Biologists: We need more Money to Forecast Climate Catastrophe

Engineering Fountain, Purdue University.

Engineering Fountain, Purdue University. Author Amerique, published on Wikimedia.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A group of biologists have demanded more resources for data collection, so they can fill in the missing pieces of biodiversity models which forecast ecological catastrophe.

Forecasting climate change’s effects on biodiversity hindered by lack of data

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An international group of biologists is calling for data collection on a global scale to improve forecasts of how climate change affects animals and plants.

Accurate model predictions can greatly aid efforts to protect biodiversity from disturbances such as climate change and urban sprawl by helping scientists and decision-makers better understand, anticipate and respond to threats that imperil species and ecosystems.

In a paper published in Science on Thursday (Sept. 8), biologists cite a critical lack of data on key biological mechanisms – such as how animals and plants spread during their lifetime and how they evolve in response to changes in the environment – as the main obstacle to improving models’ ability to forecast species’ response to climate change.

“This paper is a call to arms,” said Patrick Zollner, article co-author and Purdue associate professor of wildlife science. “The world is in dire circumstances. We’re losing a lot of species, and we’re largely unaware why. How do we need to rethink the kind of data we’re collecting so we can take advantage of modern modeling tools to understand the outcomes of climate change for ecological systems? This could help us forestall losing wildlife that we later deeply regret.”

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The abstract of the paper;

New biological models are incorporating the realistic processes underlying biological responses to climate change and other human-caused disturbances. However, these more realistic models require detailed information, which is lacking for most species on Earth. Current monitoring efforts mainly document changes in biodiversity, rather than collecting the mechanistic data needed to predict future changes. We describe and prioritize the biological information needed to inform more realistic projections of species’ responses to climate change. We also highlight how trait-based approaches and adaptive modeling can leverage sparse data to make broader predictions. We outline a global effort to collect the data necessary to better understand, anticipate, and reduce the damaging effects of climate change on biodiversity.

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On one hand it is refreshing to see a group of scientists admit their climate projections are incomplete. But it is also sad that said scientists seem to feel compelled to couch a request for more funds in such apocalyptic terms.

Who knows – perhaps this is what you have to do these days, to attract the attention of climate obsessed science funding panels.

Update (EW) – fixed a typo

89 thoughts on “Biologists: We need more Money to Forecast Climate Catastrophe

  1. Perhaps this would be a really good place to start NOT spending money we don’t have and do what little we can to reduce the deficit and then the National Debt. Ya THINK?

  2. “An international group of biologists…”
    You must send us money so we can explain to you why you must redistribute to us more money.

  3. With current funding: “We’re all gonna die!”
    With additional funding: “We’re all gonna die TWICE!”

    • Exactly. They have already concluded that ‘the world is in dire circumstances.’ No further study needed; additional study will only reveal the same conclusion.

      • Are we sure that it is the world that is in dire circumstances or is it just the little bit of it occupied by biologists not getting their share of the “alms”, as observa very neatly observes above?

      • “They have already concluded that ‘the world is in dire circumstances.’ No further study needed; additional study will only reveal the same conclusion.”
        I don’t think so, Gamecock, rather it will be “Worse than they thought.”

  4. This is the most ridiculous bovine scatology. The temperature varies over a day by several degrees if not tens of degrees. Over the seasons it varies by several tens of degrees. The entire cumulative CAGW is under 1 degree! These pseudo-scientists are demanding funding for an essentially nonexistant and almost invisible “threat” !
    Only lawyers and theologians and these clowns, argue over how many angels dance on the head of a pin.

    • We have written history from the Roman Climate optimum, the Medieval Warm period, and the Little Ice Age, both for Europe and China. We know the effect of the climate on the civilization during those periods.
      For temperature, we have many proxies.
      When we look at the temperature variation over the last two thousand years, many of the proxies show a variation of only a couple of degrees. Looking at all the proxies, it seems likely to me that the global average temperature did indeed vary by only a couple of degrees. Here’s an instructive story on co2science.
      Remember that 70% of the globe is covered by ocean. quote Its surface temperature doesn’t change much and that has a big effect on the average.
      In the co2science story, cited above, note the graph for Longyearbyen. The winter surface air temperature varys by more than ten degrees for the same period that the sea surface temperature varied by only a couple of degrees.
      A small change in the global average temperature can have big effects on civilization.

    • Major Meteor September 8, 2016 at 5:21 pm
      “We’re losing a lot of species.” Which ones have we lost?
      Wrong question Major, instead “which species is next” Then you and I take a life insurance policy out on it.

    • Precisely Meteor..

      “The world is in dire circumstances. We’re losing a lot of species, and we’re largely unaware why.”

      In that case, how in blazes do they know they’re losing them?

    • Back in the 80s, I participated in a high school debate, taking the “we’re really ok” side of the “Is the earth doomed?” debate.
      We had been spoon fed the apocalypse, from having to read “Entropy” and “The Fate of the Earth”, to watching scary dramas about nuclear war. You get the picture.
      I asked my opponents how many species there actually WERE. After a few widely differing numbers, differing in the millions, I just said that “if we can’t trust you tell us how many critters we HAVE, how can you possibly count how many are MISSING”.
      I got a D, which was enough to start my turn from True Believer, to Question Everythinger.

  5. In response to the Lancet report 23062015
    “We’re probably all going to die.”
    I was under the apparently mistaken impression that death was, well, dead certain. But thanks to unfettered spewing of carbon pollution, peer-reviewed science has removed dead certainty and replaced it with “probably.”
    This. Is. Awesome. News.
    Jun 23, 2015 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered Commenter chris y

  6. Late comers to the gravy train. But I think the gravy train has passed them by. Trump’s numbers are looking better and better.
    Eugene WR Gallun

  7. An international group of biologists…are aware that climate change is the largest driver of evolution
    ..more new species are being discovered than are going extinct
    But then that’s because they play fast and loose with what a species is.

    • That is the truth! Check into the lunacy regarding bios who have ‘discovered’ the Algonquin wolf and the Red wolf. These are just made-up species to get some wolves on the endangered species list. They are all just gray wolves (that used to be called timber wolves) and wolves are in NO danger of extiction; indeed, their populations are robust and increasing.

      • Exactly so.

        DNA tests of wolves across North America suggest that there is just one species of the canid: the gray wolf.
        What’s more, populations of red wolves and eastern wolves, thought to be distinct species, are actually just hybrids of gray wolves and coyotes that likely emerged in the last couple hundred years, the study found. link

        There seems to be a lot of that going around.

      • The red wolf was never more than a phenotypic variation, of which there are several stable ones in Canis lupus spp. The Algonquin wolf is a geographically limited population, which has been studied to death, and hemmed in by humans for a century. Most “disappearing species” right now are sub-specific variants, which were always labile to begin with. Some of those haven’t disappeared, they just been genetically re-absorbed back into the dominant phenotype. Real biologists don’t real care how many species there are (that’s a taxonomic “problem”). All species wax and wane with time. It’s the process, the adaptation and adaptibility that is of real interest. Biodiversity is a continuum process. Too many “social” biologists are interested only in “fixing” a diverse population to a point in time – creating a museum of what existed for an infinitesimally small moment in time.
        One of the interesting controversy to arise soon in Ontario, is the increasing predominance of ,i>Canis latrans spp., the coyote. Enough time has passed that most people don’t realize the coyote is an invasive species in Ontario. But it’s ok if it eats your dog, since it’s not something that grows in your garden…

    • Not to mention the Dingo, which is just an Australian native dog. Freely interbreeds with domestic dogs, therefore not a new species at all.

      • The dingo is probably a subspecies of Canis domesticus; Canis domesticus whatsonthebarbiecobber – I believe.

  8. Sorry US biologists, but didn’t you hear that Obama sent $1.3Billion in cash to his Ayatollah buddy in Iran. You know, that guy who mostly sells oil, chants Death to the USA, and is working on ICBM and small nuke to carry out that promise.
    The till’s empty. $20Trillion debt will be he Legacy of the Worst President Ever that most of you support. And whatever is left to spend, we’re gonna have to spend on military outlays for ballistic missile missile defense in the coming decade to try to stop Iran from turning Washington DC and NYC into ash.

    • Joel O’Bryanwrote in part:

      […] And whatever is left to spend, we’re gonna have to spend on military outlays for ballistic missile missile defense in the coming decade to try to stop Iran from turning Washington DC and NYC into ash.

      It won’t cost as much as you think, Joel. Of course we have to defend NYC. It would be a national tragedy if we lost the home of world class hotdogs, pizza, corned beef, and pastrami sandwiches. And of course the New York area has a rich sports tradition to preserve.
      OTOH, nobody would miss Washington DC and it would likely put a damper on government spending, so let’s save half the money and let DC take its chances.

    • Tom Trevor,

      I need more money not to forecast climate catastrophe. Exxon-Mobil are you listening?

      Officially … perhaps not:
      Our position on climate change
      We have the same concerns as people everywhere – and that is how to provide the world with the energy it needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
      The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks.
      ExxonMobil is taking action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its operations, helping consumers reduce their emissions, supporting research that leads to technology breakthroughs and participating in constructive dialogue on policy options.
      Addressing climate change, providing economic opportunity and lifting billions out of poverty are complex and interrelated issues requiring complex solutions. There is a consensus that comprehensive strategies are needed to respond to these risks.

      Some of the wording is … interesting. But I think funding to better understand extinction mechanisms falls broadly under the category of “action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks”.
      It’s not so terribly different from what they were saying internally back in the 1980s:
      I have looked over the draft of the EED reply to the request from O’Loughlin. The only real problem I have is with the second clause of the last sentence in the first paragraph: “but changes of a magnitude well short of catastrophic…” I think that this statement may be too reassuring. Whereas I can agree with the statement that our best guess is that observable effects in the year 2030 are likely to be “well short of catastrophic”, it is distinctly possible that the CPD scenario will later produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population). This is because the global ecosystem in 2030 might still be in a transient, headed for much more significant effects after time lags perhaps on the order of decades. If this is indeed the case, it is very likely that we will unambiguously recognize the threat by the year 2000 because of advances in climate modeling and the beginning of real experimental confirmation of the CO2 effect. The effects of such a recognition on subsequent fossil fuel combustion are unpredictable, but one can say that predictions base only on our knowledge of availability and economics become hazardous.
      I would feel more comfortable if the first paragraph concluded with a statement to the effect that the future developments in global data gathering and analysis, along with advances in climate modeling, may provide strong evidence for a delayed CO2 effect of a truly substantial magnitude, a possibility which increases the uncertainty surrounding the post-2000 CPD scenario.
      (signed) Roger W. Cohen

    • There is enough data to reject the GC models with high confidence. There is enough data to have confidence in rejecting an ECS > 2 K.
      Thus sufficient evidence exists regarding the continued claim of the C in CAGW as pure “bullshit.”

    • But …. but …. I thought that the sience was settled and we didn’t need any more research.
      I wish they would make their minds up.

  9. BTW, Purdue may no longer on the list for my children to attend, even with a full ride. There are a lot of us that think like this. Clearly too far left and that is saying something for colleges/Universities.

  10. It would be nice if a group of international experts in mining asked for buckets of money to better survey the globe for regions where our future resources will be found.
    Do you want to pay big money to find how fuzzy creatures might be moving around, or do you want to pay similar money to continue to have cars, beer cans, electricity generators and all that stuff from mining that we almost take for granted?
    Priorities screwed up?
    But miners are there to give money to governments, not to suck it out of taxpayers without accountability.

  11. Dingbats biologist should study evolution of bats and bees and birds when they have all been killed by wind mills and solar panels.

  12. ““This paper is a call to arms,” said Patrick Zollner, article co-author and Purdue associate professor of wildlife science. “The world is in dire circumstances. We’re losing a lot of species, and we’re largely unaware why.”
    Windmills are one reason we are losing wildlife, caused by a failed CAGW theory, and a lack of intelligence on the part of our leaders.

  13. I have to wonder. Is this greedy biologists trying to insert themselves into the climate science funding gravy train? Or is this biologists so starved of money for legitimate research that the feel they have to resort to this?

    • Yes primarily, and also yes. It’s what practically all scientific fields are doing now to produce make-busy and useless papers that almost nobody reads to keep their jobs.

    • “Is this greedy biologists trying to insert themselves into the climate science funding gravy train? Or is this biologists so starved of money for legitimate research that the feel they have to resort to this?”
      It’s the former. The tell is that they are asking for more money so that they can develop the inputs to computer models, while pretending that the computer is going to be able to tell them something that they can’t learn from the data itself. This is the great con of the climate doomsayers. If you don’t know how the internals of a system operate, you don;t know enough to program a computer to simulate how the internals of that system operate.

      • From a funding perspective, biology has always been a tough sell, no matter how skilled and professional the biologist. We used to experience this when out in the field doing field work that required assistance from the community in some form. We would regularly hold public info sessions to explain what we we doing, why we were doing it, what it was based on etc. Invariably we had several people, farmers, hunters who wouldn’t accept the research, because they “knew better”, even though they really didn’t. People think they understand the mechanisms of the biological world, because they are active animals in it. Some very much do, but many, most, really don’t have a clue.

  14. If they can clearly conclude biogeddon base on no competent data and no biodiversity assay of the world at all, why do they need money? With no money and no data they have already figured it out.

  15. They didn’t predict a dodo catastrophe. A much simpler and observable problem set. Over one million annually in America alone. I wonder if dodos practiced the same rites.

  16. More biased models built on biased models? How ’bout we defund all climate-related “research” and let them fend for themselves.

  17. “This paper is a call to arms,” said Patrick Zollner, article co-author and Purdue associate professor of wildlife science. “The world is in dire circumstances. We’re losing a lot of species, and we’re largely unaware why… “

    I know, I know: It wus CO2 wot dun it!
    (where can I pick up my grant cheque?)

  18. Instead of complaining about a lack of data, these dudes should leave their comfy office’s & go collect the data they want – but that would be too sensible & interfere with their career path.

  19. Catastrophes don’t come cheap. If it’s doomsday you’re looking for, that’s the result of mankind irresponsibly, then it’s gonna take some cash to formulate the data to fit the predetermined result. When you’re asking people to compromise integrity and prostitute themselves for a political cause then you’re gonna have to pony up some serious greenhouse cash.

  20. Bio-diversity is at its greatest in warm/wet environments such as tropical rain forests, and at its least in cold arid climates such as Antarctica.
    Tells one all that one needs to know. A warmer wetter world will be good for bio-diversity especially if CO2 is increased since CO2 is essential for all life forms at the base of the food chain, and is causing the world to green faster than man can deforest it.
    No grant money needed when the base facts are so clear cut.

  21. When you pay all your scientists to be activists, all you’re left with at the end of the day are activists.

  22. Here in New Hampshire, apparently the moose population is down, and the main culprit is of course climate change.
    “Shorter winters” are blamed for a supposed increased population of ticks weakening the cow moose, and decreasing survivability of calves. Sure. And the children aren’t going to know what snow is. Or skiing. Whatever the reason is, they don’t even mention the annual moose hunt, or even suggest (horrors) putting a moratorium on it. That’s a sacred cow.

    • Regulated hunting is almost never a reason for numbers decline. In many cases, it actually holds healthy numbers up by culling over-dense areas.

      • There is, at least in Canada, a lot of legal but unregulated hunting going on. And it’s increasing at a rapid rate. What I’m talking about of course is ‘Rights based’ hunting (Aboriginals and Metis). In many areas – wide swaths of the country – Rights based hunters can hunt, with the backing of the Canadian constitution, at any time with no seasons or limits (fish too). Game like moose and caribou are being hunted to the point where a number of populations are in danger of extirpation. But that’s OK. The only issue and root of all wildlife woe’s is climate change and CO2 emissions.

  23. I naively believe that people most often believe what they tell other people believe… except lawyers, elected politicians and salesman! Adults understand that those three exceptions are expected to lie.
    I don’t see much benefit for the biology researchers to lie unless they’ve pinned themselves into a bad career corner. Hopefully the truth will set them free.

    • They’re not interested in the truth. They just repeat the CAGW mantra. They could easily check things out for themselves as we have done, but it is not in their self-interest to do so. And yes, that makes them complicit, and it makes them liars.

    • Perhaps they suddenly realized the gravy train of funding AGW research is about to end and they had not received their “fair share” yet.

  24. Climate “science” at its “best”:
    Step 1: try to Frankenstein together historical measurement with modern measurement, despite an error bar from the former that eclipses, by several order of magnitude, supposed increase in warming over a decade
    Step 2: plug those numbers into inconsistent, wildly inaccurate and practically irrelevant models to get a wide range of possible outcomes
    Step 3: take the hottest and most unlikely outcomes and play “what if”
    Step 4: take the worse case scenarios of Step 3 and go to the media to say you aren’t getting enough $
    Repeat as needed.
    Or, as Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds says, what can’t go on forever, won’t.

  25. Biology first needs to nail down an agreed upon definition of species if they are going to try to study the loss, gain, or movement of them.
    There is nothing wrong with biology, as a field of study, demanding a bit more of the funding pie. The ONLY way to do that today is find a hook into the Climate Change bandwagon — that’s where the big money is.
    I doubt that many will really study the climate issue, they want the money to do other stuff, so each paper will mention the dire threat of climate change in the Conclusion or discussion, even if no data in the study is based on climate at all — just like a thousand other papers published each month.

      • Giraffes ==> It gets even better! They determined the existence of 4 species with Bayesian statistics run against DNA samples….paper here.
        For those who still insist that “Biology has a perfectly good and clear definition of species.” I will quote from this paper:
        “Numerous efforts have been made to define species, but a clear-cut consensus has not yet been reached [15, 16]. Common to many species concepts is that “species” represent distinct evolutionary units with limited gene flow to other, similar units, and concordance among different character sets has been suggested to support species distinctness [17].”
        The cites are:
        15. Coyne, J.A., and Orr, H.A. (2004). Speciation (Sinauer).
        16. De Queiroz, K. (2007). Species concepts and species delimitation. Syst.
        Biol. 56, 879–886.
        17. Avise, J.C., and Ball, R.M., Jr. (1990). Principles of genealogical concordance
        in species concepts and biological taxonomy. In Oxford Surveys
        in Evolutionary Biology, Volume 7, D. Futuyama, and J. Antonovics, eds.
        (Oxford University Press), pp. 45–67.

  26. Regardless of the claim’s pitch, which may seem a bit sharp, the point made is valid, I think.
    The biological data in context of climate change seems to be very important, and at the same time it is scarce and poor.
    Lack of such data, for a time, in relation to coral bleaching , lead to decades of claims of it been an “apocalyptic” extinction scenario due to AGW..
    But lately with more data on that subject the obfuscation of such claims is becoming clearer…….
    Also such data clearly invalidate the estimates of climate change and its periodicity established by the ice core data interpretation, at least for a place like Alaska, and to a degree for all places that experience full desertification.
    Life species respond to climate change, and the climate change leaves a clear footprint in life of species…….
    More and more of such data could be very helpful in validating the current estimates about climate change.
    The only question about it will be the balance and the biases of the research and science involved with the process of producing such data….
    It is very much needed I think, more knowledge the better…..

  27. As a graduate of a Wildlife Management program in a School of Agriculture I would respectfully suggest that a point, as just noted, has been missed here. One of the very, very few advantages of age is that you have been there, done that, that is if you can remember it.
    They correctly acknowledge the problem of models outstripping the data. The formal education in my age group was before the computer revolution, so we had to take courses in “real stuff.” And learn about models later, which I did when the fisheries models failed like the climate ones.
    They acknowledge the models relationship to videogames. The man that started the computer program in our university told me something to the effect– don’t get too excited about them. If he was still alive he would be a great source of wisdom. Our program was way ahead, for awhile.
    To keep it short, one question–What is relationship between the number of authors and the various parameters on the quality of papers? My impression is they have way too many.

  28. ‘perhaps this is what you have to do these days, to attract the attention of climate obsessed science funding panels.’
    Well, it’s not like they’re producing anything of value. The sum total of their productivity is a scary headline that can keep the gravy train rolling.
    It’s very anti-Darwin in a way – interfering with selection for a long-overdue extinction.

  29. “Current monitoring efforts mainly document changes in biodiversity, rather than collecting the mechanistic data needed to predict future changes.” This reeks of deductive reasoning. “We already know the trend; let’s seek out data that confirm our foregone conclusions.” This is not science. This is an exercise in authoritarian group think.

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