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REMEMBER: ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

Posted on: March 26, 2020

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THIS POST IS A CRITICAL REVIEW OF AN ANALYSIS OF OCEAN ACIDIFICATION WITH FOSSIL FUEL EMISSIONS PRESENTED BY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE [LINK] . IT IS PRESENTED IN TWO PARTS. PART-1 IS A SUMMARY OF WHAT THE PARK SERVICE SAYS. PART-2 IS A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF THESE CLAIMS.

 

 

PART-1: THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE STATEMENT ON OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

  1. From the rocky coastline of the Pacific Northwest to the coral reefs of the Caribbean, the ocean plays an important role for all life and ecosystems on earth. The ocean produces 70% of the oxygen in the atmosphere and helps regulate the earth’s climate so that it is a habitable place for people and animals to survive and thrive. The ocean naturally absorbs over a quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, which is used by marine algae and other organisms to grow and produce oxygen. However, since the start of the industrial revolution, the level of atmospheric CO2 has dramatically climbed due to human activities that burn fossil fuels, like oil and coal, for things like electricity and transportation. As a result of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, levels of CO2 in the ocean are also increasing. This is causing ocean conditions around the world to change which is presenting new challenges for marine life and ecosystems.
  2. When CO2 enters the ocean it reacts with sea water and forms carbonic acid (H2Co3). Carbonic acid is a weak acid which separates or dissociates into a hydrogen ion (H+) and a bicarbonate ion (HCO3-). Scientists use the pH scale to measure the amount of hydrogen ions in a substance because hydrogen ions determine the acidity of a substance. When there are more hydrogen ions in a substance, then it is acidic and has a lower pH (1-6 on pH scale). When there are less hydrogen ions in a substance, then it is basic and has a higher pH (8-14 on pH scale). A pH of 7 is neutral, neither acidic nor basic.
  3. As more hydrogen ions are formed from the chemical reaction between CO2 and seawater, the pH of the ocean is starting to decrease, meaning it is becoming more acidic. This is called ocean acidification (OA). The pH scale is logarithmic, similar to the Richter scale. This means that each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the value above it. For example, a pH of 5 is ten times more acidic than 6. Therefore a small drop in pH represents a big change! Over the last 200 years, the pH of the ocean has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1, which means it has become 30% more acidic. The last time the ocean was this acidic was over 300 million years ago!
  4. Ocean acidification is making life more challenging for some marine species, especially shell-building organisms like oysters, mussels, crabs, and corals. This is because these organisms need calcium carbonate to develop their shells and skeletons. Since the ocean is becoming more acidic, there is less carbonate ions available for these organisms who need it. With less calcium carbonate available, shell-building organisms grow slower and build weaker shells, leaving them vulnerable to threats and predators. Many of these organisms make up the basis of the food chain, potentially leading to a domino-like effect that can impact many species who rely on them as a source of food.
  5. Ocean Acidification in National Parks: Ocean acidification (OA) is a clear and present threat to marine resources in ocean and coastal parks. However changing ocean conditions affect marine resources and ecosystems of each park differently depending on natural oceanographic processes, seasonal conditions, and freshwater inputs. Currently nine national parks, monuments and historical sites have started research and monitoring programs to better understand how marine ecosystems are responding to acidic ocean conditions. the NPS is committed to learning about and understanding the dynamics of ocean acidification along varied coastlines. By researching and monitoring ocean pH, scientists and managers have an opportunity to establish a better understanding of how acidic ocean conditions will impact species and ecological systems to best protect these resources future generations.
  6. Olympic National Park monitors ocean acidification. Acadia National Park collects data on ocean chemistry and biology to monitor the impacts of acidic ocean conditions on inter-tidal ecosystems. Dry Tortugas and Biscayne National Park monitor the growth rates of coral reefs to see how they respond to OA. Cabrillo National Monument collects water quality data in the inter-tidal zone to monitor fluctuations in ocean chemistry to monitor inter-tidal species and habitats within the park. Glacier Bay National Park has developed an ocean acidification model for the region to learn how acidic ocean conditions will affect ecosystems and how glacial runoff influences ocean acidification.

 

 

PART-2: CRITICAL COMMENTARY

  1. The data show rising inorganic carbonate concentration in the ocean since the 1950s. It is also noted that human caused climate change is presented as an impact of fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy that was thought to have begun in 1750 (IPCC 2001) but that date was later changed to 1850 (IPCC 2015) and finally to 1950 (NASA 2018) [LINK] . Thus, using the NASA start date for human caused global warming by way of fossil fuel emissions there appears to be a correspondence between fossil fuel emissions and ocean acidification.
  2. It is noted however, that correspondence of this nature does not provide evidence of causation much less the direction of the causation. As Tyler Vigen has demonstrated with his large collection of spurious correlations. They demonsrate that the interpretation of correspondence of this nature as causation can lead to comical conclusions ]LINK] . Therefore, that “ocean acidification has been rising during a time of fossil fuel emissions” does not provide evidence that fossil fuel emissions cause ocean acidification. bandicam 2020-03-24 09-07-10-582
  3. At the minimum, a causation hypothesis must be supported by detrended correlation to show that ocean acidity is responsive to fossil fuel emissions at a given time scale and that the change in ocean acidity can be explained by the amount of fossil fuel emissions. In related posts it is shown that neither of these tests of the hypothesis show that fossil fuel emissions cause ocean acidification [LINK] [LINK] .  In these analyses, it is shown that there is no evidence that ocean acidity is responsive to fossil fuel emissions at an annual time scale; and further, that there is not enough carbon in fossil fuel emissions to explain the observed changes in ocean acidity.
  4. It should be noted in this regard that the total mass of the atmosphere and ocean taken together is 1.32E18 tonnes of which the ocean is 99.61% and the atmosphere 0.39%. The assumption that atmospheric phenomena control the pH of the ocean is not consistent with the relative insignificance of the atmosphere in relation to the ocean. These considerations imply that changes in ocean acidity should be studied in terms of more variables than just fossil fuel emissions.
  5. The crust of the planet where we live and where we have things like atmosphere and climate and carbon life forms is just 0.3% of the planet containing no more than 0.2% of the planet’s carbon. The other 99.7% of the planet and 99.8% of its carbon lie beneath the seafloor in the core and mantle where there is no atmosphere, no climate, and no carbon lifeforms but plenty of carbon, tiny bits of which had created the carbon lifeforms we see on the crust.
  6. Some of the carbon in the outer mantle leaks out into the ocean by way of submarine volcanism, hydrothermal vents, mud volcanoes, hydrocarbon seeps. and other geological phenomena in the boundary between the outer mantle and the seafloor. More than 80% of the earth’s volcanic activity is submarine.
  7. In related posts it is shown that large quantities of carbon and carbon compounds are introduced into the ocean from the mantle on a regular basis and that hydrothermal vents are a prominent ocean floor feature where a high carbon marine environment and ecosystems are found [LINK] . Large, varied, and vibrant community of creatures including shellfish such as pteropods thrive in these ecosystems. The ocean acidification claim of the National Park Service that relatively minute quantities of fossil fuel emissions can enter the ocean and endanger the survival of pteropods by dissolving their shell is inconsistent with their voluntary presence in hydrothermal vent ecosystems at much higher carbonate concentration where their shells survive. It is true that some researchers have reported up to 22% loss in shell thickness in 38% of the species creseis conica that live in hydrothermal vent ecosystems but no claim has been made that this adaptation to the hydrothermal vent ecosystem has been harmful to these creatures  {Citation: (Manno etal, Mar Environ Res. 2019 doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2018.11.003. Epub 2018 Nov 9, “Condition of pteropod shells near a volcanic CO2 vent region”). The case repeatedly made in terms of ocean acidification that relatively minute amounts of fossil fuel emissions will harm oceanic shellfish is inconsistent with the large numbers and species of shellfish found in hydrothermal vent ecosystems.
  8. The claim that the extent of acidification by fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy is unnatural and unprecedented such that it was last seen in the paleo record 300 million years ago is false. The Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is described in a related post [LINK] where we find a horrific ocean acidification event about 55 million years ago that is much worse than the most extreme forecasts of what fossil fuel emissions could possibly do. It has been ascribed to significant carbon flows from the mantle that entered the ocean, oxidized into carbon dioxide depleted the ocean’s the ocean’s oxygen, and caused an extreme ocean acidification event that raised atmospheric CO2 concentration by 70%, and caused a mass extinction event in the ocean.

 

 

CONCLUSION

The claim that fossil fuel emissions can cause significant and harmful ocean acidification is not credible in light of detrended correlation and mass balance analyses that do not support a relationship between fossil fuel emissions and oceanic inorganic carbon concentration. Fossil fuel emissions are insignificant relative to natural geological carbon flows into the ocean. In addition, the repeated claim that fossil fuel emissions will damage the ocean and endanger oceanic shellfish by dissolving their shells is not credible in the context of the relative insignificance of fossil fuel emissions and the observation that there are thriving oceanic ecosystems at much higher carbonate concentrations that are a natural part of the oceanic biota. To summarize, there is no evidence that fossil fuel emissions are harming the ocean; and no evidence that the quality of the ocean and the ocean’s biota can be improved by reducing fossil fuel emissions. 

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3 Responses to "REMEMBER: ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT OCEAN ACIDIFICATION"

Reblogged this on uwerolandgross.

thank you very very much my friend. if you ever come to thailand i want to buy your first beer.

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