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 What I’d like to know, if the UK Government thinks that it is ‘more certain’, why has the UK withdrawn from its country CO2 emissions reduction target (as have the other European countries)?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.