going back to the article I linked for you,
the author says:
"The researchers speculated that the large decrease in atmospheric oxygen since 2003 could have been the result of oxygen being taken up by the ocean, either due to a cooling of water in the North Atlantic, or water moving northwards from the tropic cooling, both of which would increase the water’s ability to take up more oxygen. However, it would require unrealistic cooling to account for the change in O2concentration. And all the indications are that the ocean waters have warmed since records began"
This is classic climate cooling denial. The empirical evidence is that the worlds oceans have been cooling since 2003. The ARGO system has 3000 diving buoys worldwide which measure various aspects of the ocean's behaviour, including temperature at various depths, salinity and so on.
Here's the heat content graph:
The North atlantic has indeed been cooling, quite rapidly since 2005, and this will affect oxygen readings at Puy de Dome in southeastern France and in Switzerland, the two stations used in the study.
Here's the north Atlantic graph:
As ken Griffith pointed out, the study is half baked. I would want to see more data from more places around the world before starting to form any judgement. Biomass on land has increased by 7% or so over the last 20 years due to the richer co2 environment, and I would guess that measurements of o2 at the eastern edge of continents will likely tell a different story.
I note that although you state:
"that a fair number of pretty competent and, IMO, honorable scientists are hard at work trying to better understand the problem out of a stated concern"
you haven't linked to any of their studies. It's not easy for me to help allay your concern on the basis of such vague assertions. Please be specific.
I'd say that if only 26% of the public has any confidence in the official line, then they have indeed paid the price, both in terms of respect and, ultimately, the grants that keep them in business.
The whole endeavour of science is paying the price for the actions of these individuals in terms of the loss of public trust in the outputs of science. This is a terrible state of affairs, and is a major theme of the conference I've been invited to.
And it's true that The CRU's home, the University of East Anglia will suffer. The MET office has just announced a new partnership with three UK universities, and UEA is not on the list.
This is the tip of the iceberg. I could spend a lot of time listing studies which use partial and selective data to 'suggest' that warming is causing problems, where the authors come to the conclusions which will win them grants for further study. I say 'suggest' rather than prove, because these studies are always sprinkled with strategically placed weasel words such as 'maybe' and 'could'. However, I'm unwilling to spend the time on something which is unproductive as far as I'm concerned. Historians of science will pick over the bones in future years.