Worried that your favorite plants and animals might be going extinct, right before your very eyes? Gonna miss those little buggers when they're gone? Blame climate change!
Wow, that sounds pretty bad, right? Every time a human being exhales, another snail darter bites the dust, or whatever snail darters bite. Wait -- it gets worse!
"Of the 538 species studied, 44% of them have already experienced an extinction in a particular local area. The researchers found that local extinction sites had larger and faster changes in the hottest yearly temperatures than those that did not... researchers found that the key to predicting whether a population will go extinct is the maximum annual temperature, as opposed to the average yearly temperature. This is notable because average temperatures are typically used as markers in measuring climate change.
In other words, a heat wave can polish off legions of weak-sister species. Who knew? But everything will be just peachy keen if we only... live up to the Paris climate agreement and keep that darn "global warming" below 2 degrees Celsius above "pre-industrial" levels. "Based on our sample of 538 species, we projected a loss of 30% of the species under a more extreme warming scenario, but only about 16% if we stick to the Paris Agreement," Wiens told CNN. "So, think in 1 in 6 species, not 1 in 3."
Pretty scary, huh? But hang on... what's this?
Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. Many of them perished in five cataclysmic events.
We may be in the middle of another mass extinction event, but biologists aren't pinning it on "climate change." During a PBS round-table on the subject, Peter Ward, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, noted:
Geologists, I think, see this in terms of time scales that most of us probably don't think of. We think of the next 100 years or the next 300 years as the overall time scale over which much biotic impoverishment may take place. But I've spent my life looking at the past mass extinctions. Certainly the fastest we have on record was the end of the dinosaurs, the so-called K/T extinction, but over the last five years we've looked in great detail at what happened at the end of the Permian and what happened at the end of the Triassic, and neither of these were events that took place in, let's say, a 100-year time scale or a 300-year time scale. I think in the past, if we use the past as a record, 100,000 year intervals of mass extinction are certainly what has taken place.
My view of the current mass extinction is that it has been going on for 15,000 years. The loss of the mega-mammals, to me, was really the opening shot of what's going on, and it is now filtering down to ever-smaller animals. The current mass extinction has been unfolding for millennia, and unlike the greenhouse effect, global warming, or the hole in the ozone, it is visible without sophisticated imagery or complex computer modeling. It is real, and it is happening to a greater or lesser degree all over the globe; it is most apparent, however, in the tropics. It will not eliminate life from the Earth; no mass extinction does that. But enough species will die that the nature of life on the Earth will be forever changed.
In other words, species' extinction is not an anomaly brought on by cow farts and SUVs but part of the natural cycle of life on earth, stretching back hundreds of thousands of years. Darwin even wrote a book about it! (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.) Climate hysterics like CNN's Allen Kim, who wrote the piece cited above, aren't arguing science at all, but merely cherry-picking data that serves to prove their utterly falsifiable thesis and, as an important byproduct, are simultaneously reaching into your pants pockets and stealing you blind. And all the while, they're out to terrify you with their predictions of Apocalypse Now.
"In a way, it's a 'choose your own adventure,'" Wiens said. "If we stick to the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, we may lose fewer than two out of every 10 plant and animal species on Earth by 2070. But if humans cause larger temperature increases, we could lose more than a third or even half of all animal and plant species, based on our results."
Note the hedge: "we may, we could." The fallacy of this kind of thinking should be obvious, but as long as it convinces suckers to diminish their own lifestyles and transfer money to the global-governance crowd, propagandists will keep pushing it. in the meantime, who misses the 99.9% of species that have gone extinct? We don't even know today how many species of anything there actually are, or were, or will be. Let's give the last word to ecologist Ariel Lugo, director of the USDA Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico:
I think certainly we are grossly underestimating the number of species on Earth, and the more we look, obviously, we're going to find a lot more than we think we have. And the destruction of habitat is why we are so scared about the potential for huge extinctions. The problem is that we also need to rely on models to relate the extinction rate to the destruction of habitat, and we don't have, I don't think, sufficient information to define the relationship between habitat loss and species loss, mostly because the complexity of nature is just absolutely huge, and our understanding is very primitive.
And most of the controversy, I think, comes because we're naturally cautious -- it's obviously better to err on the side of caution -- but nevertheless, we don't seem to give credit to nature's resilience and to the ability of organisms to cope with change. And to the degree that the models do not incorporate resilience mechanisms -- I'm referring to the trick of relating, for example, rate of deforestation to rate of species loss -- to the degree that those models don't take into consideration the possibility that species recover from changes in the habitat, to that same degree, our estimates of the numbers of extinctions may be too high. So I would assume that we're grossly underestimating the diversity of the world, but we're probably overestimating the rates of extinction.
In other words, the science is not settled. Don't let them tell you otherwise. And keep your wallet in a safe place.