Some like to point to cycles when dismissing climate change, brushing off warming as simply being the thing that happens right before cooling. In this view, concern about climate change is akin to the naïve worry that half of schools are performing below average. This is why we need context. We need to know whether an observed change is more like a world premiere or a familiar re-run.
A new paper in Science examines the geologic record for context relating to ocean acidification, a lowering of the pH driven by the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The research group (twenty-one scientists from nearly as many different universities) reviewed the evidence from past known or suspected intervals of ocean acidification. The work provides perspective on the current trend as well as the potential consequences. They find that the current rate of ocean acidification puts us on a track that, if continued, would likely be unprecedented in last 300 million years.