There is no evidence to support the claim that most calcifying marine species will become extinct owing to higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and lower pH in the oceans. Claims about ocean acidification are unsupported by observational data.
The claim that the oceans are acidifying is unsupported
It is widely stated in the literature that the pH of the oceans was 8.2 before industrialization (1750) and that owing to human CO2 emissions it has since dropped to 8.1.25 No one measured the pH of ocean water in 1750. The concept of pH was not conceived of until 1909, and an accurate pH meter was not available until 1924. The assertion that more than 250 years ago ocean pH was 8.2 is an estimate rather than an actual measurement.
Oceans have powerful buffering capacity
The salt content of seawater provides it with a powerful buffering capacity, the ability to resist change in pH when an acidic or basic compound is added to the water. For example, one micromole of hydrochloric acid added to one kilo of distilled water at pH 7.0 (neutral) causes the pH to drop to nearly 6.0. If the same amount of hydrochloric acid is added to seawater at pH 7, the resulting pH is 6.997, a change of only 0.003 of a pH unit. Thus, seawater has approximately 330 times the buffering capacity of freshwater.23
Oceans less sensitive to CO2 increases
In addition to the buffering capacity, there is another factor, the Revelle factor, named after Roger Revelle, former director of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The Revelle factor determines that if atmospheric CO2 is doubled, the dissolved CO2 in the ocean will only rise by 10 per cent.2
Oceans have wide pH fluctuations on a constantly changing basis
The pH of the oceans varies far more than 0.1 on a daily, monthly, annual and geographic basis. In the offshore oceans, pH typically varies geographically from 7.5 to 8.4, or 0.9 of a pH unit. A study in offshore California shows that pH can vary by 1.43 of a pH unit on a monthly basis.29 This is nearly five times the change in pH that computer models forecast during the next 85 years to 2100. In coastal areas that are influenced by run-off from the land, pH can be as low as 6.0 and as high as 9.0.
A warming ocean loses CO2 as it warms
Corals are resilient to changes in pH
- What we do know is that if the oceans warm as the proponents of human-caused global warming say they will, the oceans will tend to release CO2 into the atmosphere because warm seawater at 30°C can dissolve only about half as much CO2 as cold seawater at 0°C does. This will be balanced against the tendency of increased atmospheric CO2 to result in more absorption of CO2 by the oceans. It does not appear as though anyone has done the calculation of the net effect of these two competing factors under varying circumstances.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights how resilient coral reefs are to changes in ocean pH. A five-year study of the Bermuda coral reef shows that during spurts in growth and calcification, the seawater around the reef undergoes a rapid reduction in pH.48 This reduction in pH is clearly not causing a negative reaction from the reef, as it is associated with rapid growth.
A .3 pH reduction would have beneficial results among marine calcifying species (calcification, metabolism, growth, fertility and survival)
A review of these many studies, all of which use direct observation of measured parameters, indicates that the overall predicted effect of increased CO2 on marine species would be positive rather than negative
“Model Data” is being used instead of “Observational Data”
Members of the global science and lay communities have begun to learn of the confirmed omission of 80 years of instrumental data from contemporary ocean acidification (OA) scientific products. The missing ~2 million data points comprise a majority of the world’s historical ocean pH measurements. The data was replaced without disclosure, by a model hind cast. The substituted history, known as the FEEL2899 report (1) was itself used as the technical basis for testimony to the US Congress (2). In turn, OA mitigation research funding was augmented, and the regulation of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was strengthened and deepened.