Washington, DC 1/8/2010 4:21:00 AM
News / Politics

New NRDC Film is Propaganda, Says SPPI

The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) – a DC think tank – has produced a science-based critique of a recent film produced by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The SPPI paper is entitled Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification – A New Propaganda Film by the National Resources Defense Council Fails the Acid Test of Real World Data


In late 2009, NRDC released a short 21-minute film entitled Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification.  Featuring Sigourney Weaver as its narrator, the film highlights the views of a handful of scientists, a commercial fisherman, and two employees of the NRDC, as they discuss what they claim is a megadisaster-in-the-making for Earth's marine life. 


The villain of the story is industrial man, who has "altered the course of nature" by releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide or CO2 into the air via the burning of the coal, gas and oil that has historically fueled the engines of modern society.  Once emitted into the atmosphere, a portion of that CO2 dissolves into the surface of the world’s oceans, where subsequent chemical reactions, according to the NRCD, are lowering the pH status of their waters.  This phenomenon, they theorize, is reducing marine calcification rates; and if left unchecked, they claim it will become so corrosive that it "will cause sea shells to dissolve" and drive coral reefs to extinction "within 20 to 30 years."


“Typically, the NRDC chose to present an extreme one-sided, propagandized view of ocean acidification in their film,” says SPPI president, Robert Ferguson.  “The part of the story that they clearly don't want the public and policy makers to know was just released in our newest review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature,” added Ferguson.


Written by Dr. Craig D. Idso for the Science and Public Policy Institute, the new review reveals that an equally strong, if not more persuasive, case can be made that the ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration will actually benefit calcifying marine life.  As such, the NRDC's portrayal of CO2-induced ocean acidification as a megadisaster-in-the-making is seen, at best, to be a one-sided distortion of the truth or, at worst, a blatant attempt to deceive the public and their elected represenatives.


According to Dr. Idso, "Surely, the NRDC and the scientists portrayed in their film should have been aware of at least one of the numerous peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that do not support a catastrophic – or even a problematic – view of the effect of ocean acidification on calcifying marine organisms; and they should have shared that information with the public.  If by some slim chance they were not aware, they should be called to task for not investing the time, energy, and resources needed to fully investigate an issue that has profound significance for the biosphere and public policy making.  And if they did know the results of the studies we have discussed, no one should ever believe a single word they may utter or write in the future."


The full report can be accessed at:


Additional studies on the topic can be found here:

CO2, Global Warming and Coral Reefs: Prospects for the Future

Effects of Ocean Acidification on Marine Ecosystems

Contact:  Robert Ferguson, Science and Public Policy Institute