A Theory Ready for Extinction

Don’t worry too much over those warmist predictions that millions of species will soon be lost to climate change. Judging by their methods it is the doomsayers who are the real dodos

Guest essay by Dr. David Stockwell

dodoWill climate change really cause species extinctions? It’s not a simple question to synthesise the connections between the richness of different natural systems of forests and savannas and reefs with the climate models used to make projections of future climates, and then translate this knowledge into useful conservation advice.

The recent state of art complied in the book “Saving a Million Species: Extinction Risk from Climate Change” suggests that many experts continue to support the view expressed by the influential work by Thomas et al 2004 finding species extinction by climate change is a serious and urgent concern.  However, conservation biologist Daniel Botkin reviews the book, finding the scientific debate over global warming and its possible environmental effects is narrow and lacking in rigor:

“…it becomes clear that the title gives away the editor’s prejudice. If ‘Saving a Million Species’ assumes, as it seems to, that these [species] are threatened overwhelmingly by global warming and that forecasts supporting this in general correct, then the book fails, in total, to provide that much-needed objective analysis.”

Fails to provide “that much-needed objective analysis”?  Ouch! Surely a scientific manuscript must have objectivity as a first priority.  Is Botkin suggesting that belief in a massive increase in species extinctions is merely subjective?

The starting point of any objective analysis is to examine one’s assumptions, and the trajectory of global warming is surely the most central.  The IPCC’s projections are the typical starting points for any scientific study of climate change’s effects on species. Science provides an example:

“Even the most optimistic estimates of the effects of contemporary fossil fuel use suggest that mean global temperature will rise by a minimum of 2°C before the end of this century and that CO2 emissions will affect climate for tens of thousands of years. ”

Yet climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 has been downgraded in the latest IPCC report, and so should the forward projections.  The observed rate of warming is less than 0.2C per decade, and so below 2°C, and well below the minimum warming scenario of 1.25C by 2050 or 0.25C per decade used in Thomas et al 2004.

The lesson of the ‘climategate’ emails, the ‘hockeystick wars’, and the recent ‘pause’ is that the IPCC reports have a tendency to be self-serving. Blind faith in the IPCC projections shows subjectivity, if not outright naïveté.  To the degree that studies base their estimates on a rate of warming far greater than observed, published extinction estimates from climate change should also be down graded.

Could the analytical methods be subjective as well?  Expected species’ extinctions from climate change are derived from Species Area Relationships (or SARs), which is an empirical relationship between an area of habitat, such as forest or grassland, and the number of species it contains. A statistical method called Niche Modelling is used to extrapolate the area of suitable habitat of a species before and after climate change. The species with reduced area are selected (I would say ‘cherry-picked’) and then the average areal loss is plugged into the SAR relationship to give the number of species lost in a given climate change.

The problem of ‘circular reasoning’ with the SAR method was raised here and in Botkin’s“Forecasting the effects of global warming on biodiversity”, and stems from the accentuation of the losers and deprecation of the winners.  Due to the cherry-picking of species with areal reductions, any change at all increases extinctions, and so the outcome is predetermined. The circular fallacy can be further illustrated by imaging what would happen in a global cooling scenario.  SAR-based methods would cherry-pick the species that lose habitat due to cooling and so again predict an increase in extinctions. The SAR method is biased and decidedly anti-change.

The problem with circular reasoning is that it is simply prejudice. While the method may help identify those species potentially at risk, it cannot tell you objectively if climate change is good, bad or indifferent.  I identified a similar flaw due to ‘cherry-picking’ in the development of the ‘hockey stick’ graphs here, and as with species extinctions, the practitioners appear blissfully unaware of their methods’ lack of objectivity.

Another portrait in subjectivity is former Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery in “Jellyfish they’re taking over” in speculating that anthropogenic global warming has caused the world jellyfish population to explode. While reports of 20 year cycles in jellyfish abundance are outpaced by jellyfish horror stories in the popular press, there is no robust evidence for a global increase in jellyfish, other than the natural cycle.  Subjective impressions from partial population die-outs are often attributed to climate disruption, but then turn out to be natural, or premature — such as the white lemuroid possum extinction, and the polar bear hoax.

A more objective approach to environmental effects must go beyond the static ‘niche’ concept linking the species and environment, and use more dynamic approaches such as ‘universal neutral theory’ by Hubbard (2011).  One simple example of the application of neutral theory is island populations, where the closer islands to the mainland have more species than the further ones, and ‘niche’ differences between the islands have little to no effect.

Neutral theory finds that dispersal is crucial for maintaining and even increasing biodiversity. Conversely, a stable unvarying environment is ultimately detrimental.  An analogy is the ‘creative destruction’ of capitalism, where the rapid turnover of new businesses increases productivity and choice, as opposed to moribund economies organized around established businesses that keep out new contenders. Neutral theory is largely supported by the fossil record, which finds relatively few extinctions from quite large and rapid climate changes in the past (see also Botkin et al. 2005), and slow declines in diversity during periods of stable climate.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of neutral theory is that the dominant species can completely turn-over at random intervals without any prompting from changes in the environment.  Pollen records from lake beds and other sources going back thousands of years show it is normal for large parts of populations to die out and then suddenly (over paleo-time scales, that is) return to domination.

We do know is that small localized populations known as ‘endemics’ are at risk from broad scale habitat destruction by agriculture and urbanization, and from dispersals of novel diseases and predators. But these processes are not at all like climate change, and extreme events like fire, floods and cyclones seem to maintain and promote natural diversity. There is also evidence of some benefits from the increased productivity that comes with increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

How can a scientific assessment be objective when the methods themselves are of dubious validity, and still highly contentious? A balanced appraisal would highlight the ecological theory, paleo-evidence and respected opinion that suggests it is plausible, and even likely, that moderate climate change is not harmful to species diversity and may even be beneficial.

Dr David Stockwell, Adjunct Researcher, Central Queensland University


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One is getting the feeling these days that it really is over for the AGW crowd. Even MSM has had it. Expect more and more skeptical stories. Its going to become the “in” thing soon to be skeptical or even be a denier. LOL

“possible environmental effects is narrow and lacking in rigor’.
Absolutely! My book Landscapes and Cycles reveals in depth just how easily bogus claims that global warming causes extinctions get published by advocacy journals like Nature. The most disturbing example is the way CO2 advocates thwarted conservationists’ attempts to save amphibians from a disease introduced by researchers because it contradicted attempts to implicate warming. Red Contrasting Good and Bad Science: Disease, Climate Change and the Case of the Golden Toad http://landscapesandcycles.net/contrasting-good-and-bad-science–disease–climate.html

I remember from Willis’ article:
“Instead of 33 mammals and 80 birds going extinct on the continents per decade, in the last 500 years on the great continental landmasses of the world, we’ve only seen three mammals and six birds go extinct. Only nine continental mammal and bird species are known to have gone extinct in 500 years. Three mammals and six birds in 500 years, that’s less than one continental mammal extinction per century, and these highly scientific folks are claiming that 30 mammals and 80 birds are going extinct per decade? … once again I’m forced to ask, where are the corpses?”


Hm… It’s not a terribly circular problem. As defined, if there is no disperal — quadraplegic zerbras, for example — and you take just one of the stock assumptions of naive evolution — perfect environmental selection — then all changes in the environment are detrimental. It follows from the premises directly. The problem is that the premises are counterfactual with respect to evolution itself, and absurdly strict otherwise. eg. It would satisfy for lichens in a very rapidly changing environment in which the change is of a large magnitude. But it’s invalid and flatly broken in other uses.
A more important question is why species counts matter at all. It can certainly be shown that any number of genomes are such that they increase mutation rates when environmental stresses are significant. Which is, as noted, an increase in species — in the broadest sense — when climate is undergoing large changes. In stable regimes, then it’s direct species on species competition at the margins of efficiency; and so a general loss of species. But this produces an awkward bioethic that we should alternate generations of rats between the arctic and tropics for the sake of biodiversity. And it is not at all clear why one should prefer that or its absence no matter the case.


Are intellectuals allowing dogma in science but not in religion?
It wasn’t just that natural selection theory had to be proven; theology had to be disproven, too.
Today, likewise, we see that evolutionism has its priests and devotees. Entomologist and sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University tells us that the “evolutionary epic is mythology,” depending on laws that are “believed but can never be definitively proved,” taking us “backward through time to the beginning of the universe.” Wilson knows that any good religion must have its moral dimension, and so he urges us to promote biodiversity, to amend our original sin of despoiling the earth. There is an apocalyptic ring to Wilson’s writings, and in true dispensationalist style, he warns that there is but a short time before all collapses into an ecological Armageddon. Repent! The time is near!
An Interview With Michael Ruse
Priests in lab coats

Mike M

Anticipating an alarmist reply… The human reliance on cheap fossil fuel energy which is threatening the planet with catastrophic global warming is what forced us to deploy windmills that kill protected species of birds and bats, gave us no choice but to cut down forests and rainforests to grow bio-fuel crops and install solar panels that endanger many other animal species and, enticed us to siphon government funds away from worthwhile ecological programs over to ones for “Combating Climate Change”. In other words, all the destruction done in the wake of our righteous effort to mitigate the CAGW threat isn’t our fault at all – it’s the fault of big oil and big coal who created the threat!

Willis Eschenbach

Well, we’ve been all over this question at WUWT. In addition to other posters (see the category list here ), I’ve contributed:
Where Are The Corpses?
Followed by:
New paper from Loehle & Eschenbach shows extinction data has been wrongly blamed on climate change due to island species sensitivity. This covered the publication of our journal article, Historical bird and terrestrial mammal extinction rates and causes
Then there was Alexander The Great Explains The Drop In Extinctions, and Always Trust Your Gut Extinct.


In actuality, species extinction is an integral part of evolution and life. “Bring it on; we will make more to do the job of the previous species” is the credo of evolution !!
Also, I question any conclusion that “a stable unvarying environment is ultimately detrimental” (unless you mean to indicate a stable monoculture). The observed reality is that tropical rainforests, the ultimate in stable and minimally varying environments, have the greatest species diversity known on earth.

R. de Haan

If we look into our past our most cherished species including the polar bear have survived much more extreme climatic periods than experience today.
I bet today we find more new species than go extinct.
We know who the alarmists are and we know their objectives and the extinction mantra is just another theme to shackle humanity.
Time to stop all the crap and reach for the stars again.
Enough is enough.


The basic predictions of millions of extinctions mainly were derived from computer models. in one case they used a program designed to determine the most useful area of a forest to examine and detect all available species and ran it (tortured it) backwards, pretending that it was a means of detecting extinction rates. If you start with too small an are of forest, then when the areas are increased many species would be missing. It was totally bogus, but they claimed huge extinctions.
In the last 100 years only 6 mammals and birds have gone extinct, mostly from wither hunting or island populations destroyed by rats or cats, none by habitat loss or “climate change.” In the meantime we have discovered 15 species that we thought were extinct, so we are actually up 9 species.

Good article from Dr. Stockwell. One thing he did not mention though is that we now have the technical capability (at least in theory, if not in reality) to bring back extinct species of creatures from centuries and ages past. These creatures are said to be physically extinct, but not genetically extinct. It’s called de-extinction:
De-extinction has become quite a controversial subject (I personally am for it), and a number of extinct creatures have been mentioned as possible candidates including the Elephant bird of Madagascar, the Dodo bird of Reunion Island (pictured in the post), the Wooly Mammoth, the Carolina parakeet and the Passenger pigeon just to name a few. To the extent that we humans may be responsible for the extinction of some if not all of these creatures due to hunting or habitat loss (the colorful feathers of the Carolina parakeet were popular for women’s hats a hundred years ago leading to its extinction), I think we owe it the animal kingdom to use this technology to do this. I understand that many may want to forget about the extinct species on the candidate list and concentrate on the endangered and threatened species that are still around today. But I say let’s do both.
Claiming climate change is bringing about extinction of members of the animal kingdom today only serves to undermine what we should be talking about—de-extinction.

Eliza said:
December 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm
One is getting the feeling these days that it really is over for the AGW crowd.
The AGW perps may be losing cred, but the driving force behind them, the anti-American, anti-Capitalism UN commie types are shape-shifters.
I was watching an episode of the Simpsons the other night in which the family were on a cruise ship. Lisa, the proglib daughter, was invited to a play area for “advanced” children. Of of the kids there invited Lisa to join him in monitoring the rising acidity of the oceans.
AGW may be on the wane, but the UN’s new meme is already percolating into the pop culture.


At some point “bias” is just lying. That point passed long ago, when mainstream science of all fields called us skeptics names instead of changed their tune.


And it looks like sardines could be on the way out. Why? Because the seas are cooling:

He found that sardines have reproduced less since waters cooled in the 1990s. Almost all eggs now come from fish born a decade ago, which are nearly gone.
What’s more, acoustic results show that the fish have become smaller over the past decade, partly because of chillier water.

Jquip: “Hm… It’s not a terribly circular problem.” Circularity in general are arguments that are proven by the premises (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_reasoning) and you are right, by cherry picking the losers extinctions follows from the premise, so its not a circular chain. That’s the general usage though.
To continue with your comment, I think we should preserve species if we can. You only have to work with these threatened species for them to win your heart. Its not about a reason for conservation, but a deep value for diversity. My issue is not with the intent, but with the scientific literature, which in general does not go beyond: “Global warming is a fact, increasing extinctions are correctly projected by models and proved in fact.” The major models (SAR) are grossly biased and climate change is a fundamentally different process to things like habitat destruction that have caused extinction.


BioBob: “In actuality, species extinction is an integral part of evolution and life. “Bring it on;”
Not on any human time frame. I think humans are cuasing an increased rate of extinctions, just not through global warming.


higley7: It has taken almost 10 years of acrimonious debate in the literature to get to the position you state. There is a lot in the literature that my article that I did not go into. SAR is dead (Jim).


NikFromNYC: Yup. Bias is a euphemism.


jim Steele says:Looks good Jim. I will read it as soon as I can. The Bd issue is interesting to me as it is quite circumscribed. I read an interesting article about Bd in Australia to the effect that there was no valid evidence of Bd-induced decline because Bd surveys to establish Bd-free status had not occurred before the Bd infections took place. That to me sounds like an opportunistic infections that has always existed, but with increased surveillance – or even researcher-induced dispersal – gives a spurious correlation with global warming. Its just a theory, but I don’t see any testing against alternatives in the literature – which is my main beef about lack of objectivity.


Willis: The scientific literature on extinctions has been in denial, though I get the impression that 2013 has seen a massive increase in skeptical papers on the AGW-mediated extinction theory. That would be a good basis for a review of the literature (though just a bit subjective ;).

Mark and two Cats says: December 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm
[re “rising acidity of the oceans”]

AGW may be on the wane, but the UN’s new meme is already percolating into the pop culture.

Hardly a week goes by that the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), creator and promulgator of scary stories since 1972, is not spouting off – and/or convening at least one COP, MOP, Working Group, Panel, Platform, SubCommittee and Gaia knows what – about some meme or other.
If the UNEP has learned nothing else during the course of its abysmal history, it is that they need to “diversify” their memes and scary stories (and acronymic offspring) – so that they can keep many meme baskets in the air.
And they get lots of help from a virtual army of NGOs willing to spread the gospels. Speaking of extinction fictions, last May, for example, there was a “landmark statement” which covered all the meme bases (including a tipping point, of course). Here’s how it was advertised via a letter in Nature:

‘Maintaining humanity’s life support systems in the 21st century’ (see go.nature.com/prudoq) — is endorsed by more than 500 global-change researchers whose work spans every continent. It warns that unless decisive countermeasures are put into place immediately, climate change, loss of ecological diversity, extinctions, environmental contamination, human population growth and overconsumption of resources will degrade our quality of life within a few decades. [emphasis added -hro]

The list of 500+ signatories includes many of the usual suspects: Mann, Gleick, Weaver, Hansen, Karoly, Ehrlich, and Suzuki.
The first two items of this so-called “scientists’ consensus” in their “Essential Points for Policymakers” that “science unequivocally demonstrates”:

Climate disruption – more, faster climate change than since humans first became a species
Extinctions – not since the dinosaurs went extinct have so many species and populations died out so fast, both on land and in the oceans.

For all the gory details, please see Crisis of the week: the biosphere … new “Statement” percolated, circulated and endorsed.


Peter Miller: Hotter generally means more species except in deserts, so there are exceptions. The thing about climate change is that as a process, no habitat is destroyed – it moves – that’s all. Habitat destruction (or over-exploitation from hunting or predators) is a different process. Conservationists say skeptics are irresponsible for undermining conservation efforts – but I think they are irresponsible for undermining objectivity in science.

Peter Miller

The concept of species extinction through climate change is such a ridiculous one for the very simple reason the hotter the climate (of course, subject to water availability), the greater the bio-diversity and therefore the number of species.
Man’s agricultural practices are another matter altogether.
But this is why we call the peddlers of this type of BS, alarmists. As we all know, there is almost no funding in climate research other than that which provides the political establishment with the results it requires.
Species extinction, ocean acidification, disappearing polar bears, dying coral reefs etc, it is all the same unsubstantiated alarmist guff. The few points, where there might be cause for some minor concern, are totally explainable by natural climate cycles, e.g. i) arctic ice cap melting (now reversed!), ii) melting glaciers and rising sea levels (both started back in the 1850s).
So what’s left?
Answer: Only the need by second rate scientists to perpetuate the bloated bureaucratic monster that is the Global Warming Industry.

Vince Causey

“The observed reality is that tropical rainforests, the ultimate in stable and minimally varying environments, have the greatest species diversity known on earth.”
The observed reality is that Antarctica, the ultimate in stable and minimally varying environment has the least species diversity known on earth.


““Instead of 33 mammals and 80 birds going extinct on the continents per decade, in the last 500 years on the great continental landmasses of the world, we’ve only seen three mammals and six birds go extinct.”
It isn’t often that I disagree with Willi Eschenbach, but in this case he is misinformed. About 18 continental bird species have gone extinct in the last 500 years. There are six in the continental US alone:
Labrador Duck
Eskimo Curlew
Passenger Pigeon
Carolina Parakeet
Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Bachmann’s Warbler
I must add however, that there is absolutely nothing that suggests that climate change was involved in any of these extinctions. IThey were due either to habitat destruction or overhunting or both. And it is these (together with introduction of alien diseases and predators) that continue to cause extinctions. Not climate change.


tty: Yes I agree. Conservationists have hitched their trailer to the wrong prime mover.


Vince Causey: Tropical Rainforests can be very unstable – its a matter of alpha and beta diversity and the scale of disturbance. Its not an easy problem and species demographics a bit like multiple AR(1) series in a spatial domain.

Rick Bradford

One species that is definitely endangered by climate change is the Greater Spotted Global Warming Activist.
They seem unable to adapt to the unchanging climate.

james griffin

The empirical data from the last six Holocene’s including our own all show temperatures warmer than today and therefore the premise that a degree or two of warming would wipe out many species is nonsense. They have been here before and are adapted to a changing climate as it is the norm….we move up and down with Solar Maximum’s, Solar Minimums. Holocene’s and Ice Ages.
As has been pointed out before the temperature rise of 10C in 3 years in the Younger Dryas Period was truly remarkable and puts the gentle warming at the end of the last century into context for rational people.
However AGW believers are not rational and have turned an area of science into a religion, a career and a lifestyle.
What has been depressing is that the MSM have failed to address this nonsense a long time ago as even allowing for the BBC, Guardian and the Independent in the UK there are other outlets both in TV and other newspapers. This week I discovered that the editor of Britians main satirical magazine Private Eye was an AGW….a few years ago Christopher Brooker was astonished to find that Ian Hislop thought George Monbiot was the world’s foremost autourity on climate issues and had never heard of Prefessor Lindzen.

Compiled state of the art, rather than complied, I believe a mere typo.

Vince Causey

Whilst all these species have been seen to go extinct, it is remarkable that none have been seen to have evolved into existence during the same period. If species are indeed going extinct faster than they evolve, then by simple arithmetic the earth should be a barren planet by now. This is a strange phenomena.
Also strange is the way evolution has gone through a number of distinct phases to get where we are, in which each phase has occurred once and once only.
Every body plan (phylum) that has ever lived came into existence in one brief period known as the cambrian explosion 550 mya. Yet, nature, having experimented, sifted and selected the body plans at that time, has deigned to provide us with any new ones. Weird or what?
Primates have existed for some tens of millions of years, largely staying much as we see them today. Yet a couple of million years ago, nature decided to experiment with upright, bipedal apes. She crafted all these different forms, each one more upright than the previous, and it is easy to see the selection advantage and why it was so.
Yet all these highly advanced and innovative forms, bar one, were tossed away. Only one was good enough for the next step – brain enlargement. But why were the others discarded by nature, when the less evolved primates survived unscathed? Weird or what?

I was surprised, when I was reviewing just what is circular reasoning, that I did not come across an intersection with infinite regress.


I think the author goes astray when he compares dispersal with the ‘creative destruction of capitalism’. In nature dispersal is not the complement of a stable unvarying environment. In a stable unvarying environment like the tropical rain forest dispersal and variety are at it’s best Species will disperse and in a stable environment and in time a more complex and biodiverse ecological structure will be build. From an ecological view this environment is not stable at all as species may come and go in varying numbers with physical parameters pretty stable.
So in the end I agree that as far extinction due to climate change is concerned we still have to wait for even the first example for a mechanism of how this should be working. The examples in literature are not convincing at all.

Terry Warner

As noted in the article any climate change (+ or -) will lead to extinction of some species – a process which has been unchanged for millions of years. The major reason for increased extinction rates is human induced overpopulation and stress on resources and habitats.


The new species found in the past 500 years far exceeds the ones gone extinct. Just recently a small jungle cat species was found.

Another portrait in subjectivity is former Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery in “Jellyfish they’re taking over” in speculating that anthropogenic global warming has caused the world jellyfish population to explode.
if climate change leads to extinction, how can climate change lead to an increase in jellyfish?
Or is Flannery saying that cliamte change leads to extinction of unicorns and butterflies, while increasing species like flies, mosquitoes and jellyfish?
So now we see, climate change only targets “nice” animals, while helping “nasty” animals.

One of our early computer science projects in school was to model prey-predator populations. In effect you program forcing and feedbacks for animal populations into the computer, such as birth rates and consumption rates, and watch the populations over time.
What is interesting about these model runs is that they look very much like the IPCC model runs of temperature. You get a spaghetti graph showing all sorts of possible futures for the exact same set of forcings and feedbacks.
Now most people would understand why this is for populations, but they have a mental block in understand that there is no difference between modelling populations or modelling temperature. One set of forcings and feedbacks gives a near infinite number of possible futures, regardless of whether you are looking at populations or temperature.
To say that climate change WILL lead to increased extinctions is a nonsense. It will alter the food supply available to the vegetarians, which will alter their birth rate, which will alter the predator birth rate and consumption rate, which will alter the vegetarian consumption rate which will alter the food supply available. And the whole process will cycle, with boom and busts and occasional extinctions. And EVERY TIME you run the model you will get a different result.

after every mass extinction event in the earth’s history there has been an explosion of new species. death is not a mistake by nature, it is an invention of nature to ensure that species can adapt over time. unless the present generation dies they will consume the food required by the next generation, making the next generation less successful and less likely to survive. as it is with generations, so it is with species.


“Whilst all these species have been seen to go extinct, it is remarkable that none have been seen to have evolved into existence during the same period.”
Animal species evolve rather slowly, so it takes many millenia for a new species to evolve. However plants that can evolve by hybridization and polyploidy are much faster, and several species have indeed been observed evolving during the last few centuries, for example Common Cordgrass Spartina anglica which orihginated in southern England in the mid nineteenth century. Incidentally it is a problem species since it is highly invasive.

Craig Loehle

I have a paper coming out in early 2014 in Energy & Environment showing that cold climate trees are very tolerant of warming and unlikely to suffer at all.

Kip Hansen

Dr. Stockwell: “A more objective approach to environmental effects must go beyond the static ‘niche’ concept linking the species and environment, and use more dynamic approaches such as ‘universal neutral theory’ by Hubbard (2011).”
Did you mean to point to?:
The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography — By Stephen P. Hubbell 2001

Jim G

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein. Science should attempt to avoid delving into fiction as much as possible. We do not even know all the species which are, let alone those that are no longer. At least these analyses should be noted as what they are, pure speculation, including any attempts at putting numerical values on species lost over virtually any time span. Even more ridiculous is any attempt to state the causal variables for such extictions. Too many possible unknown variables.

Pippen Kool

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. – John Muir
Stockwell says: “The SAR method is biased and decidedly anti-change.”
Anti-change? Exactly. Look at the niche that includes pikas, for example, they live in a relatively narrow zone above the tree line. What is it, warming 1° C is like moving the tree line 1000 ft higher? What happens when we push them off the top of the mountain into thin air?
“accentuation of the losers and deprecation of the winners”
But in reality there are really only losers, right? The “winners” may increase in numbers, but they still remain individual species. The losers are gone, like the dinosaurs.
And of course SAR works for cooling as well as warming.

Tim Clark

[ The species with reduced area are selected (I would say ‘cherry-picked’) and then the average areal loss is plugged into the SAR relationship to give the number of species lost in a given climate change. ]
This also applies, IMHO, to the bogus data generation exhibited by Charles Monnett.

Tim Clark

[ Pippen Kool says:
December 6, 2013 at 9:20 am
Look at the niche that includes pikas, for example, they live in a relatively narrow zone above the tree line. What is it, warming 1° C is like moving the tree line 1000 ft higher? What happens when we push them off the top of the mountain into thin air? ]
Can you show me the calculations you derived supporting your hypothesis that an “alledged” 1-C increase at surface level is also manifested as 1-C above 10,000 ft?


Vince Causey says:
December 6, 2013 at 1:17 am
The observed reality is that Antarctica, the ultimate in stable and minimally varying environment has the least species diversity known on earth.
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”
Vince I never ascribed to that stupid rule…just simply provided an observation that stability resulted in maximal species diversity. In any case, if you had ever lived in a polar environment, you would NEVER characterize the massive temperature swings there as “stable”. plus or minus 40 – 60 degree seasonally is hardly an unchanging environment. Never mind …your example is too dim .. why not mention how the near vacuum of space has little species diversity.

Taxed to death

Hurry up Craig Loehle with your paper on “cold climate trees are very tolerant of warming” because the Gov. Of Alberta will be using this paper as a guidleline for future reforestation efforts. A sound alternate hypothesis is needed soon. http://www.plosone.org/article/related/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0022977;jsessionid=27F9EC9EC72CA16A80B3848C783351A4.ambra01


New species evolve much more quickly than many of you seem to think.
New SNP’s (a mutation of one gene) can dominate in an entire population in less than 25 generations. 25 generations in bacteria is a few hours (should any of you consider that the species concept applies to bacteria). In tropical insects, 25 generations take about a year.
If the female selects mates on the basis of that SNP, you could have species formation….effectively in a year or so.

Pippen Kool

ferd berple says: “after every mass extinction event in the earth’s history there has been an explosion of new species.”
Yes, and it takes millions if not 10s of millions of years to get your explosion going. The geological timescale does not really use k-years as a unit for a reason!!

Interesting BioBob. The African fish, cichlid has exhibited rapid speciation, as well as communities of annelids.

Andrew Harding

I read somewhere that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct, and I would guess that climate change was not responsible for all of them. As Ferd Berple said above, some species have to make way for new ones to make nature viable.