UK Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences

The US and UK Governments appear to be sending around a new glossy climate change publication from the UK Royal Society and US National Academy of Sciences. It was published last week. It seems that various UK and US Ambassadors are sending the paper around to their colleagues with a plug about how it (the report) proves human caused climate change is ‘more certain’. What I’d like to know, if the UK Government thinks that it is ‘more certain’, why has the UK withdrawn from its country CO2 emissions reduction target (as have the other European countries)? Talk about hypocrisy.

The publication is claimed to be

a key reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative answers about the current state of climate-change science.

The style of the document can be ascertained from the forward

CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE OF THE DEFINING ISSUES OF OUR TIME. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, accompanied by sea-level rise, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and other climate-related changes.The evidence is clear. However, due to the nature of science, not every single detail is ever totally settled or completely certain. Nor has every pertinent question yet been answered.

I don’t have the time or inclination to go through all of the errors and misleading information in the document. I’ll highlight just one to demonstrate the bias.

On page 17, the issue of ‘ocean acidification’ is discussed. I wrote about that in 2011. The claim is that the addition of CO2 into the oceans is making them more acidic.

There can be nothing further from the truth. The average pH level the oceans is around 8.1, which means it is somewhat basic. Pure water – ie: a liquid that is neither basic nor acidic has a pH of 7. Acids have pH levels below 7; the lower the pH, the stronger the acid. Where pH levels are above 7, the liquid is alkaline – the higher the pH, the more alkaline is the liquid.

And here is the clanger. While the chart on page 17 shows the pH levels falling a little to around 8.08, the paper states

Direct observations of ocean chemistry have shown that the chemical balance of seawater has shifted to a more acidic state (lower pH). Some marine organisms (such as corals and some shellfish) have shells composed of calcium carbonate which dissolves more readily in acid. As the acidity of sea water increases, it becomes more difficult for them to form or maintain their shells.

I would expect better from a year 10 science student. The fact is, that pure water will not dissolve calcium carbonate (it is somewhat soluble in pure water, but doesn’t react).

It would require a moderately strong acid (say pH < 6) to actually dissolve CaCO3. This is the formation caused by hard water, and a good dose of citric acid or hydrochloric acid dissolves the CaCO3 (releasing CO2) as in: CaCO3 + 2 HCl → CaCl2 + CO2 + H2O. That is, calcium carbonate and hydrochloric acid will produce calcium chloride, carbon dioxide and water.

I think it is quite unethical for so-called scientists to deliberately choose alarming language to press a point. Science is about dispassionate analysis and research, using controlled and repeatable experiments and presenting the evidence carefully with appropriate caveats and conditions.

This document is not science.

About Samuel J

Samuel J has an economics background and is a part-time consultant
This entry was posted in Global warming and climate change policy. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to UK Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences

  1. will

    I believe that this document will become a significant historical artifact, to be mocked and scorned for generations as displaying the simple ignorance and stupidity of science.

  2. blogstrop

    That’s an indicator how far gone the UK and USA governments are. Head for the hills, people.

  3. egg_

    I think it is quite unethical for so-called scientists to deliberately choose alarming language to press a point. Science is about dispassionate analysis and research, using controlled and repeatable experiments and presenting the evidence carefully with appropriate caveats and conditions.

    Funding begets corruption – a while back, even Ag Sci researchers had to throw in the obligatory AGW phrase in order to (better) gain Govt funding.

  4. egg_

    current state of climate-change science

    Frozen still.

  5. Kaboom

    This entire fucking boondoggle will ultimately lead to the general populace distrusting science for the next 50 years, at the very least.

    Question: Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?

  6. Tintarella di Luna

    This entire fucking boondoggle will ultimately lead to the general populace distrusting science for the next 50 years, at the very least.

    Question: Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?

    if it begets more skeptics – fine by me. Though the flat earth thingy took a while to dispel

  7. Bruce of Newcastle

    This would be the same US NAS who published a black list of climate sceptics, just so that right thinking people could know who to persecute.

    And that would be the same UK Royal Society who “exonerated” UEA in the Climategate email scandals by finding the climate literature supported them…after they secretly asked UEA to give them the scientific papers they used to exonerate UEA.

    I could add several more dubious exploits of both learned societies, such as the disgusting treatment by PNAS of Lindzen, who is a senior member of NAS, but it is sufficient to leave the record with these abhorrent actions in pride of place.

    Both have been captured by lefties. They should be disbanded forthwith.

  8. blogstrop

    Learned societies are looking more like “marched through” institutions these days.

  9. Eyrie

    Measured pH? The concept was invented in 1912. So we’ve had a widespread properly organised sampling program all the time since then.

    What they really mean is the Ph decrease is MODELLED from the increase in atmospheric CO2.

    Of course the problem is that if the world is warming the oceans will have some of the CO2 come out of solution as gases get less soluble in water as the temperature rises. Dishonest bunch of dicks.

    I forget where I found this but I’m beginning to agree with the last sentiment although I’m prepared to amend that to government funded scientist-whores ” The ordinary modes of human thinking are magical, religious, and social. We want our wishes to come true; we want the universe to care about us; we want the esteem of our peers. For most people, wanting to know the truth about the world is way, way down the list. Scientific objectivity is a freakish, unnatural, and unpopular mode of thought, restricted to small cliques whom the generality of citizens regard with dislike and mistrust. There is probably a sizable segment in any population that believes scientists should be rounded up and killed.”

  10. Though the flat earth thingy took a while to dispel

    Well, there was not all that much of a flat earth thingy to dispel until recent, contrarian times. Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the globe with remarkable accuracy in the time of Ptolemy II, the third century BC: this rather suggests that Eratosthenes, and all those who reported his measurements, realised that the world is not flat. In fact, most observant people in antic times noticed the curvature of the horizon and other evidence against a flat-earth theory—though quite a few ancients argued for a disk-shaped Earth which, given their observations, isn’t utterly silly.
    Bernard of Clairveaux gave sermons to the peasantry in the twelfth century referring to the globe of the world without any need for further explanation.
    Washington Irving has misled generations of readers by maintaining that the opponents of Columbus refused to believe the world was round; many of those who argued against the funding of Columbus’s expedition accepted the notion of a spherical earth but disagreed with Columbus over his incorrect assessment of the distance between Spain and the (East) Indies, and thought that he would not be able to reach Asia by travelling west and reckoned that he would surely run out of provisions ere that could happen—and they were right.
    Nonetheless, to support the essential point, many other widely accepted but false conceptions—such as miasma theory or the dogma of the incurable stomach-ulcer—have taken far too long to dispel.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    It would require a moderately strong acid (say pH 6) to actually dissolve CaCO3. This is the formation caused by hard water, and a good dose of citric acid or hydrochloric acid dissolves the CaCO3 (releasing CO2) as in: CaCO3 + 2 HCl → CaCl2 + CO2 + H2O.

    Its worse than that. Calciferous organisms extract bicarbonate from seawater to construct their shells. The activity (note: chemist speak) of free bicarbonate ions at the boundary layer isn’t high. So as pCO2 rises in the atmosphere the aHCO3- also rises in seawater. The molluscs therefore find it easier to garner the bicarbonate they need.

    This is the problem with the acidification theory. Since CO2 + H2O = HCO3- + H+, the activity of HCO3- rises at the same rate that H+ rises. But since pH is a logarithmic scale the molluscs actually are benefited by the increasing bicarbonate concentration faster than the pH falls. They benefit linearly as the pH falls logarithmically. And furthermore because it is a chemical equilibrium the pH is really irrelevant, since the rising concentration of HCO3- depresses the solubility of the CaCO3 in their shells. (ie CaCO3 = H+ + HCO3-, so as [HCO3-] rises the CaCO3 is stabilised by Le Chatelier’s Principle).

    Unfortunately when you look at scientific papers that examine this, many do use HCl to adjust the pH. Which is completely wrong. The pH cannot fall without the pHCO3 rising proportionately. So the only tests that make sense are CO2 irrigation tests. And when these are done, yes there is a temporary impairment of mollusc growth until they adapt. Since these organisms generally have millions of offspring each year they adapt extremely quickly. Unfortunately most PhD projects can only last for 3 years, so they usually don’t run long enough to see full adaptation. And anyway the pCO2 in the atmosphere isn’t step changing, as most of these experiments do, it is very slowly rising. So adaptation has plenty of time. Which no PhD candidate can correctly test, assuming they want to graduate before they expire from old age.

    In other words the acidification problem isn’t a problem. Its complete garbage. Not least because the pCO2 in the atmosphere has been over 1500 ppmV for most of the time that molluscs have existed on Earth. During which time they were quite happy. Currently it is only about 400 ppmV.

    Apologies for trespassing into some moderately heavy chemistry, but you can see where my frustration with these people comes from.

  12. DrBeauGan

    Thanks Bruce of N. That wasn’t too much chemistry. It fell well within the educate, entertain inform rubric.

  13. Pete of Perth

    Thanks Bruce. I’m a lonely chemist amongst a cable of CAGW & “ocean acidification” preachers. When at work I wonder in awe at the “scientific” posters on display in the corridors with titles including the phrase “rapid climate change”. I marvel at the ecology/biology graphs where correlation coefficients <0.5 are stated to 4 significant figures. They really do think they are the smartest people in the room.

    I 'm looking for another job.

  14. .

    I marvel at the ecology/biology graphs where correlation coefficients <0.5 are stated to 4 significant figures. They really do think they are the smartest people in the room.

    Lulz…

  15. JohnA

    (the report) proves human caused climate change is ‘more certain’.

    Is this a back-handed admission that in past times the “human caused climate change” was LESS certain?

    This is looking like the self-correcting stabilisation which Bruce of Newcastle writes about.

    Is this a Logical Fallacy we could label as homeostasis?

  16. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    Jesus, how long can they drag on with this rubbish.

    25 years already. Give up, fer Chrissakes. Nobody gives a frog’s fat one anymore.

  17. Galeoturpis

    The concept of co2 causing a drop in pH is only true in closed systems (like a closed can of Coke) and not in open systems like human physiology or ocean pH. For years the medical community banged on about the pH being caused by the co2 until a chap called Stewart changed the ball game by going from calculations based on the Arrhenius definition of an acid (raising h+ in solution) to the Brønsted-Lowry definition of proton acceptors. We now talk about strong acids, weak acids and strong ion differences etc. CO2 is a dependent variable whereas Sodium, chloride, calcium etc are all independent variables for a quadratic equation used to work out pH. Measurements of pH mean nothing without qualifiers like temperature, volume of the oceans, sodium concentration etc. I suspect that many of the climate researchers who do this work are looking to publish as quickly as poopssibke and do not wish to actually do the hard core theory to accurately interpret their findings.

  18. incoherent rambler

    This entire fucking boondoggle will ultimately lead to the general populace distrusting science for the next 50 years, at the very least.

    Question: Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?

    Well science and engineering increased human longevity with things like cheap iron cooking pots, iron beds (no more sleeping in the dirt), electric lights (to read and educate!), telephones, penicillin, cheap energy (beats freezing to death), radio, television, isotopes for medical treatments, cameras, movies, computers, satellite communications and the internet.
    So now that the name of science is being trashed by the AGW believers, one can expect this generation to bequeath the next generation, lots of deaths due to expensive energy and few innovations to match the list above. Science and technology takes inter-generational effort. This generation is taking a few giant leaps backwards.
    I see a dark ages not far away, unless the Luddites are banished.

    And FFS, the oceans are alkaline, try calculating the amount of pure HCl acid it would take to turn the oceans just slightly more acidic. For the non-scientific amongst us, the oceans are very frickin big and the amount of CO2 (aka H2CO3 weak acid) is comparatively, very frickin small.

    These AGW believers live on another planet, a modelled one. Burning heretics and witches is the next step.

Comments are closed.