Super Freakonomics Co-Author on Ocean Acidification: 'Pour a Bunch of Base Into It'

Ben Somberg

Oct. 27, 2009

Super Freakonomics, which came out last week, has been critiqued thoroughly (UCS has a good library of their own critiques and links to others) for its embrace of geoengineering as the cheap fix to that problem called global warming, and the book's methods generally have also been critiqued as lacking.

But yesterday brought a new whopper from co-author Steven Levitt, on the Diane Rehm Show:

"Of course, ocean acidification is an import issue. Now, there are ways to deal with ocean acidification, right, it's actually, that's actually, we know exactly how to un-acidifiy the oceans, is to pour a bunch of base into it, so, so if that turns out to be an incredibly big problem, then we can deal with that."

The interview is here; the quote is at 20:15 in the audio. (Update: the specific audio clip is here)

Well, problem solved!

For a little review of why the problem is, of course, not simply solved by dumping base into the oceans, see the Royal Society's review of the literature on this (page 45 of the PDF of their ocean acidification report). NRDC also has a useful library on ocean acidification generally.

Levitt goes on the Daily Show tonight.

Update: Tim Lambert points out a new claim by Dubner that they 'address' ocean acidification in the book, when in fact they don't.

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