How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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The New Ten Contentions of the Coral Reef Research Gods
Volume 13, Number 1: 6 January 2010

In an article published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, Veron et al. (2009) go far beyond the normal bounds accepted by most rational scientists, when they emphatically state, not what they contend may occur to earth's coral reefs as the air's CO2 content continues to rise, but what they dogmatically declare will happen, as if they were gods, condescending to reveal the fearful future to the rest of us mentally-deficient mortals.

So what did they say? Thus spake the Enlightened Ones in the abstract of their paper, from which we have copied their new Ten Contentions, italicizing the words that imply the absolute verity of each of them.

1. "At today's [CO2] level of ~387 ppm, allowing a lag-time of 10 years for sea temperatures to respond, most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline."

2. "Mass bleaching will in future become annual, departing from the 4 to 7 years return-time of El Niņo events."

3. "Bleaching will be exacerbated by the effects of degraded water-quality and increased severe weather events."

4. "The progressive onset of ocean acidification will cause reduction of coral growth and retardation of the growth of high magnesium calcite-secreting coralline algae."

5. "If CO2 levels are allowed to reach 450 ppm, reefs will be in rapid and terminal decline world-wide from multiple synergies arising from mass bleaching, ocean acidification, and other environmental impacts."

6. "Damage to shallow reef communities will become extensive with consequent reduction of biodiversity followed by extinctions."

7. "Reefs will cease to be large-scale nursery grounds for fish and will cease to have most of their current value to humanity."

8. "There will be knock-on effects to ecosystems associated with reefs, and to other pelagic and benthic ecosystems."

9. "Should CO2 levels reach 600 ppm, reefs will be eroding geological structures with populations of surviving biota restricted to refuges."

10. "Domino effects will follow, affecting many other marine ecosystems."

How grateful we should be for these new revelations, for now the Enlightened Ones, as well as the rest of the world's marine biologists, need no longer spend the hard-earned monies of the planet's taxpayers to try to determine what we already know. But perhaps we speak too quickly on the matter, for a pesky purveyor of scientific developments in the field of research that has been so nicely summarized by the Enlightened Ones has recently produced a compilation of pertinent discoveries that call their pronouncements into question (C.D. Idso, 2009). However, because he is but a mere mortal, we assume he can be comfortably neglected.

Sherwood and Keith Idso

Idso, C.D. 2009. CO2, Global Warming and Coral Reefs: Prospects for the Future. Vales Lake Publishing, LLC, Pueblo West, Colorado, USA.

Veron, J.E.N., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Lenton, T.M., Lough, J.M., Obura, D.O., Pearce-Kelly, P., Sheppard, C.R.C., Spalding, M., Stafford-Smith, M.G. and Rogers, A.D. 2009. The coral reef crisis: The critical importance of <350 ppm CO2. Marine Pollution Bulletin 58: 1438-1436.

If the words of the gods are, perchance, insufficient to convince everyone to neglect the findings of the many little devils who prove a thorn in their side, the Enlightened Ones inform us at the end of their paper that they have the full support of a Heavenly Choir of "Working Group Colleagues," who they identify as:

"Sir David Attenborough (working group co-chair), Prof. Ken Caldeira (Carnegie Institution for Science), Dr. Ann Clarke (Frozen Ark Project), Rachel Garthwaite (The Royal Society), Prof. James Crabbe (University of Bedfordshire), Prof. Andreas Fischlin (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Wendy Foden (IUCN Species programme), Dr. Simon Harding (Globe International), Rachel Jones (Zoological Society of London), Aylin McNamara (Zoological Society of London), Dr. Dirk Petersen (SECORE), Dr. Peter Read (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory), Dr. Peter Read (Massey University), Prof. Philip C. Reid (Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science/Marine Institute, University of Plymouth), Prof. Callum Roberts (University of York), Dr. Christopher Sabine (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory), Prof. Yvonne Sadovy (Carnegie Institution for Science), Dr. Kristian Teleki (International Coral Reef Action Network), John Taylor (World Wildlife Fund), Dr. John Turner (Bangor University), Dr. Philip Williamson (University of East Anglia)."

So why bother reading anything else? We have the omnipotent "word from above."