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By Robert Rapier on Jun 9, 2008 with no responses

So, You Don’t Believe in Global Warming?

I can understand that there are a number of people who think Global Warming via human activity is a myth. I know that a number of regular posters here are of that opinion. My position, as I have stated before, is that I am not an expert in the area, but the consensus of the experts is that Global Warming is a direct result of increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Sometimes the consensus has been proven wrong, but a scientific consensus carries a lot of weight with me. So, unless I see compelling evidence to the contrary, I accept the scientific consensus in this case. That doesn’t mean that I think we will do anything about it:

We Won’t Stop Global Warming

Incidentally, that essay holds the all-time record for the number of comments received (560) following an essay at The Oil Drum. People feel very strongly about this issue.

But I don’t want to open up the debate to the merits of the evidence on Global Warming. Instead, I want to discuss something else: The fact that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are rising unabated. While you may debate the impact of that on Global Warming, there is no debate that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing:

Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

You may know that CO2 dissolves in water to form carbonic acid. As atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise, so will the acidity of oceans, lakes, and rivers. As the acidity rises, the shells of tiny marine animals like snails can dissolve, along with coral reefs. It’s basic chemistry. This weekend I saw a story that details what can happen when the acidity rises in the ocean:

Marine life is destroyed by acid environment

Traditional marine communities containing creatures such as sea urchins and snails are being destroyed as CO2 emissions make their environment more acidic. Algae which is vital for the well-being of coral reefs is also retreating as acidity increases and is being replaced by invasive species which don’t offer coral the same protection.

The changes have been witnessed for the first time by a British-led team monitoring volcanic carbon dioxide vents off the Italian coast in the Mediterranean. Dr Hall-Spencer said: “What we saw was very dramatic and shocking.

“All the predictions made in lab experiments about acidity causing the disappearance of species is coming true. When we looked in the field it was already happening. I must admit I though a lot of the claims being made about species disappearing amounted to scaremongering but now I have seen it with my own eyes.

“Our observations verify concerns, based on laboratory experiments and model predictions, that marine food webs will be severely disrupted and major ecological tipping points are likely if human CO2 emissions continue unabated.”

I have said before, and I say again: Whether you accept the idea that man is contributing global warming, it is not a good idea to conduct such a grand experiment on the atmosphere because the ultimate consequences can’t be predicted. What’s the backup plan if things don’t work out? I guess we are going to find out one way or the other.