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FOI’s Reveal How NOAA Spin Lies About Ocean Acidification

December 23, 2015

By Paul Homewood 


h/t AC Osborn




Steve Milloy at Junk Science has obtained some emails from NOAA by FOI, which show the agency has been complicit in arranging an op-ed in the New York Times about ocean acidification, which even one of its experts says is misleading:


Exclusive: Ocean acidification not a current problem, top NOAA scientist insists in FOIA-ed e-mails got NOAA scientist e-mails via FOIA? Why can’t Congress?

Last October, the New York Times published this dire op-ed on ocean acidification, supposedly authored by NOAA chief Richard Spinrad and his UK counterpart Ian Boyd.


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 3.05.03 PM


Curious, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to NOAA for the e-mail related to the development and publication of the op-ed. I received 443 pages of e-mail in return.

First, the op-ed was actually written by NOAA staff Madelyn Applebaum, not Spinrad or Boyd. The purpose was to tout NOAA not inform the public about ocean acidification.




Second, the New York Times initially rejected the op-ed for its U.S. print edition and web site, the e-mails show. NOAA staff then submitted the op-ed to the International NYTimes staff in London (because Madelyn knew the INYT staff) where it was placed in the International NYTimes print edition and




Next, NOAA staff was appalled at the New York Times-selected title, which was a lot different than the NOAA-picked titled:





But the most notable e-mails stand in stark contrast to the information presented in the NYTimes op-ed.

Specifically, NOAA’s Dr. Shallin Busch insists the op-ed exaggerates the ocean acidification problem:




Below are clips of Busch doing so:







JunkScience has maintained for years now that there is no evidence that ocean “acidification” is causing harm. Glad to see that a top NOAA scientist sees it the same way.

  1. December 23, 2015 11:39 pm

    What a great discovery train. Proves NOAA and NYT ‘dishonesty’.
    For a free version of the PMEL oyster hatchery ‘knew or should have known’ academic misconduct, see my previous guest post Shell Games at Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. For a more extensive discussion proving academic misconduct concerning corals, see the same named essay in my inexpensive ebook Blowing Smoke, foreword by Judith.
    Paul you have them dead to rights. Hope this spreads that truth further.

    • wert permalink
      December 25, 2015 9:05 am

      Great stuff really. We may see into the head of journalists and activist scientists.

      Note btw how these scientists know their own field ie literature but don’t have a clue about energy politics. They want to stop coal use, but they have no option to offer.

      And frankly, they have no certainty on how much less basic the seas are about to become and even less how much that affects on sea life or food chains.

  2. markl permalink
    December 24, 2015 12:14 am

    If anyone doubts the MSM isn’t complicit in AGW scare mongering they need to read this sequence of exchanges. Upsets me that the MSM can’t be held accountable for purposefully disseminating misinformation.

  3. December 24, 2015 2:45 am

    Thanks, Paul. This adds to what is now known, that NOAA is eagerly participating in spreading the unjustified alarm about ocean life dying from Ph changes caused by increased atmospheric CO2.
    I attended one of their presentations where the “scientist” actually changed the Ph of a small salt-water tank by blowing his breath into it through a tube. When in the questions period I pointed out that the small aquarium was getting a CO2 input many times grater than the oceans are getting from the atmosphere. I got a dirty look and the “scientist” moved to answer another question from a believer. Never mind that the oceans oppose acidification because of the minerals in it,

  4. knutesea permalink
    December 24, 2015 3:09 am

    Good info. Has to be more like this among 12000 employees.

  5. Joe Public permalink
    December 24, 2015 9:14 am

    A reminder how Aunty contributed toward the propaganda drive in the run-up to COP21 with “COP21: What does ocean acidification look like?” (30 November 2015)

    • CheshireRed permalink
      December 24, 2015 11:51 am

      Take a look at the professors last-minute punchline (which leaves BBC’s Matt McGrath looking sick as a parrot) ‘the ocean is more ALKALINE than tap water’ …..which by extension means that tap water is more acidic than sea water!

      OA is just one more diversion tactic to shift attention from the pesky Pause, and is every bit as much a scam as AGW.

    • Billy Liar permalink
      December 24, 2015 6:39 pm

      … and guess who is President and CEO of the NYT Company? None other than Mark Thompson, Auntie’s former Director General who left (IIRC) under a bit of a cloud.

  6. December 24, 2015 10:29 am

    ‘ got NOAA scientist e-mails via FOIA? Why can’t Congress?’

    Congress has outsourced that task to Judicial Watch – motto: ‘Because no one is above the law!’

  7. John F. Hultquist permalink
    December 25, 2015 2:03 am

    Shallin Busch, bless her heart**, seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place. I love the CAPS of not-wreaking all sorts of havoc “RIGHT NOW” – and she also seems to know that will be true in the future as well: “… some species will be harmed by OA, some will benefit, and some won’t respond at all!” And the big IF in there is that the ocean is sufficiently buffered that any change will (likely) be undetectable, while localized near-shore spots will have episodic changes not related to my SUV.

    All of these bad things were ‘scenarioed’ to happen after, repeat after, some unknown many years of continued CO2 emissions. That would be after about 2070 or so. This is why statements of “it’s happening right now” are silly. There has been very little, if any, warming and no change (to acidic conditions) in the pH of the world-ocean.

    **”bless her heart” might be misconstrued here. It seems she is trying, so credit to her. The phrase bless-your-heart is explained on the web, here:

  8. dennisambler permalink
    December 26, 2015 11:35 am

    The Acid Oceans theme came out of IPCC AR4 in 2007, with this reporting by Geoffrey Lean typical of the presentations:

    “Humanity is rapidly turning the seas acid through the same pollution that causes global warming, the world’s governments and top scientists agreed yesterday. The process – thought to be the most profound change in the chemistry of the oceans for 20 million years – is expected both to disrupt the entire web of life of the oceans and to make climate change worse.”

    So what did AR4 say?
    “The uptake of anthropogenic carbon by the ocean changes the chemical equilibrium of the ocean. Dissolved CO2 forms a weak acid. As CO2 increases, pH decreases, that is, the ocean becomes more acidic. Ocean pH can be computed from measurements of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and alkalinity.”

    “A decrease in surface pH of 0.1 over the global ocean was calculated from the estimated uptake of anthropogenic carbon between 1750 and 1994 (Sabine et al., 2004b; Raven et al., 2005)

    “The mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open ocean, so the ocean remains alkaline (pH > 7) even after these decreases.

    The consequences of changes in pH on marine organisms are poorly known (see Section 7.3.4 and Box 7.3). For comparison, pH was higher by 0.1 unit during glaciations, and there is no evidence of pH values more than 0.6 units below the pre-industrial pH during the past 300 million years (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003)12. A decrease in ocean pH of 0.1 units corresponds to a 30% increase in the concentration of H+ in seawater, assuming that alkalinity and temperature remain constant.”

    Hence we get the claim that “the ocean” has become 30% more acidic since the start of the industrial revolution

    Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Michael Wickett from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, mentioned above, first raised the “increased acidification” idea in a Nature paper in 2003. Once the scare had been introduced, it grew legs and had to be nourished and in 2005, the Royal Society published a report entitled, “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

    The members of the committee producing that report included Dr. Ken Caldeira, as above. He was accompanied by scientists from the University of East Anglia, Southampton University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, both institutions are part of the alarmist UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

    Gerald E. Marsh, Argonne National Laboratory (Ret) in a self-published paper, “Seawater pH and Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide”, made these comments on the RS report:

    “The Royal Society pH estimate for 2100 is thus consistent with a linear extrapolation of the eighteen years of data from Ocean Station Aloha. Such an extrapolation would appear to be unwarranted or questionable at best.”

    He mentioned Calder and Wicket, probably not realising that the Royal Society report was essentially their paper re-hashed, with the main author sitting on the committee producing it. He concluded that:

    “…the eighteen years of Ocean Station Aloha or similar data appear to have been linearly extrapolated out to 2300. This is even more questionable than a linear extrapolation to 2100.”

    The Royal Society produced a cut and paste updated report in 2007, and again in 2009, with the same panellists. Thus was consensus achieved and acidification of the oceans became fact, the science was settled.

    It is technically correct to say that pH 8.1 is “more acidic” than pH 8.2. It is technically correct to say that 8.1 is 30% nearer to acidity, than 8.2, (most people know from school science that neutral is pH 7, acid is below pH7), but it does not indicate that the oceans are turning to acid.

    The basis of all the hype is a calculation from an estimate, which gives a precise figure of 0.1 pH decrease, they don’t even know the consequences of changes in pH, and the conclusions they reach are based on an extrapolation of eighteen years of data from one Pacific Ocean station.

    The range of ocean pH is greater than the estimated decrease, yet the figure of 0.1 is used persistently, to claim that “the oceans are 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times.”

    There is a lot more background on this and the roles played by Caldeira, Lubchenco and the US NGO National Resources Defense Council, in this SPPI paper from 2010:

    “Acid Seas – Back To Basic”

  9. 4TimesAYear permalink
    January 5, 2016 2:55 am

    Reblogged this on 4timesayear's Blog.

  10. 4TimesAYear permalink
    January 5, 2016 3:01 am

    There is a huge problem when the public hears the term “acidic” or “acid”. The thing is that they are not acidic and are never expected to become acidic.

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