I recently signed up to Google Alerts and in the space of less than 2 days, I have received 26 e-mails, mostly containing multiple ‘news’ items sympathetic to the CO2 consensus meme.
The alarmists’ propaganda machine is admirably tireless…
Al Gore’s new world-saving initiative gets some coverage but there is little detail as yet. Once it’s fleshed out, I hope there will be opportunities to subvert his self-publicising faux-environmentalism. Meanwhile, prepare for Gore-effect snow in September.
There’s also a great deal of self-congratulatory back-slapping for the backstabbing Australian PM, Julia Gillard, who has introduced a carbon tax – despite ruling it out during her pre-election hustings; welsh by nationality, welch by nature.
I’ve yet to receive a Google alert about this story from Watts up with That, though. I wonder why?
However, my main interest was drawn to the story picked up by several news sources:
This refers to ‘research’ conducted by the University of Exeter who, by any stretch of the imagination, cannot be regarded as independent in climate matters. The university has a close relationship with the Met Office and maintains a substantial climate faculty. I’d certainly expect any reputable university to steer well clear of the questionable IPCC but as Exeter’s website proudly informs us;
Recently, it was revealed that seven of the University’s researchers would contribute to the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report on climate change – more than any other academic institution in the UK. Combined with the eight researchers taking part in the report for the Met Office, this means there are more experts from Exeter taking part in this globally significant report than from any other city in the world.
We’re not actually told what these researchers’ expertise is. My guess would be hegemony.
So what does this press release tell us?
One in 10 species could face extinction by the year 2100 if current climate change impacts continue. This is the result of University of Exeter research, examining studies on the effects of recent climate change on plant and animal species and comparing this with predictions of future declines.
Not that old chestnut again, you’ll be thinking.
And you’d be right; the research paper is no more than a re-fettling of previous studies. Exeter may well list all of the species they regard as threatened (no, I don’t really think so, either) but this press release lists just six by name. Given that it is by no means certain that the six named species will go extinct – and it is certainly not proven that declines in their numbers are the result of anthropogenic global warming/climate change/climate disruption because AGW is unproven – I would venture that the university’s finding is tenuous, to say the least.
For a start – and as I’ve mentioned before here and here – we do not know just how many species we have on the planet; more than 1000 new species have been discovered in the last decade alone and, therefore, absolutely no confidence can be placed in any claim given in terms of a percentage of species numbers.
Another problem that we face is that we cannot know with any certainty that a species has gone extinct: the coelacanth famously reappeared in rather large numbers after it had been posted as missing since the Cretaceous period and just last week, a mushroom reappeared having last been seen 170 years ago. Only today, this beautiful little fellow came back from the dead almost 90 years after it had been written off.
It may be the fault of the press release but it really does appear as though the university did no more than to collate existing studies of species decline and then attribute those declines to climate change (with the implication that the change was due to human activity). There is no evidence that the university thoroughly investigated alternative causes for declining populations – or even that they checked some of the more longstanding conclusions – but even assuming that they did, we are still left to wonder how the university and its contributors define ‘climate change’?
It’s a phrase we hear constantly and it usually implies an increase in global temperature. Lately though – as the warming has gone into reverse - there have been less than convincing efforts to redefine the original (settled science!) warming model in terms of a ragbag of climatic changes such as heavy snow, floods, droughts, ocean acidification and hurricane frequency. Any form of weather is now ‘proof’ of climate disruption (try getting any of them to tell you what ‘normal’ weather is).
Regardless of the validity of the CO2 model, the definition of its outputs and the accuracy of the data supporting it – we cannot escape the fact that the construct is made in global terms. To clarify, the Central England Temperature (CET) record shows that our own climate has not warmed at all and many of the data points around the world (long dropped from the ‘approved’ datasets) similarly show no long-term variation; for the claimed increase in global temperatures (and it’s important to remember that the increase peaked at just 0.7ºC after 150 years), other parts of the world need to have increased at above the average rate. Because all the climate measurements are aggregated, ‘adjusted’, smoothed and averaged from a variety of sources, it must follow that climate change does not affect all of the planet in the same way – to talk of it as a global effect is actually meaningless in real world terms.
Nevertheless, based on this report, species all over the world are said to be declining in the face of a single threat to their various local climates – warming. This might suggest that Exeter has applied a uniform warming model to all of these studies regardless of local conditions – there are no suggestions of extinctions due to cooling although in the non-average real world, such a possibility must exist, surely?
And of course, everything is worse than we expected;
Many studies have predicted that future climate change will threaten a range of plants and animals with extinction. Some of these studies have been treated with caution because of uncertainty about how species will respond to climate change. But widely published research showing how animals and plants are already responding to climate change gave the Exeter team the opportunity to check whether the predictions were wide of the mark. By producing the largest review ever of such studies, they show that predictions have, on average, been accurate, or even slightly too cautious.
Lead author Dr Ilya Maclean of the University of Exeter said: “Our study is a wake-up call for action. The many species that are already declining could become extinct if things continue as they are. It is time to stop using the uncertainties as an excuse for not acting. Our research shows that the harmful effects of climate change are already happening and, if anything, exceed predictions.”
The following are the examples given of this phenomenon (bear in mind these are likely to be the most dramatic examples that the authors can provide!);
Decreased ice cover in the Bering Sea reduced the abundance of bivalve molluscs from about 12 to three per square metre over a very short period of time (1999-2001). These shells are the main food source for species higher up the food chain, such as Spectacled Eider.
Not a good start for the alarmists. If their findings are true (we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt when the author describes bivalves as shells), it would certainly represent a dramatic decline. However, it is well known that bivalves are heavily fished by the Russians: they are also extremely common throughout the world and it seems rather strange that populations elsewhere – including those in areas not noted for sea ice – appear to be unthreatened. There is no suggestion that the Bering Sea bivalves are a unique species.
We need to ask, too, why the evaluation period was so short and what efforts were made by Exeter to update the data during their ‘research’ and prediction-checking. Might they have avoided such a course because of this?
Alaska Weather and Climate Highlights - March 2008
Climatic warming and droughts are causing severe declines in once-common amphibian species native to Yellowstone National Park in the United States of America. Between 1992-1993 and 2006- 2008, the number of blotched tiger salamander populations fell by nearly half, the number of spotted frog populations by 68 per cent, and the number of chorus frog populations by 75 per cent.
More very short-term studies with – frankly – unbelievable outcomes. These species certainly require wetlands and will be affected by drought. However, reference to the paper “Annual precipitation in the Yellowstone National Park region since AD 1173″ (Stephen T. Gray, Lisa J. Graumlich, Julio L. Betancourt) 2006 shows no significant long-term variance in precipitation and concludes, “Extreme wet and dry years during the instrumental period all fall within the range of past variability, and both the duration and magnitude of the worst case droughts of the 20th century AD (i.e. 1930s and 1950s)
were likely equaled or exceeded on numerous occasions in the pre-instrumental era.”
Assuming these species survived the worst 20th Century droughts in the 30s and 50s, it seems they would have been less likely to succumb to any lesser drought thereafter. Besides, none of them are solely represented by their Yellowstone Park populations which would suggest that talk of their extinction at the hands of the climate is no more than alarmist hyperbole.
Additionally, the Park authorities are not above manipulating the local ecosystem; they recently successfully reintroduced the wolf to re-balance the wildlife population. I’m sure it would not be beyond them to reintroduce any other species should they feel it necessary.
By the way, you’re in luck if you want to know what happened after 2008:
Yellowstone Park entrance - 12 April 2011
In Antarctica, few animals exist on land, but one of the most abundant, a nematode worm living in the soil in dry, cold valleys experienced a 65 per cent decline between 1993 and 2005 as a result of climate change.
Minus 59º instead of minus 60? Nematode worms are one of the most diverse of all animals which “have successfully adapted to nearly every ecosystem from marine to fresh water, from the polar regions to the tropics, as well as the highest to the lowest of elevations. They are ubiquitous in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial environments, where they often outnumber other animals in both individual and species counts, and are found in locations as diverse as mountains, deserts, oceanic trenches, and within the earth’s lithosphere. They represent, for example, 90% of all life forms on the ocean floor. Their many parasitic forms include pathogens in most plants and animals (including humans).” (Wikipedia)
On Tenerife, an endemic plant, the Caňadas rockrose has a 74 to 83 per cent chance of going extinct in the next 100 years as a result of climate change related droughts.
The Caňadas rockrose is peculiar to the Teide National Park. This is what their website tells us; “Even in a habitat as dry as this, there are springs and moist zones where water loving species grow, like the aromatic mint (Mentha longifolia) and the Canary island hair grass. Some of these species are endemic species found exclusively in the National Park, where their populations barely reach a hundred specimens. Thus, several of these species are undergoing genetic recovery trials to guarantee their survival, as is the case of the Cañadas rockrose (Helianthemum juliae)..”
So the rockrose has always had a tenuous grasp on its habitat but here’s an interesting little titbit from what appears to be the summary of the study that Exeter considered (“Population viability of the narrow endemic Helianthemum juliae (CISTACEAE) in relation to climate variability” – Marrero-Gomez Manuel V, Oostermeijer J. Gerard B, Carquk-Jilamo Eduardo, Bafiares-Baudet Angel – 2007): “Most of the mortality in the population seemed drought-related, and no other threats were identified… This plant is likely to be at risk under scenarios of global warming.”
I love that last sentence.
Clearly, Exeter has decided, contrary to many alarmists, that precipitation will diminish as a result of warming. Until the next (cyclical!) flood, of course.
In Madagascar, climate warming is predicted to cause endemic reptiles and amphibians, often found in mountain ranges, to retreat towards the summit of the mounts. With a warming of just two degrees Celsius, well within current projections, three species are predicted to lose all of their habitat.
Of course it’s well within current projections. The current projections are all well in excess of reality. For some reason, the ‘settled science’ failed to account for the cyclical quiet sun that we’re experiencing..
Birds living in northern Boreal Forests in Europe are expected to decline as a result of global warming. Species such as Dotterel are predicted to decline by 97 per cent by 2100 and species such as Two-barred Crossbill and Pine Grosbeak could lose their entire range within Fenno-Scandia. Wombles will relocate to Iceland.
Not all of this last paragraph is as originally written. Note, this exercise in idle speculation does not speak of extinctions. It talks of birds relocating. Most of them are past masters at that.
There are serious questions to arise from all this. Let’s for a moment make the daft assumption that the planet will significantly warm as a result of human activities and that these species face extinction as a result.
Is it really worth while returning to the pre-industrial age to preserve them? Do we not have to take a more pragmatic approach and accept that our position as the dominant species inevitably means that some other species will suffer as a result? Isn’t that an immutable law of nature?
Above all, is the precautionary approach to save a handful of species really worth £1,000 a year to every household, especially when the rest of the world is producing far more additional CO2 than we can ever save?
It only costs £2 a month to save a child.