Just another climate extinction prediction scare from the UofA

Arizona Daily Star story Feb 19, 2020:

Print edition title: UA researchers: Warming could kill 3 million species in 50 years.

Online edition title: Arizona researchers predict extinction explosion in bleak new study

Star reporter Henry Brean writes: Human-caused climate change could drive close to a third of all plant and animal species worldwide to extinction in the next 50 years, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Arizona. Without a concerted effort to curb global warming, roughly 3 million species could be lost by 2070, warned UA professor John Wiens, who co-authored the study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “What happens is up to us,” Wiens said. “If we do nothing, there’s going to be a massive loss of species. If we take action … we can cut that in half.”

See also: UofA press release

The paper:

Recent responses to climate change reveal the drivers of species extinction and survival

by Cristian Román-Palacios and John J. Wiens

The paper was published February 10, 2020 in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) The PNAS paper is paywalled but you can read the full paper from Prof. Wiens’ website.

Abstract

“Climate change may be a major threat to biodiversity in the next 100 years. Although there has been important work on mechanisms of decline in some species, it generally remains unclear which changes in climate actually cause extinctions, and how many species will likely be lost. Here, we identify the specific changes in climate that are associated with the widespread local extinctions that have already occurred. We then use this information to predict the extent of future biodiversity loss and to identify which processes may forestall extinction. We used data from surveys of 538 plant and animal species over time, 44% of which have already had local extinctions at one or more sites. We found that locations with local extinctions had larger and faster changes in hottest yearly temperatures than those without. Surprisingly, sites with local extinctions had significantly smaller changes in mean annual temperatures, despite the widespread use of mean annual temperatures as proxies for overall climate change. Based on their past rates of dispersal, we estimate that 57–70% of these 538 species will not disperse quickly enough to avoid extinction. However, we show that niche shifts appear to be far more important for avoiding extinction than dispersal, although most studies focus only on dispersal. Specifically, considering both dispersal and niche shifts, we project that only 16–30% of these 538 species may go extinct by 2070. Overall, our results help identify the specific climatic changes that cause extinction and the processes that may help species to survive.”

My take:

The paper claims that increases in yearly maximum temperatures is the most critical factor in extinctions, yet according to the paper, maximum temperature increased only 0.4°C at sites with previous extinctions versus 0.14°C at sites without extinction. It is hard to believe that such a small temperature rise would make a difference since over the past 10,000 years Earth experienced several warm-cool cycles of more than 2°C.

The species extinction prediction numbers are based upon temperature projections from climate models and extrapolated to guess possible future temperatures.

But:

“The forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change.” — James Hansen, “Climate forcings in the Industrial era”, PNAS, Vol. 95, Issue 22, 12753-12758, October 27, 1998.

And:

“In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible.” — Final chapter, Third Assessment Report, IPCC.

The researchers speculate that past local extinctions in the areas studied may be related to climate change, but they present no physical evidence to support the speculation. There may have been other factors contributing to extinction.

Both Star reporter Henry Brean and researcher Wiens cite “human-caused” climate change by which I assume they mean carbon dioxide emissions. However, there is no physical evidence that shows carbon dioxide plays a significant role in controlling global temperature.

The researchers recommend: “…our results also suggest that successful implementation of the Paris Agreement targets (i.e., warming <1.5 °C by 2100) …could help reduce extinctions considerably, possibly to 16% or less by 2070. My, how politically correct.

Related articles:

A Review of the state of Climate Science

New study shows that carbon dioxide is responsible for only seven percent of the greenhouse effect

New Study shows that impact of carbon dioxide rising to 700 ppm is about 0.5°C

University of Arizona produces another global warming food scare

(A recent paper from the University of Arizona claims “Grasses across the globe may be unable to keep pace with a changing climate, threatening some of the world’s most critical food sources, according to new research by University of Arizona ecologists.”)

Impact of Paris climate accord and why Trump was right to dump it

3 comments

  1. I’ve pondered how many people actually believe in man-made global warming or if it’s simply mass propaganda. Like many other things, we here of people believing this and that, but they’re not in my neighborhood. Which begs the question. I understand that some people truly believe though they don’t understand following the rabbit down the trail of reason. Then there are people who believe because “experts say,” the media says, and people in their work support, though they are trusting without question (The questions are in their heads.). Then, there are those who suspect disinformation and those who clearly have chased the rabbit down the trail of reason. And in chasing the rabbit, they realized we have more things to be concerned with: taking care of our families, getting work, educating our youth, and vying for real freedoms.
    Certainly, I’m not a scientist in the norm. I listen. I read. I’ve seen experiments. I understand the scientific method (Not strongly taught anymore.). With the scientific method, we go through ideas, suppositions, observations, testing, then come to beliefs or wonderings. We test more. Perhaps, eventually, we have a theory. So we test the theory. Perhaps, eventually, with enough testing, we might come to accept something as fact, as least until new information come along that challenges. This is ongoing. And with much smaller things. I would suggest that finding the cure for cancer would be a much easier goal than proving man made global anything. And saying that man is causing climate change is easy because it can neither be proven or disproven. The date simply isn’t there.
    Even science books will tell you. We have the sun, an orb we know so little, going through its cycles. We have the Earth with all of its complexities, much of which we still know so very little. We have space and all the unanswered wonderings. We have volcanoes. No one knows if any warming is truly bad. What we do have is an incredibly resilient planet that has undergone massive and less massive changes, even when we weren’t around. For scientists themselves explain ice ages, much warmer times, and the Earth adjusted (And remember, just a few decades ago, the same scientists were extolling global cooling.). And we weren’t around, which begs the question how the scientists know what was going on millions of years ago. Cannot be an exact science. Theories and suppositions. Best guesses. Theories. They cannot even cause one cell to spontaneously form. Why? Because it’s not possible. Yet they continue.
    Then, there are thermometers: one small element of millions that would be required to prove such suppositions. I have said to friends and colleagues that we would need thermometers everywhere, with no man-made changes while the hundreds of years passed by, for cities, concrete, ocean liners, and more will affect where man had nothing to do with pollution. Each thermometer would have to be accurate to a millionth of a degree (the more inaccurate, the less reliable the information and data). We would need them at the bottom of oceans and lakes, in the Earth below the waters, buried on land (everywhere), at various altitudes, and somehow, able to account for planes passing by and all else. We would need literally millions. And we would need monitors on the moon, planets in our solar system, in the sun, and more so we could study the variables affecting our planet from outside.
    So, one book explained, we’re relying on information from other countries. Who are these people? Do they have an agenda? Are they out to prove something? How do we control the data and who would be doing the controlling? And how can we develop a program that is able to account for the trillions upon trillions of variables, much of what we probably don’t even know about yet? And if the Earth’s temperature rises even two degrees (Today’s “estimates” are at best ½ degree in the last 140 years.), how do we know that’s bad when much greater variations happened when we weren’t around, which means we didn’t cause those changes? I would venture to believe changes happen, and if some changes are not good, the Earth will adapt and bring things back to norm. For this happens time and again.

    All too many people aren’t willing to do the hard work. We see this in every walk of life. People spouting about this belief and that, people asserting certain things are true, people walking about comfortable that they know, yet most aren’t willing to challenge their own thinking and reasoning. All too many believe what they believe because that’s what they were taught and came to believe. For once people believe something, it’s very difficult to pry them away for introspection. We just don’t know what we think we know.
    The challenge is to truly study, open the discussions for all people and all scientists, supporting different findings, and continuing the dialogue and studies. At least, it would be interesting. We need to quit with barbs like global deniers. For if we’re truly seeking, then we have to encourage all people to share, argue, debate, and study. But the science is settled, one might say. How? Who says? When is science ever settled?
    I would suggest, the only way to prove would be to have 30 planet Earths, try this and that, and in a million years, we might know more. But as this is the only Earth, all of our understanding comes from one planet and we simply haven’t had nearly enough data, for even a couple hundred years ago, we were riding wagons and chopping firewood. We have so long to go.

  2. Let’s place what we have under thoughtful consideration. This is for the writer and readers. We see the Earth. We see the immensity of our planet. Some time ago, we did the calculations of water on the planet (i.e. oceans, lakes, rivers, ground water, and more.), soil covering and depth, amount of air (and its content not to mention interactions) covering the Earth, read about what’s under (even the metal ball at the center), the various planets, insects, animals (microscopic on up), and chemicals in the soil and water. We were just curious and interested. The microcosms and macrocosms. Fascinating to sit and watch an ant mound, how the little guys are busy all day, each with instructions though they never went to school, the dna inside their bodies telling them to do this and that, interacting with their environment that can involve a scientist their entire life. Probably open more questions. Such as what are they taking in from the environment, what are they giving back, and what are the myriad of interactions among all creatures (endless). Then, there are tons of these creatures, more than anyone could ever count.
    We see plants giving off oxygen, taking in carbon dioxide, among other emissions, but also ponder what causes the other elements to enter the air. We see animals breathing in oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide, is a sort of living dance with the rest of the world, not to mention all the animals and plants in the ocean. We see rivers pouring elements into the ocean, causing salt water among other things. We see water rising into the air, clouds transporting these precious drops to desserts and other places. The dance of life is incredible and impossible to completely number.
    You know, sometimes coral die? And very often, these tiny little creatures that create mounds near beaches flourish. So, pet store customers attempt to have salt water tanks. Some have coral and other near beach fish in those enormous tanks. Do you know how much home owners pay for these tanks, all that’s involved in maintaining a salt-water tank, and all that has to be learned. And often, the things in the tank die even though all that has been done follows all the rules. Why, one might wonder. I did everything right. Could it be we don’t know everything? Could it be that what occurs in the ocean, near beaches, is far more complex, that there are new elements entering the ecosystem, and elements we haven’t studied as yet?
    Any one of the elements/topics above, which are not even the fingertip of all we could study, would involve a scientist many lifetimes to fully study, which they never would achieve, but it would be well worth the time, for we do learn and all learning has applications (and implications), but also learning opens doors of understanding, even learning that we don’t understand so much. But we can be in awe, discuss, and learn both what we can use and what opens even more doors of curiosity. For astronauts and scientists do medical experiments in space stations that help us back on Earth, but also helps to prepare for further explorations, for I gather we don’t yet know enough to reach Mars as we discover more problems we never considered before.
    Take one small topic. The explosion of the Gulf oil pipe. How many people truly know that oil is a natural phenomenon, that the planet continues to make it: all the time (If, as it’s been postulated, that dinosaurs turned into oil over millions of years, does it not make sense that this process is continuous, that other living beings (and other elements) would also turn into oil, and since there is always life, the process would continue?). So, the oil poured into the gulf (millions of gallons daily, perhaps) [How many people know oil is always seeping into the ocean: all the time, and tons of it?]. Well, in response, clean-up crews went out to remove what they could. Except, one day, when they went out, they couldn’t find any more oil? Where did it go? Scientists and oceanographers already knew. The water itself would dispel much. Little tiny microorganisms were having a feast. Yes, tiny creatures, one of the amazing adaptability of the planet and nature, had always been ingesting oil, a natural occurring substance. How many young people know about this? Are we teaching all aspects we know about to our younger generation? I certainly would want to. I find it fascinating. And who knows? If we opened the floodgates of information that is available, what might the next generation do for careers (and hobbies)? How much might they learn? And what marvels might they understand to share with the next generation?
    *If we state that any science is settled, then teach people to believe that, are we then preventing the possibilities of further reaching science? Are we closing the doors of understanding and research that might be possible? And to what end? With all that we know today, how much more could be learned? By opening the doors of understanding?
    As a friend explained, one drop of ocean water contains a city. Put that drop on a microscopic slide and you’ll find amazing things happening. And that’s just one drop. Imagine all that’s in the ocean. What are the interactions among all those creatures, plants, water, soil, and more? For us, it’s endless. People talk about adventures through space. The Earth is still an unsolved mystery. There is so much we don’t know, which I think is a great opportunity to bring forth.
    As in a previous article, we can study the other planets in the solar system (place satellites around them and “investigator robots” on them and in any water or liquid). We can learn and observe the rest of space. We can study our sun, then learn as much as we can about the stars. And more so than our own planet, the mysteries of the universe is ever evolving. It continues to grow at lightning speed (actually, faster).
    In one movie, one actor asked another actor how much do you think you know of all that there is to know? (This was a discussion about creation.). Well, the other fellow replied, maybe 3%, but no more than 5%. Well, I would venture that we’re not even close to 0.001%. We know a lot about some subjects, but nothing close to our own planet or solar system. We don’t even understand the complexities of the human body to answer so many questions. As one doctor friend shared, they still aren’t sure if cholesterol truly causes heart disease, though they go back and forth on this.
    It’s like this. If we are continuing to learn about the small things, about the microcosms of life and information, how can we fully understand the larger things? Can we? To some degree. But we will always be learning. And for the determined scientists, each step will produce more questions.
    So, we have all these people talking about man causing the planet to self-destruct.
    I was sitting in a Starbucks the other day. Sometimes, interesting conversations occur. Sometimes I meet with a friend. At others, people sitting nearby orate. I don’t listen unless I pick up something interesting, more so if their voices are loud. But I found less the information interesting than the interaction.
    One person was going on and on about a “belief.” It was something I had pondered upon. So, I thought, perhaps I might learn something. But with time, as I worked, I could see the speaker hadn’t really followed the rabbit down the trail of reason. Like the person who sees all that oil in the gulf but never considers nature, the constant seeping from underground, the immensity of all that water, and the little amoebas eating it all up. Or the person who walks down a trail, through a forest, but doesn’t see the little ants and creatures, the beautiful flowers, and all that nature has to share. The speaker believed something but didn’t see the contradictions.
    Well, I thought, this was an opportunity for the speaker’s audience to bring in alternate thoughts. Debate. Discuss. For shouldn’t we discuss if we’re truly looking to understand? Or do we all just want to appear intelligent and have people bowing before our greatness? I know the more I learn, the more I see how little I know. You know what? They didn’t. I think the first speaker had some influence, perhaps economic, perhaps one who had something to do with their hiring, but they never went there, but I had an inkling. Then, this astounded me. They took on the personality of the speaker. In some such fashion, they took on those unquestioned beliefs. Whatever doubts they had, whatever alternate ideas they shared, whatever errors in thinking they saw, they dispelled them and began talking as if what the original speaker was saying was all so true. Then, as one of the first speaker’s audience began talking, that one seemed to take on the first speaker’s behavior patterns and words. When the first speaker came back (I think from the bathroom or to buy another latte.), I sensed emotional support and feelings of joy for the audience member who was not taking on her persona (Like the audience member was her protegee: Star Wars anyone?). This caused me to reflect that this happens time and again in many walks of life. Which explains how so many people can believe in something, not taking the time to examine their own thinking, not doing the hard work of research, and think they know simply by the sheer force of personalities and peers. For what group people hang out with, that they become. I think, growing up, I had friends that we all could agree to disagree. In fact, we appreciated each other’s differences. We liked each other. We had similar interests. We all liked sports and ventures in the neighborhood and without. But where one “member” didn’t agree, we didn’t’ pressure them to go along. Okay. We’re going to do this. You don’t want to. We’ll see you later. And the friendship continued. So, in growing up, we all learned to think for ourselves. So many haven’t. Which explains so much.
    This is perhaps why Socrates was put in prison. After a lifetime, after serving in wars, after following the rabbit of reason and having the willingness to question and seek real answers, he brought this forth to all the others. Even though most people want to appear “smart”, having something they can call their own and be respected for it, he opened the floodgates of debate and questions. And when the young people understood him, they began questioning the elders. Of course, I would deign, some appreciated. But I imagine all so many more did not. The question then, is why. If we’re truly in search of understanding, open the doors of discussions. Prevent no one their ideas. Then, discuss.

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