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November 25, 2008

Stupid Headline of the Day: "Oceans Ten Times More Acidic Than Thought"

My first response to the headline: it's not a big deal, thought is very basic. Get it? Basic? Okay, tough crowd. Don't we have any chemists in the house?

If this article is any indication, the crisis of national scientific illiteracy has reached the hallowed halls of National Geographic. The writer, Helen Scales, and her editors should be ashamed.

Her headline is shit. She (or her editors, whoever picked it) get "ten times more acidic than thought" from this:

Since 2000, scientists have measured the acidity of seawater around Tatoosh Island off the coast of Washington state. The acidity increased ten times quicker than climate models predicted.

First of all, the ocean is not ten times more acidic than previously thought. We had a pretty good idea how acidic the ocean was because, like, we measured it. That's the dumbest thing I've heard all day (and I work with lawyers, so you know this shit's pretty dumb). It doesn't even pass the smell test. Really? The giant frikin' ocean out there is ten times more acidic than we ever were able to measure before?

So what's happening here? The process of acidification near Tatoosh Island is occurring ten times more quickly than the scientists' models called for. This may be an issue of off-the-chart atmospheric carbon in the vicinity (cue the Global Warming hysteria) or a really shitty model based on almost no data.

Take a wild guess.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 09:59 PM

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