Nature runs full news article on geo-engineering without mentioning ocean acidification

Nature News has a new piece on geo-engineering up which fails to mention, even once, that virtually all proposed geo-engineering schemes will do nothing to mitigate “the other CO2 problem”: ocean acidification.

This is especially perplexing given the rather higher profile that acidification has been enjoying, especially of late. Just this June, a huge number of national science academies (70)- including the NAS and Royal Society- released a joint statement on the severity of the ocean acidification threat, pushing for large CO2 emissions cuts by 2050, and further cuts thereafter.

It’s perhaps even more strange because one of the other, less well known consequences of geo-engineering received quite a bit of attention in the Nature piece: weakening/disruption of the hydrological cycle. Now this is certainly a problem with geo-engineering worth talking about, and calling attention to Susan Solomon’s new paper in Science Express on it is decidedly helpful, but mentioning it while ignoring ocean acidification is a bit like talking about smoking and emphysema while avoiding any discussion of lung cancer. And after all, it’s not as though there are no recent relevant papers discussing ocean acidification in the context of geo-engineering.

Let’s hope this was just an isolated slip up and not indicative of a widespread backslide to the media’s previous stance of ignoring the problem altogether.

[LATE UPDATE: The author of the piece has responded that it was a space constraint issue.]

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11 responses to “Nature runs full news article on geo-engineering without mentioning ocean acidification

  1. These “solar management” schemes are laughable to ludicrous. So now we’re going to manage the incoming solar are we? Yeah OK.

    Wild-assed thought just occurred to me, so please don’t take this too seriously, but I wonder if we might not consider addressing the root problem of putting CO2 and CH4 into the air. Just throwin that out there.

    Left a comment over at nature news as well.

  2. solar panels build your own

    Ocean acidification is one of the side effects of the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to anthropogenic causes. CO2 is not the only gas which causes acidification – SO2, which can be emitted from industrial processes is also guilty. The effects are uncertain, but look at the refs. below for more information.
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  3. Marion Delgado

    I’m actually one of Nature Pubs’ wards on 2nd Life now, and on balance they’re great, but you have to keep them honest. It’s very true – for instance they put up a he said/she said blog that definitely equated the worthiness of mainstream science and radical climate denialism, until a bunch of readers complained vociferously. Always remember Nature is a journal and Nature Pubs is a company.

  4. Marion Delgado

    by “ward” above I mean they generously let me use a “Skylab” for a project (it’s basically to visually show the issues involved in both Dyson’s and Lovelock’s quibbling over the climate situation and what to do about it) and are helping us guests with various technical issues.

    At some point, we may be in position to return the favor by helping at workshops, though we have no formal connection to Nature Publications, if that wasn’t clear.

  5. Marion Delgado

    Freeman Dyson would say we’ll one day do both – get our energy from space, AND control insolation.
    He’s right.

    However, his timescale is always off, because he tends to always believe he’s going to get a techno-pony for his 6th birthday, so to speak. He’s a couple SDs out on the techno-optimism side of the Bell curve.

  6. Links to that Nature stuff, Marion?

  7. “Freeman Dyson would say we’ll one day do both – get our energy from space, AND control insolation.
    He’s right.”

    Sure we’ll probably be able to “control” it if we decide to. Question is whether we’ll control it in a way that actually helps the situation rather than creating more problems. Which entirely begs the question of what it means to “control” something.

  8. As author of the piece in question, I can unequivocally state that there were many aspects of geoengineering that were not going to make it into a 600-word news piece, for sheer reasons of space. Ocean acidification is certainly one of the consequences of rising carbon dioxide levels that is not addressed by schemes such as sunshades or aerosol pumping. Nature has covered this aspect extensively in both its journalistic coverage (eg http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7141/full/447132a.html) and technical paper publications (eg http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v449/n7164/full/449781a.html)

  9. fack you

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