Sunday, October 28, 2012
Ocean acidification - is it a problem?
Let us look at hard facts.
One hard fact is that in the past Earth had much higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, which had not reduced biodiversity - on the contrary, biodiversity had increased - namely, hard corals came into existence in one of such periods, and soft corals in another.
Another hard fact is that for significant "acidification" to take place in nature, the dissolved acidic CO2 in the oceans should increase, without being compensated by the basicity of the dissolved calcium (and magnesium) ions. In practice, this can never happen for a very simple reason - the CO2 concentrations are not growing quickly enough for that.
Indeed, assuming that we continue burning as much fossil fuels as we want, then we expect the atmospheric CO2 concentrations to double by 2100, with a characteristic time of about 150 years. On the other hand, the characteristic mixing time of the upper ocean is about 20 years, while the characteristic pH equilibration time of the shallow-water biologically productive zones inhabited by calcifying biota is about 10 years. The latter time was estimated based on the annual volume of the river runoff and the amount of seawater existing in the coastal shallow-water zones. These numbers tell us that calcium (+magnesium) will be perfectly capable of accompanying the increasing concentrations of carbonate ions, maintaining the pH of the seawater fairly constant. In fact, it will never change by much more than it has already changed during the last century (0.1 pH), as the entire process has already achieved steady rates in some 70 years since it had started (70 years is much more than 20 years, mathematically speaking, therefore the non-steady initial kinetic phase has already finished).
There is an additional factor that helps to equilibrate carbonate with calcium (+magnesium), namely the chemical equilibrium. We know that the solubility of acidic carbon dioxide in pure water is lower than its solubility in water containing basic calcium (and magnesium) ions, therefore additional CO2 will actually dissolve in seawater after it acquires additional amounts of basicity, brought in by the river runoff from the continents, and not before. This factor further reduces the possible pH changes of the seawater.
As regards calcifying biota, it will certainly benefit from the increased dissolved carbonate and dissolved calcium (+magnesium), in the same way as plants benefit from increased atmospheric CO2. More CO2 implies higher agricultural yields and higher seafood yields, all in benefit of humanity.
In two words: ocean acidification is a scam, same as the anthropogenic global warming. This hoax, however, is providing for thousands of careers of pseudo-scientists who make their living of studying nonexistent problems, using our tax money to defraud us and earn grants and distinctions.
Ocean acidification is a moral and a criminal problem, rather than an environmental problem. Environmentally, it is not a problem, and will never become a problem.