Climate Change NOT Endangering Pika!
Guest essay by Jim Steele
In February 2015, I posted an essay on WUWT about why the pika, a high elevation relative of rabbits, are not endangered by climate change. I highlighted some bad science that has been deceptively used to fear monger about catastrophic global warming, falsely suggesting pika are fleeing upslope to avoid warming, and are being driven off the mountain tops into extinction by rising CO2 concentrations. Based on bad science lawyers from the Center for Biological Diversity have sued California twice and the United States once to list pika as endangered due to climate change.
After that blog post I did receive a few emails from pika experts applauding my analyses. Although they requested to remain anonymous, they advised me that one of the world’s leading pika experts, Dr. Andrew Smith whose work I referenced, would soon be publishing a paper that would likewise show that the pika have not been endangered by global warming.
Well that paper is now published, even though it has not garnered the fanfare given to papers suggesting pika are on the verge of extinction. For some reason such good news and good science is not as profitable as the science of doom. But yesterday Craig Idso over at Cato at Liberty has posted The Resilience of an American Pika Metapopulation to Global Warming , and he gives a brief summary of the paper concluding:
“Taken together, the above findings demonstrate that the Bodie metapopulation of American pikas is “resilient at the individual (Smith, 1974) and population scales” to both chronic and acute temperature warming, and has “been so for at least 60 years.” And, as an “indicator species” for the effects of global warming on animal populations, the future for American pikas and other animal species looks bright!”
You can read Dr. Smith’s paper, Population resilience in an American pika (Ochotona princeps) metapopulation, at the Journal of Mammology.
The take home message is animal populations vary over time. Short term trends and “snap shot” analyses can create very misleading conclusions. And authors who try to capitalize on those inevitable short term declines to suggest it is evidence of climate change induced catastrophes are doing a grave disservice to both conservation science and public awareness.