2010-12-21 21:29:18Basic Rebuttal No. 135- More CO2 increases coral calcification
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.247.175

CORAL: FLUNKING THE ACID TEST

Carbonates are "building blocks" of the coral skeleton. More CO2 in the atmosphere increases ocean acidity and lowers carbonate levels in seawater, leading to decreased coral growth. Recent studies show falling coral growth rates around the world. Given the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, ocean acidification during the 21st Century is likely to promote the gradual deterioration of coral reefs and eventually result in seawater which is corrosive to coral.

CALCIFICATION A.K.A SKELETON GROWTH

Reef-building coral are actually communities of millions of tiny anemone-like creatures called polyps which build their skeletons out of calcium carbonate (limestone). The raw building materials for this come from the surrounding seawater. As the acidity changes so too does the concentration of various types of carbon dissolved in the ocean. By adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, humans are altering the chemical balance of the oceans: Not only lowering pH, but also lowering the concentration of the carbonate "building block".

Both field and lab studies indicate that it is the low carbonate concentration, not the actual acidification itself, which is the dominant effect.

Figure 1 - From A to D show falling coral skeleton growth as carbonate level is lowered. The photos are of the base of the juvenile polyps, with the polyp itself having been removed. From Cohen 2009

WORLDWIDE CORAL GROWTH IS SLOWING

In the last two hundred or so years humans have made a measurable impact on the acidity of the oceans, causing it to acidify by roughly 30% through the burning of fossil fuels. So it might be possible see some effect on the growth of coral. One recent study (De'ath 2009) looked at coral growth rates on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Using annual coral growth bands they were able to construct a record dating back over 400 years. What they found is that the coral growth rate rose for hundreds of years and then, around 1990, began to fall. From 1990 to 2005 the growth rate fell 14.2%. Similar declines are also reported in South-East Asian (Tanzil 2009) and Caribbean reef-coral communities (Bak 2009), (Bates 2010)

CORAL REEFS - WORLD FISH NURSERY

Reef-coral provide a home to over a million marine species, including more than 25% of all fish in the sea. They also act as a nursery to many juvenile forms which then grow and move on to live in the open ocean. As well as providing goods and services roughly estimated at $375 billion dollars annually, they also serve as important barriers to erosion. All-in-all if we lose the coral reefs, it's certain that all of humanity will be affected in one way or another.

GRADE: "D" FOR DECLINING.

More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will only lead to further declines in coral growth (Silverman 2009). This is going to affect the health of coral reefs worldwide and impact the 100 million or so people who directly depend upon them for food. Long-term it's going to be another factor causing world food prices to skyrocket. The only realistic way to minimise harm is to drastically reduce burning of fossil fuels.

2010-12-21 21:31:24
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.247.175
I'll provide links later. Going to bed now.
2010-12-21 21:44:40Typo - 2nd to last paragraph
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.137.91

This reads very well (and the pictures are very compelling!).

Just noticed a typo in the 2nd to last paragraph:
"....Using annual coral growth bands they were able to construct a record of.... "

Cheers and have a good night!
Baerbel

2010-12-21 23:40:23
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.125.219

Rob,

For the aspect of language, this is an intermediate-level text. The language level is much too sophisticated.

2010-12-22 05:27:09
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.240.240
Righto, I'll give it another crack.
2010-12-22 12:23:23
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.209.134
2nd attempt.
2010-12-22 20:24:58
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.43.241

Rob,

This is better, but still written in what I would call a very German style: building the picture up piece by piece, layer by layer. It's very systematic, but the reader doesn't get the point until the very end. It's not a good style for rapid communication, when you want to energize someone or get to the point quickly. 

(By the way, I live in Germany, and have had to train some of my colleagues how to write papers that would get across what was wanted more easily. In at least some German business schools, they also have to untrain their students from their years of education in systematic writing!)

A better approach is to state upfront that additional CO2 inhibits formation of coral structures; and THEN explain why & how. When the reader knows where you're going, s/he'll pick up the story faster. And try to tell a story: a narrative of some sort is easier to follow than a description of static relationships. 

Smaller issues:

- You should walk through the photos: what is different from level to level, and what is the stuff on the right hand side? On the left hand side, I see a fading out of "feature definition"; but on the right hand side i don't see anything interesting. What am I missing?

- Your use of commas is a bit unusual.

 

 

2010-12-22 21:09:05
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.203.29

This is better, but still written in what I would call a very German style

Maybe a relic of years of police work. Funny, because I read others' posts (not just here) and think "Gee, that's a lot of waffle, just give me the facts!". Or maybe some German ancestry?. 

You should walk through the photos

I was intending on doing so in the intermediate version, seeing as Alex C has gone AWOL. Thought it might complicate things too much for this version - it should be obvious that coral don't grow well when carbonate levels are reduced, but perhaps a little clarification is in order. If it works out, both basic and intermediate will be posted at the same time. 

Your use of commas is a bit unusual.

I like to think of it as iconoclastic.

I'll re-structure it as you suggest (makes sense), but it won't be a gripping read. Thanks for the input.

 

2010-12-23 17:52:48
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
124.180.7.180

This is one of those things you are taught a lot in how to present information to an audience where you have to 'hold' the audience.

Tell them what you are going to tell them. Then Tell Them. Then tell them that you have Told Them.

Watch how often politicians will say something twice. Isn't once enough? Actually no. The first time gets your attention. Then the second time you might really be listening. Thats why they do it.

But if you are someone who already understands what they are talking about, and understand the technique, Geezuz it gets annoying!

Also some language stuff - looking at the original text. Words like 'therefore', 'whereby', 'Crystal length declines'.

The tone of the language you use needs to reflect the level the rebuttal is pitched at. Unfortunately there are people who become subconsciously hostile to 'over-educated' English.

Instead in these examples 'so', 'This refers to the process where the polyp grows the aragonite crystals which its' skeleton is made of. Basically it describes coral skeleton growth.', 'The length of the crystals shrink'

Different English for different audiences (and note to the translators, the same in other languages)

Small additional 'framing' comment at the beginning might be a brief reference to why coral reefs matter - not because they are pretty. "Coral reefs are important spawning and 'nursery' grounds for many fish species". Not part of the rebuttal, but part of why the reader should care.

2010-12-23 18:40:15
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.197.238
Glenn, duly noted. I was intending to provide a few sentences on why people should care about coral in the intermediate version. A work in progress.
2010-12-24 06:02:24
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.56.87

Rob,

My suggestion: Do the Intermediate first, and get comments on that. When it's done & approved, THEN begin streamlining it to turn it into a Basic.

Basics are harder to write than Intermediates: You need to get the most important concepts and rationales understood, but you've got to use language that moves things along. By finishing the Intermediate, you'll know which ideas are important and how they relate to each other: That pins down half the variables. Then for the Basic, you focus on expressing them.

I did a simultaneous release of Advanced, Intermediate and Basic on one topic; but I wrote them in the order indicated.

The Basics are the most important group of rebuttals, because they are most likely to be read by our target audience.

 

2010-12-24 07:58:06
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.234.51

Yup, thanks Neal. I'm doing what you suggest on another rebuttal, the intermediate version of "coral are resilient to bleaching". I'm finding that much easier to write. I've done an advanced version of the Amazon Rainforest rebuttal, but that's turned into a novel, and will have to be trimmed down. I think intermediate is where I'm comfortable (my writing doesn't seem stilted and robotic). Distilling down the salient points in as few paragraphs as possible for the basic versions sure is a toughie.

One other thing. Following on from all the discussion about psychology etc, I'm going to break-down all my posts with headings, and often use the headings themselves to convey a message. I'll tweak the ones above, but for example in the bleaching rebuttal one of the headings is "hot water + coral = death". My rationale is that the headings themselves can help to reinforce a point, and maybe stick in the readers brain (skeptics excluded of course). If nothing else, worth a shot.   

 

 

 

2010-12-24 08:12:45
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
138.217.146.225

Rob

The headings idea sounds like a good one - will be interesting to see how that flows

2011-01-08 06:47:44
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.225.166
Latest draft. Still figuring out how to alter the graphic & will update later. 
2011-01-21 16:29:49
Shirley_Rocks
Shirley Pulawski
missfabulous@verizon...
96.240.83.234
I generally like this, but the only argument that I have with it is the use of the word "limestone' as a building block, since limestone generally was made from carbonate shelled life to begin with. I'm going to guess that there are folks out there with less specific geologic education (no petrology classes) who will say "WAIT A MINUTE! THOSE SHELLS CAN'T BE MADE OUT OF LIMESTONE IF THEY ARE WHAT MAKES LIMESTONE" so maybe "dissolved oceanic calcium carbonates" or something else like "dissolved calcium in ocean water, like what you might see in limestone or dolomite" might be a better way to put it. Let's not ever forget than one loud voice who can find one single flaw in the delivery can do a LOT of damage. In the nature of geologic time, the biggest source of CaCO3 in water might be limestone (I don't know if this is true) but in the geologic past, it wasn't, and ancient limestone could not have formed had shelled life not found other sources of CaCO3 (probably from dissolution of volcanic rocks). I think a focus on acid-base chemistry in very simple ways might be more effective, like suggesting experiments to put a clam bake shell in a jar with kitchen vinegar, like the experiment suggested here: http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/climate/coral2.html 
2011-01-21 19:31:06
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.232.9
Shirley, thank for the advice. Will re-jig this anyway and tidy up the limestone reference. Have left it languishing because I haven't finished the intermediate version yet. Best to stay away from any links to vinegar or strong acids methinks. That just invites "skeptics" to de-rail the comments thread.
2011-03-06 14:32:21
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.171.110

I've been reading through the WUWT 1/10/11 Ocean Acidification post by David Middleton.  Heading one section he asks:  "Is atmospheric CO2 acidifying the oceans?"  ~Continuing~   "Before we can answer this question, we have to understand a bit about how the oceans make limestone and other carbonate rocks..."

It seems to me oceans exchange CO2 at the surface and only later do we get to the limestone building. 

And I'm thinking what in the world does "carbonate rock formation" (something happens over many millions of years) have to do with short-term ocean/CO2 exchange rates. . .     Further clarification would be appreciated.

2011-03-06 17:26:54
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.65.35

Just tweaking another rebuttal at the moment CC. Will get back to sorting all 3 versions of this within the next week (been very busy at work, but came to the realization "what the hell am I busting my arse for?").

I haven't quite fine-tuned the intermediate version, but if you read over that (hopefully) it all makes sense. As for Middleton's wibbling - of course it's cockamamie, it's WUWT!. 

2011-03-11 08:30:25
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.203.34

Finished!. (barring suggested revisions) 

2011-03-11 08:32:28
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.203.34

And taking a page from Dana's playbook........

2011-03-11 09:46:59
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.114.194

"By adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, humans are altering the chemical balance of the oceans. Not only lowering pH, but also lowering the level of the carbonate "building block".

Both field and lab studies indicate that it is the low carbonate, not the actual acidification itself, which is the dominant effect."

=>

"By adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, humans are altering the chemical balance of the oceans: Not only lowering pH, but also lowering the concentration of the carbonate "building block".

Both field and lab studies indicate that it is the low carbonate concentration, not the actual acidification itself, which is the dominant effect."

2011-03-11 10:13:14
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.203.34

Fixed. Thanks.