Thursday, March 25, 2010


Hearing From Old Friends

Remember last year we were making fun of these showboating but fairly inept Arctic Travelers called the Caitlin Arctic Survey, who spent a miserable Spring failing to get anywhere near where they say they wanted to get, namely the imaginary ice free North Pole?

Well, they're back.

The schadenfreude is almost palpable here at XDA.

Here is a critique of their last non scientific efforts.

Here is a critique of this year's collection of anecdotes.

And here is my two cents about one statement they made regarding the so-called acidification of the oceans. The quote:

Within only a few decades, an increase in ocean acidity may cause seawater to become corrosive to the shells, skelatons and armour-plating of many marine life forms, and could seriously undermine the growth of coral reefs.

As anyone even semi-educated in science knows, the Oceans here on Earth are neither neutral nor acidic but alkali, or basic. The ph scale goes from -1 to 14 and measures both acidic and basic properties. A neutral liquid, that is, something like distilled water, is a 7, the Ocean is over 8 (8.179 in the 1700s and 8.104 lately). So now you can imagine why fish are slimy, they exude a mucus covering so that the caustic sea doesn't harm their flesh (recall also the chemical burn from lye on the back of Norton's hand in the excellent Fight Club). If indeed the ocean is moving down the scale to neutral and then to more acidic, it is actually getting better for things with flesh as it is getting less basic and more towards neutral. That will be true for hundreds of years to come as it approaches and then reaches neutral. Then it will be ever so acidic for hundreds of more years until it reaches a point it as as antagonistic to living flesh as it is right now. "Within a few decades," my ample ass.

Now if the wee beasties of the sea with limestone shells actually need the sea to be basic for their shells to form, then the ocean becoming less basic is a big deal, but to date, I have never heard anyone say the water needs to be basic, for the shell making chemistry to work-- the complaints are always that acid will corrode the shells and will even stop them from being formed (directly from the known effects of the acid).

UPDATE: The knock is that less basic produces less carbonate ions in the water so that the wee beasties can't make the shells. But, of course, no one bothered to tell the sea creatures.


The truth, as always happens, appears mixed:
Thanks, I'll add it to the mix.
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