The ‘Ocean Acidification’ Narrative Collapses Under The Weight Of New Scientific Evidence

The ocean “acidification” narrative that claims humans are gradually lowering pH levels in sea water with their CO2 emissions may rest on presumptions, hypotheticals, and confirmation bias — not robust, observational scientific evidence.

A paper by Wei et al. (2015) published a year ago in the Journal of Geophysical Research effectively illustrates the vacuousness of the ocean “acidification” paradigm.

In the paper, the authors assert that “model calculations” (yes, calculations from modeling) have indicated oceanic pH levels may have decreased (i.e., lowered pH = less alkaline = more “acidic”) since the 1800s by a total of about 0.1 as consequence of the rise in anthropogenic CO2 emissions.  This overall pH-lowering “trend” of less than 0.1 since the industrial era began is “predicted” to “potentially threaten the existence and development of many marine calcareous organisms”.  Again, it’s the 150-year -0.1 trend in pH-lowering — which the authors admit is subject to “large errors” in measurement — that threatens the oceanic biosphere according to modeled predictions.  In contrast, large natural pH drops of -0.2 to -0.5 occurring on 10-year timescales do not threaten “marine calcareous organisms.”   Here are the key points from the paper:

Wei et al., 2015       Ocean acidification is predicted to reduce the saturation state of carbonate minerals in seawater and potentially threaten the existence and development of many marine calcareous organisms, such as calcareous microorganisms and corals. Model calculations have indicated an overall decrease in global seawater pH of 0.1 relative to the preIndustrial era value, and a further pH reduction of 0.2–0.3 over the next century.
We here estimate the OA rates from the two long (>150 years) annually resolved pH records from the northern SCS (this study) and the northern GBR [Great Barrier Reef], and the results indicate annual rates of -0.00039 +/- 0.00025 yr and -0.00034 +/- 0.00022 yr for the northern SCS [South China Sea] and the northern GBR [Great Barrier Reef], respectively. … [T]hese two time-series do not show significant decreasing trend for pH.  Despite such large errors, estimated from these rates, the seawater pH has decreased by about 0.07–0.08 U over the past 200 years in these regions.   …  The average calculated seawater pH over the past 159 years was 8.04 [with a] a seawater pH variation range of 7.66–8.40.

Below is the “money” graph from the paper that depicts sea surface

False Alarm: Spate Of New Studies Reject Claim Corals Are In Imminent Danger

Coral reefs keep cool

By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(German text translated by P Gosselin)

Coral horror stories have long been among the favorites of the media. Lately, however, a number of journalists have been taking a closer look at the state of the coral reefs. A good example is an article appearing in the German Spektrum der Wissenschaft (Spectrum of Science) on October 24, 2016, where Kerstin Viering did not allow research results to be swept away under the carpet:

Why some coral reefs are defying all the problems
Climate change, pollution, over-fishing: Coral reefs do not have it easy today. Some reefs, however, have been holding up amazingly well. A reason for optimism?”

Continue reading at Spektrum der Wissenschaft.

Currently research is making good progress. Slowly scientists are beginning to understand how corals are able to adapt to changed conditions. A press release from the University of Texas at Austin from November 7, 2016:

New Coral Research Exposes Genomic Underpinnings of Adaptation

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have observed for the first time that separate populations of the same species — in this case, coral — can diverge in their capacity to regulate genes when adapting to their local environment. The research, published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution, reveals a new way for populations to adapt that may help predict how they will fare under climate change.

The new research was based on populations of mustard hill coral, Porites astreoides, living around the Lower Florida Keys. Corals from close to shore are adapted to a more variable environment because there is greater fluctuation in temperature and water quality: imagine them as the more cosmopolitan coral, adapted to handling occasional stressful events that the offshore coral are spared. When researchers swapped corals from a close-to-shore area with a population of the same species from offshore waters, they found that the inshore-reef corals made bigger changes in their gene activity than the corals collected from an offshore reef. This enabled the inshore corals to adapt better to their new environment.

“It is exciting that populations so close together — these reefs are less than 5 miles apart — can be so different,” says corresponding author Carly Kenkel, currently affiliated with the Australian Institute of Marine Science. “We’ve discovered another way that corals can enhance

Back From The Dead: Giant Coral Reef That ‘Died’ In 2003 Teeming With Life Again

Back From The Dead

Giant Coral Reef That ‘Died’ In 2003 Teeming With Life Again

In 2003, researchers declared Coral Castles dead. Then in 2015, a team of marine biologists was stunned and overjoyed to find the giant coral reef once again teeming with life. But the rebound came with a big question: Could the enormous and presumably still fragile coral survive what would be the hottest year on record? This month, the Massachusetts-based research team finished a new exploration of the reefs in the secluded Phoenix Islands, a tiny Pacific archipelago, and were thrilled by what they saw. When they splashed out of an inflatable dinghy to examine Coral Castles closely, they were greeted with a vista of bright greens and purples — unmistakable signs of life. –Karen Weintraub, The New York Times, 15 August 2016


In 1998, a heatwave, which raised ocean temperatures, had caused corals worldwide to go a deathly white – a process called bleaching – and die. The single bleaching event of 1998 killed nearly 16% of the world’s corals. When Dr Peter Mumby had visited Tivaru on the Rangiroa lagoon six months later, he’d found a vast majority of the region’s prolific Porites coral, normally the hardiest of coral species, had followed suit. Based on the known growing rates for the species, Mumby predicted it would take the Porites nearly 100 years to recover, not 15. “Our projections were completely wrong,” he says. “Sometimes it is really nice to be proven wrong as a scientist, and this was a perfect example of that.” –Jane Palmer, BBC, 6 September 2014
1) Giant Coral Reef That ‘Died’ In 2003 Teeming With Life Again
The New York Times, 15 August 2016
2) The Corals That Come Back From The Dead
BBC, 6 September 2014
3) Some Climate Scientists Predict Global Temps To Keep On Rising Despite La Nina Cooling
CNN, 17 August 2016
4) Some Climate Scientists Are Concerned La Nina May Usher In New Warming Hiatus
Reuters, 17 August 2016
5) Hottest Year? Record Breaking Grain & Corn Harvests In Russia And U.S.
Global Warming Policy Forum 17 August 2016

With ocean temperatures expected to increase an additional 1 to 2 degrees Celsius over the next century, scientists estimate such disasters to become more frequent. Eventually, they predict the majority of the world’s corals will

Bill McKibben on ‘climate crime’: Exxon murdered coral reefs by ‘firing the (global warming) gun’ – ‘We’re not going to let them get away with murder’

Climate Activist Bill McKibben – UK Guardian – August 17, 2016

The coral die-off crisis is a climate crime and Exxon fired the gun - Bill McKibben - Environment - The Guardian.clipular

The reefs can’t be made whole again: if they recover at all it will be slowly, and in the face of ongoing warming that seems unlikely. But at the very least, the nations that sustained this damage should be compensated. Exxon and its brethren made record profits in the last decades of denial and deceit; that money should rightfully go to pay for the damage it caused, and to build the energy systems that can power our lives without destruction.

We need to remember that there’s nothing natural about this horror. It was caused, as so many crimes are, by greed. And that greed is ongoing – Exxon continues to search for more hydrocarbons, and to reject even modest changes to its policies.

That’s why we’re wrapping crime scene tape this week around those bleached coral heads, those dead staghorns. That’s why we’re taking crime scene photos with underwater cameras. That’s why we’re protesting on the reefs. We’re not going to let them get away with murder.

Full McKibben article here:


Scientific Reality Check on Mckibben’s claims: 

‘Coral Reefs Expand As the Oceans Warm’: Peer-reviewed paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters finds warming oceans expand the range of tropical corals northward’ – ‘Corals are adapting to climate change and expanding, not contracting’

Greenpeace Co-Founder Dr. Patrick Moore: Why Coral Reefs & Shellfish Will Not Die From ‘Ocean Acidification’

Natural climate change drove coral reefs to ‘total ecosystem collapse’ when CO2 was ‘safe’ – ‘According to a paper published in Science, natural climate change 4,000 years ago drove coral reefs to ‘total ecosystem collapse lasting 2,500 years’ for ‘40% of their total history’ over past 6,000 years. The authors believe ‘an intensified ENSO regime’ was responsible, but then erroneously assume AGW will lead to a similar reef collapse, despite extensive peer-reviewed literature showing that changes in greenhouse gases have not and will not affect ENSO intensity’

Claim: CO2 Pollution Could Erase Coral Reefs — Reality Check: ‘Corals evolved during the Cambrian Era, when CO2 levels were 8 to 20 times higher than today’ – ‘The great coral reefs of the Permian era formed when CO2 was as high as 3,000 ppm CO2. …

The Fishy ‘Science’ of Ocean Acidification

The scare term “ocean acidification”[10]  first popped up in Nature in 2003, followed by the Royal Society in 2005[11],  and has since been seized on as a substitute frightener, given that global warming has stalled. Climate scientists now “calculate” that the average ocean alkalinity has declined from 8.2 to 8.1 on the scale since pre-industrial times, except that the measurement error margin is several times the alleged reduction (and each of the five oceans has its own pH characteristics). pH levels at given points can also swing markedly even within the 24-hour cycle.

In past geological ages C02 levels in the atmosphere were ten or more times what they are now (400ppm) and ocean life thrived. Indeed our current fossil fuels are the residue of vast oceanic life that thrived and died in such super-high CO2 environments.

In the parts of the oceans where alkalinity is low (i.e. tending towards neutral), fish, corals, and sea flora have managed and adapted  perfectly well. Freshwater lakes and rivers are slightly acidic (pH of 6 to 8),  as is rainwater, pH 5.6, and drinking water, 6.5 to 7.5. Life has adapted and thrives in fresh water notwithstanding the, ahem, “acidification”.

Obama’s Science Czar: ‘Man Made’ Climate Change Endangering Shrimp, Lobsters, Crabs


According to Holdren, the “pace and pattern of the changes in climate” that have occurred since the industrial revolution match with “great fidelity” what climate science told us would result from the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.


“Clear beyond reasonable doubt is that the ongoing human-caused changes in climate are already causing harm to life, property, economics and ecosystems including more extremely hot days and longer and stronger heat waves often accompanied by worse smog,” Holdren said.


“Longer allergy seasons, a larger fraction of total precipitation coming in extreme downpours resulting in floods and mudslides, an increase in the power of the strongest tropical storms, shoreline erosion and aggravation, coastal flooding by sea levels rising, longer and more intense droughts in regions prone to drought, a longer wildfire season and larger areas burned in regions prone to that and major impacts on ecosystem dynamics, including the factors governing pest outbreaks and geographic ranges of tropical diseases,” he added.…