04 November 2010

World's Oceans, Coral Reefs, Feel Better After US Election

Al Fin recently attended a conference with representatives of all the world's oceans and seas, along with representatives from 600 of the world's largest coral reef formations, plankton communities, and kelp forests. After intensive discussions over the significance of the November 2010 elections in the US for the future of the world's oceans, and Al Fin's explanations of the ramifications of recent US elections for science and the oceans, the expressed conclusion of all attendees was one of massive relief.
Theoretical predictions indicate that coral calcification rates should decline as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by as much as 40% by 2100. However, real-world observations indicate that elevated CO2 and elevated temperatures are having just the opposite effect. _ScienceandPublicPolicy
Of the four 'states' that CO2 can assume, carbondioxide CO2 is a mere 1%, bicarbonate HCO3 is 93% and carbonate CO3 8% . But the total amount of carbon dissolved in the oceans is just short of 40,000Gt (Pg) compared with less than 700Gt in the atmosphere. The sea is a massive carbon dioxide reservoir, in balance with an even more massive limestone reservoir of 40,000,000Gt carbon in marine sediments .

...It is thought that the carbondioxide in the sea exists in equilibrium with that of exposed rock and bottomsediment containing limestone CaCO3 (or sea shells for that matter). In other words, that the element calcium exists in equilibrium with CO3. But the concentration of Ca (411ppm) is 10.4 mmol/l and that of all CO2 species (90ppm) 2.05 mmol/l, of which CO3 is about 6%, thus 0.12 mmol/l. Thus the sea has a vast oversupply of calcium. It is difficult therefore to accept that decalcification could be a problem as CO3 increases. To the contrary, it should be of benefit to calcifying organisms. Thus the more CO2, the more limestone is deposited. This has also been borne out by measurements (Budyko 1977).

The bit missing at the beginning is that CO2 (atmosphere) <=> CO2 (sea water) or in other words, that the carbondioxide in the air is in balance with that in the surface water.

If the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere rises, then more of it will dissolve in the water, working all the way through the chemical reactions, to an increase in acidity and an increase in carbonate CO3. Scientists believe that the sea in pre-industrial times was 'saturated' relative to dissolved limestone, and that recent increases in CO2 have 'desaturated' the sea (beginning in the antarctic sea), with possible dire consequences for sea life. But we have observed that calcium skeletons dissolve back into what scientists call 'saturated' CO3. _SeaFriends
The oceans are not acid but alkaline, with an average pH of about 8.15 (0-7 being acid, 7-14 being alkaline). But they vary both in space and time, Arctic seas being less strongly alkaline than tropical, and some bays and reefs being actually acid because of underwater volcanic emissions. The dissolution of carbon dioxide in the oceans may lower the pH slightly to about 7.9 or 7.8 by the end of the century at the worst – still alkaline.

Environmentalists like to call this a 30% increase in acidity, because it sounds more scary than a 0.3 point (out of 14) decrease in alkalinity, but no matter. It is still well within the bounds of normal variation over space and time: the pH of the water intake at the Monterey aquarium varies by almost twice as much as this every month. The difference between the pH of the seas off Hawaii and Alaska is greater than this.

Enough numbers. Try chemistry. The scary reasoning rests on the argument that lower pH will mean less dissolved carbonate in the water. But a new paper from scientists in North Carolina proves what many scientists have long suspected, namely that corals and other species do not use carbonate as raw material to make their shells; they use bicarbonate. And dissolving carbon dioxide in water actually increases bicarbonate concentrations.

This may explain why study after study keeps finding that far from depressing growth rates of marine organisms, high but realistic levels of carbon dioxide either do not affect them or increase them. By far the most important calcifiers in the oceans are plankton called coccolithophores, which account for about a third of the total marine calcium carbonate manufacture. There is now strong evidence that coccolithophores are growing faster and larger as a result of human carbon dioxide emissions. Stands to reason if they use bicarbonate. _MattRidleyinTheTimes
The persistence of coral reefs through geologic time – when temperatures were as much as 10-15°C warmer than at present, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations were 2 to 7 times higher than they are currently – provides substantive evidence that these marine entities can successfully adapt to a dramatically changing global environment. Thus, the recent die-off of many corals cannot be due solely, or even mostly, to global warming or the modest rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration over the course of the Industrial Revolution. _CO2 Science

It is unusual for representatives from all the world's seas and oceans, plus the largest communities of corals and sea plants and plankton, to gather in one place at one time. But the recent distortions of ocean science by persons who should know better, forced concerned saltwater representatives into action.

When the seas and oceans learned that corrupt land and ocean scientists were concocting a fake crisis to enrich themselves, political sponsors, and collaborators, they decided that they simply must speak out against the travesty of distorted ocean science.

Al Fin interviewed the chairman of the proceedings after the conclusion of the conference:

Al Fin: Thank you for speaking with me today, Chairman GBR (Great Barrier Reef).

Chmn: It is certainly my pleasure, Al. And thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to attend our conference.

AF: I would not have missed it for all the world. Can you tell me why the oceans and ocean communities are so relieved by the findings of this conference?

Chmn: Well, Al, the oceans of the world have been very angry -- and you don't want to make them angry, Al, you really don't. They have been hearing all this news about humans killing the oceans with acid and CO2 until they were beginning to believe it. Having you here to explain the dishonesty of corrupt science, media, and politicians has helped us understand what is really going on.

AF: Certainly humans are doing some bad things to the seas and oceans, and for that I am sorry. But those are local problems, such as dumping toxins, untreated sewage, and other excess nutrients into the local ecosystems. Some harbours, bays, and estuaries are being stressed -- and that problem needs to be addressed.

Chmn: Yes, of course it does, Al. But all the hoopla about acid oceans and CO2 only distracts from the real problems you point out. If the crooked scientists are eating up all the resources which could have been used for remediation and finding solutions for real problems, it only hurts us more, Al.

AF: You are certainly correct. And that is why you should feel relief at the results of the November 2010 US elections. The criminal enterprise which could only do untold damage to both humans and the oceans has at least been slowed down by the election of less corrupt and less gullible elected representatives at the US federal and state levels.

Chmn: We understand all that now, thanks to you, Al. Thanks again for attending this important summit and conference.

AF: Thank you, Chairman GBR, for speaking with me for the benefit of Al Fin blog readers.

More from Matt Ridley here

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

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