Ocean Acidification and Northwest Shellfish: Did the Seattle Times Get the Story Right?

Cliff Mass Weather Blog — October 9, 2013

Last month, the Seattle Times ran a glossy, three-part story called “Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn” where it discussed the impacts of ocean acidification resulting from increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. The article made some strong claims that increasing atmospheric CO2 and the resulting acidification of the oceans and coastal waters were causing acute problems today for the shellfish industry in the Northwest. The third part of this series described how oyster larvae grown in Northwest shellfish farms had high mortality in 2005-2009, mortality that the ST blames on CO2-induced acidification of the coastal ocean by the atmosphere.

As I read the article I became increasingly concerned with contradictions within the story; furthermore, some conclusions did not appear to be supported by scientific evidence. Since then I have read a number of relevant articles on the subject and have talked to some local experts. My conclusion is that this series has some serious problems and draws several unwarranted conclusions. Particularly that recent shellfish problems are the result of past or current CO2 levels in the atmosphere.