Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gore right again

Sadly, one often has to write that line, because Al Gore has become the Cassandra of the modern world, almost always right on policy and facts, but always ignored. The latest is the nine judge flap, well covered at Deltoid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Eli has been aware of coral bleaching since the late 1980s, especially in the Caribbean, and well aware that a primary cause is warmer oceans with a well stirred mixture of other environmental stresses. Everything in ecology short of a bulldozer or major asteroid strike is a necessary but not sufficient condition. John Quiggin has returned from the Coral Reefs Future Forum and brings us word on the obvious

First, it’s noteworthy how opinion has solidified on the point that bleaching (corals expelling their associated symbiotic zooxanthellae ) is a response to higher temperature driven by general warming of the seas, rather than being due to locally specific causes. Al Gore’s claim to this effect, listed as an error in the recent court case that has been exciting the delusionists, has the full support of everyone I talked to there. Given the regular claim that any scientist who accepts the evidence on global warming must have been bought off by the prospect of grant money, let me observe that the problems we already had with coral reefs are enough to keep every marine biologist on the planet gainfully employed for life without inventing new ones.
This reminds Eli of a coal science conference he went to in the early 1990s, where everyone was, in Quiggin's words, staring at their shoes in gloom, having realized that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was a show stopper. Scientists are by nature realists. Belette and the judge might wish to amend

7. The IPCC reports predict that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3C, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality unless corals could adapt or acclimatise, but while there is increasing evidence for climate change impacts on coral reefs the IPCC concluded that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses such as over-fishing and pollution was difficult.

Not my thing.


Belette said...

Can't see why I'd want to amend that. Corals aren't my thing. I don't see what of value I can bring to the corals question. I could read up on it I suppose, but there are lots else in this world that I'm more interested in. Locke, at the moment.

guthrie said...

I think he means amend it to something like:
"Coral experts are in broad agreement that AGW is contributing to the increasing number of coral bleaching incidents worldwide"

It doesn't have to be your thing. You just have to accept what the people whose thing it is are saying, and, assuming Eli and John aren't making this up, the experts are saying that AGW is negatively affecting coral.
We can argue all night over the semantics, but I see no need for you to cop out of making a decent statement in this regard.

And of course if it all turns out to be wrong you can blame these horrible experts who misled you, boo hoo hoo.

Anonymous said...

Unless of course the causal mechanism is UV due to changes in the optical properties in

a) The transparency of the marine atmosphere and/ or

b)The transparency of the euphotic zone

Solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to alterations in genetic material, which, in turn, affects the tempo of evolution., migratory patterns and other behavioral responses in the sea are often
keyed to diel, lunar, and seasonal changes in radiation.and biological responses(cryptochromes)

As we see in the present myopia, once you have a hammer everything becomes a nail so to speak.

Of course the monochromatic view is substantially changed when we put on a set of Tetrachromat glasses and observe the UV biophoton emissions from coral.


Hank Roberts said...

To be accurate, change

> but while there is increasing
> evidence for climate change
> impacts on coral reefs
> the IPCC concluded

to read

There is increasing evidence for climate change impacts on coral reefs since the IPCC concluded (based on evidence ending [date]...)

That's the key everyone seems to want to avoid -- the movie is a snapshot. The IPCC report is a snapshot.

Teach people to look ahead, it's the basic skill for reading science.

Anonymous said...

The only problem (and just a slight one, of course) with the "increased UV" theory is that solar UV output has not increased in recent decades and and the UV transmission properties of water do not just magically transform themselves.

On the other hand, water temperatures have been on the rise.

Occam's Razor would say go with the simplest explanation -- the one in front of your nose.

Anonymous said...

I think one really has to remember who we are talking to here (the people who deny that coral bleaching is caused by warming waters).

They are 1) dishonest or 2) idiots.

There is really no other choice. They are not skeptics. They have no clue what the word means -- not in the scientific sense, at least.

The evidence of human-caused climate change is literally all around us.

Here's another example of something that scientists have been saying would happen if the oceans warmed: they will hold less Co2.

Well, it appears to be happening already (I can't wait for the denialist explanations for this one)

Fears that seas soak up less greenhouse gas"
Sydney Morning Herald
Andrew Woodcock in London

"THE oceans' ability to act as a "carbon sink" soaking up greenhouse gases appears to be decreasing, research shows, leading to new fears about global warming.

Measurements of the North Atlantic taken by British scientists over the decade from the mid-1990s to 2005 show the level of carbon dioxide in its waters fell by about half over that time.

One of the authors of the study, published on Saturday in a paper for the Journal of Geophysical Research, said the change may have been triggered by climate change and may also accelerate the process by leaving more CO2 in the atmosphere."

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 5.48

I prefer to use Sweeney Todd's razor


Chris said...

I really struggled with the judge's verdict on this one. After all, it's been shown both in controlled, laboratory conditions and in field tests, particularly those related to mass bleaching in Australia and other parts of the South Pacific in response to the 1998 El Nino.

For example Hueerkamp et al, (Bulletin of Marine Science, 2001) found that, in controlled conditions:

"Branching species (Pocillopora damicornis and Pocillopora elegans) and massive species (Porites lobata, Pavona clavus and Pavona gigantea) were exposed to experimentally elevated seawater temperature, ∼1-2°C above ambient... All corals exposed to high temperature treatment exhibited significant declines in zooxanthellae densities and chlorophyll a concentrations. Pocilloporid species were the most sensitive, being the first to bleach, and suffered the highest mortality (50% after 50 d exposure)."

While in field studies (for example: Buddemeier, Kleypas and Aronson Pew Centre for Climate Change: 2004) found that rising temperatures, on the whole, have negative effects on coral and result in the expulsion of zooxanthellae.

What was wrong with the was this was presented in AIT? It's perfectly consitent with the literature.

P.S. I'm not a biologist, but a damn keen reef diver/snorkeller.

Anonymous said...

Christopher has said all that needs to be said.

Anonymous said...


In case you may not have noticed, no one is buying the snake oil you are selling.

And by the way, what you plagiarized above is related to evolution over the long term (ie, through the mechanism of genetic mutation), not to death of corrals over a few short years.

"Solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to alterations in genetic material, which, in turn, affects the tempo of evolution.," (taken from "Solar Energy and it's biological-physical interactions" (Dickey and Falkowski)

Next time, at least try to change a few words around here and there (and don't leave the period at the end of the sentence when you join two sentences together with a comma! That's a dead ringer give-away that it was cut and pasted.

Hank Roberts said...

Oh, there's an even easier correction:

To be accurate, change

> but while there is increasing
> evidence for climate change
> impacts on coral reefs
> the IPCC concluded

to read

"Since the IPCC concluded [] (based on evidence ending [date]...), there has been increasing evidence for climate change impacts on coral reefs ..."

The IPCC's conclusion is based on info as of a year or three ago; the current science is an improvement on it. That's what's backwards in the original language, it makes it sound like the new research was somehow dismissed by the IPCC's report.

Nitpicking. Ook oook cheeeee!

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh. And Monckton somehow doesn't understand the difference between errors and "errors".

Gimme a break. He does he just pretends they are the same to defend the indefensible.

Now just why did the judge put those parentheses over there if the two things are the same?

And by the way: since when are judges scientific authorities?
Especially one that readily puts words in Gore's mouth like "in the near future" and "exact fit" and denies the link between AGW and coral reef bleaching which IS mainstream science?

Thanks for yet another useless tirade from a non-expert on this matter, by the way. It's good to know that being a right winger automatically qualifies you to be an expert on matters like ice sheet stability.

Steve Bloom said...

I haven't posted the relevant material on the ninepoints wiki yet, but it turns out the coral business resulted from some poor phrasing in the WGII TS. Apparently nobody involved in the case looked more deeply. My suspicion is that the government side stopped worrying about the details as soon as the judge made it clear that he was giving them the basic win.

Anonymous said...

Not quite anon 7 am,the html tags kept getting consumed by blogger,an annoying medium to comment on.

As you have the relevant reading including Zepp from the EPA,both adequately reducible to a level even you may understand I think you will find the IPCC conclusions that comparative differentiation in the pathology and causal mechanisms are inconclusive.

You will also see how the changes in water transparency occurs instantaneously as the phytoplankton deep six!in response to penetrating UV.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy it. Not the argument about phytoplankton and not your argument that you were not plagiarizing.

Blogger does not "eat" quotation marks nor does it "eat" author titles -- both of which were conspicuously absent from your post.

Anonymous said...

Since the comment box says:

"You can use some HTML tags"
(which have to be closed)

Odds are that while you may try to use others, they won't work.

Normal citation format using only ASCII seems to be quite well supported by Blogger, like a typewriter.

HankRoberts said...

Just to check, Eli:

"This reminds Eli of a coal science conference ...."


EliRabett said...

Yep, once was interested in the heating value and identity of the gases released from coal when it is mined. The practice today (ok 15 years ago) was to crush the coal at the mine head and run it out on conveyor belts. Our big problem was getting large chunks of the stuff. The motivator was that we were involved in a project to test a new type of fluidized bed.

If you keep your ears up, you run into a lot of interesting stuff.

Hank Roberts said...

Ok, so the really big news is what's behind those charts at the link.

Cite below the charts is:

Canadell et al. 2007, PNAS, in press

Anyone? There must be references in that paper. This would appear to be the same thing that's been leaking out of the drafting process at the IPCC lately, that we're doing much worse than the old worst case 'Business as Usual' scenario.

Tell me I'm wrong.


Dano said...

I'd like to tell you you're wrong, Hank. But the planet's human population is increasing, as is our resource consumption. The results of the paper should come as no surprise.

And as I have said elsewhere on other topics, we are speeding up.



TCO said...

1. Isn't it true that ON AVERAGE, the temp rise will be more in polar lattitudes than in tropical? If so, then total rise in the tropics will be less than rise average over the surface of the Earth. Does this mean that bleaching will not be a big effect?
2. If some oceans become too hot for corals, won't others warm up and corals become able to grow at higher lats then before? If so, what is the net effect?
3. What seas or oceans are the hottest and are they currently too hot for corals? IOW is there an already understood upper temp?