Expert Blasts Alfred Wegener Institute Ocean Acidification Claim: “Clear Falsification Of Scientific Facts”

Ocean acidification: The terrible little brother of global warming

By Dr. D. E. Koelle
(Translated/edited by P Gosselin)

The alleged global warming, which now has not taken place for 18 years, has just received a “terrible little brother”. It was high time to find such a brother, especially since the older climate sister was becoming so weak.

Here that little brother is the not unknown “ocean acidification”, which was recently elevated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in a press release dated 8 October 2014 to being the new global danger that comes with “dramatic impacts” ,”costs in the billions” and the claim that the pH value today is dropping 10 times faster than in the past.

There was no word however that the ocean in fact is not “acidic” in any way. Rather with a pH value of between 7.8 and 8.1 it is clearly alkaline. This is a clear falsification of scientific facts (but the citizens won’t notice at all). If anything, when viewed objectively, a reduction in alkalinity has nothing to do with an “acidification”, which would begin at a pH value of 6.9.

Figure: CO2 concentration in the atmosphere over the last 300 million years (Retallack) – completely without any anthropogenic impact.

Here the claim of the supposed pH value drop is hardly a serious one because there is no global pH measurement network that would allow such a claim to be backed up. Local datasets show a pH value fluctuation of +/- 0.1 points. What is confirmed is the fact that over 90% of the earth’s history, the atmospheric CO2 concentration was considerably higher than the very modest 400 ppm level we have today. The average over the last 300 million years was near 2000 ppm (see diagram from Retallack, which is based on changes in the stoma pores of Gingko plants). Neither the considerably higher CO2 levels over the earth’s history nor the maximum of 6000 parts per million has ever led to an “acidification of the oceans”.

If the claims of a damaging influence on coral reefs were true, then the corals would have died millions of years ago.

So just where is this kind of acidification supposed to come from? Approximately 11 Gt of CO2 (a third of the anthropogenic emissions) is taken up by the oceans, but it is ignored that at least the same amount (and there are also estimates of 20 Gt CO2 per year) getting stored as CaCO3 on the seabed. The complete CO2 circulation in the oceans is everything but known: large quantities of CO2 originate from hundreds of underwater volcanoes along tectonic plate boundaries – and without this, covering the huge need for CO2 by the underwater vegetation (assumed to be greater than even that on land) is not imaginable. The minimum pH values also do not occur at the sea surface, as is supposed to be the case with an atmospheric impact (as is falsely assumed by the IPCC report), but rather at approximately 1000 meters below the sea surface.

At the surface, the low pH values are measured in areas where the deep water currents arrive at the surface. The CO2 absorption from the atmosphere, which is supposed to cause an “acidification”, has to be considered in relation to the total amount of about 39,000 Gt CO2 that is already dissolved in the ocean. As here we are talking about 11 Gt CO2 per year, this is only about 0.028%!  Here already alone the natural impacts of annual ENSO activity and ocean currents with the temperature changes can be considerably larger.

Let’s hope that the AWI-conjured “little awful brother” soon disappears and that research in the field of ocean sciences gets back to being serious.


17 responses to “Expert Blasts Alfred Wegener Institute Ocean Acidification Claim: “Clear Falsification Of Scientific Facts””

  1. Svend Ferdinandsen

    As the warming scare is getting lesser they have to invent new ones. Extreme weather is the newest. There have also been some trying to scare with meteorites, but they can not be caused by CO2, so it has not really gained attraction.

  2. John Shade

    The sooner this nonsense ends, the better. Come on Germany!

  3. BobW in NC

    I have forgotten most of my chemistry. But, I cannot think that carbonic acid equates in any manner with fuming sulfuric acid! So, how much carbonic acid would be needed to change a highly buffered system such as the ocean by 0.1 pH units? And as a follow up, how much CO2 would be needed to be dissolved to achieve that change?

    Further, I seem to recall that carbonic acid is not very stable. Is that true?

    Why do the people who make these claims not know the basic science involved? And, why are they not informed of it?

    Disgusting! Totally unnecessary diversion of energy that could be so well used where there are true needs!

    1. Graeme No.3

      CO2 dissolves mostly as a gas, so IF there were global warming less CO2 would dissolve, hence less problem.

      A small proportion is converted to bicarbonate ion, and an even smaller proportion to carbonate, which is supposedly the most “acidifying” step.

      Note: these conversions are dependent on pH. The first stops around pH 5.5, the second doesn’t really happen below a pH of 9, and there is fairly rapid conversion about pH 10.5, which of course never happens.

      There are 2 ways of demonstrating this “acidification” is false. The first is to point out that the White Cliffs of Dover were laid down by the skeletal remains of marine creatures when the CO2 level was at least TWICE what it is now. Over millions of years.
      Unfortunately I don’t have the reference handy for the measurement of pH on a coral reef near New Ireland where CO2 bubbles out of the coral, without dropping the pH below 7.7. That’s at 1,000,000 ppm! is a useful starting point of papers on the subject.

      1. Graeme No.3

        For the ‘problem’ see (behind paywall) which indicates (in abstract) that they couldn’t find a pH reading below 7.7.

        And on the same reef
        Also for another view

        I would like to point out that SO2/SO3 and H2S are all stronger acids than CO2 and could well be present wherever there is volcanic activity. Since all reports on these CO2 bubble baths at coral reefs refer to volcanic activity as causing the CO2 bubbles it would be nice to have an analysis of the purity of the gas.

      2. BobW in NC

        Excellent Graeme No.3, and thank you. Thank you especially for the reference.

  4. Windsong

    University of Washington professor Dr. Cliff Mass did a thorough counterpoint to an “acidification” series that appeared in The Seattle Times.

    This series was widely reprinted, including The New York Times (3Aug2014). It appears The Seattle Times was not happy with Cliff’s and the EPA’s take on the subject.

  5. Lawrie Ayres

    Will these prophets of doom and purveyors of false and misleading information ever be brought to account. They must have cost us billions and they have cost science it’s integrity. People just don’t accept what scientists say any more.

    1. DirkH

      If I meet a scientist these days I start with some careful probing questions to see how much of a dolt he is.

  6. dennisambler

    They have been pushing this one for a few years now. Jane Lubchenco, former Chief Administrator of NOAA was talking of “Global Warming’s Evil Twin” in 2009. Natural Resources Defense Council was promoting it in a film with Sigourney Weaver as the voice over, she of Alien fame.

    You can read about it here and discover where the “30% increase in acidification” meme came from: “Acid Seas – Back To Basic”

    There has of course been more funding provided and there is yet another institution dedicated to the cause of promoting the evils of CO2, here is the web-site:

    Three notable IPCC names are Richard Feely, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, USA
    Jean-Pierre Gattuso, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche (CNRS-UPMC), France
    Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, University of Queensland, Australia

    The latter is a long time Greenpeace advisor, more famous for proclaiming the world wide death of coral reefs.

    Do click on the “20 facts about Ocean Acidification”

    16. “Full recovery of the oceans will require tens to hundreds of millennia”

    That should keep the pensions safe then…

    If you want a good laugh, then go their web blog:

    Here it says, (still, because I first saw this about 3 years ago):
    “Too much carbon is flooding the ocean with carbolic acid, with devestating (sic) effects on life in the sea.”

    It gives a whole new meaning to cleaning up the seas…..

    They also have this contribution from the Australian Academy of Science:

    “Chemists have known for a long time that a beaker of water sitting in a lab will absorb carbon dioxide from the air and turn acidic. Would it happen at a larger scale? If we greatly increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere, for example, would the oceans become a vast acid bath? What would be the ecological effects? Over the next century or so, we are going to find out.”

    Tim Flannery, the former Head of Oz Climate Change, until he was excommunicated by the Abbott, was presumably the source of the Carbolics, as he made a similar statement in an at a Tata (India) conference:

    “carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produces carbolic acid in the ocean, the ocean becomes acidic and things die.”

    He also says the same thing in print in one of his books, I haven’t had time to look up the link, but it is true.

  7. gofigure560

    The graphic of co2 variation over the past 300 million years says it all. Anoverlay of temperature variation over the same period should have long ago put to rest any possibility that temperature goes bezerk at higher levels of co2; hence NO evidence.

    Anyone have a good link to temperature variation?

  8. Graeme No.3


    They also have this contribution from the Australian Academy of Science:

    “Chemists have known for a long time that a beaker of water … Distilled water yes, Sea water full of buffer type salts?

    Tim Flannery – “carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produces carbolic acid in the ocean – Is this a misprint? Carbolic acid is an old name for phenol. Nothing to do with CO2 dissolving.
    On the other hand considering some of Flim Flam’s statements perhaps he did say it.

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  11. dennisambler

    Graeme No3

    He did say it and on several occasions. I found the link to a review of his book now, it was even commented upon by the reviewer:

    “Flannery’s book has a curious mistake, references to “carbolic” acid, presumably meaning “carbonic acid” (p 22). –

    It was picked up by another reviewer, who took it at face value, believing what he had been told:

    “Whenever I get e-mails from these happy carbon makers, I kindly invite them to open a profitable business on lifeless Mars, where CO2 has become the dominant gas. I also recommend that they try fishing on an ocean of carbolic acid.”

    He even repeated it in an article for the Guardian a couple of months ago, but obviously he got a load of flak because it was changed:

    “This article was amended on 4 August 2014. An earlier version referred to carbolic acid. That has been corrected to carbonic acid.”

    1. DirkH

      Ah, carbolic acid = phenol = base material for Bakelite, together with formaldehyde.

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