Stunted Science
How Scientists Are Exaggerating the Threat of Ocean Acidification

Increased carbon emissions are one of the key drivers of climate change, but CO2 can also lower the alkalinity of our planet’s oceans, potentially harming sea life. However, according to the editor of the ICES Journal of Marine Science, scientific journals are “biased” towards publishing studies that exaggerate the threat of ocean acidification. The Times of London reports:

An “inherent bias” in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. […]

[A review of the science] found that many studies had used flawed methods, subjecting marine creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never be experienced in real life.

“In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet,” Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said. He added that this had distracted attention from more urgent threats to reefs such as agricultural pollution, overfishing and tourism.

The idea that scientific journals might want to publish more striking studies—or bury the less exciting variety—isn’t a new phenomenon, and it isn’t unique to climate science. However, the environmental movement has a history of getting out over its skis. Greens’ favorite way of justifying their costly and often unrealistic policy proposals is to lean heavily on science, but too often they end up exaggerating or misrepresenting findings, ultimately undermining their cause. Ocean acidification has some frightening implications, but bending the facts to make it more ominous than it already is only feeds skeptics.

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