Monday, March 5, 2012

Oceans Are 30% More Acidic Due To Carbon Dioxide Loading

A study published in the prestigious journal Science finds that oceans are already 30% more acidic than they were at the start of the industrial revolution and are growing more acidic.  Why?

Massive amounts of carbon dioxide are being released into the environment from the burning of fossil fuels and the oceans have absorbed about 67% of the released carbon dioxide, making them more acidic.  The pace of acidification is greater than anytime in planetary history and could lead to the oceans being 150% more acidic by the end of this century.

Why should we care?  The growing acidification of the ocean makes it harder for corals, shellfish, and plankton to build shells, and the loss of those marine organisms could disrupt entire marine ecosystems and fish populations.

The study can be found at:  Also see:

This study confirms once more that denying global warming and the changes that it has already caused to the environment is deeply irresponsible.


  1. "The pace of acidification is greater than anytime in planetary history..." John, there is no way you or anyone else could possibly know this as a fact.

    1. Scientific studies of polar ice are the basis for factual statements such as Mr. Hanger makes here. This website has a search feature which I used to find this study. Many other studies are available should you wish to do the research.

    2. First, the article linked in Secretary Hanger's blog post states this: "The Earth’s oceans may be acidifying faster than at any point during the last 300 million years...." The age of the Earth is about 4.5 billion years. What John is saying is that we are seeing a "...pace of acidification…greater than anytime in planetary history..." or in 4.5 billion years. That “fact” is at least misquoted. Second, we have no evidence either way for the rate of acidification of the oceans from 4.5 billion years ago. The oldest rocks aren't even that old. Third, our modern oceans vary in age and the oldest ocean floor, found in the Pacific Ocean, is about 200 million years old. Again, that is much less than 4.5 million years. Finally, polar ice that exists now is at most 8 million years old (located in Antarctica) - hardly a record of the Earth's entire 4.5 billion year history and not even close to the age of the modern oceans. So John's statement is not factual and no amount of wishful thinking can make it factual. It makes me wonder what his point was – drama maybe?

      I was only pointing out an obvious, hopefully unplanned error. If I see that kind of sensationalism in an article, even an opinion blog, I can’t help but wonder what else is being exaggerated, misquoted or misreported, or what the agenda really is. I have a great deal of respect for Secretary Hanger and I believe he has no need for this kind of drama. The actual facts are awesome enough. I don’t always agree with John, but he does a really good job of being objective. This bit of misquote took me by surprise.

  2. Concerned ScientistMarch 5, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    This is a serious problem. Even if warming does not occur at the catastrophic end of the range of predictions, acidification of the oceans will change life as we know it.

    Not to be too much of a cheerleader for gas, which has its problems, but methane does not cause ocean acidification. So even if atmospheric methane were to increase as a result of increased gas production, it would not lead to further ocean acidification. This is another area where gas is clearly preferable to coal and oil.