Scientists ‘Are Exaggerating CO2 Threat To Marine Life

coralsClaims that coral reefs are doomed because human CO2 emissions are making the oceans more acidic have been exaggerated, a review of the science has found. An “inherent bias” in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The review found that many studies had used flawed methods, subjecting marine creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never be experienced in real life. –Ben Webster, The Times, 1 March 2016

“In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet,” Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said. He said that a handful of influential scientific journals and lobbying by international organisations had turned ocean acidification into a major issue. The bias in favour of doom-laden articles was partly the result of pressure on scientists to produce eye-catching work, he added. –Ben Webster, The Times, 1 March 2016

Scientific or academic scepticism calls for critical scrutiny of research outputs before they are accepted as new knowledge (Merton, 1973). Duarte et al. (2014) stated that “…there is a perception that scientific skepticism has been abandoned or relaxed in many areas…” of marine science. They argue that OA is one such area, and conclude that there is, at best, weak evidence to support an OA-driven decline of calcifiers. Below, I raise some of the aspects of OA research to which I contend an insufficient level of organized scepticism has been applied (in some cases, also to the articles in this theme issue). I arrived at that conclusion after reading hundreds of articles on OA (including, to be fair, some that also raise these issues) and overseeing the peer-review process for the very large number of submissions to this themed issue. Importantly, and as Duarte et al. (2014) make clear, a retrospective application of scientific scepticism such as the one that follows could—and should—be applied to any piece of/body of research. ‚Äì- Howard I. Browman, ICES Journal Of Marine Science, February-March 2016

Roger Harrabin (BBC): Let’s just stay on ocean acidification for a moment, because scientists are very confident in saying that with the levels of acidity or alkalinity changing in the way that they are, it’s inexorable towards the point where this century we won’t see coral reefs existing in way they are, so the old boulder corals will be able to withstand the changes, but the branching corals that provide the shelter for fisheries will just disappear, so we’re looking at a major planetary ecosystem that looks like it’s going to disappear and you seem rather unworried about that.
Benny Peiser (GWPF): No, I’m no unworried about it. All I’m saying is that these kind of alarmist predictions of what might ‚Äì
Roger Harrabin: But that isn’t alarmist ‚Äì
Benny Peiser:  What? You’re saying a whole ecosystem is collapsing ‚Äì
Roger Harrabin:  Yes, it’s alarming, it’s not ‚Äì
Benny Peiser:  And that the science is settled and everyone is agreed, but that’s not true, it’s not everyone is agreed ‚Äì
Roger Harrabin:  Well, can you tell me anybody who isn’t agreed with that?
The Oen University, 18th November 2015

As part of an `interview’ with me, New Scientist published a critique by five scientists of two pages of my book The Rational Optimist. Despite its tone, this critique only confirms the accuracy of each of the statements in this section of the book. After reading their critiques, I stand even more firmly behind my conclusion that the threats to coral reefs from both man-made warming and ocean acidification are unlikely to be severe, rapid or urgent. In the case of acidification, this is underlined by a recent paper, published since my book was written, summarising the results of 372 papers and concluding that ocean acidification `may not be the widespread problem conjured into the 21st century’. The burden of proof is on those who see an urgent threat to corals from warming and acidification. –Matt Ridley, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 15 June 2010

Coccolithophores — tiny calcifying plants that are part of the foundation of the marine food web — have been increasing in relative abundance in the North Atlantic over the last 45 years, as carbon input into ocean waters has increased. Their relative abundance has increased 10 times, or by an order of magnitude, during this sampling period. This finding was diametrically opposed to what scientists had expected since coccolithophores make their plates out of calcium carbonate, which is becoming more difficult as the ocean becomes more acidic and pH is reduced. —Science Daily, 16 January 2016