16 December 2007

Coral Reefs: Is There Any Danger? No, No, Not Really

Is there any danger?
No, no, not really.
Just lean on me.
Takin time to treat
Your friendly neighbors honestly.
Simon and Garfunkel
Would it be too much to ask of climate science, to begin depending more upon empirical data rather than computer models? Computer models are tautological, in that you can tune the parameters to achieve virtually any output you wish. Recent predictions about "ocean acidification", "coral reef devastation", and "the irrevocable destruction of the ocean biosphere" have been given more than ample press--despite not being based upon actual scientific results. Computer models can suggest scientific research, but the models in themselves are not science. We need more data!Seawater pH is not relatively constant, historically, but rather ocean pH has fluctuated historically, and has been increasing (becoming less acidic) over the past 100 million years. While it is fashionable to claim that ocean pH has dropped 0.1 unit since the beginning of the industrial age, in reality data to prove such an assertion is sadly lacking. In fact, we still lack a useful network of reliable pH monitor buoys of sufficient sophistication to give reliable data for predictive purposes over decadal and multi-decadal scales. Current claims of the ocean's doom rest upon the combination of poorly validated proxies with infinitely tunable computer models. We need more data.

Different types of coral, algae, phytoplankton have evolved over the past 250 million years to thrive at different temperatures, light levels, depths, ionic concentrations, etc. Most coral thrives at warmer temperatures, so that you would expect coral growth to increase should the oceans warm. Coral is sensitive to human waste effluent, nitrogen fertilizers, and other toxic and nutrient effluents.

Experiments in coral reef microcosms and with transplanted corals suggest that a coral that thrives in one set of conditions may die under other growth conditions. Corals have lived for over 250 million years in Earth's oceans. They have survived and adapted to conditions that led to multiple large scale extinctions of land species--including the dinosaurs. They survived conditions of much lower pH and much higher atmospheric CO2 levels--and greatly warmer temperatures--than Earth is likely to see within the next few centuries. There is some evidence that the addition of dissolved inorganic carbon to seawater actually promotes coral growth, but be aware that coral growth rates are not always accurate indicators of coral reef health. We need more data.

Climate hysteria serves a useful purpose--if you are established at ground zero in the global carbon trading schemes, like Al Gore and his friends. These insiders stand to make tens and hundreds of billions of US dollars, should their schemes be adopted by the rich western nations. The news and entertainment media are surprisingly easy to manipulate, for these insiders. By inserting their message into government schools curricula from the earliest ages, they neutralise the natural incredulity to unproven science that well-educated persons would normally display.

It will be fascinating to see if the affluent western governments can be intimidated into adopting the economically counter-productive "remedies" that Al Gore and his gang are promoting.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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