Madness: climate 'projections' can now be used as evidence to list endangered species

From the Center for Biological Diversity and the “data, we don’t need no steekin data!” department:

Appeals Court Reinstates Endangered Species Act Protections for Bearded Seals

Judges Cite Loss of Sea Ice, Predictions by ‘Overwhelming Majority of World’s Climate Scientists’

Bearded Seal pup (Erignathus barbatus) Photo: NOAA

Bearded Seal pup (Erignathus barbatus) Photo: NOAA

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— A federal appeals court today upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to protect bearded seals in Alaska as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses a 2014 lower court decision that rejected the listing as speculative, but the judges today said the listing is supported by sound science predicting steady loss of the Arctic sea ice bearded seals need to survive.

Today’s decision offers bearded seals the protections they truly need, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned to list the species in 2008 and intervened in the case to defend the listing against challenges from oil companies and the state of Alaska.

“This is a huge victory for bearded seals and shows the vital importance of the Endangered Species Act in protecting species threatened by climate change,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center attorney who argued the case. “This decision will give bearded seals a fighting chance while we work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions melting their sea-ice habitat and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground.”

The seals’ winter sea-ice habitat in the Bering and Okhotsk seas off Alaska and Russia is projected to decline by at least 40 percent by 2050, while summer sea ice across the Arctic is projected to largely disappear in the next 20 years. These seals also face threats from proposed offshore oil and gas development off Alaska, where an oil spill in icy waters would be impossible to clean up.

Today’s opinion found that the Fisheries Service, in listing the bearded seal, “adopted the position of the overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists” and rejected Alaska’s argument against the use of the best available climate science.

Endangered Species Act listing of bearded seals offers them increased protection against the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, as well as oil and gas development. Listing of the seals does not affect subsistence harvest of the species by Alaska natives.

“Bearded seals have a shot at survival thanks to the powerful protections of the Endangered Species Act, but only if we take swift and meaningful action to address climate change,” Monsell said. “If we don’t, amazing creatures like these whiskered ice seals and other animals living in the Arctic could be doomed to extinction.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

From Think Progress:

“There is no debate that temperatures will continue to increase over the remainder of the century and that the effects will be particularly acute in the Arctic,” the decision, written by Circuit Judge Richard Paez, read. “The current scientific consensus is that Arctic sea ice will continue to recede through 2100, and NMFS considered the best available research to reach that conclusion.”

But perhaps more importantly, the court found that the NMFS’ definition of “foreseeable future” as 500 to 100 years was not too broad, even if climate models can be volatile that far out.

“The fact that climate projections for 2050 through 2100 may be volatile does not deprive those projections of value in the rulemaking process,” the decision read. “The ESA does not require NMFS to make listing decisions only if underlying research is ironclad and absolute.”

Right, “ironclad” research and climate projections.


62 thoughts on “Madness: climate 'projections' can now be used as evidence to list endangered species

  1. Did these bearded seals evolve since the last time the Arctic was ice-free in summer? Did they migrate from ice-bound Antarctica when it was safe to do so?
    It is hard to believe they died out in the ice-less summers and then re-evolved from an ancestor species when the ice returned.
    What is this magical ancestor seal species that can survive the ice-free Arctic summers that the bearded ones cannot, but from which they re-evolve in each warm interglacial? Enquiring minds want to know.
    Maybe when it is warm they simply stop growing beards and melt into the crowd.

  2. That would be all of them right, including humans? If the answer is “all” then we can get back to work and wait for the new new classification system that lists extra endangered species or exceptionally endangered.

  3. The 9th Circuit is the most-reversed on appeal by the Supreme Court of the United States of all the federal district courts.
    IOW: The 9th Circuit usually (and here, spectacularly) gets it wrong.
    The 9th Circuit is the team to beat for anti-constitutional ruling:

    For some time, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has suffered a reputation as being the circuit most at odds with the U.S. Supreme Court. … with one term in the mid-1990s seeing 27 of its 28 decisions reversed or vacated by the high court.
    … {Recently, t}he 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, has {also} had a particularly dismal record before the high court. In the seven Supreme Court terms completed since the fall of 2005, the 6th Circuit has been reversed 31 out of 38 times, for an 81.6 percent reversal rate … .
    “Is the Sixth the New Ninth?” … “Statistically, there is a case to be made that the 6th Circuit is approaching, if not exceeding, the reversal rate of the 9th Circuit” … .

    (Source: )
    They’ll be REVERSED (yet again) — after adding millions of dollars to the expense of producing oil, thus, raising the price of petroleum based products and all products shipped using petroleum. Liberals love people — NOT.
    … keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground” — that’s what this is all about. The climate hu$tler$ strike again (using the poor AGW true believers with their genuine love of animals to do their dirty deeds — and even if she is a blindly devoted cult member, Kristen Monsell should be censured severely for filing a frivolous lawsuit).

    • There is no debate that temperatures will continue to increase over the remainder of the century…

      That statement right there from the decision should do it. It is demonstrably false.

    • If Clinton is elected, the vacant SCOTUS seat will be filled by a lib… and subsequent reviews of most 6th and 9th Circuit rulings will not be overturned.

    • Me thinks the mere fact that ….. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ….. is located on the Left Coast of the US of A, with Courthouses located in the cities of Pasadena, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, …… is sufficient explanation as to why lefty liberal Democrat agendas have the “force of Law” in western States, including Alaska.

      • And if Hillary gets elected POTUS, ……that lefty liberal Democrat agenda’s “force of Law” will soon extend to all of the eastern States and US Territories.

    • The Endangered Species Act is (it seems more often than not) just a tool to push another agenda. Donations to the Center for Biological Diversity will increase if the issue is “dirty fossil fuels” rather than just seals.
      “This decision will give bearded seals a fighting chance while we work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions melting their sea-ice habitat AND KEEP DIRTY FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND”.
      Kristen is a parasite.

      • Interesting to see that the greenhouse gases are now directly melting the ice, guess they must have cut out the middle man!

  4. It does seem appropriate that the Ninth Circus uses projections from a bunch of animal-rights activists. At least they are being consistent in their folly.

  5. Perhaps the court should have been challenged to locate one prediction made by “the overwhelming number of climate scientists” that came true.
    Does this mean that this court has given up as hopeless any forestalling of
    global warming in the next 200 years? Are these people in possession of real, alive brains.

  6. This is how a bearded seal looks like.

    The fact it is an endangered species is, of course, hard evidence for the validity of computational climate model projections. Is it not?

      • It was hunted and killed by an Inuit native, to survive. Kind of like how we eat beef and tuna. Only there are no supermarkets north of the arctic circle in Canada, Seal meat is yummy!

      • I don’t know DonM 🙂
        I see some nice ribs there, and the tender loins at the base of the back aren’t cut out yet. The flippers are off, and the intestines are to the left just inside the frame. (I have never see Inuit sausage, so that could go to the dogs.)
        Just so you all know, my father shot a polar bear in 1952 in Resolute Bay. The sled dogs woke he and his Inuit friends up because the bear was digging into the side of the igloo.
        He killed it with a 303. The Inuit skinned it and it ended up making I nice blanket for a family of 6 who lived in an igloo 1/2 the year. They ate the bear too.
        There are no supermarkets, drug stores, gas stations, movie theaters up there. These people kill seals to live.

    • No. Not al all.
      Animals came, thrived, became endangered and went extinct for a lot of millennia with and without climate change and with and without humans. Being on an endangered species list in no way confirms the validity of any climate model.
      That’s like saying “the constant rise in CO2 is proof that CO2 is a dangerous greenhouse gas”. Another great jump in logic.

  7. Lovejoy’s introduction of biodiversity into the lexicon of the biological sciences has done more damage to our understanding of evolution than Spencer did in introducing “social darwinism” as a “scientific” endeavor in cultural behavior.

  8. The seal may be endangered – but if the perceived threat to its survival is climate change the judge could have saved a lot of time by not bothering to take the case.
    It seems hugely unlikely that this judgement will stimulate renewed or additional action on emissions and climate as a result of the seals predicament. Its survival or otherwise is simply down to whether it can adapt to the absence of ice.

    • It is the absence of winter sea ice, which has to be projected after a complete disappearance of summer sea ice in 2016. (Or was it 2015? I don’t have Professor Wadhams’s work handy.)

  9. I just wanted to suggest a change to The Center for Biological Diversity’s published mandate:
    The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to expanding the protection of endangered species and wild places.

  10. “The fact that climate projections for 2050 through 2100 may be volatile does not deprive those projections of value in the rulemaking process,”
    Their unreliability does not undermine their reliability.
    Wow. Just wow.

    • Tim:
      Putting on my Devil-Advocate’s hat, Precautionary Principle underpins their reasoning, methinks.
      The argument then becomes what % probability does the judiciary assign to each outcome, and how “Precautionary” shd they be in formulating legislation accordingly? Given their apparent mind-set, they’ll assume the worst, and therefore demand the hi’est Precautionary level, regardless of the fact that some outcomes are lo-risk..
      Surely, this is where the Pols. shd determine policy — not the Judiciary — based on reasonableness and their sense of the public mood.

  11. It really calls for a legal action, be it through the Congress or otherwise, against this idiotic ruling. Models are not science. If they fail scientific tests, which they do, they are lies. We cannot have legal rulings be made on the basis of lies.

  12. Most here seem not to realize that this isn’t a “mistake”, this has been one of the most highly sought goals of the left for decades.
    Once you can do away with the legal requirement for actual physical evidence, then all you need to establish is political control and you can do anything you want, and you can make up any numbers you want to justify it. The widespread publication of factually false articles in journals, and their widespread acceptance, is not a “mistake” or any kind of error; it is a necessary precondition to channel society into the next level of political control.
    THAT is what this is all about. And yes, this is the road to a totalitarian state, and yes, a significant portion of the leadership of this country wants us to become one as quickly as possible.

    • AMEN!
      “Once you can do away with the legal requirement for actual physical evidence, then all you need to establish is political control and you can do anything you want, and you can make up any numbers you want to justify it.”
      Computer models and studies will be developed to show that certain socio-economic groups have the future potential of causing widespread damage to the remainder of society. Therefore policies and laws must be enacted to eliminate this potential threat.
      When will the argument ad absurdum not become obvious?

      • Hollywood even made a movie, Minority Report, where people are convicted for crimes before they are committed.

    • Liberals are all about culling the herd…they’d like to cull about 6.5 billion humans from the planet so the remaining tribes can live in complete harmony with the “natural order” No dams, no power plants, no large scale agriculture, all living a sustainable vegetarian “lifestyle” embracing the wonder and beauty of mother nature.

  13. Why are the ninth and the sixt courts still sitting with those reversal rates?
    Ii would save the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Maybe a president Trump would abandon them?

  14. In the mid 70’s…the population was estimated ~300,000
    …presently, the population is estimated ~300,000
    They are offshore and extremely hard to count

  15. I think Climate Scientists will shortly be an endangered species. Unless taxpayers decide voluntarily to give them money for no reason or benefit.

  16. Without getting into the complexities of the law, its credibility was damaged a few years ago by a serious, but failed, attempt to place the American (Eastern) oyster (Crassostrea virginica) on the list. It was as ridiculous as it gets. Species listed are often rare, sometimes just geographically. It came up semi-seriously about a fish species in the Gulf of Mexico which turned out to be a mis-identification of a very common species.

  17. This is the precautionary principle on steroids. The logical outcome is the entire population living in fear of future “what ifs” based on junk science and political movements.

  18. FG, No they intent to install ice rinks sothat the seals will be able to relax in the cool if they don’t like bathing in warmer water! So your very close to the truth with your ice machine idea, but your just not thinking in the right scale if there are 300,000 of these endangered seals!

    • Yes, indeed, NS.
      Just FYI for anyone interested:
      Daubert Standard
      Standard used by a trial judge to make a preliminary assessment of whether an expert’s scientific testimony is based on reasoning or methodology that is scientifically valid and can properly be applied to the facts at issue. Under this standard, the factors that may be considered in determining whether the methodology is valid are:
      (1) whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested;
      (2) whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication;
      (3) its known or potential error rate;
      (4) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation; and
      (5) whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community.
      See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The Daubert standard is the test currently used in the federal courts and some state courts. In the federal courts, it replaced the Frye standard.

      (Source: )

  19. Something does not add up here. Just last month the National Marine Fisheries Service refused pressure to put humpback whales on the endangered list. They said:
    “We cannot merely speculate that climate change and ocean acidification contribute significantly to the extinction risk of any humpback whale [populations], but must base our listing determinations on evidence sufficient to indicate that a particular effect is likely to lead to particular biological responses at the species level,” the agency said in its final response to the climate critics.
    The agency said it “evaluated the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on each humpback whale [group], as discussed in our proposed rule, but found no basis to conclude they contribute significantly to extinction risk for most [whales], now or in the foreseeable future,” according to the agency.

    • What GREAT news. We cannot merely speculate… but, must base our listing determinations on evidence…! Cool. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Clutz.

  20. Which model was the prediction based on? I ask because here is what Matt Ridley said recently in his 2016 GWPF Lecture:
    “What’s more, all the high estimates of warming are based on an economic and demographic scenario called RCP 8.5, which is a very, very unrealistic one.”
    “It assumes that population growth stops decelerating and speeds up again.”
    “It assumes that trade and innovation largely cease.”
    “It assumes that the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 fails.”
    “It assumes that despite all this the income of the average person trebles.”
    “And most absurd of all, it assumes that we go back to using coal for almost everything, including to make motor fuel, so that by 2100 we are using ten times as much coal as we are today.”
    Did the court check out any assumptions and were they deemed to be reasonable?

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