Why Climate Scientists were Duped into Believing Rising CO2 will Harm Coral and Mollusks

by J. Steele, Feb 24, 2024 in WUWT

Coral build reefs by producing limestone, or calcium carbonate. The great diversity of shell building mollusks, like clams and oysters, also build their shells out of calcium carbonate.  So, scientists assumed that these organisms just pulled carbonate ions from the surrounding sea water and joined it with abundant calcium ions to make reefs and shells, a process referred to as “calcification”. Thus, many scientists then expressed their heart-felt concerns that more CO2 will reduce the ocean’s carbonate ions and thus stress coral reef building and mollusk shell building.

Indeed, the increasing absorption of human produced carbon dioxide by the oceans can very slightly lower pH. In other words, more CO2 increases the oceans’ concentration of H+ ions. It is also unassailable science that when CO2 enters the water, it interacts with water molecules to produce both H+ ions and bicarbonate ions.  However, those H+ ions can then interact with carbonate ions and convert them to also form bicarbonate ions and reduce the pool of available carbonate ions. So, NOAA and hundreds of internet websites falsely told the world that “Ocean acidification slows the rate at which coral reefs generate calcium carbonate, thus slowing the growth of coral skeletons.”

However, climate scientists were apparently very ignorant regards the physiology of reef building and shell making.  In order for charged ions to pass through an organism’s lipid membranes and enter its calcification chambers, a specialized channel or transporter is required. But for over a decade now, the search for carbonate transporters has failed to find any such transporters in any of these organisms. However, abundant bicarbonate transporters (green rectangles) have been found and deemed important for making reefs and shells.