A look this morning at the Associated Press feed revealed two breaking stories on oceans and their environmental status – and led to much more.
Seth Borenstein is writing on a new report for the UN that adds glum, urgent detail to an already widely shared and dismal conclusion. Marine life is entering a time of mass extirpation (including a lot of extinction). Temperatures keep going up, purse seines and bottom trawls keep going down, dead zones get wider, and the pH of the water trends ever closer to acid. Evidence of their effects, it says here, is accumulating surprisingly fast. Today’s ocean, one fears, is a goner.
Randolph E. Schmid reports that a Univ. of Pennsylvania group – working in the Sea Level Research Lab which is a hint the team has expertise – has gone through a mess of data and concluded that sea level is not only going up, but that the rate of rise for the last century sticks out from the previous two millennia like a ..a ..ah yes. The blade on a hockey stick. Yep, another hockey stick. Michael Mann is involved, too, if not tree rings and any so-called tricks of data-blending. The report, both a literature review for the globe with new data from the US Atlantic Coast, is in Proceedings of the Nat’l Academy of Sciences.
To little surprise, the news bursts hove into view first at AP but neither dispatch is a scoop.
1) Other Marine and Ocean Health Stories:
- Reuters – Tim Wimborne: Ocean life on the brink of mass extinctions: study ;
- Time Magazine – Bryan Walsh: A Scary Report Card on the World’s Oceans. The lede (its tone: again with this?) will resonate with environmental global change writers and a big part of their collective audience. Walsh’s piece is a cry of anger and despair. Best line, while describing a reason little will be done, : “…on the surface, a living sea and a dead one look much the same.”
- NYTimes (Green blog) David Jolly: Oceans Are at Dire Risk, Team of Scientists Warns ; Builds the report’s case by well-selected quotation of specific passages. As with most coverage, no hint in this piece that there are reasonably objective experts who might disagree with the report.
- Sydney Morning Herald – Ian Munro: Oceans face catastrophe, panel warns ;
- Forbes – Haydn Shaughnessy: Setting an Innovation Agenda for the Ocean: the Next Frontier for People Like Us ; This is an outlier, and interesting. Forbes is a conservative biz mag, Shaughnessy says he doesn’t believe in climate change. But he fully believes the oceans are sick. He knows his readers. It’s a portrait of a guy trying to wrap his head around this problem (on behalf of ‘people like us’) while sticking with, one infers, his general world view that it’s hard and maybe wrong to compel the majority of people to do anything about anything bigger than themselves, even when it’s an emergency.
- Slate Magazine – Daniel Politi : Ocean Life Facing Mass Extinction / A number of threats could result in an unprecedented loss of species, according to a shocking report ;
- Guardian (UK) Fiona Harvey: ‘Shocking’ state of seas threatens mass extinction, say marine experts;
- Telegraph (UK) Louise Gray: World’s oceans move into ‘extinction phase’ ; Gray reports environmental worries straight. Readers of this right-leaning newspaper include many who don’t want to read them. The comments trend accordingly.
- BBC – Richard Black: World’s oceans in ‘shocking’ decline ;
- AFP – Marlowe Hood (via Discovery News): Oceans in Distress Foreshadow Mass Extinction / The recent fast global decline of ocean health points to a level of marine die-off similar to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum;
- Independent (UK) Michael McCarthy: Oceans on brink of catastrophe / Marine life facing mass extinction ‘within one human generation’ / State of seas ‘much worse than we thought’, says global panel of scientists;
- … much more, but must move on.
- USA Today – Wendy Koch: Fastest sea-level rise in 2,199 years linked to climate change ;
- Phil. Inqauirer – Sandy Bauers: Sea level rise on East Coast called fastest in last century ; One thinks the hed means to say it has been for the last century the fastest in a long time. One thinks it could have been composed more clearly. A question: Was the rate 10,000 to 14,000 years ago, as last ice age waned, faster or slower than this? One suspects faster, but not having time to look it up…. ???
- Telegraph (UK) Nick Collins: Sea levels rising at fastest rate in 2,000 years ; Yes, but paper only tries to go back 2000 miles for its new US data. So properly it ought to say at least 2,000.
- Spiegel Online – Marcus Becker: Sea Level Study Leads to Divisions ; The author phoned around and got other opinion that highlights pitfalls of extrapolating data from the US East Coast to the world. One of his sources does say, presumably because it is a tectonically quiet, trailing margin of a continental crust bordering a widening sea and mostly far from recent glaciation, the Penn authors chose about as good a single region to use as global proxy that there is. Story’s strength is its examples of the dramatic differences tide gauges reveal worldwide of local sea level trends.
- Time Mag – Ecocentric blog: Tara Thean: Sea Levels in Norther Carolina – and elsewhere – Rising Fast ; Strong focus on the local, not global, implication of the data.
- Scotsman – John von Radowitz: Global warming alert as sea level rise said to be fastest rate for 2,100 years ;
- … lots more out there.
3) One Story: Are climate worriers up to their old tricks? One news outlets this week ran a story on suspicion that sea level rise data – not that in the Penn study – was doctored and thus exaggerated by University of Colorado researchers. The latter added a fudge factor (which does not mean the same as a lie or sleight of hand) to tide gauge data in order to compensate for effects of post-glacial rebound on ocean volume. It got quick reaction from a watchdog organization.
- Fox News – Maxim Lott: Changing Tides: Research Center Under Fire for ‘Adjusted’ Sea-Level Data ; The lede: Is climate change raising sea levels, as Al Gore has argued – or are climate scientists doctoring the data? Poor old Al. If one has quarrels with the science, why keep bringing up an earnest politician as its lead spokesman (and designated pinata) rather than genuine experts? Aside from being a lot more meaningfully correct than occasionally wrong, Gore is, after all, just another former newspaperman trying to do his best at translation of specialty info. He did mix up, once or twice, the ultimate equilibrium sea level with how far it might get in this century. But his general thesis did not depend on that flub. Poor old Al.
- Media Matters – Simon Maloy: Climate Science Takes Another Spin Through The Fox Cycle ;
Climate Data Doctoring Grist for the Mill: Forbes Magazine blog op-ed post by Heartland Institute senior fellow.
– Charlie Petit