The Rational Optimist is greatly exaggerated

One thought on “The Rational Optimist is greatly exaggerated”

  1. It’s also worth pointing out that there are LOTS of similarly poorly argued points in Ridley’s rebuttal. Just a few that really made me shake my head:

    There are reefs in the Persian Gulf, which proves that corals can stand high temperatures already if given time to acclimatize.-
    This completely ignores the diversity of corals and symbionts in the Persian Gulf vs. the center of reef diversity. It also assumes a continuous gradual increase in temps, rather than an increasing frequency of extreme events that we’re actually seeing.

    Reefs will just expand to where it’s warmer-
    There’s lots more to the patterns of reef distribution than just temperature. He’s assuming there are larvae to recruit and that other parameters like aragonite saturation and nutrient loads are also suitable in these cooler areas, which often isn’t the case.

    In acidic water mussels just grow slower-
    That’s great to know but irrelevant to what will happen to coral reefs. Experiments have clearly shown that at pHs much higher than those found where the mussels were growing, corals stop calcifying altogether. Even if they did still manage to calcify at half the current rate, net reef growth would be negative, which would be a death sentence for coral reefs.

    The pH of the oceans was lower in the past-
    Yes, and those periods of low pH also tend to coincide with the disappearance of reef builders for a few million years and often with the extinction of the dominant reef builders altogether. How much lower has the pH been during the reign of modern scleractians? Not much, except for the ~12-16 million year gap in reef building.

    …I could go on, but I won’t

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