NOAA caught committing fraud in Congressional testimony about ocean acidification

feely“Ocean acidification” is another bogeyman of climate alarmists. They claim that our carbon dioxide emissions will produce “acidification” of the oceans that will cause marine life to die. These claims ignore the fact that marine life evolved when atmospheric carbon dioxide was 10 times higher than now. The oceans have never been acidic, even when carbon dioxide was 10 times higher, but the pH has cycled within the alkaline range of 7.9 to 8.2 correlative to the Pacific Multidecadal oscillation. (pH is a logarithmic scale in which 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic, above 7 is alkaline.) For background, see my ADI article The Myth of Ocean Acidification by Carbon Dioxide.

It has recently been uncovered, that a NOAA scientist, Dr. Richard A. Feely, who is a senior scientist with the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used “cherry-picked” data in testimony before Congress in 2010.

The story was broken by Marita Noon, executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc in an article at Cfact here. The story was reposted and amplified on WattsUpWithThat. Read those posts for greater detail.

Here is what happened:

In Congressional testimony, Feely presented a graph similar to the one below which implied great danger from ocean acidification as our atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide rises.


According to Noon, this graph piqued the interest of Mike Wallace, a hydrologist with nearly 30 years’ experience, who is now working on his Ph.D. in nanogeosciences at the University of New Mexico. Wallace noticed that Feely’s graph omitted 80 years of data, which incorporate more than 2 million records of ocean pH levels.

Wallace corresponded with Feely and his co-author, Dr. Christopher L. Sabine, another NOAA scientist. This correspondence was unfruitful, but during the long process, NOAA reissued its World Ocean Database. Wallace was then able to extract the instrumental records he sought and turned the data into a meaningful time series chart, which reveals that the oceans are not acidifying. Here is Wallace’s graph:


The purposely omitted data gave Congress a false picture of what is really happening.


  1. What every one is missing the point is that all the chemistry is irrelevant when the dilution factor between the co2 and the ocean volume is about 0.2 mm of extra co2 by man if measured as a liquid spread across the globe absorbed by the ocean.
    compares to about 3,500,000 mm of ocean in liquid form if spread across the globe.
    0.2 dilution in 3,500,000 can have no measurable effect.
    why is everyone so stupid and not notice the size difference of the ocean, and by the man made co2
    dissolved in the ocean, its more then 10 million to one, as such completely irrelevant.

  2. pH is a logarithmic scale. What we are examining is a pH change of 0.1 unit (equivalent to 30% hydrogen ion increase in the ocean) from the start of Industrial Revolution to today.

    All pre-1980 pH data are all problematic, due to issues related to glass electrode calibration, and data reporting. None of the data Mr. Wallace used has pH scales, measurement temperature, and whether the pH reported are measured or corrected to in-situ temperature. That means an uncertainties of at least 0.2. As a result, the pre-1980 historical pH data can not be used to study the temporal pH change.

    All the above issues are known to ocean scientists. It’s incredible to see that Mr. Wallace thought he made a ground breaking discovery.

    Here is a detailed response:

  3. It’s basic chemistry:

    Increase atmospheric CO2, ocean uptake creates carbonic acid, pH of ocean goes down.

    You can pretend all you want, but you can’t make reality go away. The ocean acidifies.



  4. I would say Dr. Richard A. Feely probably knows a lot about acid as well as many Congressmen. They probably dropped an ocean of it.

  5. Thanks Jonathan for your continuing series or articles. The Cretaceous Period (Creta = Latin for chalk) was named for the White Cliffs of Dover, which were formed by countless trillions of marine organisms thrived during a time in which CO2 ranged from 10X to 4X the CO2 in current time. Something’s a bit fishy with the concept that high CO2 is going to annihilate marine life.

  6. if they want an ocean to worry about – how about the Pacific from Japan to Alaska to the USA and Mexico – which has the Japan current feeding all these waters and fisheries – now add in still leaking as well as previously leaked nuclear reactor water in Japan – with many tons of contaminated water still in them, as well as frozen under them the potential for leak into the Pacific remains substantial – the consequences of such biblical – not much being said ; if they really wanted something to worry about ‘this is it’ there should be a global effort to complete clean up of these damaged reactors… no lets worry about the Ph of the ocean – turning into a soda pop… priceless.

  7. And yet not one of the “smartest” among us in congress even questioned the data did they??? In 2010 congress was controlled by the dems and green was the key word. The world was going to fry because the the lack of atmosphere and the pollution of man. Not one MSM reporter took this story and ran with it because they were falling all over Obama and Obamacare and worshiping at the alter of Obama. You know, the smartest man in the room to hear him tell it. And we wonder why we are in the situation we are in now with all of the alphabetical agencies. NO CONTROL FROM CONGRESS BECAUSE THEY TOO BUSY FEATHERING THEIR OWN NESTS. SCREW THE SHEEP. When are we going to demand a change people, when we are taxed to death for simply breathing CO2 into the atmosphere simply to survive??? When that happens, do you suppose congress will be exempt from all of the laws that they are now???? Like Obamacare??? Do you think that they will get taxed on their cadillac insurance plans?? Bet not.

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