If there's one thing climate change deniers steer well clear of, it's the state of our oceans.
They confine their lies to cherry-picked data about global warming of the atmosphere, a narrative that still has to be bolstered with mighty lies oft repeated, but they know not to mess with oceanic reality.
None of us gets out of school without being taught that our oceans cover 70% of Earth's surface. Terrestrial life has to make do with the 30% of terra firma left over. Yeah, okay, fair enough.
Water doesn't lie and it really doesn't provide much cover for liars either. It's an awfully good measure for we know what it is today and, from frozen ice cores, we know what it was two and three centuries ago and what it was millions of years ago when water became ice embedding with it all sorts of information including its age and even what was going on in the atmosphere the last time it was liquid. My, my, my.
We know from highschool chemistry class how litmus paper works. We experimented with how it reacts to changes in pH. You gotta love that phenolphtalein, don'cha? It makes it easy to compare this sample of water from today to another sample from two centuries ago to yet another sample that's a million years old. And when you do that you find the clear fingerprints of anthropogenic global warming, man-made climate change in the industrial era.
It's too bad we don't reflect more on Earth's water when we discuss climate change because that powerfully impacts the narrative.
The world's oceans have already become about 30 per cent more acidic since pre-industrial times as seas absorb about one quarter or more of the excess carbon dioxide, triggering a chemical reaction. Combined with heat stress caused by warming waters, the rising acidity levels are already affecting complex ecosystems from plankton to shellfish and corals.
Researchers at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research examined the prospects for massive geo-engineering efforts to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere and say it would take centuries for the oceans to become less acidic.
Assuming carbon dioxide removal could be ramped up to 90 gigatonnes a year – or about twice current annual emissions – oceans would not be brought back to pre-1750 levels until at least 2700, the researchers said in a paper published this week in Nature Climate Change journal.
"Geo-engineering measures are currently being debated as a kind of last resort to avoid dangerous climate change – either in the case that policymakers find no agreement to cut CO₂ emissions, or to delay the transformation of our energy systems," Sabine Mathesius, a Potsdam Institute researcher, said in a statement.
"[I]n a business-as-usual scenario of unabated emissions, even if the CO₂ in the atmosphere would later on be reduced to the pre-industrial concentration, the acidity in the oceans could still be more than four times higher than the pre-industrial level," Ms Mathesius said. "It would take many centuries to get back into balance with the atmosphere."
Pete Strutton, an associate professor at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, said the paper showed "what we should already realise".
"What's needed is aggressive efforts to reduce emissions now, rather than aggressive programs in 50 years' time to remove it," Professor Strutton said.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a co-author of the paper and also the senior scientific adviser to Pope Francis for his recent climate encyclical, said "the chemical echo of this century's CO₂ pollution will reverberate for thousands of years".
"If we do not implement emissions reductions measures in line with the 2 degrees Celsius target in time, we will not be able to preserve ocean life as we know it," Professor Schellnhuber said.
Sounds pretty ominous, doesn't it? That's because it f__king well is! Forget the atmosphere. Forget the droughts and floods. Forget the severe storm events of ever increasing frequency, intensity and duration. Put that all aside for a minute and think of oceans that are going to become four times more acidic than pre-industrial levels and, even with Herculean efforts to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide, still won't be back to normal until 2700.
Think of that and then ask yourself how hard it is for your political leader of choice to keep a straight face and promise he'll introduce carbon taxes to somehow sort this all out.
The warning is stark. We need "aggressive efforts to reduce emissions now." You haven't got a chance of doing that while these Sneaky Pete, Petro-Pimps talk carbon taxes out of one side of their mouths and massive increases in bitumen extraction out of the other. Nah, they're just f__king with ya because they know they can get away with it. And they're right.