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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Thousands of results on ocean acidification

A comprehensive database confirms it is a greatly exaggerated worry

For those who think my recent report on ocean acidification and plankton is unrepresentative, do check out this comprehensive database that has collated all studies. The conclusion is very, very clear: PH reduction has a negative effect only at greater changes than are likely in the twenty-first century. At likely changes, the effect is positive. Can we have some honesty from scientists, please?

In the final graphical representations of the information contained in our Ocean Acidification Database, we have plotted the averages of all responses to seawater acidification (produced by additions of both HCl and CO2) for all five of the life characteristics of the various marine organisms that we have analyzed over the five pH reduction ranges that we discuss in our Description of the Ocean Acidification Database Tables, which pH ranges we illustrate in the figure below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The conclusions of the authors:

The results we have depicted in the figures above suggest something very different from the doomsday predictions of the climate alarmists who claim we are in "the last decades of coral reefs on this planet for at least the next ... million plus years, unless we do something very soon to reduce CO2 emissions," or who declare that "reefs are starting to crumble and disappear," that "we may lose those ecosystems within 20 or 30 years," and that "we've got the last decade in which we can do something about this problem." Clearly, the promoting of such scenarios is not supported by the vast bulk of pertinent experimental data.

Two other important phenomena that give us reason to believe the predicted decline in oceanic pH will have little to no lasting negative effects on marine life are the abilities of essentially all forms of life to adapt and evolve. Of those experiments in our database that report the length of time the organisms were subjected to reduced pH levels, for example, the median value was only four days. And many of the experiments were conducted over periods of only a fewhours, which is much too short a time for organisms to adapt (or evolve) to successfully cope with new environmental conditions (see, for example, the many pertinent Journal Reviews we have archived under the general heading ofEvolution in our Subject Index). And when one allows for such phenomena, the possibility of marine life experiencing a negative response to ocean acidification becomes even less likely.

In conclusion, claims of impending marine species extinctions driven by increases in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration do not appear to be founded in empirical reality, based on the experimental findings we have analyzed above.