Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oceans Ten Times More Acidic Than Thought

National Geographic has a curious article entitled, Oceans Ten Times More Acidic Than Thought" that contains so many errors it's difficult to know where to begin. For starters, the title implies that the ocean is ten times more acidic that previously thought, like it slipped from 6.5 to 5.5pH, catching researchers off guard. In reality, it's the increase in acidity that is ten times higher than some climate model predicted. Perhaps a better title would have been, "Global Warming Model Incorrect By an Order of Magnitude".

The word "Oceans" in the title implies many of our oceans have increased acidity, but the article cleanly states the research applies to the ocean around one island (or perhaps "Oceans" in the title needs a possessive apostrophe).

A whale of a contradiction in the article is "...carbon dioxide dissolves in the oceans it forms carbonic acid, which in turn has a negative impact on marine life.", but later the article claims, "Larger mussels and barnacles suffered, leaving smaller barnacles and some calcium-based seaweeds better off."
Increased acidity doesn't have a negative impact on all marine life. Under almost any change in environment, some species will do better and other will flounder.

The article ends with a stinging quote: "This is typical of so many climate studies—almost without exception things are turning out to be worse than we originally thought." This clearly is a call to the readers to do something about the tsunami of impending climate change. Although it could be argued from the article that there's something fishy with these climate models which can't make accurate predictions.

The whole article should be taken with a grain of salt.

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