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Climate change plays ‘Russian roulette’ with the world’s oceans

The world’s oceans will see dramatic changes thanks to climate change, affecting hundreds of millions of people who depend…

Seals, it turns out, are the ocean creatures most vulnerable to climate change. Flickr/bJORk(D)mAN

The world’s oceans will see dramatic changes thanks to climate change, affecting hundreds of millions of people who depend on the sea according to research published today in the online journal PLOS Biology. It’s the first global forecast for the oceans under climate change.

Most of the world’s oceans will see declines in health, and experts warn south-east Australia is particularly vulnerable.

The study compared two climate scenarios up to 2100 - business as usual, and a scenario with moderate emissions cuts - analysing variables such as sea temperature, acidity, oxygen, and productivity.

Under both scenarios climate change will see increases in sea temperature and acidity, and decreases in oxygen and productivity, with knock-on effects on sea life.

A quarter of the CO2 emitted each year ends up in the oceans, a process that is making them more acidic. Meanwhile changes to ocean currents mean dissolved oxygen - vital for marine life - will decrease. This in turn affects productivity - calculated as growth of microscopic marine plants which other marine life depend on.

Whales, seals, squid and krill are the species most likely to be affected by these oceanic changes, while coral reefs, mangroves and sea grass are the most vulnerable ecosystems.

Some regions of the world - such as waters around Antarctica - will see increases in productivity, but this is offset by the overall negative trend.

The study found that over 800 million people in low-income nations will be exposed to changing oceans if nothing is done to mitigate CO2 emissions, because they depend on the sea for food, tourism, and jobs. People dependent on whales, coral reefs and fisheries will be particularly affected.

The new research comes from University of Hawaii’s Mora Lab, which last week published research on the timing of climate change.

“Cutting edge”

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from University of Queensland said the research is significant because it looks at a number of factors.

“The majority of climate studies have focused on one or two major variables. This study shows the importance of looking at the combined changes (and interactions) of multiple variables.

“Series of small changes in a number of key variables can add up to some really large changes in marine ecosystem structure. It’s like playing Russian roulette with multiple firearms.”

Dr Donna Roberts from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre at University of Tasmania agreed.

“The study is at the cutting edge of research, trying to take a worldwide look, rather than individual species or regions.”

Tasmania a hotspot

South-east Australia and Tasmania are hotspots - literally. Here, the combination of warming oceans and increasing acidity is likely to see dramatic changes to ocean food chains.

Dr Roberts explained:

“Krill and other species that make shells out of calcium carbonate are really in trouble, especially in polar regions. The largest changes are likely in areas of coral and rocky reefs, and also ecosystems dependent on krill.

“We’re likely to see a change from a krill-based ecosystem in the Southern Ocean with things like mussels, corals and oysters, towards a jellyfish-based, non-shell-making food chain.”

High impact, low income

But oceans and the people who need them aren’t just vulnerable to temperature and acidity, Dr Roberts said.

“On top of the four factors in the research we have sea level rise, overfishing, and many other variables.”

She said the effects of changing oceans will be felt most strongly on the people who can least afford it.

“It’s going to affect people who rely on seafood protein to live, and governments that rely on tourism. It’s a more significant economic problem than people think.”

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said the only way to mitigate the effects of climate change on oceans is to cut CO2 emissions now.

Join the conversation

137 Comments sorted by

  1. Henry Verberne

    Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

    May I suggest that comments from those who endlessly question the reality of climate change be ignored?

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Letters editors rarely make the news. This month the Los Angeles Times letters editor, Paul Thornton, did just that with a story on letters from climate-change deniers. He said he would not print letters that asserted "there is no sign humans have caused climate change" because "it was not stating an opinion, it's asserting a factual inaccuracy". This attracted headlines declaring "Los Angeles Times riles climate-change sceptics by banning letters". Unsurprisingly, we've been asked how we treat letters…

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      I personally see opportunities when deniers or fact-avoiders come onto pulic blogs. It offers the opportunity to get facst in front of all who may be reading along. After a while, such fact-avoiders get the idea too and realize they're only embarrassing themselves and/or their 'arguments'.

      Papers are indeed different, snce they're printed once and that's that. It's not possible to provide support for a dense series of back-and-forth arguments.

      But, censorship is hard to justify. I'd prefer a paper also maintain a blog like this one,, so that an initial printing can continue with exchanged comments on the blog.

      It's the discussion that counts.

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    3. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      It offers the opportunity to get facts in front of all who may be reading along. After a while, such fact-avoiders get the idea too and realize they're only embarrassing themselves and/or their 'arguments'.

      I've yet to come across ONE such denier who's changed his/her mind......

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      You miss the point, Mike. I don't care to convince anyone of anything, particularly folks who avoid facts, like Marc. I simply enjoy the opportunities such folks present to allow facts to be exposed to the others "who may be reading along".
      ;]

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      I'll add that climate change & sea rise may well be peanuts compared to the imminent threats from ocean acidification before 2050...
      http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/pacific-ocean-perilous-turn-overview/?prmid=4939
      www.nationofchange.org/urgent-warning-scientists-health-oceans-spiraling-downwards-1381072525
      http://tinyurl.com/lsgbswg
      www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/aboutthefilm.asp

      And, for past climate comparisons, the 11 July 2011 Scientific American does a good job of plainly explaining what it means for us to exceed both temp rise and CO2 production rates by a factor of ~100x the most rapid past change in over 200 million years.

      And then there's the methane, from melting tundra, well/transport leakage, and undersea ices -- if anyone wants a real doomsday trigger.
      ;]
      Ma Nature doesn't care how stupid we are. Other species should.

      .

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    1. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to James Whitmore

      James, The moderation standards here do need a good clean out. What do the two comments above have to do with the article?
      You say " off topic comments will be removed." yet the two comments above remain despite the fact that you have clearly looked over the comments here. Some consistency would be nice. If you have rules please stick by them.

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    2. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      James. One down-well done, now please explain how that first comment fits community standards.

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  2. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    It's interesting, isn't it, how people arguing against mitigation tend to put forward the 'the best thing you can do for the poor is give them access to plentiful energy' furphy while neatly avoiding the facts that (a) the form of energy they tend to advocate - e.g. coal - is actually economically more damaging than beneficial, (b) renewable energy generation is generally particularly appropriate technology for less developed economies and areas and (c) the economic impacts of unabated climate change are going to overwhelm any benefits from quick and dirty energy proliferation.

    Given the moral indignation with which this argument tends to get advanced, I think it's really important that the error be called strongly and clearly every time that emotive but false argument is raised.

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    1. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Noe to curator James, this comment does not appear to be relevant to the article above please remove.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      One might also add the paragraphs towards the end:

      'She said the effects of changing oceans will be felt most strongly on the people who can least afford it.

      “It’s going to affect people who rely on seafood protein to live, and governments that rely on tourism. It’s a more significant economic problem than people think.”'

      Still, let us not come between Marc's mouth and his feet...

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    3. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix McNeill....

      Your argument only washes, if the intention is that those less-developed economies stay in their boxes.

      Don't you think they have aspirations to become modern industrialized countries too?

      Which renewable energy will provide for them the seamlessly available base load power required for them to have the industrial economies they too would aspire to?

      Not the intermittent, inefficient and not really-renewable energy from wind turbines and solar thermal power stations, that always require the fossil fuel back-up energy to make them feasible, and the unsustainable mining of dangerous, toxic rare earth elements that are vital components of their manufacture.

      The only possibility is nuclear power, which wouldn't be suited to many of their situations, and in any case would foreshadow a far more dangerous world than the small amount of warming we're now experiencing could possibly deliver.

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    4. Brad Farrant

      Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen,

      There are an increasing number of analyses that demonstrate not just that 100% renewable electricity generation is already possible but that it is also economically viable. I am sure that this would also apply on most other continents.

      http://www.energy.unimelb.edu.au/documents/zero-carbon-australia-stationary-energy-plan

      http://www.greenswa.net.au/energy2029

      Furthermore, as Felix allude to, in many cases it is much more feasible to install distributed renewable energy sources like pv rather than the very expensive centralised fossil fuel grid options.

      This is before we even consider all the long term health and economic costs of fossil fuels, some of which Felix has already delineated.

      We can walk and chew gum at the same time. There is more than enough wealth in the world to provide all the children of today with what they need and also do what is required to protect the kids of today and tomorrow from dangerous climate change.

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Brad Farrant

      Actually, the belief that 'renewables' (there are only 2) can meet future or even present needs has been shown incorrect for some time.

      We need to get this well understood, because we've lots to get done before 2050, even before 2030, in the way of massive energy replacements.

      Local solr PV/hot-water is great and we know that even with present, ~20%-efficient cells, we can meet all worldwide, peak daytime loads. Even NY City was LIDAR surveyed a couple years back and found able to meet ~1/2…

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    6. Brad Farrant

      Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex,

      My main point was that analyses have demonstrated not just that 100% renewable electricity generation is already possible but that it is also economically viable. I provided a couple of links to relevant papers - if you have grounds to think that there are problems with these analyses I am sure the authors would be keen to hear from you.

      There are more than 2 sources of renewable energy - solar (pv, hotwater, solar thermal, etc.), hydro, wind, biomass etc.

      While I recognise that all…

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    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Brad Farrant

      Brad, as an engineer, I can explain why this: "There are more than 2 sources of renewable energy - solar (pv, hotwater, solar thermal, etc.), hydro, wind, biomass etc." is incorrect.

      Hydro, all solar, all wind and all bio-x, are solar energy.

      Those affected by climate are not "renewable", by definition. This includes all wind, all hydro and location-constrained bio.

      Only direct conversion of incoming solar radiance is 'renewable' for the next billion or two years, at any rate, until the…

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    8. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ Alex Cannara: “The French were smarter than us a-- they educated their populace about nuclear power. Their repository for that ~4% of nuclear fuel that actually is waste, is open to the public, at Bure.”

      Only a test lab/ facility has been completed at Bure (pop. 95) France and approval to build a waste repository to inter some 47,000 cubic metres of existing HL and IL radioactive waste has not yet been granted, due to public opposition.

      After some fourteen years of planning, ANDRA, the…

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley, nice to hear your wind farm runs 125,000 homes -- when the wind blows? How much grid power does it need otherwise? How many hectares does the 'farm' confiscate from your lovely Australian environment? How many birds are found beneath the towers?

      And you do realize that a single nuclear reactor to power 10 times those 125.000 homes sits on tens of hectares and uses only a fraction of the iron ore, coal (yes coal), limestone, rock and all the fossil fuels needed to produce those windmills…

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    10. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex the difference is that WA spans 2.6 million square kilometres. The state has a population of 2.4 million and a population density of one person per 2.4 square miles.

      Your home state of California spans a mere 424,000 thousand square kilometres and the population has blown out to 38.1 million with a population density of 242 per persons per square mile.

      Wind farm fiesta in Western Australia. Pay attention Premier Barnett:

      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/new-55mw-wind-farm-open-for-business-in-wa-97968

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    11. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shir;ey, you're words are always good for a chuckle, but this is among yopur best: "lurking behind groups opposing wind farms, are nuclear astroturfers".

      Apart from the lack of linguistic sense, how is the miraculous windfarm backed up on days or hours when the wind capacity is inadequate?

      This is good too: "billions of marine life are maimed and slaughtered in your state of California every year and with impunity, from being sucked into nuclear power plants. "

      As you know, perhaps, we…

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    12. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, while you’re endeavouring to dupe Aussies, the rust bucket nuclear operations in your motherland are being supervised by drunks and dopeheads. http://enformable.com/topics/fitness-for-duty/

      @ Cannara: “Maybe you should also update yourself on the French experience, and re-calculate what "47,000 cubic metres" amounts to -- a 36 meter cube that fits within the foundations of just a few of your windmills.”

      Perhaps you may explain why France’s proposed waste repository (which you implied…

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    13. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Hi Shirley, but 50% in 2025 is pretty good evidence. Totally agree that nuclear waste is 'still' a problem. Personally I think Australia should develop the technology to be a leader in nuclear waste, given we export it to bolster our tax revenue, which goes into a range of policy options. It is the only decent thing to do!.

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    14. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      Matt, if you believe that Australia has an obligation to become the world’s nuclear waste dump, then shouldn’t we also have an obligation to import contaminated waste produced by coal-fired plants, from countries that burn Australian coal?

      The hazardous waste resulting from Australia’s coal exports includes scrubber sludge and fly and bottom ash that contains radionuclides, toxic metals and dioxins. Is Australia also under obligation to pick up the tab for the health costs associated with Australia’s…

      Read more
    15. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Thanks for your detailed and passionate response. I am for direct legislation phase out coal...and I wholly agree that we shouldn't be taking coal out of the ground. However, if and I say if nuclear is part of the solution to reductions in carbon emmissions then we do have some responsibility to store waste and given our geological stability it makes some sense. Practical solutions to hard problems, not screams of idealism that fade into the night... :-)

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    16. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      Matt, the uranium-coal giants (e.g.. Rio Tinto, BHP et al) buoyed by rock ape Abbott will ensure that coal is not kept in the ground anytime in the near future. This fanciful notion is just as illogical as your suggestion that we should be a world leader in nuclear waste considering that 88% of uranium extracted worldwide in 2012 was not produced in Australia. We are not the hand maidens of eighteen other uranium producing nations.

      The nuclear industry is a cabal of patriarchal, militant fanatics…

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    17. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      The meltdown at Fukushima as well as numerous problems, accidents and near-accidents at other plants represent a direct threat to life on the planet. If industrial civilisation collapses, as I suspect it will as soon as the debt economy ponzi scheme blows up in our collective faces, we are likely to see the simultaneous meltdown of all the world's 400+ reactors.

      No money, no maintenance.

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    18. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Been away for a bit, but I see the anti-nuke, anti-fact echo chamber is running as well as Fox News!

      Shirley hasn't bothered to read the facts about France, but loves the politics of Hollande's increased-emissions plans, because the unwary 'greens' also don't bother to study reality -- as with her link to an anti-nuke website that quotes a Le Monde article saying the French regulator has told La Hague to correct this "Several pieces of equipment, containing high levels of radioactivity, have not…

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    19. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      No no Alex, I was perhaps too subtle.....

      FIRST, there will be a financial meltdown. The current economic ponzi scheme cannot last much longer under the weight of exponentially growing debt. And stagflating GDPs.

      Then we have Peak Everything......... causing the collapse of industrial civilisation as the people who work it starve, the fossil fuels needed for the nuke's operators to drive there run out, and the funds needed to run it all implode and disappear down the debt blackhole at it…

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    20. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      And I didn't even mention Climate Change itself.........!!

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    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      And you forgot the more imminent extinction event due to acidification, whose prevention requires advanced nuclear power available before 2050.
      ;]

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    22. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      No it doesn't. It needs us to stop using energy like there's no tomorrow, because there won't be otherwise.......

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    23. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, apparently you're not a scientist or engineer, so let's go back to basics. We've burned >500 billion tons of fossil carbon in the last 150+ years, making >1.5 trillion tons of CO2. About 30% of that has dissolved in seas.

      Even if we "stopped using energy" today, that remaining CO2 in air will continue to dissolve in seas. Ocean pH has already dropped 0.1 in the last 150+ years, and even more in the N. Atlantic. Another 0.1 drop and the sea life forms that are the base of most food chains…

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    24. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      So we're rooted then......... because there's NO WAY enough nukes will be built in time.

      BTW....... there's no need to be condescending. You have no idea of what I did when I was young. None of what you wrote is hard to understand, though YOU obviously have difficulties understanding limits to growth.

      Thanks for the heads up on the pH..... I always thought runaway methane releases were going to do us in, but now you've come up with a corker....

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    25. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I wasn't being condescending, Mike. I was simply going with what you said that was in need of expansion.

      Indeed we must proceed apace with nuclear, as the Chinese, Russians, Brits and others are now doing. We've waited too long. Naive enviro folks have helped create the problem by delaying nuclear power here & elsewhere.

      And, we do well to listen to the old, retired general. who asked his gardener to plant one of his favorite trees...

      The gardener came to him with a sapling, but thought…

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    26. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      "cabal of patriarchal, militant fanatics"
      "rock ape"

      Really, Shirley, you surpass any other flaming blogger I've known. Yet you seem not to get that name calling defeats your purpose, just as avoiding the superior safety of even 1946-patent nuclear power makes you appear unreliable.

      So, keep it up, it only serves to offer opportunities to expose your reliance on crassness rather than fact.
      ;]
      And you certainly 'know' more than these folks -- what schoolyard name can you conjure for them -- love to hear it?...

      www.cnn.com/2013/11/03/world/nuclear-energy-climate-change-scientists-letter/
      http://thoriumforum.com/open-letter-those-influencing-environmental-policy-opposed-nuclear-power
      www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24638816
      http://thoriumforum.com/physics-nobel-prize-winner-carlo-rubbia-talks-about-thorium

      But this is not for you, Shirley. Avert your eyes...
      /pandoras_promise_airs_on_cnn_this_thursday_nov/

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    27. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Right so a few days absence was meant to obviate your mendacity, cover-ups, evasion of facts and failure to respond?

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    28. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Raving militant comes to mind Shirley... I really wonder why I bother. Have been accused of talking astrology, when talking about astrophysics. (Shakes head and keeps on walking).

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    29. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Nah Mike. Mr Cannara's going to get us some of that nuclear lectricity. He's going to build one reactor a day for the next 35 years for about US$110 trillion.

      Don't you worry 'bout that.

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    30. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Having looked into this......................

      Making an alkali out of something that is neutral takes A LOT of energy and produces an equal amount of acid.

      For example:
      NaCl (common salt) + H2O (water) => NaOH (caustic soda) + HCl (hydrochloric acid)
      delta-H: (-411) + (-285) + E = (-469) + (-167)
      E = 60 kJ/mol
      E = 60 kJ / 20 gm(NaOH)
      E = 3,000,000,000 J / tonne(NaOH)
      E = 833 KW.h / tonne(NaOH) - not counting inefficiencies

      2NaOH + H2CO3 => 2NaHCO3 + 2H2O
      2(11+8+1) tonnes(NaOH) neutralises (2+12+24) tonnes(H2CO3)
      1 tonne(NaOH) neutralises 38/40 tonnes of H2CO3, which was 28/40 tonnes(CO2)
      E = 583 KW.h / tonne(CO2)
      E = 66 GW.year / billion tonnes(CO2)

      So I don't reckon nuclear power could do it.

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    31. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, it's always interesting how some folks pick a point to argue from and conclude that it's the only feasible choice.

      NaCl is not the starting point for acidification correction. But, some coral-reef researchers indeed use lye (NaOH).

      The choice materials are based on their benefit to life forms beyond just pH control, as well as the energetics of their derivation from natural deposits of materials.

      So, as I said, marine biologists and chemists have indeed come up with potential source…

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    32. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "Mike, it's always interesting how some folks pick a point to argue from and conclude that it's the only feasible choice"

      Yes it is...... but you see I picked NaCl + H2O because it's COMMON, known as seawater...! Vast deposits of dolomite are present in the geological record, but the mineral is relatively rare in modern environments.... http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Dolomite

      So there's your first problem.

      I could do the same calculations for any source material, but I won't…

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    33. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Good work Shirley!

      Just noticed this -- had radiation sickness for a day or so, from the tuna we had that swam here from Fukushima.
      ;]
      So you're right -- to avoid the worst of global warming, we needed to be turning on 1GWe of nukes each week in 1980. But thanks to some folks I know, maybe even you, our descendents will have much more challenging lives.

      $110 trillion or get 35 x 365 nukes, eh?!

      Let's "do the math", right, Shirley? 35 x 365 = 12775 reactors

      Let's say they're the…

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    34. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Love the way you throw trillions around like that........ the US Government could use someone like you Alex.......

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    35. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, you're apparently not a chemist, so your statement is both unnecessarily narrow and off kilter.

      Dolomite is very abundant, but it's by no means the only source of carbonate material to use for ocean pH defense. Limestone, after all, is in fact the carbon-dioxide storage material for the natural carbon cycle. You might study that.

      Your remarks about Uranium are irrelevant for 3 reasons: a) you ignore your favorite "sea water", which contains much UO2, b) you ignore the reality that…

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    36. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Are you a chemist Alex?

      Oil's very abundant too. But it's in places that are getting harder and harder to get at, and most of what is left will stay in the ground.... And if we put all our eggs (dolomite) in one basket (the sea) then there won't be any left for the soils that grow our food.....

      NO resource is limitless Alex. Eventually, we have to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough......

      As we scrape the bottom of the barrel, bending over ever further down (get it...?) we need to expend ever more energy just to tread water. it's only a matter of time before we drown.

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    37. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I've had enough university chemistry to know when to ask a professional, Mike. You?

      This is your best, Mike? "NO resource is limitless"

      Does that include your expertise and commitment to thought?

      What is you fetish with Dolomite? The gazillions of tons of it and related minerals were laid down over hundreds of millions of years and are not much accessible to your tomatoes.

      Why do you waste everyone's time saying that you don't want to bother thinking about actions pertinent to your descendents?

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    38. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Thought fact avoidance was your realm, Shirley. You clearly read nothing that might cause you to rethink your biases. Recall your own "mendacity" in not answering for your part in coal emissions increases? Naaah, you wouldn't want to look into your own actions, right, Shirley? The adults will have to do what's right.

      Maybe you should hear what some honest brokers of enviro info have to say this week?...

      www.cnn.com/2013/11/03/world/nuclear-energy-climate-change-scientists-letter/
      http://thoriumforum.com/open-letter-those-influencing-environmental-policy-opposed-nuclear-power
      www.cnn.com/2013/11/03/world/nuclear-energy-climate-change-scientists/?hpt=hp_t3

      Even a woman, if that will help you...
      http://thoriumforum.com/sunniva-rose-tedxoslo-thorium-energy

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    39. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      If you knew anything about chemistry, you'd know tomatoes like acid soils and therefore don't like dolomite....

      I searched for global known reserves of dolomite....... and I didn't find too many. Where are yours?

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    40. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Heck yeah Alex, you’re the sort who doesn’t get all worked up over snow jobs, cronyism, massive subsidies, botched projects, epic cost blowouts, Fukushima or giant fish blenders. But guess what? Forbes called nuclear the "largest managerial disaster in business history," but they’re such mean little people.

      I’m really emotionally charged when I think how you and the nuclear boondoggle are such good friends - just like Tarzan and Cheetah……

      Cheerio

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    41. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      What's the dolomite fetish, Mike? As I said many times there are many alternative starting minerals, including silicates.

      Yes, tomatoes like acidic soils, so what? Was that supposed to be a Plain "gotcha"?

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    42. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Guess you just don't like either facts or environmental scientists, eh Shirley?

      It's ok, there are adults around to make up for your blather. Go kill some birds & burn some more coal with your windmills.
      ;]

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    43. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Stasse
    44. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, speaking of your "atoms for peace," can you get me some of that Po-210 that’s at civilian nuclear power plants? You don’t think Messrs Arafat and Litvinenko hogged the lot, do you?

      @ Cannara: "Go kill some birds & burn some more coal with your windmills."

      1) Legal Action against New Jersey EPA – Salem NPP kills billions of fish every year:
      http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/13/10/01/green-coalition-seeks-to-end-fish-kills-at-salem-nuclear-facilities/

      2) New Jersey and Delaware…

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    45. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley, I'm from NJ, so watch what you say!

      You do realize that all you're doing is pointing out problems with regulating any power plants that use water for their final cooling stages, right?

      That's not a characteristic of all nukes and not one of advanced, high-temp gas/metal/salt-cooled nukes.

      But, details, details, eh Shirley?

      By the way, Po210 isn't made by all nuclear reactors, but that's just a disappointment for you too, eh Shirley? Just breathe deeply near your windmill factories…

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  3. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Dr Roberts describes an interesting scenario: “We’re likely to see a change from a krill-based ecosystem in the Southern Ocean with things like mussels, corals and oysters, towards a jellyfish-based, non-shell-making food chain.”

    So what eats jellyfish?

    Bearded goby (Sufflogobius bibarbatus) http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20100616045059data_trunc_sys.shtml

    "... predators include tunas, sharks, swordfish and some species of salmon. Sea turtles also like to eat jellyfish." http://www.whateats.com/what-eats-jellyfish

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  4. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    Much of this paper covers old ground in regard to potential impacts. Use of climate models to produce forward projections is only as good as the models. And as we have seen via the recent IPCC report the models are having difficultly in matching reality, indicating they require much more work.

    This issue is acknowledged in the paper but not discussed above. From the paper...

    " Earth System Models Precision and Accuracy

    The reliability of climate change projections is primarily determined…

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    1. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      It is circular and a sort of cop out argument. Models are parameriterised to match the data, the co2 is set at the scenario level. Of course the average of the models will match the observations. Not sure what you call that, but it is poor science and reasoning..

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Still hiding in the wimpiest realm -- models -- eh Matt?

      How about isotopic analyses of where all the CO2 came from and where all the carbonic acid added to the oceans has come from? Oops, can't argue with that, eh?

      Similarly for sea rise and warming of deep waters? Just can't find a way to criticize yardsticks & thermometers, eh?

      Then there are fossils, ice cores... Really tough to deny facts when there ain't no atmospheric models, right mate? But, as a geologist, you already know this.
      ;]

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  5. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    James, this is a good summary article about the import of Oceans. You are very busy editor on TC, well done. You may be interested in this short video which highlights 90% of the excess Heat is being taken up by the Oceans. Quantifying this against atmospheric surface temperatures I believe would be very helpful in *mitigating* the level of dis-information about the topic in general.

    Quoting: No Slowdown in Global Warming - 7mins
    Slow-down in global surface temperature increases and flawed emphasis…

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Addendum: Sea level in the 5th IPCC report
      quote: the following graph which nicely sums up the key findings about past and future sea-level rise: (1) global sea level is rising, (2) this rise has accelerated since pre-industrial times and (3) it will accelerate further in this century. The projections for the future are much higher and more credible than those in the 4th report but possibly still a bit conservative ....
      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/10/sea-level-in-the-5th-ipcc-report/

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  6. Mark Lawson

    senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

    James - although I appreciate you are just reporting, it is very difficult to see how these forecasts can be taken seriously - not yet at any rate., The stuff about changes in salinity is iffy at best but changes in ocean currents?? Is there any serious expectation that scientists know enough about the currents, particularly the deep water currents to forecast their reaction to changes in temperatures (if and when they occur) to model it and expect the answer to be right without huge error bars? You have to keep your lead but a user warning somewhere in the story is always a good idea..

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      And reference 129 of 150

      129. Koslow J, Goericke R, Lara-Lopez A, Watson W (2011) Impact of declining intermediate-water oxygen on deepwater fishes in the California Current. Marine Ecology Progress Series 436: 207–218. doi: 10.3354/meps09270.

      Also
      "In marine ecosystems, rising atmospheric CO2 and climate change are associated with concurrent shifts in temperature, circulation, stratification, nutrient input, oxygen content, and ocean acidification, with potentially wide-ranging biological effects."
      Climate Change Impacts on Marine Ecosystems, Annual Review of Marine Science, Vol. 4: 11-37 (Volume publication date January 2012)
      http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/fzUZd7Z748TeHmB7p8cn/full/10.1146/annurev-marine-041911-111611

      The main article is not paywalled Mark. You can actually read it.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      'If and when they occur"? So, obviously, the World Meteorological Organization are unable to read simple temperature data for the last fifty years; obviously the last living genuine 'sceptic', professor Richard Muller from Berkeley simply got it all wrong and backflipped for no good reason when he accepted the comprehensive evidence of the BEST study; obviously the whole IPCC are completely wrong and no living scientist has had the courage or nous to challenge their work with actual, published or even publishable counter-evidence.

      Meanwhile, back in that funny old place called the real world...

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    3. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Mark I encourage you to read the Introduction in Referenced Paper as linked in the article:
      could - used to express possibility
      can - future tense of could
      depending - to be conditioned or contingent (usually followed by on or upon )
      may - used to express contingency, especially in clauses indicating condition, concession, purpose, result, etc.
      References X 150 - a book, passage, peer reviewed science papers etc., to which one is directed.
      Go: http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001682#references
      Research is systematic work to create new knowledge or devise new applications of knowledge.
      RE expectation - In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen.
      An expectation about the behavior or performance of another person, expressed to that person, may have the nature of a strong request, or an order. Regards, Sean

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    4. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to James Whitmore

      Okay, fair enough.. its just a vague statement rather than any attempt at modelling .. although the report does talk of comparing two models.. basically I don't believe they know enough about the oceans to even begin to attempt a proper analysis of what might happen, assuming the carbon and climate models are right to begin with.. very iffy indeed, but it makes a story.. tnks..

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    5. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike - your response is mostly irrelevant. Go and look at what I wrote.. I wasn't arguing that there would be no effect (assuming the carbon/climate models are right) but that scientists knew nearly enough about it to model it properly. They don't. Further the article you link says that the eco-system will shift, which is probably right, not that there will be disasters.

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    6. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix - again you're attacking the wrong target for the wrong reasons. You're assuming I'm denying that there has been an increase in temperatures in the past few decades. Obviously there has been.
      There have been arguments about the amount of change and Muller went some way towards answering those objections. He was a global warmer right from the start, incidentally. He was never a skeptic - he only declared himself to be so when he "converted".

      The argument is about the future. What will happen in coming decades.

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    7. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean - your comments are too clever to be understood.. If, as I think you're saying, that the wording of the forecasts i vague then sure.. all the climate models involve a range of possible outcomes which, we are constantly told, are all equally likely. As I point out in response to another comment, if the actual climate results are anywhere within the climate model forecast then there may well be change in the oceans eco-system. Do we know enough about the complexities to model this? Doubt it. So I'm not sure what referring me again to the forecasts would accomplish.

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    8. In reply to Mark Lawson

      Comment removed by moderator.

    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      By the way, Mark, if you're not denying that there has been an increase in temperatures in the past few decades, why did you write "changes in temperatures (if and when they occur)" in your original post.

      I'm just dying to hear how a professional journalist can explain that 'if and when they occur' indicates that you accept that they have. I understand that science might be beyond a finance journalist, but I had thought you guys were supposd to be able to use grammar and syntax above the infant level.

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    10. Brad Farrant

      Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Mark,

      The breadth of your knowledge and expertise is quite remarkable. I didn't realise that you have a level of knowledge and expertise that is so superior to that of the relevant scientists that you can confidently declare that "I don't believe they know enough about the oceans to even begin to attempt a proper analysis of what might happen, assuming the carbon and climate models are right to begin with"

      Unlike you, I am not prepared to wager the future of the oceans and current and future generations on you being right and the scientists of the world being wrong.

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    11. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix - again you've misunderstood. I've recanted nothing. You would be better looking at the material rather than writing long posts based on a misunderstanding. I'll go over it again.. temperatures increased between the mid-70s and around the turn of the century. Thus the increase in recent decades (note plural), which Muller analysed.That increase and the pause since the turn of the century are now widely acknowledged by all sides. The IPCC refers to it, albeit dismissively. Its explained by global warmers as either natural variation, or the heat going into the oceans. A glance at any of the media coverage would tell you this.

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    12. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Ben - how on earth did you extract all those comments from what I said? I never said anything about not discussing scientific research, or even that you shouldn't do modelling.. what I said was the models shouldn't be taken seriously.. If you're working in the field. Good. Wouldn't dream of challenging you on it. But if you are seriously claiming that you, or anyone else, knows enough to construct models capable of making useful forecasts decades out, given that the filed is so young, you need to prove it and to the world in general not to me. Establish a track record as a modeler, rather than post on this site. Your future awaits.

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    13. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      @ Mark Lawson re: "Sean - your comments are too clever to be understood." Dear Mark, if at any time in the future you have difficulty in understanding what I say, please feel free to ask me. I will do my very best to clarify my meaning. I have enormous empathy for the challenges of text communication online, as I have 15 years of high level experience using online discussion boards. Some have been kind enough to call me a master at it, thoug I do have other strenghts as well as weaknesses. AS we all do. I have always been willing to help out neophytes such as yourself in this area. It would be my privilege to assist you, should you so desire it. I consider it my best way of giving something back to society as my own version of voluntary public service. Regards Sean

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    14. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Is there an equivalent of a Cochrane review in climate science? If there is I would like to be pointed in that direction. If there isn't, something similar should be implemented. One reference doth not convince a good scientist or layperson for that matter.

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    15. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      And a glance at the scientific evidencew ill tell you that the explanation of the IPCC and others for what you refer to, rather incautiously, as 'the pause' is correct. A glance at longer term temperature records indicates that the kind of stochastic, 'escalator-like' pattern of sharp rises followed by flatter patches is absolutely typical.

      So please don't criticise me for failing to 'look at the material' when it is clearly you who has failed.

      I'm waiting to hear what I've now 'misunderstood' [hint: if you don't like being regularly misunderstood, why don't you try writing clear, unambigous posts?]

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  7. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. In reply to Gerard Dean

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. In reply to Gerard Dean

      Comment removed by moderator.

  8. Robert McDougall

    Small Business Owner

    This is perhaps the most acute and immediate crysis of AGW, the acidification of the oceans and the impact on marine food chains, combined with the deep oceans quietly warming and polar ice melting from beneath.

    Sea levels rising may be the least of our problems.

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  9. Vincent Beales

    CO2 Producer

    Never Mind The Conversation, Here’s the Superlatives.

    A scaremongering article littered with unsubstantiated superlatives and motherhood statements such as: ‘dramatic changes thanks to climate change, affecting hundreds of millions of people’, ‘Some regions of the world – such as waters around Antarctica – will see increases in productivity, but this is offset by the overall negative trend’, “Cutting edge”, ‘She said the effects of changing oceans will be felt most strongly on the people who can least afford it’, etc.

    No measures of change, percentages or otherwise and no discussion on uncertainty or probability.

    Pseudo-science reporting at its best.

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    1. James Whitmore

      Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Vincent Beales

      Hi Vincent,
      Figures from the paper:
      By 2100, global averages for the upper layer of the ocean could experience a temperature increase of 1.2 to 2.6C, a dissolved oxygen concentration reduction of 0.11 to 0.24 ml per litre (i.e. a 2% to 4% reduction of current values), a pH decline of 0.15 to 0.31, and a diminished phytoplankton concentration of 0.001 to 0.003 mg C per litre (i.e., a ,4% to 10% reduction of current values). In contrast, the world’s seafloor was projected to experience smaller changes in temperature and pH but larger reductions in particulate carbon flux (i.e., food supply) reaching the seafloor.

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  10. Wade Macdonald

    Technician

    I think the best comment and most honest comment is this one.....

    "She said the effects of changing oceans will be felt most strongly on the people who can least afford it."

    Yes, like many rec fishers who enjoy catching their own healthy produce instead of at shop fronts where mekong catfish abound under the guise of local species names.

    Marine parks that ban these same rec fishers will not mitigate climate change either, only addressing the source of the problem will, if there is one?

    Don't hold high hopes on the source being addressed though when companies like BP and Exxon mobil are 'partners' to government research departments.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Which part of 'trhe source of the problem' is unclear or possibly non-existent, Wade?

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  11. Frank Moore

    Consultant

    Just a thought, but IMHO, direct and verifiable cause and effect 'evidence' such as Acid reducing shell densities of Krill, rendering them vulnerable to extinction, and challenging every dependent species that feed above them. Summarised by: "Krill killed leading to extinction of whales and an ocean full of jellyfish", has a lot more impact on the public than hard to see, hard to relate to, esoteric academic examinations of [seemingly] minute temperature changes.
    And just remember that pro population…

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  12. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    Yet again the editors cherry-pick research with which they agree and ignore all other research.

    Perhaps the editors might wish to consider the following research:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028983

    "Thus, on both a monthly and annual scale, even the most stable open ocean sites see pH changes many times larger than the annual rate of acidification. This natural variability has prompted the suggestion that “an appropriate null hypothesis may be, until evidence is obtained to the contrary, that major biogeochemical processes in the oceans other than calcification will not be fundamentally different under future higher CO2/lower pH conditions”"

    Despite a numbers of articles which suggest marine organisms adapt much better to changes in ocean pH than indicated by the doomsday predictions of certain scientists who appear driven by ideology than objectivity, the editors choose to ignore these articles. Why is that?

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    1. James Whitmore

      Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Thanks for the link Geoff, will keep in mind when we cover ocean acidification.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      The study was undertaken by a team from Scripps Institution of Oceanography who are at the forefront of Ocean Acidification research.

      Press release here
      https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/1875

      Ocean Acidification FAQs written by the same group of scientists here

      "Misunderstanding: Because natural pH variability is greater than long-term pH change, ocean acidification is nothing to worry about.

      Many scientists have observed that natural variability in seawater acidity (and thus pH) over days…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Isn't this just a variation on the 'because temperatures change by many degrees across a day or across the seasons, a change of a few degrees to global average temperature can't possibly be dangerous' fallacy?

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  13. John Nicol

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    James Whitmore

    I acknowledge the need to stay on topic so hope my strong comments will not be seen as diverting from your theme.

    “Krill and other species that make shells out of calcium carbonate are really in trouble, especially in polar regions. The largest changes are likely in areas of coral and rocky reefs, and also ecosystems dependent on krill.

    “We’re likely to see a change from a krill-based ecosystem in the Southern Ocean with things like mussels, corals and oysters, towards a jellyfish-based…

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Nicol

      Mr Nichol, chairman of the climate science denier outfit the misnamed Australian Climate Science Coalition giving a master class on the use of weasel words.

      "slightly more acidic water"

      What do the experts say?
      http://www.whoi.edu/OCB-OA/page.do?pid=112076

      "Average global surface ocean pH has already fallen from a pre-industrial value of 8.21 to 8.10, corresponding to an increase in acidity of 28.8%."

      Scientists - An increase in acidity of 28.8%

      Climate science denier - "slightly more"

      Perhaps Mr Nichol does not know that pH is a logarithmic scale?

      ** pH and acidity are explained in the above reference from the Woods Hole Oceanic Oceanographic Institution.

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    2. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Does the log scale matter? What matters depending on the species, obviously, is the impacts. Electio Policy options

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      Actually, log and linear scales differ little when looking at changes from 8.2 to 8.1 to 8.0 -- get out your slide rules, mates!

      The chemistry organisms use to extract sea water carbonate for their shells & skeletons is, however, extremely non-linear, so that going down 0.1[H near 8.0pH is like falling off a cliff.

      The point of our common concern is that we allowed combustion folks to convert >500 billion tons of fossil carbon into >1.5 trillion tons of CO2 and $ in their accounts, without…

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    4. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks for the clarification and lesson Alex! Keep up the fight. I get so sick of the militants on this site.

      Ask a question and get accused of this and that. Previous warming events were caused by something, and not necessarily co2. I once suggested it may be due to other activities in our galaxy and got accused of astrology...maybe I could have communicated my points better, but really, some people on here are true militants to their own view, without looking at the facts! I appreciate your clarity amongst the drowning whines of others.

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      Matt, only recently have some past warming events been finely divided enough to see causes & feedbacks. CO2 can indeed initiate, but then methane is accelerated and its far greater greenhouse effect then accelerates things more. Add to these interactions the natural orbital variations for Earth (Milankovitch Cycles) and very large changes can occur.

      However, none in the past 200+ million years has come within 1/100 the rate at which we're inducing a warming, and methane is now beginning to increase, which is very dangerous.

      I suggest the July 2011 issue of Scientific American for good coverage.

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  14. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    Nice to see more finally coming out on acidification -- only been understood since before 1900! Why the rush?
    ;]

    http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/pacific-ocean-perilous-turn-overview/?prmid=4939
    www.nationofchange.org/urgent-warning-scientists-health-oceans-spiraling-downwards-1381072525
    http://tinyurl.com/lsgbswg (EDF -- thx Ben)
    www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/aboutthefilm.asp

    We have maybe until 2020 to do something serious on it. And, even eliminating CO2 emissions won't do the job.

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    1. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Such a pessimist. I have more faith in evolution. Some species will loose. And I believe that homo sapien will act when it is needed and adapt. Reduce pollution now. Health cost electio policy options coming

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      I have faith in evolution too....... 99.9% of ALL species that ever existed are now extinct.

      A pessimist is a well informed optimist.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      As Mike said -- evolution is all about death, Matt.

      So, anyone can choose to be part of the solution or part of the problem. Many of the latter will be up in the line for compensation when things get rough for all. That's human nature -- myopic comfort seeking.
      ;]

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  15. Gopalan Srinivasan

    logged in via Facebook

    The article is just an extension of what the world's scientists numbering more than 200 in their fifth report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in Stockholm on September 27 conclusively and comprehensively stated. It is unfortunate that the world's most beautiful and scenic country like Australia would be hit if the extant greenhouse gas emission is left uncurbed. It is no rocket science to state that the environmental degradation stares us wherever one moves and less…

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    1. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Gopalan Srinivasan

      Hi, you make some excellent points. It is about China, USA, India and the followed by South Africa and all of Africa, then and at the same time South America, when they get out of their corrupt communist ways. Direct action is necessary, Direct assistance and monetary aid to countries with rainforests; the people that live there need help to adjust. Education spending, instead of business. It can be done.

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  16. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    As ever, it is impossible to escape the importance of economics in this debate.
    The activists, not being wealthy enough to directly expend their own capital on a solution, then turn to democracy to have governments take the necessary remedial action. The problem being that democracy itself is dependent upon citizens who are themselves dependent upon their employment for their own survival and have about as much power for direct remedial action as the activists.
    And until this fundamental problem of economic power is resolved,
    then all the discussion might as well be empty noise.
    The politicians are subverted.
    Representative democracy is subverted.
    What power is left to the individual to solve these problems?
    There is no point petitioning empty idols.
    Any solution must be in the hands of the people.

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    1. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to James Hill

      Does not negate our effect. Estimates suggest that carbon concentration is equal to and rising to what it has ever been in 800,000,000 years. Yes, forests will grow better, with more co2, but we need to have the forests. Protect the worlds rainforests now. Will a carbon tax do that. Fuck off classic capitalist solutions and embrace direct legislation for change. ELP.

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      Are you sure about that 800 million years figure?
      Not sure that I remember the exact time involved but the Cambrian "Explosion" was supposedly associated with photosynthetic organism changing the Earth's atmosphere altogether.
      But that aside there is always what was in place before this political intervention, and that is a voluntary emissions trading scheme directly happening with the consent of the participating adults.
      And it involved trees being planted and credits being given for the same…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Matt Stevens

      No, Matt, forests would only 'grow better with more CO2' if CO2 were the limiting factor in their growth - see Liebig's Law of the Minimum. However, all the evidence - and, for that matter, the observable history of forests throughout the holocene - clearly indicates that forests are not in any way short of CO2, so more will provide no benefit. However, as already observable, the impacts of climate change are already serious on the health of forests and will, over time, become severe indeed.

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  17. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    Comments are still open, so can anyone remember a New Scientist article from some time ago which considered the effects upon the Gulf Stream of any mass melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet?
    The article suggested that the Gulf Stream may slow down and stop because of the effects of large amounts of fresh water entering the Stream at the point where it plunges down to the depths to return to the Tropical Caribbean from whence it originates.
    Ironically, the predicted effect is for the Eastern Seaboard of Europe, which is warmed by The Gulf Stream, to instead develop the "continental" climate of similar latitudes in North America and in Asia.
    Somewhat combating any anthropogenic Global Warming in the North Atlantic.
    No? Not relevant to the above article on ocean currents?

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to James Hill

      Yes, James, there have been various scientific articles about what will happen if all the snow and ice in the Canadian NE melts, as it is now doing. Greenland would simply ascerbate the situation,.

      The problem is that fresh water is lighter than salt water. so as fresh water flows increase from the north across the Gulf Stream, they drive it downward, cooling it before it could have transferred its heat farther east, as Europe has become accustomed to.

      This means that as the Arctic regions thaw, Europe freezes. They are, after all, at a higher latitude than their climate would now suggest.

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks, Alex, for that clarification.
      Recently I saw an article which showed the ocean temperatures around Australia, at a particular time, and they seemed to correlate with weather patterns on the adjacent coasts.
      Strangely for a nation founded by boat people, Australians do not seem very interested in their adjacent oceans.
      In particular, and the terminology may be inaccurate, the three East Coast Gyres which circulate up and down the coast would, under increased warming, be susceptible to…

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to James Hill

      James, I'll be meeting with an eminent climate scientist next Monday, so will see what he can say about the info you see as hard to find.

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    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks Alex for that effort.
      I am sure the information is there.
      It is just vey strange to suppose that all those coastal dwellers, who regularly enjoy the great outdoors of the ocean, are somehow not interested in the science of their recreational playgrounds.
      Beyond the Fishers and the Clubbies, there are several generations of the tribe of "Weeds", surfers, who range far and wide up and down the coast, and have a long term intimate familiarity with that environment.
      It would be ridiculous…

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to James Hill

      James, I believe the latest IPCC report contained, as one of sadly few pieces of 'good news' indicators that fears of a loss of the Gulf Stream are not likely to happen.

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    6. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Well that is good news.
      Some time back, before Global Warming became the sole focus of environmental issues, a New Scientist article addressed the issue of water being diverted from Arctic rivers in continental Russia.
      The argument was that since the fresh water formed a "lens" over the top of the underlying Artic ocean, and easily froze, the resulting "Albido" re-directed otherwise warming sunlight back into space.
      And that as a consequence of this "Anthropogenic" diversion of this fresh river water for irrigation purposes, the Arctic ocean would heat up by absorbing more solar energy in the absence of the reflective surface lens of frozen fresh water.
      Has there been any further discussion of this phenomenon in the pertinent "community"?
      Seems custom-made for the "it's all a communist plot to destroy the world economy" crew, with those nasty "watermelons" in cahoots.
      Did they miss this one?

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  18. helen stream

    teacher

    So freedom of speech is only a right of warmists here on this site---and people who disagree with them are allowed to comment only at their peril, are they---this site which I believe is funded by 'our' ABC, is it not?

    Is that the official stance??

    At least I suppose we can be thankful that warmists and others on the Left reveal to us their totalitarian hearts and the type of groupthink world they would have our children grow up in, given the chance---so we can be forewarned and try to insulate…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to helen stream

      I agree on freedom of speech, even dumb, miscreant speech. But why so many words? Thats' one ploy climate deniers use.

      And what are "warmists"? Are those complaining about sea rise "risers" or "risists"? And if I say the facts indicate acidification is faster arriving and more serious sooner, am I an "acidificatist"?
      ;]

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    2. Brad Farrant

      Adjunct Research Fellow in Early Childhood Development at University of Western Australia

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen,

      Do you base what you teach on the opinion of a minority rather than what, based on the available evidence, the majority of the relevant scientists are telling us?

      Of course people a free to have their own opinions, I don't think anyone is really arguing against this, but public policy should be based on the best available science of the day. The problem is that, rather than engaging with the science and the scientists, those that refuse to accept the findings of climate science are trying…

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  19. Comment removed by moderator.

  20. Kim L Johnson

    logged in via Twitter

    Dear Author Whitmore,
    Thanks for your great article on a very serious subject, James!

    I'm an engineer who has known for several decades (while practicin' Chem.E.) that about the only way Mankind can keep our Biosphere (which includes All Oceans for sure) *viable* for many many Millenia is to:

    . . • *Save* the bulk of the Earth's CARBON for Chemicals, Construction, Agriculture, etc;
    . . • Use sólo *Some* of the Carbon in *efficient* processes producing niche transport fuels, like Diesel…

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    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Kim L Johnson

      Surely it is reasonable for Germany to but nuclear sourced electricity from France, if only to allow the French to purchase manufactured goods from Germany???

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to James Hill

      Actually, the French will get reduced prices, since the Germans will owe them carbon credits.
      ;]

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Green Press

      Why care? He's obviously not attuned to scientific/engineering thought.

      Just engage him in public discussion and pummel him with facts that others can see -- he'll get the idea.

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