Who is afraid of acid in the ocean? Not me

We keep being told this is a natural disaster- but scientists must come clean. It isn’t

Matt Ridley, The Times, 4 November 2010. Article (subscription required)

5 Responses to “Who is afraid of acid in the ocean? Not me”


  1. 1 Jean-Pierre Gattuso 5 November 2010 at 08:11

    I have comments on several points of this opinion article and will only focus on two of them here.

    1- “Vested interest”

    The author writes:
    “Talking of vested interests, the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) is now a consortium of over 100 scientists from 27 institutes and 9 countries. This last summer it funded 35 scientists to spend six weeks in the Arctic studying the problem, `assisted’ by Greenpeace’s ship Esperanza. Think how little incentive the scientists would have to say `sorry, lads, we realize it is a not much of an issue after all’.”

    That is incorrect, EPOCA had no connection with Greenpeace. EPOCA’s Arctic experiment used an experimental platform provided independently from EPOCA by IFM-GEOMAR, a marine research institute based in Kiel, Germany. IFM-GEOMAR used its own resources as well the assistance of external parties, including Greenpeace, to transport its own equipment and staff from Kiel to Ny-Ålesund, deploy this equipment in a suitable location, recover it at the end of the experiment and transport it back to Kiel.
    This experimental platform was offered at no cost to individual scientists from EPOCA, MESOAQUA, the German project BIOACID and a Chinese project which made use of the platform. The EPOCA scientists that participated to the experiment were based at the international station of Ny-Ålesund.

    2- The comment on meta-analysis is misguided.

    The conclusions of Hendriks et al. (2010) have been thoroughly discussed (Dupont et al., 2010; Hendriks & Duarte, 2010). However, Hendriks and colleagues conclude “Calcification is most sensitive to ocean acidification…” This is is complete disagreement with the conclusion of Ridley that “… study after study keeps finding that, far from depressing growth rates of marine organisms, higher … levels of carbon dioxide either do not affect them or increase their growth rate”.

    Furthermore, the meta-analysis of Duarte et al. (2010) was followed by two other meta-analyses which showed that ocean acidification has a significant effect on some organisms and processes (Kroeker et al., 2010; Liu et al., 2010). For example, Kroeker et al. (2010) conclude “We … found negative effects on survival, calcification, growth and reproduction”.

    I invite everyone to comment on these two issues, as well as other ones raised by Ridley’s opinion article.

    Jean-Pierre Gattuso
    EPOCA Scientific Coordinator

    References cited

    Dupont S., Dorey N. & Thorndyke M., 2010. What meta-analysis can tell us about vulnerability of marine biodiversity to ocean acidification? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 89:182-185.

    Hendriks I. E., Duarte C. M. & Alvarez M., 2010. Vulnerability of marine biodiversity to ocean acidification: A meta-analysis. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 86:157-164.

    Hendriks I. E. & Duarte C. M., 2010. Ocean acidification: separating evidence from judgment. A reply to Dupont et al. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 89:186-190.

    Kroeker K., Kordas R. L., Crim R. N. & Singh G. G., 2010. Meta-analysis reveals negative yet variable effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms. Ecology Letters.

    Liu J., Weinbauer M. G., Maier C., Dai M. & Gattuso J.-P., 2010. Effect of ocean acidification on microbial diversity, and on microbe-driven biogeochemistry and ecosystem functioning. Aquatic Microbial Ecology.

  2. 2 Gail 5 November 2010 at 18:16

    Can you post some excerpts from the article as I don’t have a subscription. Having said that, it seems just recently the deniers have realized they are going to have to manufacture the same controversy over acidification as they have over climate change, which means they understand the threat to business as usual.

    Their favorite talking points are emerging such as:

    the ocean isn’t acidic, it’s alkaline!


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