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The global warmers' shell fish hoax
About a month ago I was watching a network morning news program, and there was Sigourney Weaver being interviewed by a network interviewer. She was explaining the latest global warming scare. It's already happening, she was saying. The build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was causing a build-up of carbolic acid in the ocean. All the shell fish were going to die.
It was like those experiments you can do, when you put an egg shell in vinegar, and the acid eats away at the egg shell until it dissolves. She gave the earth, something like 50 years.
She had recently narrated a documentary (Acid Test: The Global Challege of Ocean Acidification), and thus knew all about the topic. I waited for the interviewer to bring out someone to present the other side, somebody to challenge her statements, But no.
Instead, he asked her why other people didn't agree with her. Then he accepted her explanation that the skeptics were just unwilling to accept scientific truth. That might not be exactly what she said, but it was something like that.
I was skeptical. I knew about the theory that has already displaced the carbon-dioxide-causes-climate-change theory among most physicists. Just watch this lecture by Jasper Kirkby at the Cern, Europe's premier scientific institution, and you will know about it, too:
Especially relevant, here, is the chart that Kirkby shows of the last 500 million years of climate history. Note that carbon dioxide was much, much higher in concentration in the atmosphere 500 years ago. Keep in mind that that was when shell fish were evolving. Much higher CO2 in the atmosphere didn't hurt shell fish then!
Ever since that interview, I have been on the look-out for somebody in global-warming skeptic circles to dispute Weaver's thesis. This week I found it. On May 3, the Science and Public Policy Institute published a paper by Dennis Ambler (Dying Shell Fish Larvae: The Story of a Scam) which debunks this hoax. It turns out that the movie's claim was based upon a mistaken finding that the die-off of young oysters in a Pacific coast hatchery was due to ocean acidification when the actual culprit, as an earlier study had demonstrated, was a bacterium associated with sewage pollution, Vibrio tubiashii.
It also turns out that the oceans aren't even acidic at all. I remember learning in 10th grade chemistry that 7.0 pH is neutral, that numbers above 8 are alkaline, and numbers below 6 are acidic. The oceans are alkaline. Their pH is above 8.
How can interviewers on television accept this kind of testimony without a challenge? Can we afford to make government policy based upon an unscientific hoax?
Journal of Economic Literature:
Atlantic Economic Journal: