economic concern. If that is of no concern to you, and if you think that we shouldn’t be examining the systematic cost of end of life care, and if you have no problem with de facto rationing on the basis of ability to care, and if you think that decisions should continue to be made by insurance companies that prioritize profit over considerations systemic costs or equity, I fully respect your right to be thus unconcerned.

        And if it makes you feel better to take the term Palin coined and use it to refer to something that didn’t even exist when she used it – go right ahead.

      • Joshua –
        Read Gary’s comment. He understands the process as do some of the doctors I’ve talked to. Many of those doctors will be retiring rather than continue under the conditions imposed.

        FYI – this is the same basic setup as in the Netherlands where the “Death panel” routinely makes decision wrt who lives and who dies. Including the withholding of care from newborn infants deemed to be undesirable or deformed or mentally/physically deficient.

        Ask your girlfriend about this in a couple years – if the mess isn’t fixed. I seriously doubt she has any more of a clue right now than you do.

      • Joshua,

        You have now shifted from whether there will be “death panels” under Obamacare, to whether the panels are a good idea. I wasn’t addressing the healthcare issue per se, but your complaint about the supposed misuse of language.

        Of course there is rationing in any economic system of scarce resources. The question is who decides. A patient and his/her doctor, or a government bureaucrat. And of course the IPAB hadn’t been formed yet. That was kinda my point. The legislation was vague and broad and gave great power to bureaucrats.

        Dems deleted the express requirement for an “advisory panel” from the original legislation days after the “death panel” comment by Palin. But the legislation gave so much power to the bureaucrats, they have created by fiat what was deleted from the legislation. No one ever expected such panels to remain advisory, and the administration has now dropped that pretense. The charge was hyperbolic no doubt, but is was not false.

      • Jim –

        The other day I was in the supermarket with my girlfriend, and a woman recognized her and came up to her to express appreciation for the counseling my girlfriend gave her as her husband was dying of cancer. She had tears in her eyes as she told me of the excellent advice – medical and otherwise – my girlfriend gave her on how to negotiate the myriad emotional and medical issues she confronted as she was losing her husband of fifty years.

        This is hardly the first time that someone in the community has told me of their deep appreciation for the work that my girlfriend and her associated community of healthcare workers have done on behalf of them and their families.

        The next time someone comes over to express such sentiments about my girlfriend – who has years of experience in working with doctors, social workers, insurance companies, and in supervising a team of hospice nurses and integrated hospice team members – I will be sure to explain to them that in fact they are wrong, and that a commenter at a climate blog explained to me that in reality, my girlfriend is “clueless” about issues related to the medical and emotional circumstances of death and dying.

        I’ll be sure to come back to this blog to let you know just how these people expressed their deep appreciation to you for enabling me to set them straight.

        Oh, and by the way, Jim, stay classy my friend. Stay classy.

      • Joshua –
        You need to read what I wrot agian – and again and again – until you understand it – in context.

        In this case, your twisting of my words is only a little more extreme than usual and would be hilarious if not for the seriousness of the subject. You keep confirming my hypothesis that progressivism confers a lack of reading ability.

      • Maybe my poor editing caused you to not see your way through to my questions? Allow me to revise:

        Is there anything of scientific significance determined by whether we call increasingly acidic ocean water “acidified” or “neutralized?”

      • You also unfortunately not reading what I wrote. The issue was never about science. The semantics was about politics and scare messages.

        The slight amount of neutralisation with reduction of pH to the 4th decimal will literally have no effect.

        So, to make the message scary, the ” Oceans Acidification ” terminology is being used by the pro-AGW crowd, deliberately.

      • Dare I say, “neutralization” is just hiding the decline (in pH).

      • Maybe you are simply not interested in answer my questions.

        I’ll repeat them again (with an edit) in case you are.

        Is there anything of scientific significance in whether you term more neutral ocean water “acidified” or “neutralized?” Does the term used change the affect of that phenomenon on ocean life? Does it change any of the chemical properties of the phenomenon being discussed?

        If your answers to those questions is “no,” then let me ask you further, do you voice objection to what you see as tribal or political influences in the work of scientists who think that climate change is likely anthropogenic in nature?

        From looking around the blogosphere, I have seen people say that the term “acidification” has been used in the literature prior to the question being raised of whether AGW causes changes in ocean water chemistry – in the same way that people use it in the expression “ocean acidification.”

        I have no way of determining the veracity of that opinion. Perhaps you do. It certainly seems that you are quite sure that the use of the term in that way is an invention of the AGW cabal. Do you have any sort of verification? Perhaps that’s asking you to prove a negative – but perhaps you have a couple of examples of where, in the literature, it was explained why a “more neutral” solution should not be referred to as increasingly “acidified.”

        In point of fact, it seems to me that the people who are politicizing the use of this term are the “skeptical un-convinced/deniers.” If the term was standard for use in this context, then to now claim that such a use of the term is “imprecise” doesn’t hold up.

        But as I said – it is to be expected. Skirmishes over language are frequently a feature of tribal battles.

      • Yes, Jim D, you can in fact say that ” Neutralisation ” has been shown in some cited studies to reduce pH by 0.0002 units with an error margin 10 times of that figure. And you can also say that this was determined by indirect measurement by two different studies with a 5 year gap in between them, showing different trends, whose data were then ” homogenised ” wihout checking for autocorrelation. You can also show that the indirecr measurement differed from the actual measured values. That will be the full truth.

        You can also say that most of the studies repeat what earlier studies said and rest are ” climate models ” and that’s very little data to make any definite conclusions about marine biology based upon atmospheric CO2 levels.

        That is the full truth.

      • Joshua

        Read my para number 2 of my comment of 30th at 11.32 PM.

        For your second and third paragraphs read my reply with citation to Fred Moolten of ” Ocean Acidification ” was not used in 1993 as the catchword by ” Nature ” and how it was used later.

        And, your opinions do not change the fundamentals of chemistry and chemical nomenclature. Reduction of alkalinity of a solution which remains alkaline after the reduction is not chemically called as acidification. The reaction is called as neutralisation and the resulting solution is still referred to as alkaline or less alkaline. Go ask a high school chemistry class about it. Acidification is a scare term used as a weasel word for this phenomenon against the fundamental principles of chemistry.

      • Reduction of alkalinity of a solution which remains alkaline after the reduction is not chemically called as acidification.

        So, you’re disagreeing with Fred when he wrote that the alkalinity remains constant?

      • And then there are the long-term observational sites mentioned in my other link, and chemistry considerations that can predict the increase of H+ from the ocean uptake of CO2, which is consistent with the observations.

      • The insistence that there is something wrong with the word acidification is unbelievable. There are two directions on the pH-axis: acidification and the other for which I don’t really know the correct word, because alkalinity is used to mean something else that the value of pH when it’s more than 7. Neutralization is not a good word, because it has so many different meanings that several additional words would be needed to tell that we are talking about the value of pH. It has also clear connotations, which may easily lead to misunderstandings.

        The word acidification has a long history in environmental connections, its fully logical also when pH > 7. All arguments against it in this connection are worthless.

      • Yes Pekka, it is wrong. And it is precisely wrong because of the environmental connections. Again I repeat for the last time, a slight reduction of pH which still leaves the solution in an alkaline state is not ” acidification “.

        Reasons for why it is objected to have been given multiple times in this thread and you can read.

      • ferd berple

        We have hundreds of millions of years of paleo and evolutionary evidence saying that CO2 is not a problem in the oceans, as compared to a few select studies by people that wanted to prove that CO2 is a problem.

        More likely these recent results are simply measuring experimenter bias as reflected in the misleading and unscientific term “ocean acidification”.

        Ph of water: 7.0
        Ph of blood: 7.4
        Ph of oceans : 8.2
        Ph of “ocean acidification”: 8.1x
        Ph of acid: 0 – 7
        Ph of base: 7 – 14

        therefore: Ph of “ocean acidification” is not acid, it is a base.

        The current oceans are much LESS acidic than in the past. In fact the are not acidic at all, and it would take more CO2 that all the known and projected fossil fuel reserves on earth to make the oceans acidic.

        It should not be any surprise that sea creatures are covered in mucous as a protection against the caustic oceans. They evolved in a time when the oceans were more acidic.

      • ferd – I hope that you read this thread carefully. It is crucial that you see how Venter and others explain that your sentence: “The current oceans are much LESS acidic than in the past” is either a semantic tactic of the AGW cabal or imprecise and reflective of a lack of understanding of chemistry.

  60. Willis Eschenbach

    Fred Moolten | June 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Nick, Pat, Joshua, Willis – Thanks for the update. Willis seems to be conceding that ocean pH is declining, albeit perhaps somewhat grudgingly.

    Fred, this is why people don’t like to play with you, because (in addition to providing bogus citations) you are nasty without reason and without substance.

    Find me one single place that I have said that ocean pH is not declining. If you cannot find one, then I’ll accept your apology for your unwarranted slur and your lack of reading ability.

    Not that I’m likely to get either apology or support for your claim …

    w.

    • It’s interesting how individuals respond to being proved wrong. Perhaps I’m being unfair, but it seems to me that the more evidence I provided to contradict claims he made, the angrier Willis became with me. I don’t think the science is advanced by epithets like “bulldust”, “nonsense”, “parrot”, and “you can take your various papers and put them…”. Anyway, there’s plenty of legitimate discussion in all the above exchanges for readers to start pursuing the topic of ocean acidification on their own.

      For both Venter and Willis – “ocean acidification” is the legitimate term for the increase in hydrogen ion concentration caused by increasing atmospheric CO2. It’s an accepted principle of semantics that words are defined according to how they are used, provided that those definitions reflect the usage of most individuals who are well versed in the relevant areas. No-one working in this area is confused by the use of “ocean acidification” to denote declining pH and “acidity” to refer to a pH below 7. This type of distinction is certainly not unprecedented. For probably a century, “acidosis” in the medical literature refers to a blood pH below 7.4, with 7.1 constituting a severe, life-threatening acidosis. It seems to me that arguing the semantics is not only an error, but also a distraction from the scientific evidence.

      • Rob Starkey

        Fred

        Your comment- “It’s interesting how individuals respond to being proved wrong.” seems strange under the circumstances.

        You seem to be grabbing on the issue of the oceans lately and claiming that AGW is causing the problem. You have previously acknowledged that there is no reliable evidence to tie the changes in the ocean’s Ph to human released CO2. You acknowledge that human dumping of acid and other chemicals directly into the ocean is a much larger problem, but continue to claim that Ocean acidification is a key reason to curtail CO2 emissions.

      • “You have previously acknowledged that there is no reliable evidence to tie the changes in the ocean’s Ph to human released CO2”.

        Rob – I don’t believe I’ve acknowledged that, and certainly I never intended to, because I don’t think there’s any doubt that declines in ocean pH are tied to anthropogenic CO2. I also don’t think that human dumping of acid into the oceans has been a huge problem compared with other forms of chemical pollution. That discussion was in regard to marine life in general rather than calcifying organisms, where CO2-mediated acidification is a particular threat. Pollution, overfishing, and dumping of plastic are threats to many fish species.

      • Fred,

        You are again playing a losing game of semantics. Again, verbosity is not quality.

        Acidosis is not acidity. If you want to discuss lactate formation, hypoxia, anaerobic glucose metabolsim etc., that can be a separate thread. I’m a chemist in the healthcare industry and am aware of acidity and acidosis.

        pH reduction of 4th decimal when pH is above 7.8 is not acidification. It’s a ” slight neutralisation “.

        ” Ocean Acidification ” is a weasel word adopted by pro-AGW climate science field specifically intended to alarm and create false impression, like ” climate change ” being used as a weasel word for anthropogenic CO2.

        Honest people in science have no problem in using correct, specific wording to denote what they state and provide correct citations of what they’ve read first.

      • Venter – I have no personal stake in the term “ocean acidification”. It is almost universally used and understood to mean increasing hydrogen ion concentration irrespective of the pH level at which it occurs. If you want to use a different term, that’s fine with me, but you run the danger of having people think you’re referring to something other than declining ocean pH unless you explain what you mean.

        As for your reference to “honest people” and “weasel word”, I’ll let others judge what to make of that.

      • Fred, I have no problem in explaining correct scientific terms to people in industry and in the world and everyone understands perfectly. In fact everybody expects precise references and nomenclature in the real world and industry. I deal with Universities and research departments on a daily basis professionally and have no problems making myself understood.

        Only in AGW supporting wing of climate science field do I find these weasel words used for emotional response rather than as a scientific term. I don’t run into any danger of their not understanding what I say as I don’t think that segment of the crowd wants to listen to anything contrary to their mantras. In fact they are the ones who actively use these weasel words with intention to scare / alarm as they’re afraid of Joe Public understanding the reality of what they’re saying or doing.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Fred Moolten | June 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm

        As for your reference to “honest people” and “weasel word”, I’ll let others judge what to make of that.

        Sure, I’d be glad to help. What I make of it is that you are not an honest person, and that you use weasel words.

        Any other assistance you need, let me know.

        w.

      • Where semantics is one of the primary weapons of choice among CAGW advocates, it is funny that you should complain about skeptics trying to defend the language. “Climate change,” “deniers,” ocean acidification,” are all terms that intentionally obscure the actual arguments being made.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        I note that I have gotten neither an apology, nor support for your claims about what I said, Fred … just as I predicted. You lied about me, claiming I’d said that ocean pH was not decreasing. When I called you on it and said you were lying and asked you to put up or shut up, you neither defended your statement nor apologized for your actions. Instead you channelled Ms. Manners and lectured me on my choice of words, telling me I’m being impolite or something. Those are not the actions of an innocent man, Fred.

        But despite your best Miss Manners impersonation, I’m afraid there’s no polite way to say it. You’re a proven liar. I’ve called you on your lie and you have not falsified (or even responded to) my statement of fact.

        Instead you want to wander off and lecture us on how “ocean acidification” is the “legitimate term” because Fred says so. Absolutely fascinating what denial does to some individuals.

        Go away, you’re no fun at all.

        w.

        PS – Your claims about semantics are nonsense. “Acidification” was chosen as a word to use because it is scary. You can defend it all you want. Doesn’t make it anything but chosen for the fright effect.

        Nor is it historically correct as you say. When a solution moves toward neutral, historically this has always had a name – neutralization. When I dump baking soda on battery acid, I don’t say that I am “alkailizing it” as your claim implies. I’m neutralizing it.

        And the same is true from the other side. Adding vinegar to lye neutralizes it, it doesn’t acidify it.

        However, “ocean neutralization” doesn’t have the pucker-factor of “acidification” so it isn’t used.

        But since you’ll likely just ignore this and go out and make up some more lies to spread, I don’t know why I bother.

        Moderation note: Willis I realize that you and Fred are disagreeing, but tone down the personal comments.

      • I refer to my earlier point about how people react differently to being proven wrong. At least, that’s my perception of the increasingly vituperative accusations Willis throws at me.

        For those who are interested, here is a link to the full article Pat Cassen referred to above (also referenced by Willis) – it’s at Byrne et al – GRL. Average pH declines over 15 years (depending on depth) were reported to be between 0.023 and 0.03 units, consistent with the authors’ statement that since the preindustrial rise of CO2 from about 280 ppm to 387 ppm (at the time of the article) “for seawater in equilibrium with the atmosphere, the resulting CO2 influx translates into a decrease of surface ocean pH by approximately 0.11 pH units… For a CO2 level of 800 ppm, the pH of equilibrated surface seawater would decrease by at least an additional 0.29 units.”

        It is the latter figure rather than the change to date that constitutes the greater threat from continuing increases in ocean hydrogen ion concentration to calcifying organisms critical to the food chain.

      • Fred, Willis has proven in detail why the links given by you, Cassen and Nick don’t show anything and he has given specific analysis of why they are wrong.

        So who’s being proven wrong here? If you have anything with science and facts to back up Willis’s dissection, please come up. You’ve basically come up with a lot of handwaving and every link you’ve given has been dissected and proven wrong.

        You see, unlike you, Willis has actually lived in those areas in Pacific which are supposed to be threatened by corals and he has actually experienced the realities of life there as a commercial fisherman and diver. There’s life actually happening there and a thousand factors affecting life day to day. He has explained in detail about coral reefs, parrot fish, sand formation and subsidation etc. It’s fascinating and true and all it requires is an open mind to read and understand.

        You on the other hand are fixated just with only one thing, CO2 and models and refuse to see anything beyond that. It’s a tragedy of all of you in the pro-AGW side of climate science You all seem to have no clue of what happens in life outside your ivory towers and sit miles away from reality, handwaving and living in your one parameter fixated modelled life. And you make inane comments about ” proven wrong ” etc. with no basis.

        And you wonder why people who live in the real world get exasperated and p***ed off with such attitudes! Really, go get a life and see the world. Marine biology and geology is a fascinating, ever changing world with life. It’s not governed by your one point, parts per million of anthropogenic CO2.

      • Venter – I believe Willis knows more about the oceans in general than I do. However, his claims, both stated and implied, about ocean acidification and its consequences have been shown to be wrong through the multiple references and citations made here by me and others. At some point in an exchange, the commentary becomes repetitive, and I sense that happening here. There’s more than enough reference material for anyone to visit for his or her own judgments rather than trying to referee arguments here..

        I’ve also been asked why I’ve been emphasizing this topic recently. A few months ago, I gave a lecture on climate change to a college audience, with about 40 slides. At the last minute, I inserted a reference to ocean acidification as one line on one slide. At that point, I recognized the imbalance between the strong focus on global warming as a consequence of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and the relative neglect of their effect on the oceans, which in the long run may prove as serious or even more so than the changes in global temperature. I’m trying to restore some of that balance, but even this recent emphasis only goes part way.

  61. It’s funny how the subject of ‘ocean acidification’ has just recently popped up, after all the past decades of rising CO2 concentrations.

    • Peter –
      There are an infinite number of “ocean acidification ” issues waiting in the wings. Every one you knock down is the signal to trot another one out. I’ve watched – and fought – the process for 50 years now. It’s just a different version of “Whack-a-Mole”.

  62. Fred,

    You’re arm waving again. Your multiple references claim proved nothing. The first two references you gave were laughable and Willis showed you. The other two links provided by Cassen and Nick were taken apart by Willis point by point. You’ve proved nothing.

    And after saying you have no attachment to the term ” Ocean Acidification ” you continue using that. And you continue repeating your fallacies. You are the one repetitive here with no factual base.

    Please don’t presume that your verbose pointless style contains any substance. And please stop using dishonest weasel words and use correct terms. You are discussing a matter of chemistry and your terminology is wrong. If you can’t even get your terms right, I don’t trust your competence or honesty to have a rational discussion.

    • Are you and Willis categorically saying there is no ocean acidification despite the atmospheric CO2 increase and the rules of Henry’s Law, or are you leaving yourselves some wiggle room on this issue?

    • Upon Willis’ recommendation, I read his commentary on Byrne et al. (and much of the ensuing discussion) at WUWT. It did not seem to me that this paper was “taken apart by Willis point by point”. In fact, Willis states explicitly that he learned several things from the paper, and accepts, at least for the sake of discussion, much of what that paper describes (right, Willis?).

      My understanding of Willis’ criticism is that (1) the inferred anthropogenically induced differences in pH are too insubstantial to be reliably measured, and (2) they are too small to worry about. The same arguments have been made regarding the global average surface temperatures. Apparently you and many others accept these arguments. I do not, for reasons abundantly described in the professional literature. Our differences will not be resolved here.

  63. Jim,

    First, the term is not oceans acidification. It’s a slight neutralisation. Let’s start off by naming things correctly.

    Second, please read Willis’ critique of the papers mentioned and give your opinion on whether there is any science or facts in those papers.

    Lastly if you see Willis post dated 30th at 12.23 PM and at 6.13 AM, your questions regarding the slight neutralisation of Oceans is answered.

    • “First, the term is not oceans acidification.”
      Could you give your authority for this silly claim? On Google Scholar, you will find772 papers with ocean acidifcation in the title? Who are you to say they are all wrong?

      The papers referenced are in major journals and written by leading scientists. I have shown plenty wrong with Willis’ critique. Who to believe?

      • My authority is the principles of chemistry. 772 or 7720 papers published with a false sounding name does not change the basics of chemistry.

        Who are you to question that?

      • And by the way ” Climate Change ” is also a weasel word substituted by the pro-AGW crowd to intend man made CO2 based global warming. That does not make climate change a valid term for this description, even though such a word has been used in hundreds of papers.

        These kind of weasel words were the specific invention of pro-AGW crowd of climate science.

      • Since the concept of pH levels was not invented until the early 1900s, why would anyone believe the ocean is drastically different.

        Mann’s Hockey Stick is propaganda aimed at eliminating the MWP.

        I doubt the ocean has changed at all.

  64. Yes, I have since seen that he does not deny a reduction in pH, but for some reason does not accept the reduction from 8.2 to 8.1 that is seen everywhere. What is his own estimate of this reduction?

  65. Jim D

    Can you please cite any numbers you state with evidence and then cite when Willis said he does not accept any reduction from 8.2 – 8.1?

    Then I can go through that and if there is a doubt on that issue we can ask Willis and I’m sure he’ll gladly provide the answers. Willis does not obfuscate or hide and provides straight answers to straight questions.

  66. Above, Nick Stokes linked to the Google Scholar search for ocean acidification at Ocean Acidification, referring to 772 references that turned up. I thought it worthwhile to repeat the link here, because it’s a valuable resource for anyone wanting to delve deeper into the topic than we can manage in this thread. I’ve read a number of the papers. Some are more informative than others, although they tend to follow a common theme. Some repeat what was said earlier, while others offer new data based on observations as well as model-derived estimates. Among the interesting differences, however, are studies showing that not all organisms respond identically to the reduced pH, although most exhibit impaired calcification. Another interesting phenomenon is the difference between organisms exposed to experimental conditions favorable to their general health and metabolism and those exposed naturally to reduced pH under environmental conditions in the ocean – in the latter case, the ability to calcify requires a higher carbonate saturation level and is more threatened by CO2-mediated reduction in carbonate.

    I continue to think that arguing about the semantics is a distraction. I’m happy to call the phenomenon something other than ocean acidification if everyone working on the problem can agree on a different term. In the meantime, I’ll continue to use the standard term, which has the benefit of emphasizing the critical process involved – an increasing concentration of hydrogen ions.

  67. All the papers referenced to are climate science papers talking about ” Ocean Acidification ” You’re only proving my point that this terminology is exclusively being used by the pro-AGW climate science community with intent to give a scary message. It’s all in the deliberate semantics, like ” Global Warming ” being replaced by ” Climate Change “, ” Climate Disruption ” etc.

    Substitution of a name deliberately for semantic purpose by one section of the climate science community does not change the fundamental principles of chemistry and chemical nomenclature.

    Go check early 90’s publications in nature on the same CO2 and Oceans issue and you will see them talking about alkalinity and inorganic carbon concentration, on the same subject. Back then climate science was not yet on the semantic corruption path. See below article in 1993 for nomenclature

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v363/n6425/abs/363149a0.html

    Now fast forward 10 years and see the nomenclature used by the same Nature for the same issue

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v425/n6956/full/425365a.html

    Once the scepticism about global warming science started flowing in, scare tactics and semantics started.

    Bottom line is there is very little actually measured good quality data to say clearly what could happen to ocean biology if it becomes a bit less alkaline. There are too many factors, dynamics and fluctations that are not understood clearly. Some studies show that some organisms actually prosper when pH conditions are changed.

    http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=7545&tid=282&cid=63809&ct=162

    Of course, these don’t make headlines or create publicity. Only scare stories about 4th decimal reduction of pH make the front pages.

    Nature has it’s own balancing act and homeostasis. There is too much noise being made about nothing by a section of the scientific community which has pro-AGW views.

    • “Go check early 90′s publications in nature on the same CO2 and Oceans issue and you will see them talking about alkalinity and inorganic carbon concentration”.

      This is an interesting point because alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon are critical components of current calculations involving CO2 and pH and are very much part of modern terminology. As CO2 increases, hydrogen ion concentration increases and pH declines, but alkalinity (the buffering capacity of seawater) remains constant. It’s important to keep this distinction in mind in order to understand the chemical interactions between H+, bicarbonate, and carbonate that lead to carbonate unsaturation and the threats to marine organisms, whereby the carbonate/bicarbonate ratio is reduced without a change in total buffering capacity.

      • So, in fact, “more alkaline” would actually be an imprecise term for the phenomenon in question.

      • Sorry – less alkaline.

      • …so if we can’t call it dealkalinization, and neutralization is too imprecise, because it can be from either direction, what are we left with?

      • debasification or debasement might be good terms.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Fred

        ‘It’s important to keep this distinction in mind in order to understand the chemical interactions between H+, bicarbonate, and carbonate that lead to carbonate unsaturation and the threats to marine organisms, whereby the carbonate/bicarbonate ratio is reduced without a change in total buffering capacity’

        Th aid my understanding of this distinction. please can you provide a worked example for me? I’d like to see the chemical reactions between those three ions, a demonstration that they lead to carbonate unsaturation, the reduction in the carbonate/bicarbonate ratio and a confirmation that the total buffering capacity is unchanged.

        Since you have quoted the excerpt above on several occasions, I;m sure that you have all the relevant information close to hand. It will be good for me to revise some physical and inorganic chemistry unused since my Chemistry degree a few years back.

        Thanks.

      • Latimer,

        I would not hold my breath on you getting that precise reply. On the other hands, miracles may happen. ;-)

    • Venter,
      You are again misinformed. Alkalinity is not a reference to pH. It is a technical term which is widely referenced in the papers cited. It is usually now called total alkalinity, or TA, to avoid confusion. It is correctly defined by Wiki:
      “The alkalinity is equal to the stoichiometric sum of the bases in solution.”

      And they also emphasise the distinction:
      “Alkalinity is sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably with basicity. For example, the pH of a solution can be lowered by the addition of CO2. This will reduce the basicity; however, the alkalinity will remain unchanged (see example below).”

      Here is a map of sea surface alkalinity. It is one of the main properties measured. Note the units. It is not pH.

      • Nick, I agree that the solution becomes less basic with reduction in pH and that the stoichiometric sum of the bases in a solution reflects it’s alkalinity. There’s no disputing that.

        That does not make a slight reduction in pH of a solution which still remains basic as an ” acidification ” process. Acidification as a term can be used only when the pH is brought down below 7 after the acidification reaction.

      • Just curious about how you can be so sure, Venter.

        I assume that you’ve done a literature search to determine that it is virtually unprecedented for the term “acidification” to be used in that way?

        The reason why I ask is that I’ve read comments from people who seem very knowledgeable in the field who say that there is precedent for using the term in that way and I have no way of knowing whether they are more expert than you.

        Especially since you didn’t even seem to understand that the alkalinity in the phenomenon we’re talking about remains constant.

      • Joshua

        If a lie is repeated 1000 times it does not become a truth. I told you before, go to a high school chemistry class and ask, if you want to learn the fundamentals of chemistry.

      • So, it is a “lie” that the alkalinity in the phenomenon we’re discussing remains constant?

        Ok – thanks for the clarification.

      • You don’t understand what you are talking Joshua. Quit wasting time. Go learn high school chemistry.

      • Thanks for the link, Venter. In the meantime, I’ll repost this for your edification:

        “Alkalinity is sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably with basicity. For example, the pH of a solution can be lowered by the addition of CO2. This will reduce the basicity; however, the alkalinity will remain unchanged (see example below).”

      • Latimer Alder

        The ‘alkalinity’ you are discussing is not the same use of the term ‘alkali’ as in pH. It seesm to be a new term which is extremely confusing,

        I am trying to establish (eg by conversation with Nick Stokes and Fred Moolten) precisely what this new definition of ‘alkalinity’ is supposed to be telling us. So far, i can only find a reference to an article in a pondkeepers magazine, and that is not very helpful either. It tells us how to calculate ‘alkalinity’ but has little on why we shoudl wish to do so. I suspect that there may be an element of ‘buy this supplement for your pond and all your alkalinity problems will be fixed’

        When you see the term ‘alkalinity’, be very careful to examine whihc meaning is used.

        In chemistry, an alkali contains a preponderance of hydroxyl ions (OH-).I It is the ying to the yang of the hydrogen ions produced by the dissocaiton of water

        H20H+ + OH –

        This is not the definition used in pond keeping. Go figure.

      • So latimer – you seem to be familiar with at least some segment of the chemistry literature. Would you say that prior to widespred concerns about changes in ocean composition due to large-scale CO2 emissions, it is unprecedented to use the term “acidification” to describe the type of phenomenon that people are describing when they refer to ocean acidification?

        If you would say it is unprecedented – is there any way that you could verify that opinion? I realize that is a bit like asking you to prove a negative – but perhaps you have some reference, dated prior to widespread concerns about CO2 emission, which explains how using the term acidification in such a context would be wrong? I see seemingly knowledgeable people making completely contradictory statements on this issue – but I have yet to see any evidence that backs up claims about the historic usage of the terms.

      • Latimer Alder

        Update

        Apparently ‘alkalinity’ is a problem for swimming pools as well

        Here’s a link to the esteemed non peer-reviewed journal ‘Pool Doctor’

        http://www.havuz.org/pool_pool/pool_maintenance/water_testing/total_alkalinity.htm

        But after a brief search I can find no ‘academic’ references at all. Either via Google or in Walter J Moore – Physical Chemistry. P. W. Atkins – Physical Chemistry, Cotton and Wilkinson – Advanced Inorganic Chemistry …which are university level textbooks on the subjects.

        I think it is down to those who brought this neologism to our attention to explain what it is, why they think it is significant and some peer-reviewed references that confirm its relevance.

      • Latimer Alder

        I thank you for your patronising tone. Somewhere away back when, I managed to get both a Bachelor and a Masters degree in the subject of Chemistry. So I think I am reasonably well qualified to discuss what is no more than O level stuff (And before you ask I also got the O level, and the A level and the S level and passed Oxbridge entrance with a scholarship).

        You ask

        ‘Would you say that prior to widespred concerns about changes in ocean composition due to large-scale CO2 emissions, it is unprecedented to use the term “acidification” to describe the type of phenomenon that people are describing when they refer to ocean acidification?’

        First, as you point out, you are asking me to disprove a negative. Which of course I cannot do as you well know.

        But this is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of definition. Neutralisation is the correct term. The seawater which is alkaline (ph >7.0) becomes slightly less alkaline. It gets very slightly closer to 7.0 in pH. It is closer to neutral. It is neutralised.

        Only when the pH is at 7.0 (pure water) can the process then be sensibly described as ‘acidification’

        That others have decided to use an incorrect term for possibly dubious reasons does not make it right. I can call my pet dog Tiddles, but he’ll not grow whiskers and learn to climb trees.

        PS Think of traffic lights. The sequence Red/ Red + Amber/Green is not a bad analogy. Imagine the light at green. Time ticks by. The light remains green…it is not becoming ‘more red’. Then it flips to red.It is not ‘less green’ it is red. Add some more time and you get to red and amber, then green once more. pH is exactly the same There is an acid part , a neutral state and an alkaline state. But they are distinct.

        Worth noting that some chemical ‘indicators’ for pH work in exactly the same way red = acid, blue = alkali.

      • Here is a collection of book references. It says there are 560,000, though I have only looked at the first couple of pages. And they aren’t all on this technical usage.

        Almost all the papers that Pat Cassen, Fred and I have cited use it, and even Venter’s 1993 Nature paper.

        Incidentally, on the ambiguity of the term, the seawater usage seems to be now mostly “total alkalinity” (TA), while the opposite of acidity is often basicity.

      • “I thank you for your patronising tone.”
        OK, I apologise if it sounded so.

      • Thanks Latimer. I doubt it will convince our friend who’ll come with a fresh pout. That’s the standard style.

        Notice that the topic is being diverted from the fact that acidification is a misleading word deliberately used for denoting a slight reduction in Ocean pH.

        That’s par for the course as far as tactics are concerned as you know. ;-)

      • Latimer –

        It seems that maybe your objection about patronizing tone might have been directed towards me?

        If so, let me assure you that I already read you boasting, er explaining, about your degrees and your academic pedigree and your excellent test-taking, and I fully recognize the depth of your background. That is exactly why I assumed your familiarity with at least some subset of chemistry literature.

        Now Latimer – I’ve already read your opinion about the use of the term acidification. I have also read the opinions of other people who disagree with you yet seem also to have a strong background – even if they haven’t boasted, er explained, about their pedigree and test taking to the same extent as you.

        So I’m not asking you for an opinion – I asking you for verification. You seem awfully certain of your perspective – so I’m asking you for some form of evidence. I have read that the term acidification is inaccurate, and only being used by the CO2 cabal because it churns up scary visions in the heads of the unsuspecting public. Such an assertion implies that it was virtually unheard of to use the term acidification, prior to concerns about CO2 emissions changing seawater chemistry, in a context similar to how it is being used when people refer to ocean acidification. Other people who also seem knowledgeable about chemistry – even if they haven’t likewise boasted, er, explained about the nature of their qualifications to the same extent as you – have written that such use of the term is precedented.

        If you don’t have any evidence to support your opinion, other than just assuring me that it is correct – that’s fine. I was just hoping that you might.

      • Latimer Alder

        @joshua

        You ask me to disprove a negative, Which is a tough gig.

        But you also say this:

        ‘Other people who also seem knowledgeable about chemistry – even if they haven’t likewise boasted, er, explained about the nature of their qualifications to the same extent as you – have written that such use of the term is precedented’

        Please could you direct me to such writing so that I may examine that evidence. Because I have never seen very much of it.

        Easy enough task…you have seen it, you have it to hand. Please let us see it too. No need to disprove a negative…you can prove a positive, which is much easier.

      • Easy enough task…you have seen it, you have it to hand. Please let us see it too. No need to disprove a negative…you can prove a positive, which is much easier.

        But that’s the problem, Latimer – I have seen people who tell me that they are expert argue on both sides of the question as to whether there is precedence for saying that adding acid to a solution is acidifying it – independent of the starting point and ending point of the PH .

        So, I’m asking for some form of verification.

        In your case, all you’d need to do is show me a couple of references – from a period before the debate about whether CO2 emissions were changing seawater chemistry – that say that the use of the term acidification in a similar context would be inaccurate or incorrect.

        Of course, if you can’t come up with any such evidence, I understand – but am left wondering why you have such confidence in your assertion that it is unprecedented.

        I suppose that’s harder than asking of the other side to show evidence of how the term was used previously – but not an impossible task nonetheless.

      • Sorry Latimer – I should be more clear.

        I have read people who seem to have knowledge of chemistry claim that the use of the term is precedented, but I haven’t seen evidence of such.

        That’s why I’m asking for some verification that the usage is unprecedented.

      • Latimer Alder

        Nice try but no cigar.

        As you well know, it would be very difficult for me to come up with some historic writing about a problem that had not then been posed. I can probably not come up with many essays on why a teapot is not a camel (outside Ionesco) or a biro is not a rucksack.

        If you are really interested in the topic, you can easily prove that I am wrong by asking one of those who claim that such writing does exist to give few examples.

        Otherwise,I have better things to do that play your logic-chopping games,

      • Latimer Alder

        @joshua

        On further reflection. I have seen nobody remarking that the use of the ‘a’ word is unprecedented. Many of us have said that the usage is scinetifically and chemically incorrect. Different thing.

      • JOsh,

        I’ve talked to people who say you beat your wife, though I’ve seen no evidence. Can you prove me wrong?

      • Where did you get read or get this information? Do not you have at least 1 link?

      • Latimer Alder

        @Nick Stokes

        Thank you for your kind apology, which I take as the sign of a gentleman, But there was no need. The patronising tone was not yours but Joshua’s..He has not apologised,

      • Latimer Alder

        @Nick Stokes

        The term alkalinity is new to me. But I am very familiar with pH, acids bases etc.

        You say that ‘alkalinity’ is one of the main properties measured. But neither you nor the wiki article explain why so.

        What is it that is important about ‘alkalinity’ and why should we be concerned (or not) about it wrt the acid/base ratio of the oceans, carbon dioxide, molluscs, corals etc

        Worled examples would be especially helpful for my understanding

        PS – I did check the only wiki reference which was to a pondkeepers magazine. But it too only gave the definition, not the reason why alkalinity is felt to be important

        ‘It’s important to keep this distinction in mind in order to understand the chemical interactions between H+, bicarbonate, and carbonate that lead to carbonate unsaturation and the threats to marine organisms, whereby the carbonate/bicarbonate ratio is reduced without a change in total buffering capacity’

        Th aid my understanding of this distinction. please can you provide a worked example for me? I’d like to see the chemical reactions between those three ions, a demonstration that they lead to carbonate unsaturation, the reduction in the carbonate/bicarbonate ratio and a confirmation that the total buffering capacity is unchanged.

        Since you have quoted the excerpt above on several occasions, I;m sure that you have all the relevant information close to hand. It will be good for me to revise some physical and inorganic chemistry unused since my Chemistry degree a few years back.

        Thanks.

      • Latimer Alder

        Please ignore the piece from

        ‘It is important… onwarsd. I am obliged to use unreliable equipment and remains of an earlier posting also crept in. Sorry.

      • Ooops TA/alkalinity pair should be DIC/alkalinity pair

      • In fact I wrote a post on this a while ago, which says most of what I would want to say.

        But here goes. If your Chemistry degree is recent – say post-1923 – you’ll remember the concept of Lewis acid. Protons are not essential to the concept of acid-base reaction. So it is here.

        The basic overall reaction is:
        CO2 + CaCO3 + H2O ↔ Ca++ + 2HCO3-…(1)
        (hope these symbols work)
        That’s how CO2 dissolves CaCO3, which is the underlying issue. Notice – no H+.

        The intermediate steps are:
        CO2 + CO3– + H2O ↔ 2HCO3- …(2)
        CaCO3 ↔ Ca++ + CO3–…(3)

        The importance of the TA/alkalinity pair is that they determine the status of the equilibrium (2)

        DIC is total C, and alkalinity is, as I remember, [HCO3-] + 2*{CO3–]…(4)
        Alkalinity can be measured by lab titration. In both cases you are dealing with abundant stable species.

        Once you have worked out the components of that equilibrium, then you can derive pH from
        CO3– + H+ ↔ HCO3-

        Incidentally, the reason adding CO2 doesn’t change alkalinity comes from the ratio in the definition (4). Check with (2) and you’ll see that it doesn’t change as CO2 is added.

      • I see html runs – signs together. So when I write CO3- – it shows as CO3–

      • Latimer Alder

        @Nick Stokes

        Fine

        Find a way to explain simply to a lay audience that your use of the term ‘acidification’ derives from an extremely wide definition of acid that is not in common usage. And that you do not mean to conjure up any images of forest dying and stagnant pools of fuming dead water (a la Acid Rain), and I;ll be happy to agree with you.

        Until then, the term is misleading and emotive. If this is accidental, I;m sure you will have no difficulty in recognising the oversight and taking steps to correct it, If not accidental, then the charge of semantic disingenuousness stands against you.

        If there is a real problem with the oceans, you should be able to describe it scientifically and without the need for emotive terms. Your choice.

      • ferd berple

        Look at the graph at the bottom of page 53

        http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography/faculty/zeebe_files/Publications/ZeebePQ01.pdf

        As you will see, the PH of the modern ocean is PH 8.1, while that of the ocean 100 million years ago was 7.7 – 7.9.

        In fact, looking further at the graph “ocean acidification” has been occurring for the past 10 million years, which suggests it is a natural process, perhaps related to the ice ages.

        There is no evidence to suggest that corals were adversely affected during that time, otherwise there would be no older coral atolls or reefs today.

        If ocean Ph was an issue, then how did the great deposits of limestone and the coral reefs form in the oceans 10 million plus years ago?

        The likely answer is life. Live exists because it drives chemical reactions in directions that they are not normally expected to go, such as converting CO2 into carbohydrates.

        The same is true of likely true of shellfish. They exist and thrive because they are able to use Calcium and CO2 in solution to deposit CaCO3 as shell. Not because this precipitates naturally, but because the shellfish make it happen as part of their defense mechanism evolved over millions of years.

      • The Richard Zeebe article you linked didn’t address threats to corals, but several of the articles already cited in this thread, and many more among the 772 linked to above by Nick Stokes describe the severe depletion of corals that occurred during high CO2, low pH regimes in the past, with corals in some regions disappearing for centuries or more.

        Rather than repeat those citations, I thought you might be interested in the perspective of the author you cited – Zeebe Commentary on Threats to Coral Reefs. For the paleoclimatologic details, consult the scientific publications themselves.

  68. I’m not debating the other terminology Fred. I’m specifically debating the ” acidification ” terminology which is a weasel word.

    First step in improving Climate Science should be to get nomenclatures right and stop semantics and scare stories. Say things by the correct name, get the data and methods right, use the right statistical methods, publish data and code and share data with everyone, challenging them to find anything wrong with the findings. That’s how science progresses. Pro-AGW Climate science lacks every single one of these attributes and that’s the problem with this branch of science.

    And lastly, models runs are not experiments and model outputs are not data, another thing pro-AGW science fails to understand.

  69. I think a re-cap of this discussion is in order.

    I have read from Latimer, ferd, and Venter, among others, that based on their expertise in related matters – they can assure me that use of the term ocean acidification is inaccurate, and only used by the CO2 cabal so as to deliberately mislead the unsuspecting public.

    Yet as it turns out, ferd contradicted his own logic when he said that the oceans are “LESS ACIDIC” than they were in the past (and no one objected to his use of that expression by complaining that it was inaccurate or confusing). It also turns out that Venter was unfamiliar with the chemistry of the changes in question, and Latimer was completely unfamiliar with a term that is frequently used in technical discussions of the phenomenon in question.

    Now I have been assured that their expertise justifies their certainty about how the term is being mis-used, but I must say I’m having a hard time reconciling that assurance with certain contradicting evidence.

    • Your recap is complete bullshit and your statement about me and Latimer is a lie, Joshua.

      You have demonstrated no capacity or knowledge about anything you talk, especially chemistry and you are a waste of time to talk to.

    • Latimer Alder

      Just as soon as one of the other contributors here explains to me why the term ‘alkalinity’ – as defined in the wikipedia – is of importance in these discussions, I will happily and publicly admit to my ignorance of it.

      Since, after repeated requests to do so,and many quotations about it (especially from pond keeping, trout farming and swimming pool maintenance) they have not been able to do so, I do not propose to lose any sleep over this lacuna in my knowledge.

      Come on guys…why is ‘alkalinity’; important?

      • Latimer – If the seawater values of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and of total alkalinity (TA) are known, pH and pCO2 can be calculated, and this can be a more accurate means of measuring pH than direct measurements in some circumstances. If you Google those terms, you can find a variety of detailed explanations, but the following oversimplified description I think captures the basic principles.

        TA consists mainly of the ocean bicarbonate concentration and twice the carbonate concentration (because carbonate can combine with two hydrogen ions), with smaller contributions from other anions and OH- that can be corrected for. One way of measuring TA is by titration with acid, although I don’t know whether this is currently the standard method.

        DIC consists almost entirely of bicarbonate and carbonate, with a small contribution from CO2 and H2CO3. One means of measurement is to acidify a solution to convert everything to CO2, and then capture and measure the CO2. Here, carbonate counts only once rather than twice, because it contains only one carbon atom that ends up in CO2.

        If you know bicarbonate plus carbonate, and also bicarbonate plus twice carbonate, you can calculate the concentrations of each, and then, using the dissociation constants relevant to the equilibrium of each with H+, it is possible to calculate the H+ concentration to yield a pH value.

        There are many other details involved that I’m not familiar enough with to describe – you’ll have to look these up. They include the need to determine the appropriate constants as a function of temperature and salinity, to correct for other ion species, and other corrections as well, but the basic idea is that among four quantities – CO2, pH, TA, DIC – knowing any two allows the others to be calculated.

      • Latimer Alder

        Fred and Joshua

        You have once again explained the definition of alkalinity. Thanks – I have already seen that in an earlier post.

        You have also blithely claimed ‘the basic idea is that among four quantities – CO2, pH, TA, DIC – knowing any two allows the others to be calculated’, but have conspicuously failed to give a detailed method or the equations needed to do so.

        But, as ever, though you are good at cut and paste, none of these reasons explain why we are interested in ‘alkalinity’ at all.

        Is is only used as a way to get an indirect measure of pH? In which case, why doe steh swimmign pool piece give a range of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ alkalinity values? Or does it have some inherent significance that I ma missing.

        If somebody measure seawater and says ‘the alkalinity’ is 6 or 0.00004 or 7468 or whatever the number happens to be, which values should I be concerned about?

        Please provide some indication of EHY we should all be concerned about ‘alkalinity’? You have brandished it mightily as a magical stick to beat my (supposed lack of) knowledge of pH and acid/alkali chemistry, but on closer examination. it seems that you haven’t yet read the owners manual to discover what its actual purpose really is.

        One last time. WHY is ‘alkalinity’ important. I know what it is, I know how to measure it. but WHY should I do so? What does it tell me?

  70. In only 1 trillion years the Oceans on Earth will just be ‘The Great Stinking Mud Flat’. Why spend another trillion dollars (only a buck a year:) we know) to save our oceans with new age eviromentalizem when we can just use the chemistry warning label from the fifties…” We don’t swim in your toilet; please don’t piss in our pool.” Let’s try to save time, money & feelings for a ‘real change’, this time. How many gallons of Muriatic Acid do we need to put into the pool now, so we can all go swimming?

  71. Here’s a new paper about the state of tge Great Barrier Reef, about coral bleaching and decline.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3053361/

    The conclusion states

    ” we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995. Instead, fluctuations in coral cover at subregional scales (10–100 km), driven mostly by changes in fast-growing Acroporidae, occurred as a result of localized disturbance events and subsequent recovery.”

    And what did alarmists keep saying about the GBR? Same bullcrap they have been spouting here about corals.

    • It’s interesting to compare two papers – the one cited by Venter above – by Osborne et al – and the De’ath et al paper I cited earlier.

      Probably the most important conclusion is that the papers don’t conflict. Osborne reported no overall decline in GBRcoral cover during the 1995-2009 interval, although this varied from region to region and was less on average than in earlier intervals. In contrast, De’ath reported a significant decline in coral calcification, starting in the 1970s and growing steeper since the 1990s. Since the De’ath paper noted a continuation of extension in their samples, albeit at a declining rate, their results are consistent with maintenance of cover at reduced levels of calcification. Ultimately, impaired calcification precludes continued coral growth and if severe enough, coral survival, as evidenced by the paleoclimatologic record of coral depletion during high CO2, low pH climate regimes.

      Osborne et al failed to cite ocean acidification as a threat to corals in listing causes of coral damage, although they do mention bleaching, which is a result of heat stress in some regions, and therefore correlated with global warming. The reason for this omission isn’t clear, but an important factor in coral maintenance is that other threats that were mentioned – e.g., disease or storms – compromise the ability of corals to calcify when carbonate saturation levels are inadequate, because these other stresses accelerate damage to the corals and hence the rate at which they must restore CaCO3 levels. Thus the rate of recovery from a multitude of threats is impaired in an ocean subjected to increasing hydrogen ion concentrations due to rise in atmospheric CO2.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Thus the rate of recovery from a multitude of threats is impaired in an ocean subjected to increasing hydrogen ion concentrations due to rise in atmospheric CO2’

        And are there any experiments/observations to show that this actually happens? How big is ‘the impairment of the rate of recovery’. 1%, 5%,10%, 50%? How much longer does a reef take to recover and from which threat? A day, a week, a month, a year, a decade? How do we know? How many instances have been measured.

        And for once, I’d prefre Fred, who makes the threats, to describe these in his own words, rather than usual vague discussions of lots of literature.

        In other words, is this the usual vague Fred-type vague threat of possible vague doom … or is there some actual experimental science behind it. Like numbers and stuff…..?

  72. Osborne did not mention ” ocean acidification ” as there’s nothing supporting that claim and it’s basically unproven. And demise of GBR corals has been predicted many times with doomsday scenarios and nothing ever happened. And I’m willing to take a bet that in next 30 years also nothing would happen, taking the number of 30 arbitrarily for the year period.

    Let us see what all were claimed by the alarmists, as taken from WUWT

    QUOTE

    Julia Gillard claims global warming is already killing the Great Barrier Reef:

    ” Australian natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef are already being damaged, and the risk of coastal flooding could double by the end of the century.”

    Warmist alarmist Sir Nicholas Stern made the same claim:

    ” The snows on Kilimanjaro are virtually gone, the Barrier Reef is probably going…”

    The ABC was already hyping up the destruction of the reef by global warming in 2002:

    ” The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says up to 10 per cent of the reef has been lost to bleaching since 1998.”

    ABC host Kerry O’Brien back then treated the death of the reef as imminent:

    ” It’s not just Australia’s farmlands which are threatened by global warming, the greenhouse effect could also spell disaster for coral reefs around the world, including our own natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef.

    As Australia prepares for another hot summer, one man is on a mission to capture as many corals as possible on high-definition camera before even more stretches of once-spectacular reef are bleached bone-white.”

    And remember the alarmism of prominent warmist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg?

    ” In 1998, he warned that the reef was under pressure from global warming, and much had turned white.
    He later admitted the reef had made a “surprising” recovery.

    In 1999 he claimed global warming would cause mass bleaching of the reef every two years from 2010.

    He yesterday admitted it hadn’t.

    In 2006, he warned high temperatures meant “between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef could die within a month”.

    He later admitted this bleaching had a “minimal impact”. ”

    UNQUOTE

    So go on claiming doom and gloom over a non-existent problem propped up by fraudulent pseudoscience. All the false claims will fall flat on their face. Facts will always win.

    • Venter –

      I hope you visited the site I’ll link below. It is a site with a lot of (interesting, IMO) technical information related to the debate about ocean acidification (fortunately provided by a “denizen” who isn’t concerned about ocean acidification).

      The author flatly rejects concerns about ocean acidification.

      He also used the term ocean acidification ubiquitously – mostly in a technical discussion about what might or might not happen to seawater chemistry as the result of CO2 emissions.

      Would you say that he’s part of that cabal to scare the unsuspecting public about the dangers of ocean acidification?

      And while you’re at it – could you please explain to me how his use of the term is confusing and/or reflective of scientific inaccuracy? Assuming that I can follow the technical aspects of what he writes- what aspects of his thesis would I be misunderstanding if I didn’t know that the term ocean acidification is meaningless, and even worse, being used inaccurately for the purpose of misleading?

      http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm

  73. Latimer – Here is another try at a response from a different browser: If this doesn’t go through, I’ll give up for now on this comment.

    I believe that the importance of a higher value for Ω (carbonate supersaturation state) for corals subjected to environmental stresses in the wild is well described in references I’ve already cited (see, for example Pelejero and references therein that cite a minimum value of 3.3), as well as others among the 772 cited above by Nick Stokes on ocean acidification. Recovery from ocean acidification during past paleoclimatologic regimes has required many millennia or longer when the depletion was severe.

    Regarding your earlier question on the importance of ocean total alkalinity (TA), I thought that was implied in my answer that it is useful in measuring pH – obviously a topic related to these discussions of ocean acidification – as well as pCO2,, which is also relevant, particularly when we are investigating CO2 at different ocean depths. Furthermore, while increasing CO2 doesn’t alter TA when added to seawater as a liquid, it can actually increase TA if the increase in H+ causes some solid CaCO3 to dissolve of the kind that is found in ocean sediments, coastal carbonate structures, and the shells of marine organisms. This is because the dissolution increases an anion, carbonate, without a commensurate increase in H+, which is not a component of CaCO3. Finally, TA is a measure of ocean buffering capacity, and therefore tells us how resistant the ocean would be to the addition of acidic compounds other than H2CO3.

    • Latimer Alder

      @fred

      So TA is not a useful or interesting number of itself, but can be a stepping stone on one way of finding out about some other things that we might be interested in.

      Thought as much.

      You really must learn the difference between being able to describe something and understanding it.

  74. The term is wrong irrespective of who uses it. I said it many times before. It’s a fundamental principle of chemistry. Which part of it don’t you understand?

    • Venter –

      You have said that the use of the term is deliberately misleading, and part of the AGW plot to deceive the public.

      So I guess you should amend your statements? The term is always misleading, inaccurate (even though we can fully understand what someone is talking about when they use the term), and contrary to the elemental principles of chemistry – but only part of that vast conspiracy to deceive the public when it is being used by a “warmist?”

      Would that be an accurate representation of your viewpoint?

      • Could it be this simple:

        acid——-bad

        i———–bad

        ‘fecation’–bad; It sounds like: Defecation (from late Latin defecatio) is the final act of digestion by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid or liquid waste material (feces) from the digestive tract via the anus. Waves of muscular contraction known as peristalsis in the walls of the colon move fecal matter through the digestive tract towards the rectum. Undigested food may also be expelled this way in the process …

        there; we have it, acid-i-fecation (acidification) from the PNS vexacon, a very ugly word indeed:(

      • Perhaps you could elaborate on why you think “i” = bad. Self-esteem issues?

      • Robert – have you ever noticed a certain tendency of “conservatives” to spend a lot of time writing on blogs about excrement?

      • It is funny to be commenting to you too, about Con-sense-us (group think). I, just speak for myself.

  75. No, I don’t amend it. The term was invented by the Pro-AGW crowd to deceive and is used by them all the time. And it is a plot to mislead the public. If some sceptics use it to disprove the science of the claim, it does not make the term right and it does not involve them in the conspiracy nor absolve the pro-AGW crowd.

    I know my viewpoint and state it clearly. You don’t know me or my thought process or intentions. So go troll elsewhere.

    • The term was invented by the Pro-AGW crowd to deceive and is used by them all the time.

      Please cite your source. Thanks!

  76. OK – thanks for the clarification.

    You won’t amend your statement – but you will add the caveat you just mentioned above: the use of the term is part of the AGW cabal’s plot to deceive the public. When “warmists” use the term, they are deliberately trying to deceive. When non-“warmists” use the term, they are only poor unsuspecting souls who have been duped into partaking in the plot – no matter their technical proficiency. You know this because your technical proficiency is much greater than that of anyone who might use the term, and so you know that the use of the term is in contradiction to the elemental foundations of chemistry, even if they don’t realize that.

    I think I got it now. Thanks.

  77. You don’t get anything. Go troll elsewhere.

  78. Here is why a reduction in pH is called acidification.
    pH measures H ions as its name implies. A decrease in pH is an increase in H ions. H ions are associated, by definition, with acidity. Decreasing pH only means increasing acidity. Nothing else can be inferred from it. It is all about the H ions.

    • Latimer Alder

      Jim D

      Please go and read an O level textbook about the dissociation of water, pH and , pOH. You seem to be fixated on hydrogen ions (acid) to the total neglect of their equal and counterpart hydroxyl ions. (alkaline). You cannot consider either in isolation.

      Once you understand it– it is not difficult, just different from what you imagine — please come back.

      • I thought that after school too, but it turns out only the H ion concentration matters when you measure pH which is where the H in the name comes from.

      • Latimer Alder

        Please go and reread that textbook, and pay particular attention to hydroxyl ions. You may also recall the equation that pH + pOH =14. When pH is greater than 7, the predominant active ion is the hydroxyl and the solution shows alkaline chemistry. Simple arithmetic shows the ratio hydroxyl to hydrogen to be 100:1 at pH =8.0.

        You cannot mindlessly focus on the hydrogen ions without considering their opposite and equal hydroxyl ions

      • When there are multiple chemicals in the water there are more negative ions than OH around, but the H ion concentration can still be defined independently of what else is in there.

  79. Jim D, a reduction of pH which leaves the resultant solution still alkaline is not acidification. Only when the resultant increase in H ions cases pH to fall below 7, does the term acidification come in. These are the fundamentals of chemistry.

    • So what would you call an increase in H ions, specifically and precisely as a scientific term?

      • Willis Eschenbach

        If the pH of the solution is above 7, I’d call it “neutralization”, for the simple reason that what we are doing is making the solution more neutral …

        w.

      • That is not specific enough. It can occur from either direction. You need a word that specifically implies the direction of H ion concentration for scientific use.

      • Latimer Alder

        Jim D

        OK if you really want them.

        pH tending towards 7 form >7 = neutralisation from alkaline (neutralakisation?)
        pH tending towards 7 from <7 = neutralisation from acid.
        (neutracidisation?)

      • You are of course welcome to submit your new terms to some national or international meeting of chemists and see how far you get.

        At the moment, we have a perfectly adequate word in “acidification,” and will continue to use it.

      • Latimer Alder

        Wasn’t me who wanted such terms.

        Chemists have used the perfectly good word ‘neutralisation; to describe the addition if an alkali to an acid or vice versa. I agree that there is is no need for another one.

        LA MSc Chemistry

      • We should all be happy if it is just referred to as the declining pH of the ocean. I wouldn’t mind that as an alternative.

  80. Venter – Let me make a suggestion to consider the following, which you can follow or ignore as you see fit.

    First, I believe most readers will be more interested in how marine life will be affected by the CO2-mediated increase in hydrogen ion concentration than in the name we give to it. I find “ocean acidification” appropriate, but I would be happy to use an alternative terms if everyone can agree. It’s an important phenomenon that has been relatively neglected in comparison with the effect of CO2 on global temperature.

    Second, I urge you to avoid excessive attributing of nefarious motives to others (“vast conspiracy”, “plot” to “deceive”, etc.). It’s a bad idea in general, a distraction from the science, and ironic in view of your resistance above to having anyone discuss your own ways of thinking.

    Third, and most important, it’s impossible to get an accurate picture of the science from devotion to one or a few blogs. WUWT is hopelessly selective in what it cites, in one direction, and other blogs in a different direction. In all cases, excessive reliance on this or any other main source will inevitably give you a distorted picture of what we know. The science literature, for all its faults, is a better foundation, including the 772 “ocean acidification” references Nick Stokes linked to above. However, to take advantage of these sources, you need to acquire important background knowledge in some basic concepts such as “total alkalinity” and its constancy in the face of increasing CO2 despite the declining pH, or the relationship between carbonate saturation and shell accretion by calcifying marine organisms.

    Fourth, regarding the terminology, I think the arguing is basically a blogosphere phenomenon that you won’t find in the science literature regardless of an author’s evaluation of the evidence. I also think you misunderstand how terms are defined. Semanticists remind us that words have no intrinsic meaning, but derive their definition from the way they are used. If a large group of individuals whose activities are focused on a phenomenon use a term to describe it, that becomes its definition. Ocean acidification, as some of us have pointed out, is well understood to mean declining pH regardless of its starting value, and there is no confusion among the discussants between “acidity” (pH below 7) and “acidification” (declining pH). (Here, I can’t resist repeating Jim D’s comment a few days ago that maybe some people don’t want to refer to acidification because they want to “hide the decline”. I plan to steal that and use myself at some future time when Jim isn’t paying attention).

    Seriously, no-one has engaged in any conspiracy to deceive, and no-one engaged in the science has any problems distinguishing acidification for acidity. I think it would help all of us to get back to what is happening in the oceans rather than the mindset of the scientists who refer to “ocean acidification” in discussing that phenomenon.

    • “Ocean acidification, as some of us have pointed out, is well understood to mean declining pH regardless of its starting value”

      Medical science is the same. Physiological pH is about 7.4, and when you hit 7.2 or 7.1 or 7.0, you are “acidotic,” no question about it. In point of fact, you’re likely headed for the ICU.

      • Robert,

        Pray do not pontificate about subjects you don’t understand. Go learn about acidosis, lactate formation, hypoxia etc. etc.

      • Pray do not pontificate about subjects you don’t understand.

        Troll, heal thyself. ;)

      • Mirror, meet Robert.

        Robert, meet mirror.

    • Nice post, Fred. Good enough that even I don’t feel moved to tack on some snark.

    • Fred, for the nth time verbosity does not indicate quality or content.

      Second, if you want to quote Jim D and hide the decline, see my response to him about that in the very next post. Don’t pontificate selectively.

      Thirdly if you can’t name accurately what you are saying there’s no point in arguing.

      And lastly the oceans have had lesser pH in the past and will survive 4th decimal reductions of 2 points in pH very well. If you want to be alarmed about it go ahead and be alarmed. Don’t expect the rest of us to buy into that BS and spend money on a non-existent problem.

  81. Here is another try at responding to Venter, with hopes this one will go through:
    Let me make a suggestion to consider the following, Venter, which you can follow or ignore as you see fit.

    First, I believe most readers will be more interested in how marine life will be affected by the CO2-mediated increase in hydrogen ion concentration than in the name we give to it. I find “ocean acidification” appropriate, but I would be happy to use an alternative terms if everyone can agree. It’s an important phenomenon that has been relatively neglected in comparison with the effect of CO2 on global temperature.

    Second, I urge you to avoid excessive attributing of nefarious motives to others (“vast conspiracy”, “plot” to “deceive”, etc.). It’s a bad idea in general, a distraction from the science, and ironic in view of your resistance above to having anyone discuss your own ways of thinking.

    Third, and most important, it’s impossible to get an accurate picture of the science from devotion to one or a few blogs. WUWT is hopelessly selective in what it cites, in one direction, and other blogs in a different direction. In all cases, excessive reliance on this or any other main source will inevitably give you a distorted picture of what we know. The science literature, for all its faults, is a better foundation, including the 772 “ocean acidification” references Nick Stokes linked to above. However, to take advantage of these sources, you need to acquire important background knowledge in some basic concepts such as “total alkalinity” and its constancy in the face of increasing CO2 despite the declining pH, or the relationship between carbonate saturation and shell accretion by calcifying marine organisms.

    Fourth, regarding the terminology, I think the arguing is basically a blogosphere phenomenon that you won’t find in the science literature regardless of an author’s evaluation of the evidence. I also think you misunderstand how terms are defined. Semanticists remind us that words have no intrinsic meaning, but derive their definition from the way they are used. If a large group of individuals whose activities are focused on a phenomenon agree to use a particular term to describe it, that becomes its definition. Ocean acidification, as some of us have pointed out, is well understood to mean declining pH regardless of its starting value, and there is no confusion among the discussants between “acidity” (pH below 7) and “acidification” (declining pH). (Here, I can’t resist repeating Jim D’s comment a few days ago that maybe some people don’t want to refer to acidification because they want to “hide the decline”. I plan to steal that and use myself at some future time when Jim isn’t paying attention).

    Seriously, I see no evidence of a conspiracy to deceive, and no-one engaged in the science has any problems distinguishing acidification for acidity. I think it would help all of us to get back to what is happening in the oceans rather than the mindset of the scientists who refer to “ocean acidification” in discussing that phenomenon.

  82. Oceans had smaller pH levels in the past. Using the 1700s as a starting point of pH scare stories kind of ignores that it was the coldest period in this interglacial … and cold water holds more CO2.

    • More CO2 makes the water more acidotic. Therefore using the 1700s as a starting point would tend to underestimate, not overestimate, the [H+] anomaly.