Thursday, September 24, 2015

CO2 ocean acidification, series by Craig Welch, Seattle Times

Last year I came across a excellent investigative series about ocean acidification and its impacts written by Craig Welch of the Seattle Times.  At the time I posted the following over at my other blog Citizen's Challenge since I believe this is information more people should be familiar with and just the sort of educational opportunity I like sharing.  Not sure why I never posted it over here.  But, recently I was reminded of Craig's articles while participating in a couple internet comment threads and experiencing the shear nonsense some people have been sucked into believing with the help of con-men such as one Jim Steele and pals.

Anyone out there who doesn't understand what ocean acidification is all about, but who would like to learn, I recommend this series as a great place to begin your educational journey.

Seattle Times had a disturbing front page story by Craig Welch reporting on his four years worth of research into current impacts of an acidifying ocean on the life forms within our oceans.

"Acidification already eating away at tiny creatures along our coast" 
Craig Welch  |  Seattle Times  |  April 30, 2014
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Documenting Sea Change: The story begins.

Published on Sep 13, 2013
As effects of ocean acidification continue to surface in the Pacific Northwest, 
Seattle Times environmental reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman 
wanted to take a closer look at the phenomenon that may be as critical as climate change.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

More Seattle Times information can be found on the web at:

Ocean acidification, the lesser-known twin of climate change, threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom.

Story by
Photographs by

"A year earlier, the ecologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science had placed this small square near a fissure in the sea floor where gas bubbles up from the earth. She hoped the next generation of baby corals would settle on it and take root. 
Fabricius yanked a knife from her ankle holster, unscrewed the plate and pulled it close. Even underwater the problem was clear. Tiles from healthy reefs nearby were covered with budding coral colonies in starbursts of red, yellow, pink and blue. This plate was coated with a filthy film of algae and fringed with hairy sprigs of seaweed. 
Instead of a brilliant new coral reef, what sprouted here resembled a slimy lake bottom.
Isolating the cause was easy. Only one thing separated this spot from the lush tropical reefs a few hundred yards away." 
~ ~ ~ 
"... Here’s why: When CO2 mixes with water it takes on a corrosive power that erodes some animals’ shells or skeletons. It lowers the pH, making oceans more acidic and sour, and robs the water of ingredients animals use to grow shells in the first place. 
Acidification wasn’t supposed to start doing its damage until much later this century. 
Instead, changing sea chemistry already has killed billions of oysters along the Washington coast and at a hatchery that draws water from Hood Canal. It’s helping destroy mussels on some Northwest shores. It is a suspect in the softening of clam shells and in the death of baby scallops. It is dissolving a tiny plankton species eaten by many ocean creatures, from auklets and puffins to fish and whales — and that had not been expected for another 25 years.  
And this is just the beginning..."

How does CO2 transform the oceans ...
A disturbing glimpse of the future ... 
Losing Nemo: Fish harmed, with deadly results ... 
CO2-rich seas can scramble fish behavior ... 
Big warning for high-stakes fishery ... 
Key link in food chain dissolving ... 
Fearing ‘a mess for this little town’ ... 
At stake: food for rural people ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Changes come decades faster than expected

  1. Seattle Times special report: Sea Change
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Here is a related lecture worth adding to this collection:

POET Webinar - Ocean Acidification: Is the Sky Really Falling 2-28-13

by Jeremy T. Mathis | NOAA - PMEL and UAF - SFOS
18:00 - Current rate of CO2 increase in atmosphere and ocean is ten times faster than during the most recent time in Earth's history when CO2 levels sky-rocketed... 55 millions years ago.~ ~ ~  
19:00 -  ""The outcome is very clear that we are in uncharted territory in the entire span of Earth history.  The primary cause of this is simply the rate of change, we are changing Earth far, far, faster than any recorded geological shift ever."  
Peter Brewer, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute 
~ ~ ~ 
35:15  - It's not just lab studies anymore - damage is being documented in the wild. 
~ ~ ~  
49:00  - Q and A starts
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Talks @ Pulitzer: Conversation on Climate Change

Streamed live on Apr 24, 2014 
On Thursday, April 24, Seattle Times Journalist Craig Welch joins Sarah Cooley of Ocean Conservancy and Ben Strauss of Climate Central for a conversation on how journalists and scientists explain the science behind climate change to the public and share their expertise. 
Strauss is vice president for Climate Impacts and director of the Program on Sea Level Rise at Climate Central. He has published multiple scientific papers on sea level rise, testified before the U.S. Senate, authored the Surging Seas report, and led development of the coastal flood risk tool, leading to front-page coverage in The New York Times and The Washington Post and extensive coverage nationwide. He received his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University. 
Cooley is a science outreach manager in Ocean Conservancy's Ocean Acidification program. Previously, she was a research scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where her research used oceanographic and social science data to forecast the total consequences of human-driven changes in the marine inorganic carbon cycle. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia School of Marine Programs. 
Welch and his colleague Steve Ringman received Pulitzer Center support for "Sea Change: The Pacific's Perilous Turn," their series on ocean acidification for The Seattle Times. The series won the 2013 Scripps Howard Foundation's Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting. Welch's first talks @ pulitzer in March 2014 focused on this award-winning reporting.

Unfortunately the audio feed starts poorly, but does improve some as it goes along.  

At 6:45 Ben Strauss starts his talk and in honesty I wasn't particularly impressed, it seemed clunky, but it was worth sitting through.  At 22:00 Sarah Cooley steps up with her comparison the "scientific approach" of gathering evidence in order to arrive at some conclusion and the "journalistic way", which starts with a "punch line" and then fills in the details on an "as needed basis."  I found her talk compelling and worth sticking around for.  Question and answers start at 35:45.  

At 45:00 Strauss remarks on the way scientists 'approach' to speaking with journalists - and makes the good suggestion that rather than spending the first half hour discussing all the details and assumptions before getting to their conclusions, they could present the conclusion of their research up front and then to walk their audience through the process used to arrive at said conclusion.

I was disappointed that no one touched on the real enemy of constructive climate science communication -  that being the sad fact that it has become socially acceptable for the opponents of climate science to endlessly repeat known lies - until we confront the right-wing tactics of misleading by misrepresenting the evidence along with their proclivity for maliciously attacking honorable respectable experts, nothing will improve.

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