Thursday, September 26, 2013

Anthony Watts flunks ocean chemistry at WUWT

Sou | 3:46 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

Anthony Watts isn't too bright.  So far HotWhopper has observed that he's:

Anthony writes on his anti-science blog, wattsupwiththat:
...What they fail to note is that the oceans still haven’t turned acidic at the end of their model projections. 
The world's oceans are acidifying but they are not "turning acidic".  That would be extremely difficult because the ocean is a buffered solution.  I came across an article that explains the chemical reactions in the ocean in terms most high school students should understand.  It explains how the pH of the ocean is falling and the ocean is losing calcium carbonate.
The equations showing CO2 reacting with water look like they generate more, not less carbonate. How does ocean acidification decrease the amount of carbonate ions in seawater?
This is a common point of confusion, because step-by-step equilibrium equations describing the carbonate system in seawater do not capture the dynamic chemical environment of seawater. There are several reactions that can occur between carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), carbonic acid (H2CO3), bicarbonate ion (HCO3-), and carbonate ion (CO32-). One of the possible reactions does create carbonate ions and lowers pH:
CO2 + H2O ⇔ H2CO3 ⇔ H+ + HCO3- ⇔ 2H+ + CO32-
However, at the current ocean pH level, another reaction also occurs that consumes carbonate ions and does not change pH:
CO2 + H2O + CO32- ⇔ 2HCO3-
The second equation describes the reaction that occurs most often in the modern oceans, but the first reaction also occurs, so the resulting overall change is a decrease in carbonate and a decrease in pH. Christopher L. Sabine, Supervisory Oceanographer, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, USA

One of the telltale signs of a science denier or disinformer is that they will deliberately try to confuse people who don't have any knowledge of chemistry by pretending that the word "acidification" equates to having a pH less than 7.  It doesn't.  In chemistry, the word "acidification" means becoming more acidic.  In other words, the pH is dropping.  The pH of the ocean has dropped from around 8.2 prior to industrialisation to around 8.1 today.  By the end of this century ocean pH could drop to around 7.8 or so.  That's a very large change in a very short space of time.

Anthony Watts is trying to argue that scientists don't understand the basics of ocean chemistry.  He's wrong.  His article demonstrates that it's he, Anthony Watts, who doesn't understand simple chemistry.

All about ocean acidification

SkepticalScience.com has some very good articles on ocean acidification with a recent article here and an eighteen part series here. That series covers a lot of ground, starting with some basic chemistry.

The process is happening faster than at any time in maybe the last 300 million years according to a paper in Science last year.  From Bärbel Hönisch et al (2012), The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification, Science 335.6072 (2012): 1058-1063, DOI: 10.1126/science.1208277 (my bold italics):
However, in additionally driving a strong decline in calcium carbonate saturation alongside pH, the current rate of (mainly fossil fuel) CO2 release stands out as capable of driving a combination and magnitude of ocean geochemical changes potentially unparalleled in at least the last ~300 My of Earth history, raising the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change.

There's more in a short article here in Scientific American and another here at Live Science.a

From the WUWT comments

Patrick's is typical of the comments on WUWT (archived here).  From his armchair reckons he knows more than all the oceanographers and marine chemists put together and he especially knows more about science than does NASA:
September 25, 2013 at 7:20 pm
When debating this subject with alarmists, they always direct me to the NASA climate change website which states the pH of the ocean, globally, has dropped to 8.1 from 8.2, or a ~30% increase in acidification (Their claim). I point out to the alarmists that that cannot be true, albeit accepted, because ocean pH levels vary greatly day to day, season to season etc etc as well as the fact there isn’t a reliable system to actually, reliably and accurately measure ocean pH levels on a global scale.

Source: ClimateProgress

1 comment:

  1. KR

    If you start at the South Pole and travel 100km in any direction, you have moved north, or "northified". It doesn't matter that you're still standing on the Antarctic ice cap, as "moved north/acidified" indicates direction, whereas "north/acid" is a location.

    The semantic gaming shown by Watts and others with the acid/acidification nonsense is simply a failure to distinguish between an adjective and an adverb - in other words, a failure of high school grammar. A sad statement on the educational system, I suppose.

    Nonsensical semantic gaming - but unsurprising, as Watts and others continue with Anything But Carbon Dioxide (ABCD).


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