Ocean acidification: How much is too much?

Over at Skeptical Science we (Doug Mackie, Christina McGraw, and Keith Hunter) have started a long series (18 parts) about ocean acidification (Introduction , 1, 2). We all deride blog science. Blog science is what happens when people try to get a complex message across in 800 words or less. Real science takes time to explain. There is too much et voila in writing about climate change in general and ocean acidification in particular. Denialists have not touched ocean acidification because they don’t understand it. The chemistry is very subtle and even posts on normally reliable blogs like Skeptical Science have made errors.

A local Dunedin denier sent me ‘proof’ that ocean acidification was not real and even if it was then it wasn’t a problem. The ‘proof’ was a document published by the SPPI. The document was previously ‘published’ (cough) in Energy and Environment. Really, they very best argument the denialists have is “acid means pH less than 7 but ocean pH is greater than 7 so there is therefore no acidification”.

In this document (which I am not linking to because they don’t need the traffic) 5 of the 12 points for policy makers are variations on the pH greater than 7 argument. At first I puzzled at this: Do they really think policy makers are so dumb they won’t notice the same thing said 5 ways? Then I remembered Don Brash and had to concede the point. Yes, many policy makers are that dumb. (6 more points in the summary for policy makers are variations of ‘the gravy train’ meme and the last point says that measurements to date agree with IPCC projections – while mangling the terminology).

Continue reading “Ocean acidification: How much is too much?”

The Climate Show #15: Michael Ashley and the ineducable Carter

We thought we’d try for a record short show — and failed, because once again there was just to much to talk about. We have more on Eritrean volcanoes, extreme weather over the last 18 months, a new report on the dire state of the oceans, and Stoat’s big bet. Special guest is Professor Michael Ashley from the University of New South Wales, discussing the state of play in Australia, John Cook does a rapid debunk of Bob Carter, and we have electric cars, more flow batteries and the gas we do not want to smell.

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download here:

The Climate Show

Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Continue reading “The Climate Show #15: Michael Ashley and the ineducable Carter”

The state of the ocean (dire)

Alex Rogers, Professor of Conservation Biology at the Department of Zoology at Oxford, and scientific director of the International Programme on the State of the Ocean describes the main problems affecting the global ocean — and discusses some of the things we could do to address them in this new video. The IPSO has just launched the summary of its forthcoming report on the state of the oceans1 — PDF here. The key findings make sobering reading:

  • Human actions have resulted in warming and acidification of the oceans and are now causing increased hypoxia.
  • The speeds of many negative changes to the ocean are near to or are tracking the worst case scenarios from IPCC and other predictions. Some are as predicted, but many are faster than anticipated, and many are still accelerating.
  • The magnitude of the cumulative impacts on the ocean is greater than previously understood.
  • Timelines for action are shrinking.
  • Resilience of the ocean to climate change impacts is severely compromised by other stressors from human activities, including fisheries, pollution and habitat destruction.
  • Ecosystem collapse is occurring as a result of both current and emerging stressors.
  • The extinction threat to marine species is rapidly increasing.

The bottom line is not pretty:

[…] we now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation. Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effect of climate change, over exploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean.

The report recommends immediate action on reduction of CO2 emissions, calls for a long list of actions to restore and protect marine ecosystems, and the formation of a new Global Ocean Compliance Commission to establish rules and regulations for the protection of the “high seas” — the ocean beyond national jurisdictions.

This is a cri du coeur from the world’s ocean scientists. We ignore it at our peril…

[See also Climate Progress, and the NZ Herald. The IPSO site also has more videos from workshop participants, and a great ocean cycles graphic.]

  1. Rogers, A.D. & Laffoley, D.d’A. 2011. International Earth system expert workshop on ocean stresses and impacts. Summary report. IPSO Oxford, 18 pp []

The cost of losing coral: no drop in the ocean

Climatechallenge Perhaps it will register if it’s expressed in money terms. The latest issue of the New Scientist carries an article reporting an estimate of  the loss of the world’s coral reefs at $172 billion per year. The estimate comes from the work of Pavan Sukhdev and colleagues. He’s an economist with the United Nations Environment Programme, and head of a European Commission study called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). It’s an international project to raise awareness about the economic benefits of biodiversity. I hadn’t come across its work before, but last month it produced a report TEEB Climate Issues Update. It’s a subset of early conclusions relating to climate change and a fuller report will follow next month.

Continue reading “The cost of losing coral: no drop in the ocean”

Climate compendium: important insights

Compendium“The Climate Change Science Compendium is a wake-up call. The time for hesitation is over”. So wrote Ban Ki-moon in his foreword to this UN Environment Programme publication released last week. The publication is a review of how climate science has evolved since the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), and is based on some 400 major scientific contributions in the peer-reviewed literature or from research institutions since the deadline for inclusion in AR4 three years ago. It appears in response to the request of many governments and stakeholders for a snapshot update. Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the Environment Programme makes it very clear that it doesn’t replace the painstaking rigour of an IPCC process, but he hopes it will provide important insights into the rapidly developing and fast moving realm of climate science so that the choices made by leaders in Copenhagen in December are informed by the best and the latest research available to the international community.

Continue reading “Climate compendium: important insights”