Sheldon Whitehouse

Post image for Sen. Whitehouse vs the ‘Deniers’ – Addendum on Ocean Acidification

As discussed in an earlier post, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) took to the Senate floor in December last year to lash out at climate ‘deniers.’ Among other allegations, Whitehouse said “deniers tend to ignore facts they can’t explain away.” He cites “the increasing acidification of the oceans,” which ”is simple to measure and undeniably, chemically linked to carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. So we hear nothing about ocean acidification from the deniers,” he claims. Not so, I explained.

Prominent skeptics Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger of the Cato Institute discussed the subject on their old blog, World Climate Report. Another leading skeptical Web site, CO2Science.Org, maintains an ocean acidification database, and the researchers – Drs. Craig, Sherwood, and Keith Idso – review another scientific paper on acidification just about every week. My earlier post concluded: “They don’t share Sen. Whitehouse’s alarm about ocean acidification, but they do not ignore it. The Senator should check his facts before casting aspersions.”

It’s a familiar pattern. Al Gore would have us believe that if we acknowledge the reality of anthropogenic global warming, then we must also believe in his ”planetary emergency” and embrace his policy agenda as a moral imperative. Similarly, the Gorethodox would have us believe that if CO2 emissions make sea water slightly more acidic (actually, slightly less basic), then corals and other calcifying organisms are headed for disaster and, again, we have a moral imperative to stop mountaintop coal mining, block the Keystone XL pipeline, etc.

Here I’d like to reproduce in full the Idsos’ latest review of an ocean acidification study, because it clearly demonstrates the difference between facts and alarmist interpretations of facts.

Growth, Calcification and Mortality of Juvenile Mussels Exposed to Ocean Acidification
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Reference
Range, P., Pilo, D., Ben-Hamadou, R., Chicharo,M.A., Matias, D., Joaquim, S., Oliveira, A.P. and Chicharo, L. 2012. Seawater acidification by CO2 in a coastal lagoon environment: Effects on life history traits of juvenile mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 424-425: 89-98.

Background
Ocean acidification is considered by climate alarmists to be detrimental to nearly all sea creatures; and the early life-stages of these organisms are generally thought to be the most sensitive stages to this environmental change.

What was done
In a study designed to explore these assumptions, the authors tested the effects of seawater acidification by CO2 addition, leading to reductions of 0.3 and 0.6 pH units, on six-month-old juvenile mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis), which they obtained from a mussel raft on the Ria de Ares-Betanzos of Northwest Spain, focusing their attention on growth, calcification and mortality. [click to continue…]

Post image for Sen. Whitehouse Fumes at ‘Climate Deniers’

In a fiery speech yesterday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) ”calls out” “climate deniers.” In the first half of the speech he goes ad hominem, attacking opponents as “front groups” who take payola from “polluters” to “confuse” the public by selling “doubt” as their product.

First a bit of free advice for the good Senator:

Your team has been playing nasty from day one. It didn’t get you cap-and-trade, it didn’t get you Senate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and it’s not going to get you a carbon tax.  

Vilification doesn’t work because biomass, wind turbines, and solar panels are not up to the challenge of powering a modern economy, and most Americans are too practical to believe otherwise.

So by all means, keep talking trash about your opponents. The shriller your rhetoric, the more skeptical the public will become about your bona fides as an honest broker of “the science.”

Okay, let’s examine Sen. Whitehouse’s argument. He accuses skeptics of peddling “straw man arguments,” such as that “the earth’s climate always changes; it’s been warmer in the past.” Well, it does, and it has! Many studies indicate the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was warmer than the current warm period (CWP). A study published in July in Nature Climate Change concludes the Roman Warm Period (RWP) was warmer than both the MWP and CWP. The Northern Hemisphere was substantially warmer than the present for thousands of years during the Holocene Climate Optimum (~5,000-9,000 years ago). Arctic summer air temperatures were 4-5°C above present temperatures for millennia during the previous interglacial period.

None of this is evidence man-made global warming is not occurring, but Sen. Whitehouse sets up his own straw man by making that the main issue in dispute. What the paleoclimate information does indicate is that the warmth of the past 50 years is not outside the range of natural variability and is no cause for alarm. The greater-than-present warmth of the Holocene Optimum, RWP, and MWP contributed to improvements in human health and welfare[click to continue…]