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Current Rate of Ocean Acidification Worst in 300 Million Years

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Science has published a troubling but not entirely surprising article on the fact that the oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years. Actually, it could be the fastest rate over an even longer time period, but we can only go back with any degree of accuracy for 300 million years.

We first wrote about this issue in early 2007, and this section, which quoted Stormy from Angry Bear, will help bring readers up to speed:

….there are side effects to our love affair with CO2 that are not often mentioned. In fact, whether the earth cools or warms is absolutely irrelevant to these effects. I repeat: Absolutely irrelevant.

One of the most startling effects is the acidification of the oceans. Since 1750, the oceans have become increasingly acidic. In the oceans, CO2 forms carbonic acid, a serious threat to the base of the food chain, especially on shellfish of all sizes. Carbonic acid dissolves calcium carbonate, an essential component of any life form with an exoskeleton. In short, all life forms with an exoskeleton are threatened: shell fish, an important part of the food chain for many fish; coral reefs, the habitat of many species of fish….

The formation of carbonic acid does not depend upon temperature. Whether the oceans warm or cool is irrelevant. Of concern only is the amount of CO2 that enters the oceans.

Fast forward to today. Consider the scope of the paper in Science, per a very good discussion in ars technica:

A new paper in Science examines the geologic record for context relating to ocean acidification…The research group (twenty-one scientists from nearly as many different universities) reviewed the evidence from past known or suspected intervals of ocean acidification…They find that the current rate of ocean acidification puts us on a track that, if continued, would likely be unprecedented in last 300 million years.

There is an important driver of this process that this overview mentions only in passing further on, and it’s useful to have it in mind when you review the discussion of the historical record: ocean acidification depends primarily on the rate of atmospheric CO2 increases, not the absolute concentration. Look at how attenuated the rate of past CO2 changes was in the past versus the speed now:

The first period the researchers looked at was the end of the last ice age, starting around 18,000 years ago. Over a period of about 6,000 years, atmospheric CO2 levels increased by 30 percent, a change of roughly 75 ppm. (For reference, atmospheric CO2 has gone up by about the same amount over the past 50 years.) Over that 6,000 year time period, surface ocean pH dropped by approximately 0.15 units. That comes out to about 0.002 units per century. Our current rate is over 0.1 units per century—two orders of magnitude greater, which lines up well with a model estimate we covered recently.

The last deglaciation did not trigger a mass extinction, but it did cause changes in some species…

During the Pliocene warm period, about 3 million years ago, atmospheric CO2 was about the same as today, but pH was only 0.06 to 0.11 units lower than preindustrial conditions. This is because the event played out over 320,000 years or so. We see species migration in the fossil record in response to the warming planet, but not ill effects on calcifiers…

Next, the researchers turned their focus to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (or PETM), which occurred 56 million years ago. Global temperature increased about 6°C over 20,000 years due to an abrupt release of carbon to the atmosphere (though this was not as abrupt as current emissions). The PETM saw the largest extinction of deep-sea foraminifera of the last 75 million years, and was one of the four biggest coral reef disasters of the last 300 million years…

The group also examined the several mass extinctions that defined the Mesozoic—the age of dinosaurs. The boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic included a large increase in atmospheric CO2 (adding as much as 1,300 to 2,400 ppm) over a relatively short period of time, perhaps just 20,000 years. The authors write, “A calcification crisis amongst hypercalcifying taxa is inferred for this period, with reefs and scleractinian corals experiencing a near-total collapse.” Again, though, it’s unclear how much of the catastrophe can be blamed on acidification rather than warming.

Finally, we come the big one—The Great Dying. The Permian-Triassic mass extinction (about 252 million years ago) wiped out around 96 percent of marine species. Still, the rate of CO2 released to the atmosphere that drove the dangerous climate change was 10-100 times slower than current emissions…

In the end, the researchers conclude that the PETM, Triassic-Jurassic boundary, and Permian-Triassic boundary are the closest analogs to the modern day, at least as far as acidification is concerned. Due to the poor ocean chemistry data for the latter two, the PETM is the best event for us to compare current conditions. It’s still not perfect—the rate of CO2 increase was slower than today…

The authors conclude, “[T]he current rate of (mainly fossil fuel) CO2 release stands out as capable of driving a combination and magnitude of ocean geochemical changes potentially unparalleled in at least the last ~300 [million years] of Earth history, raising the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change.”

Translation: “We’re probably fucked, but the data is so far outside of historical parameters, we can’t say anything with a high degree of certainty.”

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113 comments

  1. IF

    I am trying to interpret all these numbers. There are a dizzying amount of them giving in the article, but the most important seem to be missing. We have “Our current rate is over 0.1 units per century” – which is important. But what is the concentration now, what were the concentrations during extinction events? And finally, how much coal and oil do we still have to keep up this rate of CO2 increase for several more centuries?

    I don’t have access to the original Nature article. Maybe this is answered there.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. “…ocean acidification depends primarily on the rate of atmospheric CO2 increases, not the absolute concentration.”

      2. “Finally, we come the big one—The Great Dying. The Permian-Triassic mass extinction (about 252 million years ago) wiped out around 96 percent of marine species. Still, the rate of CO2 released to the atmosphere that drove the dangerous climate change was 10-100 times slower than current emissions…”

      So….even though we have less solid data on it:

      1. Our current rate of CO2 increases looks to be at least 10x the change that produced the most serious dieoff. We are two orders of magnitude (over 100x) worse than the dieoff at the end of the last Ice Age. And although they didn’t say it in ars technica, I’d imagine there are processes that can produce tipping points or self-reinforcing changes too

      2. I left this part out of the extract from ars technica: Perhaps more significantly, the ocean chemistry was actually less sensitive to change then. The ratio of magnesium to calcium in ocean water changes over time due to differences in volcanic activity along the mid-ocean ridges, among other things. When magnesium is high (as it is today), a form of calcium carbonate called aragonite becomes dominant. Aragonite is more soluble than calcite, so “aragonite seas” are more susceptible to the effects of acidification. Even though the PETM did not feature aragonite seas, it was a tumultuous time for many marine species.

      The article from Stormy had a long discussion of the terrible impact of the number of coal fired plants expected to come on line in China, India, and the US (see http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2007/03/just-matter-of-ph.html). The US numbers may be less than forecast then, but the Chinese figures were scary and depressing. You might read the older post and see if there is more current information of that sort if you are concerned about calibrating.

        1. Up the Ante

          You’d better hope China’s contribution to the 400 Chernobyls of Matt Stein is not about to follow the “miasma of lead, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other elements of coal-burning and car exhaust hovers over most Chinese cities ..”.

          http://motherjones.com/environment/2007/12/last-empire-chinas-pollution-problem-goes-global

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-stein/400-chernobyls_b_1171129.html

          Perhaps a pro-nuker troll lab’er will reassure us that future Fuku will be less toxic than the “miasma” ?

          1. CrazyCooter

            For anyone who wants more “story” background on ocean acidification in the context of history, this is an excellent series which delves into the phenomena somewhat as it does directly relate to oil deposit formation. Overall, this is extremely educational and has a focus on basuc carbon science to boot.

            http://www.abc.net.au/science/crude/

            Regards,

            Cooter

    2. j.grmwd

      We’ve released 3 or 4 hundred gigatonnes of carbon since 1750. There’s easily another thousand gigatonnes left in conventional reserves. And probably as much again in tar sands, clathrates etc.

      1. Mark P.

        In 2004 a very rough assessment of global ocean methane clathrates (based on the limited data samples we’ve acquired) estimated that they occupied between one and five million cubic kilometres. If all these clathrates were to be spread uniformly across the ocean floor, this would translate to a thickness between three and fourteen metres.

        This in turn corresponds to 500-2500 gigatonnes carbon and can be compared with the 5000 Gt of carbon estimated for all other fossil fuel reserves.

    3. with the doves

      We’ve lowered ocean pH from 8.2 to 8.1 in the past 80 years or so … since pH is a logarithmic scale that is actually a 26 percent increase in the acidity of the ocean. (Acidity = 10^-pH.

      The current excess CO2 in the air will continue to lower pH even if we don’t produce anymore.

      People think humans have used about half the earth’s available oil but less than half of our coal and natural gas.

  2. vlade

    Actually, the temperature does matter since higher temp drops the solubility (fortunately for us), and thus formation of H2CO3 (since CO2 + H2O H2CO3, and CO2 solubility is driven by temperature).

    The solubility curve is actually very steep from about 0 to 20 deg C, and then tails off a bit (say at about 16 deg it’s 2g CO2 per H2O kg, at ~37 deg it’s about 1g CO2 per H2O). See for example http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html

    That’s not to say acidification is not a problem – it’s a huge one.

  3. jake chase

    Perhaps this is positive. The next dominant life form can start over with a better financial system. Why all this angst about species survival? What percentage of any species (including humans, especially humans) have ever been happy or are happy now? Change happens. Why not embrace it?

    1. Rex

      Life forms are quite good at adapting, but that’s hard to do if the change is too fast. If you think change like this is good, we might as well push the petal to the metal and start lobbing nukes at each other. That should slow the CO2 problem.

      Personally, I’m not proud of being part of the crew that seems about to blow up the meth lab that we have turned the whole world into.

      1. Mark P.

        There’s one life form that’s evolved to specialize in fast adaption.

        That’s us, believe it or not — it’s all relative and most other animal species only adapt at evolutionary speeds whereas human individuals can adapt their mental habits within individual lifespans. Though many of us would rather die than change our minds, apparently.

        So in a worst-case scenario a few of us will probably survive, if only in the domes and underground shelters that we build.

        1. Mark P.

          See for instance –

          http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2012/03/why-humans-have-computers-and-chimps-are-stuck-with-sticks.ars

          ‘…The researchers used three species in their experiments: chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys, and humans (specifically human children, to minimize the impact of culture)… to compare humans with two closely related species that have cultural traditions, but not cumulative culture itself….

          ‘After 53 hours with the puzzle box, just one capuchin monkey had reached the second stage, and none figured out the third stage. Chimpanzees fared only slightly better: just one figured out stage three, and only four more had reached stage two… Meanwhile, after just 2.5 hours of exposure to the puzzle box, more than sixty percent of the 3- and 4-year old children had figured out stage three.’

          1. Jessica

            Reply to Lambert
            Cynicism and pessimism are the mother’s milk of There Is No Alternative.
            Just saying

          2. patricia

            Aesop just saying:
            Better to be stupid than destructive.
            Hit all humans in head at birth.

  4. Tamo

    Screwed we are, yes.

    My neighbors and townspeople in my oceanside town are largely oblivious or in complete denial of ocean acidification. And as time passes, more people I know say they don’t believe in global warming. Many among them are desperate for the return of the construction orgy that flattened large swaths of the countryside here in the years leading up to the crash.

    Goodbye lobsters, goodbye clams, it was good to eat you.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      All the data is very impressive, of course, but it’s also irrelevant to the now totally politicized debate over the issue. Here’s something to crib from to support the right side of the debate…

      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/22/why-global-warming-skeptics-are-wrong/

      If this seems a bit too “intellectual” we can always adopt the ever-popular mode of screaming personal insults at our opponents. That seems to work pretty well, judging by the latest evidence.

      1. ECON

        Your reference to W. Nordhaus is literate even to the mentally challenged and represents some reflection for citizens to take up.

    2. Rex

      I guess when the realities begin to look so bleak, denial, fantasy and magic are somewhat more palatable strategies than comprehension.

      Those with power and money seem to be quite comfortable with selling that approach.

    3. Francois T

      They are desperate for the good ‘ol times where paper money was plentiful huh?

      My grandfather had a devastating reply to people like that; he would serve them a plate of one dollar bills and order his interlocutors to eat it!

    4. Albert

      Lobsters have chitin, not calcium carbonate, shells, which are not subject to the effect discussed.

    5. justanotherobserver

      the shell of lobsters in chitin. I don’t believe that acidification should affect that too much.

      clams however, are in big trouble.

      and so are we, of course.

      1. Joe

        When 96 percent of ocean species went extinct in during an acidification 10-100x SLOWER than today, you think lobsters will survive and be plentiful enough for 1,000 people to find and eat, much less 10 billion or even 1 billion? The entire ocean food chain will be destroyed. And human mass-population is most certainly in that food chain.

  5. Greendemon

    Watts of wattsupwiththat.com has several articles about this:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/09/scripps-paper-ocean-acidification-fears-overhyped/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/27/the-ocean-is-not-getting-acidified/

    I think oceanic the “acidification” (or rather “becoming-more-neutral”) process should be treated with the same measure of concern as anthropogenic global warming. That is to say, take the hype and fearmongering with a pinch of salt, and always ask yourself “who benefits?”.

    1. toxymoron

      Watts is knwn the world over for publishing the most brazen nonsense money can buy – and he gets personal if you try to point this out.
      You may want to turn the question the other way round. Who benefits for NOT taking any action, and maintaining ‘business as usual’?

      1. R Foreman

        It’s all fun and games until people start growing a third eyeball and extra genitals.

    2. j.grmwd

      Typical pseudo-scientific obfuscation.
      Firstly, the fact that one finds Scottish molluscs or particular species of coral adapted to live in more acidic environments is irrelevant to the question of whether coral reefs can survive as an ecosystem. Secondly,the argument that large short-term variation in ocean acidity proves that marine life can handle the predicted increase in average acidity is nonsensical. It’s equivalent to saying, “Chicago gets really hot in summer and really cold in winter, so if the average temperature changes by just a few degrees how could it affect the environment?”

    3. Francois T

      Anthony Watts is one of the biggest fraud on the internet.
      The guy is a fucking meteorologist! What does he know about ocean chemistry?

    4. Jak

      Its one thing for WattUpWithThat to be skeptical about global warming; I’m fine with a streak of skepticism; keeps the non-speptics on their toes; but its another for WattsUpWithThat to be skeptical about ocean acidification *too*. The only common-divisor between the two problems is carbon and its sources. At that point, one has good reason to doubt that the skepticism is motivated by anything except a desire to protect the fossil-fuel industry, or perhaps a irrational hatred for anything with the smell of environmentalism.

  6. Mike M

    ” but we can only go back with any degree of accuracy for 300 million years.”

    Really? So, you believe that there are ways to accurately measure this 300 million years back. After that, it gets a little, um, vague? Really?

    You have a lot of faith in modern science.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Mike;
      That’s a sight better than having faith in modern politics. (I know, it’s not too logical a rebuttal. But then, modern politics doesn’t even pretend to logic, science does.)

    2. howard in nyc

      i just want to second the response to the ‘degree of accuracy over 300 million years’ phrase.

      vast extropolation of tiny collections of data across such wide swaths often fails in hard science as well as in economics.

    3. Mike M

      It’s really something how most who question the tenets of organized religion will accept the proclamations of most modern scientists as the word. I used the term “faith” to prove a point. Dig up a few bones from the ground, and a whole history of a specie’s behavior is conjured. Have a bad dream, and emotional “problems” are treated. And sit through a warm spell during your freakishly short lifetime, relative to the span of the Earth’s history, and disaster is right around the corner.

      1. Mark P.

        Yes, it may be that we’ve had warm spells before and if you want to be sceptical about climate science computer models there’s plenty of possible holes in them.

        Forget the models, therefore. Just look at the melting ice we currently see in the world and the basic physics of the heat release from that, and then note that icecores give us good , very granular data back over many millions of years.

        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore.html

        1. Mike M

          OK, well, speaking of ice, explain the Ice Age. Oh, wait, that was only about 20,000 years ago, and nobody really knows what caused it. But they can drill a hole into a glacier and tell us what the temperature was in 1000000000 BC, like some modern Indian shaman staring at some stones. Please.

          1. mookie

            You clearly have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, but you rush to rubbish the science involved, comparing it to religious ravings. Who are you shilling for? I hope they’re paying you more than wu mao per post.

          2. wb

            And we’re supposed to find your kindergarten-level reasoning convincing, Mike M ?
            Funny how the trolls on this thread are happy to accept the science that provides their computers and internet, but the same science when applied to climate must be a hoax.
            Funny how Biblical literalist cranks like F. Beard are willing to bet the future of the planet, all our futures, children and grand children, on their pitifully weak understanding of the science. ‘Remember, CO2 is plant food’. Riiiight.

          3. F. Beard

            are willing to bet the future of the planet, all our futures, children and grand children, on their pitifully weak understanding of the science. wb

            While you wish to drive up the cost of energy during a Depression?! GD I was a (the?) major cause of WWII which created quite a bit of CO2 from burning German and Japanese cities.

            As for me being a Bible literalist, please show me an example of that?

          4. Mike M

            @wb

            “Funny how the trolls on this thread are happy to accept the science that provides their computers and internet, but the same science when applied to climate must be a hoax.”

            Same science? Really? So, I should talk about this issue with the nerdy IT guy at work, and he’ll educate me about acid in the ocean? Hey, thanks. I’ll buttonhole him Monday morning and pick his oversized brain. Thanks for the advice.

          5. Mike M

            From your link:

            “There is still some discussion about how exactly this starts and ends ice ages”

            “model simulations show that some of these changes could have been triggered”

            “Data on greenhouse gas abundances going back beyond a million years, that is, beyond the reach of antarctic ice cores, are still rather uncertain”

            and, my favorite…

            “The fact that natural factors caused climate changes in the past does not mean that the current climate change is natural.”

            Really. Kinda twisted the logic in their direction in the conclusion. Sounds like it could be either, in my book.

            Hey, as usual, whenever I question the basis of global warming “science”, I always have to duck and flinch as the veracity of all the defenses come flying my way. That’s why I compare a lot of this to religious fanaticism from a century or two ago (and, of course, today in many places). I’m no AM radio religious right winger – hell, I pretty much believe that we’ve screwed up the environment a whole lot. I grew up in New Jersey, after all. But a lot of this science is way beyond biased, and very much in the realm of science fiction. There just isn’t enough data out there. Do you actually believe that there is enough precise evidence in million year old sediment and glacier ice? Really? When you throw stuff at me that uses “Sunspot observations (going back to the 17th century)”, you know, c’mon. Somebody observed a little activity in their crude telescope in 1688 and you base your argument on that? As far as meteorological data, well, less than a century ago, a class 5 hurricane wiped out the eastern tip of Long Island, and our national forecasters had no clue that it was there until it did it’s damage, and this was right off the heavily populated Atlantic coast. So someone can tell me that we can go back a million years and “precisely” figure out climatic conditions by studying dirt and old ice? Really? I don’t think so.
            Ego of the species and all that. I choose to believe that we are still quite ignorant of the ways of the world. Sure, we’re learning every day, but my bullshit meter still pins to the right many a time when I read some of this stuff. Everybody has an agenda, though, I suppose.

    4. Francois T

      No we don’t BELIEVE!!

      We observe, test, measure, contrast, compare, re-test and submit the whole enchilada to HONEST criticism.

      ONLY THEN, do we START, to PERHAPS allow ourselves to entertain the possibility that our hypothesis COULD BE right.

      But NO!! We just don’t BELIEVE, for the hell of it.

      Do not confound us with ayatollahs, right wing fraudsters, Marxists, Trotskists, communists, fascists and the likes: We THINK over here!

      Any questions?

  7. Praedor

    This is the issue I point out to people who deny global warming. I tell them that regardless of their accepting the fact that CO2 is a green house gas, that it DOES increase planet temperature, it also acidifies the ocean. So leaving aside the warming aspect, that could be argued to the be lessor of the two main harms from increased CO2 emissions (least worse of the two harms), ocean acidification is THE biggie. Kill off much of sea life, or most of sea life, and you DO kill off humanity and a lot of life on the surface. The ocean is NOT just about fish for dinner. It is the key player in the entire planetary biosphere. It is a major source of earth’s oxygen. Killing the oceans kills off everyone.

    1. ECON

      Praedor is correct however the deniers do not connect with science at all. If humans are exterminated on Earth, this planet over thousands/millions of years will flourish with nature and its abundance and hopefully a more enlightened life at the summit of the food-chain will be borne.

      1. reslez

        It took 3 billion years and multiple do-overs for nature to stumble upon an intelligent species.

        Intelligence does not appear to be commonplace, or even all that optimal.

        We are probably more likely to be replaced by non-sentient velociraptors or whatever the squid equivalent is.

        1. Justicia

          Humans are merely an experiment to determine whether our form of ‘intelligence’ is useful from an evolutionary standpoint. So far, the experiment is failing.

        2. myshkin

          The characterization, intelligent must be thought of as a relative term considering that the species so designated refuses to face the very facts that spell their own doom.

  8. snowpocalypse

    I swear al-Qaeda must’ve been lining America’s water mains with lead since 1980.

    It’s pathetic that a big bulk of the population have absolutely zero understanding of empiricism and would treat Snowpocalypse as irrefutable proof that global warming/the impact of human activities on the planet was a farce.

  9. ambrit

    Praedor;
    To quibble, but the “ocean is all” meme is coming under some attack lately. Figures for the sources of atmospheric gasses, especially oxygen, are shifting back and forth as the science grows more rigourous.
    Another source of atmospheric contamination, mentioned here in a links some time ago, is out gassing of methane from thawing methane hydrate from the ocean floor. Throw in a super volcano or two and you have an average eon in terrestrial life.
    Who ever said we’re the “Crown of Creation?”

  10. F. Beard

    I predict this will not be a major problem. That evolution thingy works very fast when life exists in huge numbers and replicates rapidly. And remember, CO2 is to plants what oxygen is to animals.

    We should have a low-pass filter when it comes to the sky is falling predictions. And even if too much carbon is being burned that is a branch, not a root of evil. The root is the banking and money system.

    How odd. The banks screw up once again and suddenly all these distractions appear! I know. Let’s get huge loans from the counterfeiting cartel and build more windmills!

    1. reslez

      Environment is the cradle that sustains human civilization. Without it we do not exist. To sustain our current level of civilizational complexity we need stable temperatures, rainfall, soil, everything. Banking is a sideshow. Money is a sideshow.

      In the name of profit, capitalism has drained every ounce of redundancy, backup and safety from our civilization. We have made ourselves less adaptable in order to profit a few alpha apes.

      We do the best we can with the knowledge we have. The evidence points to major changes in the environment. You would have to be a major idiot to think those changes are going to in any way enhance the chances of human survival. “CO2 is plantfood!” What a convenient delusion.

    2. Francois T

      “CO2 is to plants what oxygen is to animals.”

      The actual concentration of oxygen on Earth is ~20%.

      400 million years ago, it was around 45%.

      No animal living today (that would include…us!) could ever have survived in an atmosphere with 45% of oxygen.

      Too much is like not enough: detrimental one way or another.

      Hence, too much CO2 is NOT a good thing.

      1. gepay

        O2 at 20% is a major part of the atmosphere. CO2 at 390 ppm (Notice that CO2 is measured in parts per million)is a trace gas. The explanations of AGW I have read say the doubling of CO2 by man (which hasn’t happened yet as the pre- industrial “starting point” is said to 280 ppm) will raise the global temperature by 1 degree. So the reported catastrophes of predicted global warming are dependent on feedback mechanisms in the climate system. Does anybody in science claim these feedback mechanisms in climate are perfectly understood or even completely known? NO. In fact even with global temperature we only have reliably accurate numbers for the few decades since satellites have been observing them.
        Then there is the taking as gospel that the conclusions in this article are correct. Take the PETM event 56 million years ago where the CO2 was vastly higher than it is now. They aren’t any firm conclusions on why and how this event happened. YOU know it was 56 million years ago. It was real climate change as was the ending of the last age 10,000 years ago. As another skeptic mentioned, there are not even convincing explanations for why this climate change happened. What we do know is that the Earth has been warming ever since. I am still of the opinion that although the 80s and the 90s were warmer than whatever usual is, it was within a “normal” climate variation.
        We can’t even predict what the jet streams are going to do from year to year but there is consensus that the Earth will be even warmer 50 years from now. Or not.

        1. patricia

          gepay: You’re standing in the middle of the road and you see a car approaching at high speed towards you from a few blocks away.

          You scratch you head and consider: It could turn left or right, it could stop before arrival, it could swerve onto the sidewalk and go around me, or it could be just another one of my delusions. Hmmmph, you say solemnly. Well, I’ll…I’ll wait and see. No use getting all excited over uncertainties.

          Or you could move off the road.

    3. Jak

      Oh yeah, maybe! Except…you see life *isn’t* super-abundant right now *especially* in the oceans. And *you’d* know that if you’ve ever read any of the literature, or even compared common-day experience with the accounts of fishermen and sailors of a century or two ago. At this point, even our supply of non-farmed fish is in deep doubt.

      So what we have is: in the midst of a great die-off, we go about and acidify the oceans to make sure that we’ve killed ‘em after we’ve hung ‘em.

  11. kris

    Oh please.
    So far we were running out of oil only.
    Now we could be running out of water. Any new ideas of running out of air?
    Those fake scientist want to maintain their jobs and probably make it as advisors to Spielberg movies.

      1. ambrit

        Yep. “The Lost World IV, Ichthyosaurs To The Rescue!” Sort of “Jaws” meets “Godzilla” on the Discovery Channel.

        1. j.grmwd

          Who wouldn’t want a piece of that action? But why is Spielberg getting advice from corrupt marine biologists who fake their ocean acidification studies? Is he just an innocent victim of their lies? There has to be an investigation.

    1. ECON

      Kris is further evidence in his comment that science is not simple enough for him to understand on any level of intelligence.

      1. kris

        Econ
        There are only two way to understand things:
        - Experiments
        - Empiricism
        Can you tell me how many experiments have proved that 300 millions years of world ecosystem is getting destroyed?
        Can you show me anybody that has lived 300 million years that could show us some empiric data?

    2. Francois T

      You must’ve got lost in the blogosphere.

      The site you’re looking for is wattsupwiththat.com

      Be gone already!

      1. kris

        Sir,
        I’m into “debating” economics and finance. As far as any Peak Theories are viewed and analyzed in connection with Finance, this is one of the best blogs on the internet.
        I’m NOT interested in a SEPARATE discussion strictly about Peak Theories.

  12. Susan the other

    Acidification, a floating continent-sized plastic dump, sewage and chemicals in every watershed and delta, radioactive waste following global ocean currents, freighters spewing oil and smoke, depleted species, including sharks, in a spiral of starvation. And then there is the mess we have made on land. The cost of salvaging the earth is going to far exceed the profits we stole. And there will never be a consensus on the best way to go forward. If we reduce CO2 by too much we will enter a little ice age; if we attempt to filter out particles from the atmosphere the sun will be even hotter; if we stop producing and consuming like piranas social order will shut down; and if we just try to continue to slowly clean things up it will never be enough to make a difference because there are too many of us born every day.

    1. F. Beard

      Assuming the Creator exists would He not cut us some slack if we repented of say, usury?

      I had a terrible dream once. I dreamed I was in Hell. It wasn’t so bad, not very much worse than a very muggy day. Anyway, problem solver that I sometimes am, I attempted to dig my way out. About 10 feet down the bottom fell out and there was nothing but a sea of fire below. I woke up in dread. It took me days (months?) to get over that dream.

      The lesson? If one deserves his fate attempting to escape it will just make matters worse.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Beard;
        I’m thinking, the Creator, if It’s still interested, would rather we repented of our stupidity. The rest would then fall into place organically.

        1. F. Beard

          What stupidity? A reasonably comfortable life style? Then why did He plant huge amounts of fossil fuels?

          The infuriating thing about those who attempt to play God is that they have all His severity and then some but little of His compassion and kindness. Not to mention that they offer no hope after death either. Not to mention they only imagine they know what they are doing in many cases.

          This CO2 scare shall pass too UNLESS the following is fulfilled:

          What the wicked fears will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted. Proverbs 10:24

          1. wb

            What appalling arrogance you demonstrate, F. Beard, when you say

            “Then why did He plant huge amounts of fossil fuels?”

            How do YOU know that HE didn’t stash it out of the way, harmlessly sequestered deep in the ground ? Your own hypocrisy and stupidity is quite shocking sometimes.
            As far as I recall, there’s nothing in the Bible about going and digging up all the coal and oil and burning it in motorcars. But no doubt you’ll dig out some idiotic selective quotation out of context, to justify your own vanity.

          2. F. Beard

            Your own hypocrisy and stupidity is quite shocking sometimes. wb

            Then please point it out – using the Bible.

          3. Debunked

            Amazing. So I guess that soil erosion is no problem either, nope, just worry nannies. Deforestation and related issues like carbon sequestration? Problems like eutrophication? Worldwide water shortages (look up what China is facing in the coming decades, especially Northern China)? The massive loss of biodiversity the world over? Dead zones in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Baltic? The massive amounts of plastic in the biosphere and its inability to consume and digest that plastic? All of this, amongst many other issues, is no worries. It helps if you know jack shit about the basics of ecology and things like unexpected consequences that we can never predict. Stick to your whole monetary, fiat currency thing or whatever. Being a monetary crank is what you know and do well, unless of course you want to study the matter and know what the hell you are talking about.

          4. patricia

            Well, F. Beard, if God planted huge amounts of fossil fuels, He/She also planted poppies for heroin. For your argument, you must use either the whole world or none of it.

            And isn’t there something in the Bible about taking care of the planet? Stewards of the earth?

            And isn’t there also this thing about loving your neighbor as yourself? The planet is part of the neighborhood, after all. And our very comfortable lifestyle has been at the expense of large numbers of our neighbors.

            What is in the righteous person’s desires that makes them “grantable”?

          5. F. Beard

            He/She also planted poppies for heroin. For your argument, you must use either the whole world or none of it. patricia

            Why do you assume I am against opiate use? I’m not.

          6. patricia

            Good. Then, are you fine with heroin addiction?

            And I gave you some Biblical sourcing, for which you’d asked. I’d like to hear your response.

          7. F. Beard

            @Debunked,

            All that environmental destruction is funded with counterfeit money, so-called “credit”, and/or is a result of the boom-bust cycle.

            As for me being a monetary crank, I note that economic considerations trump concern for the environment. Look at what the Soviet Union did to their environment for example. Look at what the poor are doing to the Amazon region. If we don’t do money right we can forget about the environment.

            The massive amounts of plastic in the biosphere and its inability to consume and digest that plastic? debunked

            You forgot to mention PCBs. Oh wait they are no longer a problem because some bacteria have evolved to consume them just as some bacteria have evolved to sequester radioactive waste.

            Look. I don’t have a problem with going after true pollutants but when the same crowd that thinks the earth is overpopulated (except for themselves, of course) goes after an essential plant food, CO2, I smell genocide.

          8. F. Beard

            Good. Then, are you fine with heroin addiction? patricia

            I am fine with minding my own business wrt adult substance use. Why the heck do we call people “adults” if we treat them as children?

            As for loving my neighbor, I don’t consider CO2 a pollutant, so your reference is irrelevant.

          9. F. Beard

            And our very comfortable lifestyle has been at the expense of large numbers of our neighbors. patricia

            We should all be comfortable and we all can be too.

            What is in the righteous person’s desires that makes them “grantable”? patricia

            Good point; a righteous person is not likely to desire evil but since when is comfort in itself evil?

          10. patricia

            Yes, so how can we create lives of comfort for all, not just a few? Part of the answer is contained in some of your economic proposals, but not nearly all.

            Jesus didn’t make a distinction between adults/ children, saying “love the children as yourself”. A person governed by love rues addiction, understands that it occurs, and provides for it.

            My general point is that your ethics fail in the same way for all three issues. You are correct that Co2, like oil and heroin, are just fine in themselves, but when they go out of balance (for whatever reason) and ruination begins, a person of God will work to heal/restore.

            We are stewards of the earth, right? A poor manager lets any old thing happen, thinking the system will take care of itself, idly supposing that it’ll all fall together ok.

            With the view that you hold on CO2, love would call you to run around the world shedding plants like a Johnny Appleseed banshee, so that they can eat all that extra. How many more plants would that require, do you know?

          11. F. Beard

            A person governed by love rues addiction, understands that it occurs, and provides for it. patricia

            Addiction is not that bad. It is how we treat drug users that is horrible and CONTRARY TO SCRIPTURE TOO.

            Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
            And wine to him whose life is bitter.
            Let him drink and forget his poverty
            And remember his trouble no more.
            Open your mouth for the mute,
            For the rights of all the unfortunate.
            Open your mouth, judge righteously,
            And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
            Proverbs 31:6-10

          12. patricia

            That we maintain a money-mongering war towards drug users doesn’t preclude the awfulness of addiction. I invite you to spend a week camping downtown Detroit, Beard. Very little time for a guaranteed life-changing experience. I suggest May when the weather is more comfortable. And bring your wine. You’ll need it. Plus it’ll bring you more friends.

            Thusly I have hereby opened my mouth to defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. Selah

          13. F. Beard

            Thusly I have hereby opened my mouth to defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. Patricia

            No you haven’t. Instead you would cruelly remove what little comfort in life they have. And be a busybody too.

            Drug use is not the root of poverty; poverty is the root of drug use.

            Until 1904, a not small percentage of Americans were addicted to heroin and cocaine YET they managed to hold down jobs and raise families.

        2. patricia

          Using drugs does not equate to addiction, but you know that, of course. You are being deliberately obtuse in order to stay in your rigid but apparently comfortable blind spot. And to further protect yourself, you fling cute little darts like “busybody” and “cruel”.

          This reflects badly on the god you supposedly worship, Beard.

          1. F. Beard

            I’m for all the drug treatment programs that people want but if they don’t want to be treated that is their business.

            Do you think the down and out are the problem? They aren’t. They have been systematically looted by the banks and the so-called “credit-worthy”. They don’t need treatment; they need justice and restitution.

            Also, why would addiction be a problem if drugs were legal and thus cheap? People are addicted to all sorts of legal substances including caffeine with no serious impact to other people.

      2. patricia

        Beard, it’s best to be cautious about interpretation of dreams. One might instead conclude that you knew you needed to change your position, but had an absolute dread of where it might lead. The lake of fire may have represented your dread rather than any actual consequence for change.

        The lesson you took from it is stifling, and rejects a fundamentally good human quality—action towards improvement.

        1. F. Beard

          The lesson you took from it is stifling, patricia

          Not at all. it was a strong warning and I have heeded it to a certain extent. Life is much better.

          We all tend to think that what we do is right or at least justified but how can we know for sure without a spiritual guide?

          1. patricia

            True. I have a quibble about the character of your spiritual guide, that’s all. Best to you, Beard. I have to head out.

    2. ECON

      Susan the other is not allowing for a deadly and viral virus to infect the Earth’s humans and reduce population by 40%.

  13. Up the Ante

    On the limits of technology, carbonic acid to this day has not been isolated in the lab yet is present whereever water is ‘carbonated’.

  14. Masonboro

    Thomas Jefferson was wrong.

    Thomas Hobbes was right.

    People cannot govern themselves for the long term. This is the bottom line of the environmental/development “debate”.

    Jim

    1. F. Beard

      People cannot govern themselves for the long term.

      So who should? You?

      When I was 12, I seriously thought I could run the world.

      But I grew out of that. You?

      1. F. Beard

        But I have an idea. How about we stop systematically looting the population “for their own good”. Think the population might then develop a sense of responsibility and stakeholdership?

      2. Masonboro

        “You?”

        Hell no! I can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. Actually I don’t have a clue. Given that societies have tried to organize themselves for 5000+ years without notable success, I am pessimistic that there is an answer but there must be a global long term social contract: strictly enforced but flexible enough to adjust with the times – which may not be possible (the Japanese Shogun period was stable for centuries as was the Roman Empire so maybe there is hope). Human nature may preclude any system other than short term self interest. Conservatives would say self interest leads to long term maximum utility but this post (and the current economic crisis) says otherwise.

        Bottom line – I think we are effed-up but I am a cynical old man.

        Cheers,
        Jim

      3. Debunked

        Better yet, lets continue to have the neoclassical economists and the profit seeking, externalizing machine capitalists continue to dominate the world. It is working out wonderfully for us all. I think the neoclassical economists are on to something good. Put a price tag on everything, create a market out of everything. You could even create a futures market on species extinction and work hard to kill off as many species as possible, making a pretty penny along the way. If you care, study these issues and think that the way we structure our economic system is illogical and not sustainable you must want to rule the world. If THIS is how you think your way through the issues I could give a damn what you think about the Fed or monetary issues. Honestly. Maybe you devote far too much time to that issue and don’t know when to shut the mouth when discussing an issue you clearly haven’t taken the time to understand. Many intelligent people I know focus on a subject or two almost exclusively and when they venture away and discuss other issues they think their intelligence makes up for the fact they know little to nothing about the issues they blather about.

        1. F. Beard

          If you care, study these issues and think that the way we structure our economic system is illogical and not sustainable you must want to rule the world. Debunked

          No, I don’t. Our hope is in decentralization. Hierarchies favor evil, not good. Sure a good king can do a lot of good with his power but what guarantees that he will be succeeded by other good kings?

          If THIS is how you think your way through the issues I could give a damn what you think about the Fed or monetary issues. Honestly. Debunked

          I made an offhand prediction about CO2 based on experience, history, general knowledge and my understanding of God. I stand by it. We’ll see.

    2. another

      To be fair to Mr. Jefferson, he did foresee the need for revolution in each generation. That’s the part we’ve left out, to our detriment. We’re well overdue now, so let’s make it a big one!

  15. gael

    So this means the earth isn’t only 5000 years old and people didn’t ride around on dinosaurs? :P

    1. F. Beard

      The Bible teaches the Earth is at least 15,000 years old so the guys pushing the 6000 year old Earth are Biblically ignorant:

      He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations,… Psalm 105:8

      Assuming very conservatively that a generation is at least 15 years then the Earth is at least 15,000 years old according to the Bible.

      Of course the Earth is billions of years old but can we at least stop with the 6,000 year old meme?

  16. dtj

    You can raise the alkalinity of water by dissolving ash in it. So the solution is quite simple. After we burn the coal we dump the ashes in the ocean. Problem solved!

    1. Jumpjet

      You say it in dark humor, but I wonder if it might not be a decent idea.

      Certainly we’ve got to be prepared to alter the chemistry of the biosphere, to return it to its original states.

    2. American Slave

      If we dump coal ash in the ocean than all the mercury, arsenic and other toxins in the ash will do it no good anyway.

      1. kmurp

        I agree that this might not be a good example but perhaps is illustrative of how smart humans may yet figure a way out of our predicament. BTW, my personal scary climate change scenario is the one where we have an ice age due to the interruption of the gulf stream.

  17. c1ue

    Ocean acidification would be a much more credible bugaboo if the fact wasn’t that the pH values vary across the exact same ocean by factors of 0.5

    If this isn’t killing all sorts of oceanic denizens, why then is an overall shift of 0.1 – irregardless of the rate of change – going to matter?

    It seems a lot of people have this bizarre view that the world, ‘in nature’ or otherwise, is monotonic whether temperature, pH, or whatever.

    And lest you think this is some ‘denier’, this study by Scripps, sponsored by WWF, etc etc confirms what I note above:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028983

    These observations reveal a continuum of month-long pH variability with standard deviations from 0.004 to 0.277 and ranges spanning 0.024 to 1.430 pH units.

    1. wb

      That’s a totally absurd remark. The temperature everywhere varies between night and day, doesn’t it. Doesn’t mean that a change in the AVERAGE temperature doesn’t matter.

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