NY Times Article on Ocean Acidification: The World is Doomed, Pay us to Research it

In Animals, Climate Change, Environment, Life, Politics, The Big Picture by Megan Toombs Kinard2 Comments

The NY Times published an article entitled “Our Deadened, Carbon-Soaked Seas,” that at first glance is very scary. The oceans are acidifying due to human carbon-dioxide emissions! We are hurting marine life, and ourselves in the process! Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY! etc. etc. etc.

But upon a second read one notices sentences that include words and phrases such as “may,” “could,” and “almost certainly.” If the oceans are really in such dire straits, why would they use phrases that indicate doubt?

Is it because they know that many of the claims they are making are not proven at all?

Yes, shockingly that is the case.

An article by Tony Thomas in Quadrant (an Australian publication) entitled “The Fishy ‘Science’ of Ocean Acidification” reveals some very juicy tidbits about the goings on behind the scenes of this article, as well as pointing out some of the most obvious factual problems with the article itself.

The article is credited to Richard Spinrad, Chief Scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser to the British Governments Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. Turns out the article was written by a NOAA staff member, but ghost writing is relatively common.

Thomas refers to Steve Milloy’s Freedom of Information request to NOAA on the emails relating to the NY Times article, and links to Milloy’s article and the information from the emails.

In these emails, a NOAA scientist, Dr. Shallin Busch, comments on the article before publication and specifically points out that there has been no harm from ocean acidification yet, and that they “don’t have any data sets that show a direct effect of OA (ocean acidification) on population health or trajectory.”

Now admittedly the authors had no say in the title of the article, or the ridiculous illustration the NY Times included with the piece, and, as can be seen from the emails, they didn’t care for the additional scare-mongering. But, the article itself, and the push for funding clearly shows a lack of transparency, and scientific ethics.

A more ethical article would have stated something along these lines: “we hypothesize that less alkaline oceans could create xyz issues, this is important for xyz reasons, and research funding is needed.”

Ocean acidification is an alarmist topic that has been easily manipulated because most people lack even a basic understanding of the acid/alkaline scale. To learn more read this informative article by Dr. Craig Idso.

Megan is the Director of Communications for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and Editor of EarthRisingBlog.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MeganToombs.


  1. tigardlou@gmail.com'

    I am sorry but you are totally wrong. As a former oyster farmer on the Pacific Coast, I know the acid problem is causing serious failures with the oyster hatcheries in Oregon. I can’t understand why the Cornwall people are so blind. I debated one of your people during a webinar with the Answers in Genesis magazine editor. Your man didn’t know his facts but “cherry picked” and over simplified situations.

  2. Author

    Hi Louis,

    Thanks for your comment!

    If you read the links on the article you will see your specific point of the oysters in Oregon addressed.

    I’ll quote it here:

    “The NYT article made a lot of mileage out of US west-coast oyster industry problems ostensibly caused by ocean currents pushing “acidified” water towards the oyster beds, causing “baby oysters” to expire. The infant oysters had in fact been killed by a faecal organism Vibrio tubiashii from sewage.) And in any event, that pesky Dr Busch throws in an email saying

    In fact, production in the Washington oyster industry is higher now than at the start of the[supposed acidification] crisis…Just as an FYI, we can’t yet attribute any large patterns in shellfish yield to OA [ocean acidification].”

    What this means (and is pointed out by the NOAA scientist, Dr. Busch) is that there was a temporary decline in oyster growth, but it wasn’t caused by OA, and production is now higher than before the decline.

    Hope this helps answer your question. I am not aware of a Cornwall scholar participating in a debate on Answers in Genesis. Can you tell me the scholars name?

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