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Coral and Greenhouse Gases

One alarm being sounded is that as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere grows, it dissolves at higher concentrations in the oceans, dropping pH, and dissolving coral reefs, which are mostly calcium carbonate.

Increasing the dissolved CO2 generates acid, yes, but it generates carbonate (and bicarbonate) ions in exactly the same proportion.  Dissolving coral or seashells is the reverse reeaction – calcium releases in the presence of acid to make dissolved carbonates, which then escape the water as carbon dioxide.  LeChatlier’s principle says if you push a system by raising the concentration of something, equilibrium shifts to releave the pressure.  Pumping up the dissolved CO2 will actually push the other way, increasing carbonates and decreasing the likelihood of coral and seashells dissolving.

The environmentalists missed big time on this.  It matters tremendously which acid is raising the pH.  If you talk about “acid rain” from NOx emissions from automobiles, or sulfates from coal fired power plants, then those acids do not carry carbonates along with them, and COULD accelerate the dissolution of coral and seashells.  CO2 does not do this.

Of course we’re rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic here.  The real worry is killing off of the living coral, which happens due to toxic pollution, or fertilizer run-off leading to micro-organism blooms that deplete the oxygen and kill the coral polyps.

I’m just saying – make the right argument.


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