Coral Calcification and Photosynthesis in a CO2-Enriched World of the Future

I must admit, the first time I saw this article I nearly fell out of my chair. Entitled "Coral Calcification and Photosynthesis in a CO2-Enriched World of the Future", the article attempts to make sense of a recent publication by Lydie Herfort et al entitled "Biocarbonate stimulation of calcification and photosynthesis in two hermatypic corals" by providing a stereotypical ‘skeptic’ view:

"As ever more pertinent evidence accumulates, however, the true story appears to be just the opposite of what these climate alarmists continue to tell us."

Odd how that it is always the exception to the rule is the ‘true’ story – ignoring the vast quantity of peer-reviewed literature on the topic. A bit of background here: as part of the "Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change", the Idso family (Craig, Keith and Sherwood) publish a pseudo-journal entitled CO2 Science (see here for their ‘interpretations’ on other recent coral publications). A little digging reveals that the Centre (of which Craig is the chairman and founder and Sherwood the president) is part funded by Exxon (amongst other sources). Not that this in itself is much of an issue (or indeed much of a surprise), as Sherwood Idso views it:

"It is self-evident, for example, that one need not know from whence a person’s or organization’s funding comes in order to evaluate the reasonableness of what they say, if – and this is a very important qualification – one carefully studies the writings of people on both sides of the issue"

The key problem here is that the Idso et al seem to have a fairly obvious agenda, which couldn’t be further from addressing both sides of the issue:

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From the climatic sidelines: Stephen Schneider (Stanford University, IPCC) on the global warming debate

Effective science is often dogged by the antics of skeptics who look out the window and say, “look the temperature didn’t go up this year yet CO2 did – I rest my argument, enhanced greenhouse driven global change is not occurring”. Stephen Schneider, a climatologist from Stanford University discusses this issue and more in a response to Don Aitkin (the political scientist and author of ‘Good science isn’t about consensus”):

“Such contrarians ascribe to the false god of falsification, that is, a critic finding one or even several lines of argument contrary to mainstream consensus who then claims they have falsified the conventional conclusion. That’s how simple science used to be done. For example, if you have a liquid in a test tube, and you want to know if it’s an acid or alkaline, one piece of litmus paper can falsify a wrong preliminary hypothesis. But in complex system science, like tobacco and cancer, or greenhouse gas build-ups and climate change, hundreds and even thousands of studies are needed to build a consensus. A few dozen exceptions do not remotely falsify the vast preponderance of accumulated evidence. System science is based on preponderance of all the evidence, not on a few exceptions.”


Click above for the full audio of Schneider’s response, or read the full transcript over at the ABC (link)

Rising ocean acidity threatens low-lying islands – Reuters

A woman sits atop a section of a dyke built to protect the tiny island from the ravages of the sea during a sunrise in the Maldives capital Male in this July 12, 2001 file photo.Reuters, 1st June 2008

Rising acidity in the ocean caused by seas absorbing greenhouse carbon dioxide could make low-lying island nations like Kiribati and the Maldives more vulnerable to storms as their coral reefs struggle to survive, say scientists.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its highest level in the past 650,000 years, possible 23 million years, and half has now been dissolved into the oceans making them more acidic.

Ocean acidification, which is projected to spread extensively north from the Antarctic by 2100, makes it difficult or impossible for some animals, like coral and starfish, to produce their shells and skeletons.

“If ocean acidification weakens the structure of reef-forming corals and algae, tropical systems (islands) will be more vulnerable to physical impacts from storms and cyclones,” said a new report by some of the world’s leading marine scientists.

“By 2100, it is expected that some reefs will become marginal and reef calcification will decline,” said the report, by the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, released on Monday.

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