For the past three decades the public has been taught by the news media and the folks who make a living composing mathematical equations they claim to simulate how our planets climate operates, that our oceans are in jeopardy.
They have all told you one of the biggest falsehoods in human history. They say that carbon dioxide, the only reason man can inhabit Earth, is actually causing the planet to heat up to a dangerous level and the oceans will become unlivable for marine life. There is no proof of these lies whatever. Civilization has generally been most prosperous under warmer than colder conditions. We do know that as many as nine times more folks perish from excessive cold than excessive heat. The oceans are in fact prospering with more CO2 overhead. Be that as it may much of the public has bought the scare.
Regardless of what scientists on the right side of the issue come up with to thwart the misinformation, they are drowned out by the media and the well financed climate modelers on whom governments around the world have showered countless billions of dollars.
Little of the true reality supported by science has succeeded in winning over the world’s governments to scientific reality. Now comes along biologist Jim Steele of the CO2 Coalition and former Research Director of San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada’s Field Campus to drop a blockbuster of truly new knowledge. He has proven how our Oceans, all of them, are benefitting enormously by the increase in carbon dioxide which man’s industrialization has produced. The global warming scaremongers have falsely preached that additional carbon dioxide could lower the pH of the oceans to where they become acidic, killing off ocean life. This is in fact physically and chemically impossible, and now we can better understand the enormous benefits CO2 is bringing to the oceans
The Ocean “acidification” from carbon dioxide emissions preached by the scaremongers would require an impossible ten-fold decrease in the alkalinity of surface waters. Even if atmospheric CO2 concentrations triple from today’s four percent of one percent, which would take about 600 years, today’s surface pH of 8.2 would plateau at 7.8, still well above neutral 7.
Ocean health has improved as a result of greater CO2, as it feeds phytoplankton that stimulates the oceans food chain. CO2 allows phytoplankton such as algae, bacteria, and seaweed to feed the rest of the open ocean food chain. As carbon dioxide moves through this food web, much of it sinks or is transported away from the surface. A high surface pH allows the ocean to store 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere. Digestion of carbon at lower depths allows for storage there for centuries. Periodic upwelling recycles carbon and nutrients from deep ocean waters to sunlit surface waters. Upwelling injects far more ancient CO2 into the surface than diffuses there from atmospheric CO2. Upwelling at first lowers surface pH, but then stimulates photosynthesis, which raises surface pH. It is a necessary process to generate bursts of life that sustain many ocean life forms.
When CO2 enters ocean water, it creates a bicarbonate ion plus a hydrogen ion, resulting in a slight decrease in pH. However, photosynthesis requires CO2. So marine organisms convert bicarbonate and hydrogen ions into usable CO2, and pH rises again. Contrary to popular claims that rising CO2 leads to shell disintegration, slightly lower pH does not stop marine organisms from using carbonate ions in building their shells.
The concentration of atmospheric CO2 is governed by the balance between stored carbon and CO2 released back to the atmosphere. On land, carbon is continuously stored as organic material in living and dead organisms, with some carbon eventually buried in sediments. During the last major glaciation, expanding glaciers destroyed much of the northern hemisphere’s forests and reduced the earth’s ability to store terrestrial carbon. Just as deforestation does today, that loss of forests should have increased atmospheric CO2. Instead, atmospheric CO2 decreased! It appears that the missing CO2 was stored in the ocean.
Across the earth’s upwelling regions, ocean surface pH is primarily affected by the upwelling of ancient stored carbon, rather than human activities . The ocean surface is seldom in equilibrium with the atmosphere. Recent upwelling of subsurface carbon typically raises surface concentrations of CO2 to 1000 ppm and temporarily lowers surface pH. Upwelling of old carbon and other nutrients then stimulates photosynthesis in phytoplankton and sea grasses, which then reduces pH.
It is now esmated that 90 percent of the difference in pH between surface waters and deeper waters results from downward movement of ocean life. When transformed into organic matter, CO2 can be rapidly exported downwards. For example, anchovy and sardine fecal pellets sink 780 meters in a day. Tiny diatoms, which account for half of the ocean’s photosynthesis, are believed to sink at rates over 500 meters per day because of their dense silica shells.
Upwelling is a vital dynamic that brings carbon and nutrients, otherwise sequestered in the ocean’s depths, back to the surface. Although there may be negative consequences of low-pH and low-oxygen upwelled waters, without upwelling of low-pH waters, global marine productivity would be greatly reduced.
In the political arena of climate change, crucial factors are misleadingly ignored by those claiming that rising CO2 leads to shell disintegration. First, shells of living organisms are protected by organic tissues that insulate the shells from changes in ocean chemistry. Mollusk shells are typically covered by a periostracum. This allows mollusks to thrive near low pH volcanic vents, or in acidic freshwater, or when buried in low pH sediments. Coral skeletons are protected by their layer of living coral polyps. When shell-forming organisms die they lose that layer of protective tissue and their shells or skeletons may indeed dissolve. However, dissolution also releases carbonate ions, which buffers the surrounding waters and inhibits any further change in pH.
Slightly lower pH does not stop ocean organisms from converting bicarbonate ions into shell- building carbonate ions. Some climate modelers incorrectly suggest that a small drop in pH will inhibit shell-building in marine organisms.
The ability to make shells despite experiencing atmospheric CO2 much higher than today has been preserved in massive deposits of calcium carbonate shells.
So what is the bottom line, the take home to share with friends. The oceans will not become acidic — CO2 enriches all life in the ocean. There is no evidence to suggest that the oceans are becoming less of a great habitat for marine life due to rising atmospheric CO2.
CO2 is quickly consumed by photosynthesizing bacteria, plankton and algae. Greater productivity allows more organic carbon to be exported to depths where it can be sequestered for hundreds to thousands of years. It is highly likely that the recent increased productivity and increased sequestration of carbon has offset any pH effects from added atmospheric CO2.
So now you have one more of the fraudulent global warming scares put to rest.
Note: Portions of this article have been excerpted from the paper Ocean Health Is There An Acidification Problem with permission of the author Jim Steele and the publisher the CO2 Coalition.