Paleo Expert: Earth is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction

Chelyabinsk Meteor

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t JoNova – According to renowned Smithsonian Paleontologist Doug Erwin, people who claim we are in the midst of an anthropogenic mass extinction don’t have a clue what a mass extinction actually is.

Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction

“As scientists we have a responsibility to be accurate about such comparisons.”

NASA / Reuters
PETER BRANNEN JUN 13, 2017

At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin took the podium to address a ballroom full of geologists on the dynamics of mass extinctions and power grid failures—which, he claimed, unfold in the same way.

Erwin is one of the world’s experts on the End-Permian mass extinction, an unthinkable volcanic nightmare that nearly ended life on earth 252 million years ago. He proposed that earth’s great mass extinctions might unfold like these power grid failures: most of the losses may come, not from the initial shock—software glitches in the case of power grid failures, and asteroids and volcanoes in the case of ancient mass extinctions—but from the secondary cascade of failures that follow. These are devastating chain reactions that no one understands. Erwin thinks that most mass extinctions in earth’s history—global die-offs that killed the majority of animal life on earth—ultimately resulted, not from external shocks, but from the internal dynamics of food webs that faltered and failed catastrophically in unexpected ways, just as the darkening eastern seaboard did in 2003.

I had written to Erwin to get his take on the contemporary idea that there is currently a sixth mass extinction under way on our planet on par with the so-called Big Five mass extinctions in the history of animal life. Many popular science articles take this as a given, and indeed, there’s something emotionally satisfying about the idea that humans’ hubris and shortsightedness are so profound that we’re bringing down the whole planet with us.

Erwin says no. He thinks it’s junk science.

Many of those making facile comparisons between the current situation and past mass extinctions don’t have a clue about the difference in the nature of the data, much less how truly awful the mass extinctions recorded in the marine fossil record actually were,” he wrote me in an email. “It is absolutely critical to recognize that I am NOT claiming that humans haven’t done great damage to marine and terrestrial [ecosystems], nor that many extinctions have not occurred and more will certainly occur in the near future. But I do think that as scientists we have a responsibility to be accurate about such comparisons.”

“People who claim we’re in the sixth mass extinction don’t understand enough about mass extinctions to understand the logical flaw in their argument,” he said. “To a certain extent they’re claiming it as a way of frightening people into action, when in fact, if it’s actually true we’re in a sixth mass extinction, then there’s no point in conservation biology.

This is because by the time a mass extinction starts, the world would already be over.

“So if we really are in the middle of a mass extinction,” I started, “it wouldn’t be a matter of saving tigers and elephants—”

“Right, you probably have to worry about saving coyotes and rats.

“So you can ask, ‘Okay, well, how many geographically widespread, abundant, durably skeletonized marine taxa have gone extinct thus far?’ And the answer is, pretty close to zero,” Erwin pointed out. In fact, of the best-assessed groups of modern animals—like stony corals, amphibians, birds and mammals—somewhere between 0 and 1 percent of species have gone extinct in recent human history. By comparison, the hellscape of End-Permian mass extinction claimed upwards of 90 percent of all species on earth.

Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/the-ends-of-the-world/529545/

Erwin does not rule out the possibility we might somehow trigger a mass extinction in the future. But killing off a few photogenic species simply doesn’t qualify.

Nothing we have done to the climate or the world in general comes anywhere close to the unimaginable circumstances of previous mass extinctions.

Picture previous mass extinctions; the sky darkened for months, maybe years by gigantic impacts or vast volcanic eruptions which lasted for thousands, even millions of years; Poisonous fumes spreading across the entire world, choking the life out of entire continents; A handful of animals and plants somehow scrounging warmth and food from an almost lifeless wasteland.

Compare this nightmarish hellscape to the slight wobble we may have helped introduce to global temperatures, a wobble so small it cannot be reliably differentiated from previous natural wobbles which occurred in the last few centuries. Add the measurable greening of the world which has occurred the last few decades.

This isn’t a mass extinction, this is a blossoming of life such as likely has not occurred for millions of years – all thanks to the fertilisation effect of Anthropogenic CO2.

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216 thoughts on “Paleo Expert: Earth is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction

  1. Yes, a runaway Venus-like warming would cause a mass extinction, but a couple of paltry degrees, even if we get that much, isn’t going to do it.

    Rich.

    • Venus also has sulfuric acid rain ( instead of water) and sulfur trioxide gas so no possible free water.

      Much less vapor pressure with that working thermal fluid. And much higher operating temperature.

    • Venus’ heat is not a result of runaway greenhouse effect but that fact that its surface pressure is 90 times that of Earth.

      • Didn’t Hansen claim that the heat on Venus was due to CO2 and a runaway greenhouse effect? If I recall, a lot of alarmists have made this claim.

      • The Sad and Appalling Story of a Beautiful Troubled Mind

        Hansen wrote his doctoral thesis on the atmosphere of Earth’s nearest neighbor, Venus.

        …. In 1967 Hansen went to work for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies ….

        Russian climatologist Mikhail Budyko had also observed the three-decade cooling trend. Nevertheless, he published a paper in 1967 in which he predicted the cooling would soon switch to warming due to rising human emissions of carbon dioxide. ….

        The notion that humans could override nature and force the globe to warm intrigued Hansen. ….

        Hansen returned his attention to the physics equations he’d played with almost 10 years earlier. Collaborating with Andy Lacis, a colleague at NASA, he built a simple climate model to simulate how changes in the atmosphere cause Earth’s average temperature to change over time. ….

        Hansen would need real-world data on a global scale. He requested data tapes from Roy Jenne, …. Of course, there remained the problem that the weather stations supplying Jenne’s dataset were rather sparse compared to the vastness of Earth’s surface. ….

        Drawing from his previous work in estimating the average planetary surface temperature of Venus, he knew that if scientists had measurements from as many places on another planet as were available from Jenne’s dataset they would not hesitate to estimate Earth’s global temperature. ….

        “…. the world is getting warmer,” Hansen stated. “This fact agrees so well with what we calculate with our global climate model that I am confident we are looking at warming that is mainly due to increasing human-made greenhouse gases.” ….

        Some nagging questions remained for Hansen and his colleagues. Citing issues such as stations located too close to paved surfaces, stations located in urban areas that are known to be warmer than rural regions, and stations located in developing nations where data collection methods may be unreliable, critics argued {Go, Anthony Watts, et al.!} that any of these problems could throw off an individual station’s temperature readings. Don’t such concerns cast a shadow of doubt on the NOAA weather station data? ….

        Initially, perhaps, but not after …. Hansen’s team “cleans” the weather station data ….

        “I think action [to reduce greenhouse gas emissions] is needed urgently, because we are on the precipice of a climate system ‘tipping point’,” Hansen concluded. “I believe the evidence shows with reasonable clarity that the level of additional global warming that would put us into dangerous territory is at most 1°C.” ….

        (Source: https://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/200711_temptracker/ )

        “The Oceans will begin to boil…” – yes {Hansen} actually said that, along with some other silly things. Watch this video: ….

        (Source: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/12/quote-of-the-week-dr-james-hansen-of-nasa-giss-unhinged/ )

        ****************************************

        Pitiful. One would simply shake one’s head and quietly look away from such embarrassingly twisted speculation and the highly distorted conjecture of AGW — except that there are hundreds of people now DEAD from a high-rise apartment building fire** in London BECAUSE OF SCIENTISTS LIKE –> HANSEN.

        **(the cladding was done to “prevent CO2 emissions”)

      • Plus Venus is a fair bit closer to the sun lets not forget, why do alarmists always want to forget about the sun.

        On hot day they look up at clear blue cloudless skies and damn CO2 for all that sunny warmth

      • “Hansen wrote his doctoral thesis on the atmosphere of Earth’s nearest neighbor, Venus.”

        I didn’t know Hansen had done his doctoral thesis on Venus. I would love to read it. I assume CO2 figured prominently in his thesis. Or maybe not, I don’t know.

        But if CO2 did feature prominently in his thesis then I think Hansen is really going to look silly one of these days.

        A very recent study seems to show that the surface temperature of Venus is determined by the mass of its atmosphere plus the amount of Sun it recieves at its particular distance from the Sun.

        This seems to hold true for about half a dozen planets and moons with atmospheres in our solar system, that have been studied. Very interesting!

        https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/new-insights-on-the-physical-nature-of-the-atmospheric-greenhouse-effect-deduced-from-an-empirical-planetary-temperature-model.php?aid=88574

      • If Venus’ temperature is because of its CO2-rich atmosphere, then Mars also should be much warmer than its distance from the sun would predict. Bu it isn’t. It’s much colder, despite an atmosphere just as rich in CO2 as Venus’.

      • The most critical factor of Venus’s warmth isn’t that its pressure is high, but because the pressure is so high that CO2 is in a super-critical liquid state at the surface, which right when the physical properties of CO2 change wildly.

      • And (as some have pointed out below), because it’s closer to the Sun–0.728 AU. Meaning it gets nearly twice as much solar energy per unit area ((1/0.728) squared).

    • Venus is warm because of an atmosphere 90 times the density of earth. Higher up in the atmosphere where pressure is the same as earth is the temperature is only slightly warmer than earth.

      • PDA & ferdberple,
        OK I get the T=(PV)/(nR) part. That is classic physicochemistry. I also know from using a manual tire pump that the mechanical energy of my arm results in heating the compressed air, which conducts to the metal in the bottom of the pump, causing it to heat up also. Therein lies the rub. How do you keep the temperature rise confined to just the compressed gas? After all, the concept of entropy predicts that high energy systems degrade. In the case of Venus, I would expect a significant loss of energy from IR radiation at the top of that hot atmosphere. What is keeping the heat of compression from dissipating over a 4.5 billion year time period?

        How do you explain the increasing temperature in Earth’s thermosphere with decreasing pressure above 85 kilometers altitude if pressure controls atmospheric temperature? Even the stratosphere shows increasing temperatures with decreasing pressure. http://www.cwb.gov.tw/V7e/knowledge/encyclopedia/me006.htm

      • “Higher up in the atmosphere where pressure is the same as earth is, the temperature is only slightly warmer than earth.”

        Yes, and that “slightly warmer” temp at the Earth-equivalent surface pressure in Venus’ atmosphere, might be accounted for by Venus being closer to the Sun.

      • Clyde–
        You’re trying to reconcile a process with an equilibrium situation. Yes, a gas rising against gravity expands and becomes cooler, and yes, on average, air at a mountain top is cooler than at sea level. Just imagine the “average sea level temperature” on Venus being much farther up the temperature scale. Atmospheric pressure is only one factor that “controls” temperature. At very high altitudes (low pressure) conduction and convection are ineffective and each air molecule must reach a mainly radiative temperature balance.

      • skorrent1,
        Thank you. You are making my point. I believe that the claims that atmospheric density alone are responsible for the temperature of planet’s atmospheres are wrong.

      • Ferd writes: “Venus is warm because of an atmosphere 90 times the density of earth.”

        Ferd, I’ve both heard this argument and also observed it by personally experiencing the rise in temperature on the leeward side of the Rocky Mountains in the US, where the higher average temperatures (relative to the windward or “western slope”) are attributed to compressing air as it flows over that range and falls into the Great Plains. I also have it on good authority this effect is the reason refrigerators work.

        What I’ve never understood is why this doesn’t effect oceans? In general, as ocean depth increases, pressure increases, but temperature doesn’t. Is this due to the fact water (good old H20) isn’t compressible?

        I know it’s sort of off topic, but I’ve always been curious about it (though too lazy to research the question myself I suppose :)

      • This discussion is as confused as is unfortunately normal when this subject comes up. Note: it is compression, i e pressure change that causes heating not pressure. The high temperature on Venus is because the atmosphere is deeper, not because the pressure is higher.

        And the warm air on the leeward side of mountain chains (“foehn”) is due to the air being compressed as it moves downslope. That the temperature at a given level is often higher than on the windward side is due to orogenic precipitaton, most of the moisture in the air condenses and falls as rain or snow as the air rises and cools on the wndward slopes. The dry air has a much lower specific heat and therefore warms up more for a given pressure change than it cooled for the same change.

    • biggest threat , agreed. Sorcerer’s apprentice abound with the hubris that they understand enough to correctly predict effects such meddling may have.

      • Our kids are raised on a diet of cultural pablum. They don’t learn some necessary lessons. Disney Corp., the Berenstain Bears, and Sesame Street have a lot to answer for. The result is our current generation of credulous, mollycoddled, entitled, out-of-touch, postmodern idiots. They’re the kind of people who habitually feed bears when they probably know they shouldn’t. link Mother Nature doesn’t give two hoots about their fragile, easily offended egos.

        Kids should know and understand some old stories:
        The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
        The Emperor’s New Clothes
        The Boy Who Cried Wolf
        Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose

        Thidwick is a masterpiece of economy, and a shrewd satire on the “easy mark” who lets the conventions of society get the better of him. The genius of the story, however, lies in its finale. A man of less consistance than Seuss would have let Thidwick be rescued by the creatures he is defending (this is the customary Disney riposte in similar situations) but Seuss’ logic is rooted in principle, rather than sentiment, and the sponging animals get what they deserve. Incidentally, this is also what the child expects. link

    • Steven, Then you don’t know that we are at the beginning of a blossoming garden earth not known in CO2 starved times of the last 10s of millions of years. You catastrophists must live gray dull lives filled with foreboding. I pity you all, really. A smart guy like you a wasted life.

    • Yes. Earth was indeed similarly green the last time that CO2 was at the salubrious level of 400 ppm. But it was even greener at 800 and 1200 ppm, which is close to ideal for C3 plants. Above that, you don’t get much additional greening.

    • You are correct Steven. The last time the earth’s CO2 levels were this high, we had equal amounts of greening.

    • “But what about the poley bears?”
      Teach them to dance and their futures would be assured in the entertainment industry as Poley-Dancing Bears!

      [The mods wonder if southern poley dancing bears naturally twirl about their south poles in the opposite direction of their north poley dancing cousins …. .mod]

      • Mods, it occurs to me that Blu-Ray players should actually spin in reverse in the SH to be correctly aligned in motion with the planet.

      • Since they are upside down with respect to Northern Hemisphere Blu-Ray players, they do spin in reverse.

      • Well, technically, since the southern hemisphere AC generators use a cosine wave, instead of the more conventional 50 Hz, 55 Hz (Russia) and 60 Hz sine waves common up north, it is, indeed, odd to see even a one, two and three phase power system that can run DVD (VDV ?) players upside down when viewed the other hemisphere backwards after being rectified to DC and held upside down.

      • Cosine wave. Ha! What was I thinking?
        I should have looked more closely.
        Good catch.

      • – but since we are now under the hockey stick of global warming, it would be tan(x).

  2. Yeah, I’ve bought into the anthropogenic mass extinction scenario. Down the road, the only places lions, tigers, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, gorillas, elephants etc. will be found will be in nature preserves, zoos or nowhere. Except for the polar bear.

    But it won’t be because of Carbon dioxide.

    • I am happy to have dangerous animals restricted to nature reserves, however large the area.

      • I had the misfortune of living near Yellowstone in the early 21st century, where people from New York City thought it was a great idea to re-introduce wolves.

        The wolves decided Yellowstone wasn’t really big enough for them. Why the folks in New York didn’t put the wolves in Central Park still eludes me…

    • I have yet to see an example of dire results flowing from an extinction. Blauubock (sp?) is hardly missed. Carrier pigeons, likewise. Dinosauria? Well, we ended up with homo sapiens, some of whom might be considered a dire result, but…? Any examples, anyone?

  3. “To a certain extent they’re claiming it as a way of frightening people into action”
    He’s going to be defunded quickly.

  4. The 6th mass extinction meme is perhaps the single most egregious example of Enviromarxist fraud in the history of the known Universe. Mass extinctions are measured at the genus level and higher. They involve the loss of genera, families, orders, classes and even sub-phyla.

    The Pleistocene-Holocene extinction involved the loss of numerous genera in the Americas, but few higher taxonomic levels. It is not classified as a mass extinction.

    It has been nearly 80 years since a genus was declared extinct and it may not actually be extinct. There is currently 1 single species genus on the brink of extinction.

    The 6th mass extinction blather is based on a direct comparison of the rate of modern observed species loss to that of the fossil record. This is far more fraudulent than splicing high resolution instrumental data onto low resolution proxy reconstructions.

    • Matt Ridley comments on extinction in one of his video lectures, I’ll have to find it though.

      He says that excluding islands (including Australia) which have suffered from rat etc. infestation which has affected some species; and excluding sub species, only 9 species have been identified as extinct since the 1700’s.

      Not bad really considering concern for the environment and wild animals didn’t really take root until the mid 20th century.

      • Unfortunately, though a few isolated islands and continents have been hit hard by extinction events by importing alien species (such as rats, rabbits, potatoes (which changed the eating habits of humans in Ireland to induce future famines when the potatoes failed), birds, and insects), those species which were imported from isolated islands and continents successfully spread to many new environments on other islands and continents!

        Fosters, penguins, Guinness, kudzu, and Bermuda grass, for example, have all “successfully” spread many thousands of kilometers from their formerly isolated native islands.

      • Mike McMillan

        Not if we all drink lots of Guinness. Similarly, increased consumption of Fosters saves our Antipodean cousins.

    • The late Pleistocene and Holocene extinctions also hit Eurasia and Australia, as well as the Americas. Pleistocene megafauna species which never made it to the Americas went extinct as well, like the woolly rhino and Irish elk, while of course Australia’s fauna was and is unique.

      On every continent, humans are to blame for the end of last glacial epoch wipe outs, but even so, they don’t amount to a mass extinction event, since at levels above genus, ie families and orders, survived. However in the “Mother of All MEEs”, the end Permian, no class of multicellular organism was spared extinctions, plus many microbial classes were also hit, and possibly all of them as well.

      Africa was relatively spared, but the animals there weren’t naive to the danger of human hunters.

    • The reason why fossil extinction data is based on genus is due to the fact you can only identify genus by studying fossils. “Species” in the fossil record is speculative, based on guessing. You cannot, for example, identify what population variations are due to environmental factors and not actual species differences. Then there is the problem of identifying what a species is supposed to be. Then the presumption is that things that look different cannot breed, and so must be different species.

      • Take a look at any fossil clam and identify which one is the male and which one is the female. Give it a go. Okay, if they look different, call them different species. So species in fossils is call bunkism.

      • Distinguishing species within a genus is hard not only for fossils but for living organisms.

        By the criteria applied to other mammals, humans and chimps would belong to the same genus.

        However assigning genera to families can often be more systematic. The family Elephantidae for instance didn’t die out during the human-caused late Pleistocene extinction event, because two of its three genera survived. Only the genus Mammuthus went extinct in Africa, Eurasia and the Americas. And not until fairly recently in the High Arctic.

    • >>
      The 6th mass extinction blather is based on a direct comparison of the rate of modern observed species loss to that of the fossil record.
      <<

      Let’s not forget E.O. Wilson’s claim that 17,000 – 100,000 species vanish each year. His (desk-top) computer model is based on extinction rates of an island scaled up to entire continents–basically nonsense.

      Jim

  5. From the WWF website:

    “The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.

    If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true – i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet – then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year. But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true – that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet – then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year….

    ..Unlike the mass extinction events of geological history, the current extinction challenge is one for which a single species – ours – appears to be almost wholly responsible.

    This is often referred to as the 6th extinction crisis, after the 5 known extinction waves in geological history. So without arguing about who’s right or wrong. Or what the exact numbers are.

    There can be little debate that there is, in fact, a very serious biodiversity crisis.”

    • and how the f? do they know firmly ANY extinction rate anyway?
      what a load of cowpoop from wwf with links to…oh megabucks in the greetard camp and a huge agenda 21/30/50 to remove humans from any land bar cities

      • “and how the f? do they know firmly ANY extinction rate anyway?”

        They estimated, of course. They have models.

      • well since new species are being “discovered” all the time, I suspect any count of species is nothing but a guess. ( also a good plug for evolution, eh??

      • Hey Hotscot, I did a search once for a Russian temperatue chart and I put in “Russian model”, and you wouldn’t believe the results I got. :)

    • Let’s assume the WWF is right for once. What do you think is causing this? CO2 or something else?

      • It’s not the Earth’s atmosphere that is causing any problem for the animals, since the Earth’s atmosphere is not doing anything unusual.

        Wild claims are the stock in trade of the alarmists. Really stupid claims like this one about a sixth mass extinction are actually beneficial to skeptics because mainstream scientists cannot go along with this distortion of reality if they value their credibilty, and must debunk them.

      • CO2 would be the last thing to take the blame, because as everyone should know by now, the planet is greening, biomass is increasing and all life benefits because of it.

      • Let’s assume the WWF is right for once. What do you think is causing this? CO2 or something else?

        What’s causing this (assumed) crisis is assuming the WWF is right.

        Is it wise to take drastic, expensive actions based on a string of assumptions?
        People do that in Vegas.

      • Capitalism, of course. And democracy. When you pull all the weeds away from these dooms day cults that is what you are left with.

    • Klem on June 17, 2017 at 3:13 am
      From the WWF website:

      […]

      There can be little debate that there is, in fact, a very serious biodiversity crisis.”

      Abject nonsense. Mass extinctions are measured at the genus level and higher…

      Allow myself to repeat myself…

      The 6th mass extinction meme is perhaps the single most egregious example of Enviromarxist fraud in the history of the known Universe. Mass extinctions are measured at the genus level and higher. They involve the loss of genera, families, orders, classes and even sub-phyla.

      The Pleistocene-Holocene extinction involved the loss of numerous genera in the Americas, but few higher taxonomic levels. It is not classified as a mass extinction.

      It has been nearly 80 years since a genus was declared extinct and it may not actually be extinct. There is currently 1 single species genus on the brink of extinction.

      The 6th mass extinction blather is based on a direct comparison of the rate of modern observed species loss to that of the fossil record. This is far more fraudulent than splicing high resolution instrumental data onto low resolution proxy reconstructions.

      • – and then there is De-extinction, or resurrection biology, whereby extinct creatures could be brought back via cloning.

      • Or brought back due to accounting errors. 2/3 of Central Amercan toad species, declared extinct, have recovered.

        To date, no trilobites have recovered from extinction. As”geographically widespread, abundant, durably skeletonized marine taxa,” the extinctions of trilobite taxa are generally very clearly defined in the fossil record.

    • WWF sent my wife a big heavy envelope talking about how if she gave them her money they would save species from the extinction crisis and my wife would feel so good. They even provided a handy prepaid return envelope for my wife to send her money back to the WWF. I tore off the part with my wife’s name and address. Stuffed the entire stack of WWF propaganda into the prepaid envelope and sent it back to the WWF. I urge anyone who is tired of these parasites to do the same thing at every opportunity. My bet is that if even a few % of their fundraising mailers come back the costs and disruptions may make a real impact on these big green parasites. Resistance is a 2 way street.

      • I used to donate to Habitat for Humanity. That put me on the Carter Center’s mailing list. I sent them $10. Then I got a letter from Ted Kennedy on behalf of Handgun Control… I stuffed their postage paid envelope with NRA literature and sent it back to them.

      • Did it have a calendar with it? last year I got 36 different ones –all from “worthy??” charities. This years count is already 2–mid June.

      • @jvcstone,

        We get several wildlife and animal rescue calendars every year, along with donation solicitations… probably because we support the ASPCA. I used to support the Nature Conservancy when their activism was limited to buying property to protect habitats.

    • Same as when “scientists” say x number of planets per galaxy could support human life. X is a “guess”.

    • Klem June 17, 2017 at 3:13 am

      Quoting the WWF website:

      If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true – i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet – then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year. But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true – that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet – then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year….

      Klem, instead of their “questioning” if the numbers they have cited are “true”, ……. they should have been “questioning” themselves if the commentary they were about to mimic in a “posting” …… had any basis whatsoever in truth or fact?

      For instance:

      @ 2,000,000 different species = between 200 and 2,000 extinctions per year
      Thus, during the past 200 years = they are claiming that between 40,000 and 400,000 species have become extinct.

      Whereas:

      @ 100,000,000 different species = between 10,000 and 100,000 extinctions per year
      Thus, during the past 200 years = they are claiming that between 2,000,000 and 20,000,000 species have become extinct.

      So, the big question that the WWF website needs to answer, is, just how many species have actually gone extinct during the past 200 years, ….. 40,000, ……. 400,000, …… 2,000,000 ……. or 20,000,000?

      Or maybe the WWF would prefer to claim that 50,000,000 species have become extinct during the past 200 years? Now that would really scare the bejesus out of the clueless, dueless, oblivious, miseducated and learning disabled.

    • . . . and that tripe is swallowed wholesale by people like my mother, who will NOT believe it isn’t true and will happily blast off a check to WWF, “because at least they’re trying to DO something!” Mostly, churning out more tear-jerking propaganda as far as I can see. But because these appeals are carefully crafted for that knee-jerk emotional response, trying to fight it rationally with data you’ll lose almost every time. Except when, you encounter that rare human who does not automatically WANT to believe the worst. Perhaps we should be exploring the psychology driving the need to believe in “end of the world” scenarios.

      • ” Perhaps we should be exploring the psychology driving the need to believe in “end of the world” scenarios.”

        Oh, definitely! And we are presented with the perfect opportunity with the political climate today.

        Aberrant psychology is on display continuously, in the political arena culminating in the baseball park shooter. There are lots more lefty psychos like him out there.

        The Liberals should stop poking these psychos with a stick of partisan lies, which drives the unstable to commit insane acts of violence. Be careful what you call for because you just may get it.

    • Klem,

      The WWF first starting putting references to a sixth mass extinction on their website the same time it published the “Living Planet Report 2014”. http://bit.ly/1ssxx5m

      On page 25 it says that populations in the Indo-Pacific region have declined by 67%, with the populations of amphibians, reptiles, and birds all on the decline.The populations of fishes were stable and the number of mammals increasing, so the entire decline comes from reptiles, birds, and amphibians.
      Note: “The tables show the number of species for each vertebrate group, with the colour denoting
      the average overall trend for each group (red – decline; orange – stable; green – increase)” p24

      The chart at the bottom of page 141 shows the relative proportion of each grouping . For the Indo-Pacifc region, amphibians, reptiles and birds account for just under 65% of the total.

      The WWF numbers claim that every single reptile, bird, and amphibian in the Indo-Pacific region has been wiped out – and then some. There would literally have to be less than zero members of those groups on the planet to add up to a 67% decline in population.

      No retraction or update was ever issued, they just decided to remove the appendices that show how they came up with their figures from the next version of the report in 2016. Any figure from the WWF should be dismissed out of hand.

      • I am a birder and as such, am a member of the Audubon Society and others so I, unfortunately, frequently receive their Chicken Little fundraising junk mail and email.

        Most of the “species” at risk are subspecies that developed in a small area that is under duress from habitat loss or non-native predation (Hawaii is especially at risk) . The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is an example. A subspecies that only exists in interior Florida, i.e. the Orlando area, in which the native habitat has quickly been converted to development and agriculture. There are very few left and those few and being micromanaged in hopes of saving them. While their absence would be sad, it would not doom the species as a whole which inhabits the grasslands of the Great American Prairie. Climate change has nothing to do with it, I doubt any bird feels the effect of a .05 or even 1 degree of temp change.

        There is no doubt that humans cause habitat change to the detriment of wildlife, but I believe that can be adequately managed by private/public partnerships like the one underway in eastern Montana that pays ranchers a premium if they manage their land in a way that accommodates wildlife. A much more useful endeavor than wailing about climate change. Humans also create habitat. For example, in my area, the Front Range of Colorado, people have added millions of trees, plants, ponds, canals and reservoirs, resulting in many more species of birds not just migrating through, but staying to nest and breed. We just added the 500th (502 I think) bird to our official list, something that wouldn’t have been possible even in my childhood in the 60s since most reservoirs were built after that. My dad told me that the migratory flyway for waterfowl used to be over the mountains where there is water, but has now shifted to the plains as large reservoirs and neighborhood ponds were created.

        When you start birding, an addicting hobby, you quickly learn that birds are all about habitat and WATER, both are responsible for food and shelter. A warmer world would be wetter, something most species would appreciate. Check any state or county in eBird and you will see that most hotspots are around water. Away from water, there just aren’t many species. On the eastern plains of CO, birders check temporary playas, farmer’s ponds, and the odd shelter belt for migrating birds in spring. Reservoirs and ponds attract flocks of waterfowl in winter. I know of at least 2 species, Bobolink and Eastern Phoebe, that are quickly moving west from the Central Plains as habitat that they favor is created here. When I started birding just a few years ago, Eastern Phoebe was considered rare. Now there’s a pair nesting under almost every bridge in a riparian area. I’m personally hoping Northern Cardinals follow them.

        I’m not fond of all the development here as millions of people move here from elsewhere. But it’s a fact of life. I’d prefer it if housing and office developments would create a natural landscape instead of a green desert of lawn. That would retain a native habitat for wildlife, cost much less money to maintain, reduce flooding, and be more pleasurable to walk in. It would counter some of the heat island effect too.

    • There can be little debate that there is, in fact, a very serious biodiversity crisis.

      In other words, shut up with your questioning and send us your money. Who in their right mind would believe the WWF unquestioningly?

    • WWW estimates a range of between 200 and 100,000 species go extinct each year. Has anyone actually measured anything between the two extremes? Pure B.S.

  6. countdown to flimflam Flannery going berko on Aus media;-)
    and
    ABC radio nat today stated that they are going to give “deniers” yes exact term used by R williams today, some airtime…smug comment about being time or somesuch
    next sat 12pm

  7. “This isn’t a mass extinction, this is a blossoming of life such as likely has not occurred for millions of years – all thanks to the fertilisation effect of Anthropogenic CO2.”

    You idiot.

    • Tony Mcleod
      The satellite record confirms the greening effect. No need for name calling, show a link explaining your point. In our case, the greening effect of added CO2 is not in dispute by either side, only the warming effect. Go to any greenhouse, particularly in higher latitudes, amd you will see extreme CO2 levels emoyed for that effect. Numerous peer reviewed, and undisputed, papers show the effect.

      • tony is just an incoherent reactionary true believer. He’s not even a troll, bless his little heart. If he was a hardcore Muslim and someone cast doubt on the prophet he would react the same way.

      • No issue with co2 induced greening Mike. But to then say that is some kind of proof humans are the cause of a “a blosoming of life” ie the opposite of extinction is either barking madness or a depicable lie. Calling it out as idiotic is being generous.

      • Tony

        You are not being generous.

        Close one eye and open the other. Humankind has learned a great deal in the past 200 Years. Running species off the planet is not one of them, foolish as some actions have been.

        The greatest threat to this planet is disunity. War is thousands of times more destructive than organized agriculture and industry. The military industrial complex, complexes actually, are by far the greatest threat to the survival of any single ‘animal’. Their ethos of pointless, perpetual war is far more dangerous than stupid sailors eating all the dodos.

        CAGW is a war on logic and truth. The sixth mass extinction is just one more meme that will itself go extinct.

      • I hafta agree with tony mcleod on this one.

        “DUH”, the only “blossoming of life” as a result of the “fertilisation effect of Anthropogenic CO2” …….. that has ever occurred or witnessed to have occured, ….. has only occured in the enclosures of physical “greenhouses” ……. wherein additional CO2 has been injected by humans.

        [???? .mod]

      • Samuel C Cogar

        I hafta agree with tony mcleod on this one.

        “DUH”, the only “blossoming of life” as a result of the “fertilisation effect of Anthropogenic CO2” …….. that has ever occurred or witnessed to have occured, ….. has only occured in the enclosures of physical “greenhouses” ……. wherein additional CO2 has been injected by humans.

        No.

        Not true.

        Dead wrong: EVERY green plant on earth is growing 12% to 27% faster, taller, longer, greener and more productively due to man’s recent injection of additional CO2 into the environment! More food, fodder, fuel, feed, and foliage for EVERY animal now living in EVERY environment. Add the slightly longer growing season, over slightly larger areas of warmer lands, and you add even more to today’s harvests since the extra taller vegetation is more drought-resistant!

      • RACook,

        IMO only C3 plants have so bloomed. C4 and CAM plants can get by on very low levels of CO2, so don’t respond to higher levels as dramatically as do C3 plants, which however still constitute some 95% of species, including many important crops and all trees.

      • Note that biodiversity took off with the breakup of Pangaea at the Triassic/Jurassic boundary c. 200 Ma, which was accompanied by release of massive amounts of CO2 into the air during the CAMP, caused by the rifting of North America from North Africa and Western Europe, to begin the formation of the Atlantic Ocean.

      • RACookPE1978 June 17, 2017 at 7:01 am

        Was there not a experiment which used piped co2 from a smelter to fertilize plant growth? I think in the 1930s. I saw it in an WUWT article, a link to it. The pipes released the CO2 right into the atmosphere, no green house.

        If anyone remembers please help if remember the article.

        michael

      • RACookPE1978 – June 17, 2017 at 7:01 am

        No.

        Not true.

        Dead wrong: EVERY green plant on earth is growing 12% to 27% faster, taller, longer, greener and more productively due to man’s recent injection of additional CO2 into the environment!

        So shoutith RACookPE1978 at me, …….. apparently because I musta jerked a little too hard on his miseducated “chain” of junk-science beliefs. No problem though, t’was just a normal reaction from one whose “Religious beliefs” have been questioned in the presence of their friend and peers.

        RACookPE1978, ….. you have none, ….. can’t provide any, …… and don’t know where to go looking for any, ….. actual, factual, measurable/recordable scientific evidence or proof that human activities have resulted in the emission of sufficient quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere to cause a noticeable increase in the growth rate of the earth’s “green growing” biomass.

        Now RACook. iffen you want to believe in, without questioning, ……. the “fuzzy-math” calculated results of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, that you and your like-minded have been dearly praying for, …… then so be it, …… but don’t expect me to bow down and say …… “Yes Sir. Yes Sir, ….. whatever you say Sir”.

        RACook, unless can point out a “human signature” directly attributed to an atmospheric CO2 ppm increase, ….. somewhere, ….. or anywhere, ….. within any of the recorded atmospheric CO2 ppm records or proxies, …….. then you are simply chasing a “barking dog” that is incapable of hunting”.

        [??? .mod]

      • @ .mod, ….. concerning this inclusion as the last entry in my above posting, to wit:

        [??? .mod]

        Your reason for said inclusion ….. confused me, ….. but iffen it was in response to this statement, to wit:

        then you are simply chasing a “barking dog” that is incapable of hunting”.

        The aforesaid was my “quickly” modified version of this commonly used statement, to wit:

        That dog won’t hunt.

        To understand my reasoning for said statement, …….. read more @ https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/52755/meaning-and-origin-of-that-dog-dont-hunt

        Cheers, Sam C

        And ps, I just noticed you did the same on this posting of mine, to wit:
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/06/17/paleo-expert-earth-is-not-in-the-midst-of-a-sixth-mass-extinction/comment-page-1/#comment-2529547

        if you have a question concerning my reasoning, …. just ask and I will attempt to explain it.

      • Thanks for jumping in when the streams invective are hurled my way. Idiot is mild mate.

        It’s nothing short of crackpottery. Likewie Middleton’s rubbish.

        …a very serious biodiversity crisis is “Abject nonsense”. It’ ignorant tripe that needs to be called out.
        He seem to think that if he han’t noticed anything going extinct during his lunch hour it’s another hoax.

      • Please list the continental species that have actually gone extinct the past 25 years. (Not island-limited species.)
        We will extrapolate that list from 25 years ago (from the beginning of “global warming” propaganda in the 1980’s) to 125 years in the future, and find out how many dozen might actually die out if the globe warms … another 1/2 of 1 degree?

      • Tony, it’s a direct result of how we have redefined species, sub-species, etc….and a direct result of discovering new things under those new definitions…..
        The very result of discovering a new species today…means it is automatically classified as endangered

        We are at one of the lowest extinction events ever………

      • tony mcleod June 17, 2017 at 5:34 am

        Lets just start with the humble potato. It was originally only found in Peru , with only a few variations. Now it is found an most continents. Like it or not we cause bio-diversity.
        If the potato was to die out in Peru it could be reintroduced. As a matter of fact did that not happen in France in the 1880s? They lost just about all of one type of grape but transplants from the new world (where they were not native) reestablished them.
        There are more examples both good and bad about the transplanting of life to new regions.

        Most of our fears are the type that makes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein such a good read.
        We are predisposed to think that we have more power over nature then we truly do.

        and yes I cherry picked the link on the grapes.

        http://arlindo-correia.com/060904.html

        michael

      • …a very serious biodiversity crisis is “Abject nonsense”. It’ ignorant tripe that needs to be called out.

        To the extent that there is such a crisis, it’s not due to CO2, or not much. Isn’t it mostly due to things like industrialized farming?

      • PS: And habitat loss, sometimes due to palm oil plantations and to sugar cane plantations to make alcohol for fuel in Brazil.

      • Roger Knights
        “To the extent that there is such a crisis, it’s not due to CO2, or not much.”

        No, there is little if any evidence for that. Its the raft of other insults like habitat loss, soil and water degradation, introduced species etc.

        They are merely symptoms, the root cause is population growth combined with economic growth/material wealth – something me and a proportion of humanith are direct beneficiaries of. The rest want it too, but the planet can’t support our lifestyles let alone doubling it. There are no easy answers with this kind of overshoot. As any population biolgist will tell you it won’t end well.

        Permian extinction occurred over the course of 15 million years during the latter part of the Permian Period.
        Human’s effect have only been going for a couple of hundred years. The current RATE of extinction is the concern.

        The current RATE of ice loss is the same concern. These events are not unprecedented but previous intances have taken far, far longer to occur. In a chaotic system rate matters big time.

        Thats what some here can’t or won’t acknowledge. The rate of change.

        Extrapolate this into the future 15million years and there are not many species left.

        That why saying “all this is beneficial” is so ignorant, short-sighted and if not mendacious then stupid.

      • >>
        Gabro
        June 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm
        <<

        There’s a difference between calling someone an idiot for what they wrote and saying what they wrote is idiotic. One’s an opinion (appropriate or otherwise) and the other’s an “Ad hominem.” Apparently, that’s a hard concept for many–including Tony.

        Jim

    • Actually McClod we’ve already seen what happens when you’re asked what law of thermodynamics governs atmospheric temperature. Months later you remain unable to answer that question

      Therefore your relative idiocy is well proven and your humanity-hating nature is evident right alongside it.

  8. Excellent report Doug Erwin. It looks like we have more to fear from Volcanic Eruptions and Ice Ages than global Warming, because the Big Five Extinctions are: 1. End Ordovician, caused by severe Ice Age, 2. Late Devonian, caused by plant advance and algae blooms, 3. End Permian (the Big One!), volcanic eruptions in Russia, 4. End Triassic, enigmatic and unknown, but without severe climate indicators, and 5. End Cretaceous, caused by asteroid impact. See site http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/paleontology/big-five-extinctions.

    Back to basics, the earth is 40,000 kilometers circumference polar, and the temperature variation is minus 30 C to plus 30 C, so 60 degrees C change in 10,000 kilometers is 166 kilometers, about 100 miles, for every 1 degree C change. Forget tipping points, because for every 1 degree C change in global temperature your favorite climate is 100 miles away, north or south depending on increase/decrease temperature and where you live (it’s not this simple due to ocean and air currents and other things, but the basic reality exists). I am about to go on vacation from winter Argentina to summer Florida and I expect to not only survive, but actually thrive!

    • End Triassic extinction is associated with breakup of Pangaea, which released lots of CO2 from the CAMP rifting event. Thus it and the Permian are favored by CACA acolytes.

      However, it’s not clear that the Siberian Traps or the CAMP actually are responsible for those mass extinction events. Ditto the Deccan Traps which happened at the same time as the end Cretaceous event.

      Rifting and breaking up continents could cause extinctions on their own, without CO2 and other volcanic gases.

      In any case, dinosaur dominance in the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods of the Mesozoic Era was indeed thanks to the end Permian and end Triassic mass extinctions. Then what giveth taketh away and the end Cretaceous event wiped out the nonavian dinosaurs and much else.

  9. I can’t help thinking that, somewhere along the line, Randy Marsh somehow took over large portions of the scientific, political & journalistic communities . . .

  10. I am so fortunate to have had ten years to learn from my neighbor David. M. Raup, RIP.

  11. Where was this guy years ago before the climate extremists shouted down all reasonable discussion?

  12. I wonder if the greening of the earth will cause a mass extinction…… I am sure the WWF will find a reason that this makes sense.

  13. Earth’s next mass extinction event will be from a worldwide nuclear holocaust that will completely shutdown everything electrical/electronic. Imagine the hundreds of nuclear reactors around the world melting down. Fukushima was just a taste.

  14. With 70% of the planet covered by water to an average depth of 12, 000 ft and the deepest part at about 7 miles down, with pressure of over 1000 times pressure at the surface and recent evidence of life down there, it seems obvious that life is quite protected, if not a direct result of, our h2o blanket. Also it seems questionable as to the accuracy of much of the proxy data regarding number and types of living organisms at different periods of time in the past or even in present times. Please keep these facts in mind when digesting much of the gobledygook presented by folks like WWF or anyone else for that matter. Theories are just that, and nothing more. We know very little about our home planet and yet propose what other planets and the vastness of interstellar space is like. Such hubris! God must, indeed, have a sense of humor.

  15. Notice how all of the grenie beanies’ concern is for too much atmospheric CO2. So what happens when man-made CO2 emissions drop to near zero, which WILL happen, thanks to more economic technologies like EVs and molten salt nuclear reactors dominating ? Their worries are totally one-sided and at this point, irrelevant : the big worry will be how to sustain CO2 levels at their healthy levels ot today when man-made production ceases. Resurrect coal power plants?

    • the big worry will be how to sustain CO2 levels at their healthy levels ot today when man-made production ceases.

      The simple solution to that problem is, …….. just kill all the Anteaters.

      And by doing so it will protect all of the termites and termite colonies so that they can continue doing what they do best, …… and that is, ……. ingesting dead biomass and outgassing copious amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

      Eritas Rabuf

  16. Nearly all extinctions in modern times occurred on islands as their isolation was ended. Before that, Mongoloid hunters migrating into N America exterminated most of the large animals there. BTW, extinction is normal and necessary. Evolution could not function without it. There would be no room for new species.

  17. … “It is absolutely critical to recognize that I am NOT claiming that humans haven’t done great damage to marine and terrestrial [ecosystems], …

    I’m guessing that Prof Erwin is around 60 years of age? So he probably has another, say, 10 years of career left to protect. After that, he won’t have to pay lip service to the ‘humans are destroying the environment’ crowd any more…

  18. Had it not been for FOIA releasing the Climategate emails in 2009 Smithsonian Paleontologist Doug Erwin would most likely not have been allowed to make the statements he did.

    Thank you again FOIA !!!!!!!! You helped save the world and hopefully real science will recover from the brink of extinction.

    • IIRC, the Climategate E-Mails were published because they were leaked (or hacked). The folks at EAU CRU, and PSU, have steadfastly refused to comply with FOIA requests, and gotten away with it.

  19. I’ve commented before on the temporal and localized nature of human caused disasters and (Hiroshima, Chernobyl…) have in mind an axiom that we are NOT capable of lasting damage, even deliberately, to our planet. The scale is orders of magnitude beyond us. Looking at many times our worst so far, no chance. I have been thinking of a post on it with compelling examples. Erwin take is nice corroboration for this idea.

    • Somewhat inclined to agree, Gary. However the key here is what you define as “lasting damage.” Earth survived Chicxulub, and we’re not yet capable of that much damage. Although a full blown nuke exchange during the peak of the Cold War arms race might have come close. Since the worst case “business as usual” scenario doesn’t put the CO2 levels even close to the level prior to Chicxulub much less what it was after that, the panic over CO2 seems a little silly. Dinosaurs might consider Chicxulub lasting damage but most mammals (including us) would not.

      To paraphrase Jerry Pournelle, all this concern over mayfly inter-glacier species is a little silly considering that most of them are doomed by nature to either go extinct or evolve drastically in the next glaciation.
      I keep thinking of the irony of our descendants having to mass produce terrawatts of reactors to manufacture CO2 from carbonates to keep the biosphere alive in the next glaciation as the oceans suck up all the CO2 we released and then some. And wishing they had coal and oil to burn. Of course that assumes another Chicxulub doesn’t take us out first.

      • Bill Murphy, first self preservation has kept us from doing all-out nuclear war and we can do a lot of damage to ourselves if we did an all-out. However, not a lot of people know that Hiroshima radiation had subsided to background levels within less than a year and they completely rebuilt the city and it seems s perfectly fine.

        Chernobyl was supposed to have killed 4000 or more and it killed fewer than 80 although the myth makers didn’t revise this and even skeptics adopted this my hical number. The “Exclusion Zone” was to be sterile for centuries. It has become the Serengeti of Europe with animals thought to have been extirpated long ago, including a native horse.

        Yes, there were mutated animals at the beginning and lots of stories about these, “monsters” and once again this wasn’t updated and remains the myth even among skeptics like yourself. Guess what? The wolves and wildcats ate them all up and the populations are now healthy! People go the exclusion zone to pick mushrooms!

        The green maniacs and Google of course have built the meta data so the newer stories on the exclusion zone are harder to find.
        https://www.rt.com/news/340739-chernobyl-wildlife-photographic-study/

        https://news.vice.com/article/chernobyls-exclusion-zone-is-now-a-thriving-wildlife-habitat

  20. “Erwin does not rule out the possibility we might somehow trigger a mass extinction in the future.”
    How very scientific of him. He should also not rule out the possibility that pigs could sprout wings and fly, or that the sky might fall.

    • Science is now “possibilities”? I thought it was “probablilities”. Possible is the realm of science fiction.

  21. This is exactly what I have been saying for years. We cannot talk about the future and we are inflicting a great damage to the environment and reducing wildlife populations drastically, but we are not in a sixth mass extinction.

    From January 2016:

    “If we talk about the future anybody can have an opinion and of course a mass extinction could take place. But if we talk about the past and the present, which are the realms of science, the evidence is not there. We don’t know the current rate of extinction so we cannot say if it is enough to sustain a mass extinction. We track almost every mammal and bird species and their rate of extinction is only about 0.2 per year. Most years no mammal or bird species go extinct. So it does not feel at all as a mass extinction. That is why most scientists don’t believe a mass extinction is taking place.
    What is really shocking is the disconnect between science and the general public due to the negative influence of the MSM, even of things that anybody can check. Both the IUCN Red list and the CREO list can be queried by anybody. Go there and check by yourself how many mammal and bird species are we losing every year, and see if that rate can sustain a mass extinction.
    I can do the calculations for you:
0.2/year = 20/century
Number of mammals + birds species = 15372
Time to extinct 75% at current rate 15372 x 0.75 / 20 = 576 centuries
It would take 57 thousand years to cause a mass extinction of mammals and birds at current rates. Obviously in that time you get new species.
    This says nothing about the future, but it explains why most biologists don’t believe we are undergoing a mass extinction.

    I agree with … the sorry state of marine ecosystems and the need to protect them, but the extinction issue is bogus.

    Lets go to the IUCN Redlist query:
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/search

    It lists 65 fish (actinopterygii) as extinct in the last 500 years.
    They list several orders with more than one species:

    24 cypriniformes (freshwater)
    14 Cyprinodontiformes (freshwater)
    8 Perciformes (all aquatic ecosystems)
    13 salmoniformes (all spawn in fresh water)
    3 siluriformes (freshwater)

    Do you start to see a theme? Let’s zoom into the 8 Perciformes species:

    Ctenochromis pectoralis (freshwater, not extinct according to Wikipedia)
    Etheostoma sellare (freshwater)
    Ptychochromis onilahy (freshwater)
    Ptychochromoides itasy (freshwater, not extinct according to Wikipedia)
    Tristramella intermedia (freshwater)
    Tristramella magdelainae (freshwater)
    Tristramella sacra (freshwater)
    Xystichromis bayoni (freshwater)

    Ok so according to official data of the 65 species of fish that we know that have gone extinct at least 62 are freshwater species.

    Zero marine fish extinctions known to us caused by man. Obviously the reality doesn’t sell newspapers.”

    The extinction of freshwater fish species is mainly due to pollution. More strict regulations for river contamination can solve that problem.

    • Man “caused” (by declaration) the coelacanth to become extinct … until they found one.
      Man does not know many, many things some pretend to know.

    • Many of the supposed species gone extinct are not species but at best subspecies. The Northern spotted owl and snail darter are examples. Isolated populations of species might be wiped out but no genetic information is lost, since other populations continue.

      • Gunga,

        Yup. All the time.

        And also, fake species are used to inflate bureaucratic budgets, as with the USFWS and the supposed “red wolf”, which is a coyote.

      • Madtoms are the BEST smallmouth bait!

        The so-called “red wolf” has been proven to be a complete joke/scam. But to get to the heart of the “red wolf” scam consider this. There were about 450 captured and about 30 – 40 used for breeding. After the capture by the USFWS they were declared extinct in the wild and placed on the endangered species list. What happened to the approx 400 that were not used for breeding??????

        That program is on the sh*t list of all time scams!

    • This applies for instance to the “species” you list in genus Tristamella.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristramella

      T. sacra may or may not be extinct. The species is threatened because of drawdown of the Sea of Galilee to provide water for Israel.

      It’s easy to inflate “extinctions” by including subspecies or population extirpated in some localities. Even some “extirpations” are only because a species has moved to a more amenable habitat, as Jim Steele has shown.

      • Some river fish species are limited to a single basin and if extirpated go extinct. They have nowhere to go. Even more extreme is the case of some cave species that are limited to a single cave system. Species that have a very limited range are extremely sensitive to extinction.

        Populations if isolated long enough become new species. It is called allopatric speciation.

        That we are not in a six mass extinction doesn’t excuse us from protecting nature. Is there a particular reason why there should be more and more of us, and more and more of our domesticated animals and plants at the expense of all the rest of the species?

      • Yes. There is a reason. Because we can.

        Evolution always has winners and losers. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. Evolution has no ultimate goal. After the Permian extinction, one genus or maybe even species on synapsid covered practically the whole land area of earth, but eventually the diapsids like dinosaurs, pterosaurs, crocodilians, lizards, snakes, tuataras, turtles and marine reptiles won out.

        Besides which, a great many species have benefited from the increase in human population.

      • Yes. There is a reason. Because we can.

        That’s never been a reason to sensible people. Lots of things we can do and shouldn’t do.

      • Javier,

        What’s the point in “saving” subspecies which might or might not be on their way to “species”? If it costs us nothing, then, maybe OK, but not building dams because of snail darters is absurd.

        Cave fish are just blind and otherwise adapted surface fish. Unless they have evolved some useful chemical, what’s the point?

        Eventually humans will leave earth or go extinct and the microbes will have it again. Unless we engineer the solar system, in which case we’ll be saving all life. If we don’t, then earth will return to unicellular life in another 500 million years or so, then will become lifeless.

        So in the long or short run, there is no point.

      • Horses would be close to extinction now, like the rhinos, if not for humans. There are only three groups of perissodactyls left, equines, rhinos and tapirs. Clearly the artiodactyls are whipping their asses. They’re on their way out. We rescued horses, and probably donkeys as well. Zebras, not so much.

        No matter how much we play god, the life forms that can’t cut it under changed conditions are doomed to go extinct. Unless for some reason we like them or can use them.

      • Javier June 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm
        Some river fish species are limited to a single basin and if extirpated go extinct. They have nowhere to go. Even more extreme is the case of some cave species that are limited to a single cave system. Species that have a very limited range are extremely sensitive to extinction.

        Populations if isolated long enough become new species. It is called allopatric speciation.

        That we are not in a six mass extinction doesn’t excuse us from protecting nature. Is there a particular reason why there should be more and more of us, and more and more of our domesticated animals and plants at the expense of all the rest of the species?

        Is Man not “natural”?
        At the root of your question is the assumption that preserving “Ma’ Gaia”, what is natural, should be Man’s goal at any cost … even at the expense and detriment of Man.

      • How many living perissodactyl species are there? 17? How many in 100 years? 10, 12?
        All the rhinos and taiper are vulnerable. 25% extinguished in a few hundred years. Craps on the Permian event’s rate. Craps on any rate.

      • Tony,

        I guess my suggestion that you’re not idiotic was premature.

        There will probably be about the same number of perissodactyls in 100 years as now, thanks to human conservation efforts to save dwindling rhinos and equine species. Rhinos were headed for extinction long before people began poaching their horns. Humans haven’t accelerated the background rate of extinction noticeably since the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary. We might have contributed to the demise of the woolly rhino, however.

        My point is that perissodactyls have been in decline for millions of years, naturally. Humans have lately slowed their rate of extinction, not accelerated it. Odd-toed ungulates simply can’t compete with the more modern even-toed ungulates, ie ruminants, given the spread of grasslands since at least the Miocene.

        Extinction of groups like perissodactyls is natural. They were abundant in the first half of the Cenozoic, and included the largest of all land mammals, but have been on their way out for tens of millions of years.

        To compare one group of outdated mammals with the global Permian mass extinction is simply indeed idiotic.

  22. With our continued use of fossil fuels, CAGG (catastrophic anthropogenic global greening) is very possible.
    We need to save the planet from this looming threat. Think of the children.

  23. Your last statement, “This isn’t a mass extinction, this is a blossoming of life such as likely has not occurred for millions of years – all thanks to the fertilisation effect of Anthropogenic CO2.” has not been subject to peer reviewed quality research. It errors to the same degree that warmers say it is responsible for degradation.

    • Nor will it be researched because it goes against the political mantra. “Peer-reviewed” and “quality” research may not actually go together—peer-reviewed articles can be words generated by a computer and have no reality whatsoever.
      I do agree that a conclusion is being drawn for which we have only observational evidence and a model in our mind of where that goes. The earth is far too complex to know what any separate part will do to the whole. Research may provide clues, but the whole picture is not available.

    • Pamela, the greening is an observation, rare in climate science! There is no question alarmy types are busy pumping out “peer reviewed” crapola about dangerous greening!

      The wondrous science of geology is largely based on the principle of Uniformatarianism, “the present is the key to the past”. Think detective work, forensics. This stuff has been peer reviewed a million times. This works!

      Now imagine the greening fringing the Sahel (and all other arid regions on the planet). The Sahel adds another fringe the following year and the first fringe made more robust all driven by rising CO2 and the plants grow quicker plus they need less water. Would you accept this is an exponential process? Would you also accept that this unexpected rapid sequestration of carbon (14% increase in forest area not to mention fattening of the existing ones) reduces the rate of growth of CO2 which would otherwise have been added to the atmosphere? Do we need to do a peer review to decide that the process is also endothermic (cooling) thereby reducing the rate of warming even of the IPCC rate? Now spread this phenomenon over the oceans with the same thing happening with phytoplankton and coccolithispores CaCO3. Think White Cliffs of Dover. It’s a bit of a biochemical Euclid we’re thinking here. You do know the Sahara was once green?

  24. did low co2 levels lead to the largest extinction event in the history of the earth?

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/06/16/america-first-climate/
    MARKO, SOON, ET AL: To Put America First Is to Put Our Planet’s Climate First
    Moreover, during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, there were long periods during which the levels of CO2 were much higher than today, but the temperatures were far colder. We are not aware of any explanation that squares the man-made global warming theory with that fact.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleozoic
    The Paleozoic Era ended with the largest extinction event in the history of Earth, the Permian–Triassic extinction event. The effects of this catastrophe were so devastating that it took life on land 30 million years into the Mesozoic Era to recover.[4] Recovery of life in the sea may have been much faster.[5]

  25. don’t have a clue

    I’ve never ‘met’ this guy, don’t know who or what he is but, I like him.
    Even Monckton could hardly have put it better

    He’s nailed it in one. Because *that* is what’s being extincted – clues.
    Nobody has them anymore. Clues are all dead and gone. Poor old clues

  26. I wonder. If you were to select a particular reasonably compact area on earth and ask “has the number of species in this location increased or decreased?”, that would be a better indicator of system health than the number of species plannetwide. My understanding is that the modern “extinction” is really more of a homogenization, with species taking advantage of human transport to spread to new habitats (and displacing the natives).

  27. What is particularly silly is not knowing how the number of species existing was estimated. The general procedure is using insecticide on rain-forest tree, and doing a census of the dead insects that fall out. One then estimates how many of the beasties are particular to that species of tree, and then one estimates just how many species of jungle tree there are, and then estimate . . . . There are enough extrapolations in the process that the estimates vary by at least an order of magnitude.

  28. “This isn’t a mass extinction, this is a blossoming of life such as likely has not occurred for millions of years – all thanks to the fertilisation effect of Anthropogenic CO2.”

    I thought that anthropogenic CO2 only represented 3% of the 220 PPM increase from the 180 PPM in the 1880’s to the 400 now. If so, how does man get credit for the CO2 greening when anthropogenic CO2 is only around 6.6 PPM out of the 220 PPM increase?

    • It is generally accepted, even by Skeptics that man is responsible for most of the 120 ppm rise in CO2, even though man’s yearly contribution constitutes only perhaps 3% of total yearly CO2 emissions. This is because natural sources and sinks generally balance each other out, at least over the time period under discussion.

  29. I suppose that the “fifth mass extinction” was a cataclysmic event, but can we limit its claim to “90% of the fossil record”? The “consensus” is that microbes got a two billion year head start on the rest of us. I’m sure that the gazillions of microbe “species” were just fine with a little extra volcanic activity.

    • This blog prohibits me from commenting on evolutionary explosions, but maybe it will allow me to say that microbes got an over three billion year head start on multicellular fungi, animals and plants. The earliest evidence for life on earth dates from 3.8 to 4.2 billion years ago, while both rocks and molecular clocks agree that animals, at least, arose at most 0.8 to 1.2 billion years ago.

      So some 70 to 80% of the history of life on our planet has been exclusively unicellular, although single-celled eukaryotes can be pretty large and complex.

    • It occurs to me that the greatest mass extinction event in earth history might not have been when cyanobacteria wiped out most anaerobic organisms, but when prokaryotes replaced their protocellular ancestors.

      Many anaerobic organisms survived right down to today by hiding out from oxygen, while no protocells survived at all. Today only bacteria, archaea (and maybe viruses) survive from that first transition in the biological evolutionary history of our planet.

      The next major transition of course was from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, then from eukaryotic unicells to multicellular organisms, ie fungi and animals in the heterotrophic group (opisthokonts), and plants in the autotrophic group.

    • Microbes also go extinct in MEEs, but don’t fossilize as easily as large organisms with hard body parts. Probably they are usually less affected, however.

  30. Well this guy just put a target on his back. Maybe the crazies will be too busy flipping out over Trump to notice, though.

  31. Keep in mind how much climate on earth has changed over just the last 400,000 years, never mind 250,000 million years ago. We are but not even a blip on a time-series graph of evolution. Get a perspective! Debating climate change is like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  32. Doug Erwin also said “I think that if we keep things up long enough, we’ll get to a mass extinction, but we’re not in a mass extinction yet, and I think that’s an optimistic discovery because that means we actually have time to avoid Armageddon,”.

    • Armageddon in Revelations is the name of the place where the final battle between the forces of good and evil will take place and evil will be decisively defeated. We should not avoid Armageddon unless we are part of the forces of evil.

      • Yup. Har Megiddo in the Galilee, near the base of Legio VI Ferrata, which in 1st century Palestine would have been required to have been defeated for the Roman province to be liberated.

      • You seem very confident of which side you are on, like ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are pure attributes that can be allocated to individuals so that each person is either one or the other but not both. This strikes me as an unexamined and, on the face of it, doubtful assumption given actual human experience and the record of history. For example,when the Christian crusaders took Jerusalem, they slaughtered the non-Christian inhabitants, but when Saladhin retook the city, he expelled the Christians and washed the city streets with rose petal waters. Both sides used violence to secure their ends. How would you judge them?

  33. Really? They don’t have a clue? Gosh, I thought they were super smart. I’m going to have to carefully reexamine some of my most basic assumptions.

  34. How many other man-made chemicals are out there in our biosphere, accumulating in our lungs, livers, lymph nodes, and the microorganisms at the base of all our food chains, and children’s future?

    I’ve heard there are 90,000; free to combine and recombine with unintended, and unimaginal consequences. The most significant of which will be the extermination of most, if not all, species on this planet, including us homosapians, beginning NLT 2024, or earlier.

    Could have been yesterday for all I know. I am fairly positive that tomorrow will never be quite as “good” as yesterday was. Knowing what the end game will be, “Why wait?” becomes a question I am very interested in your thoughts upon.

  35. Cites provided for all that follows in parentheses. Google if you want to learn more. I highly recommend the Jesse Ausubel speech.

    In the real world, according to the EPA emissions in the U.S. of six major pollutants have declined 71% since 1970 and CO2 emissions peaked in 2006. It is clear we are burning fossil fuels cleaner than we ever have, and at the same time the economy is “decoupling” from pollutant and CO2 emissions.
    (https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-02/1970-2015_baby_graphic.png)

    In the real world the planet is thriving. The land based biosphere is estimated to be adding 2 billion tons of mass PER YEAR, providing huge new habitat for biodiversity (Ausubel, Jesse H. 2015. “Nature Rebounds.” Page 7. Long Now Foundation Seminar, San Francisco, 13 January 2015.)

    In the real world, North America has more trees today than it did in the year 1900. Remarkable considering the U.S. population was 76 million people then and it is about 320 million today. (NORTH AMERICAN FOREST COMMISSION, St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, 12-16 June 2000)

    In the real world, in the U.S. the white-tailed deer population increased from a low of about 350,000 in 1900 to about 15 million in 1984 and to over 28 million by 2010 (McCabe and McCabe 1997, VerCauteren et al. 2011, as cited in the FAA publication, “Wildlife Strikes to Civilian Aircraft in the United States 1990-2013”, July, 2014, page 2). Also in that FAA report, “the resident (nonmigratory) Canada goose population in the USA and Canada increased from about 0.5 million to 3.8 million from 1980 to 2013 (Dolbeer et al. 2014, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2013). During the same time period, the North American snow goose population increased from about 2.1 million to 6.6 million birds.”

    And “Dolbeer and Begier (2013) examined the estimated population trends and numbers for the 21 species of birds in North America with mean body masses >4 lbs and at least 10 strikes with civil aircraft from 1990-2012. Of these 21 species, 17 had shown population increases from 1990-2012 with a net gain of 17 million birds.”

    In the real world, the bear population in Massachusetts has increased 9x since 1980, going from 500 bears then to 4500 currently. Granted, the base was low in 1980. So look at nearby Maine. In Maine, the bear population increased from 20,000 to 30,000 in a decade (“Not everyone pleased about flourishing bear population”, Boston Globe, June 20, 2015).

    It’s rarely talked about that large animal species at the top of the food chain like bears, deer, wolves, and the largest species of birds in America have greatly expanded their populations; that forest growth is larger than it’s been in a century; that the last breath you took, on average, was 71% cleaner than the breath you took in 1970; that economic output is rapidly decoupling from both pollutant and CO2 emissions. Crop yields either set new records every year or come close. We’ve never had a nationwide crop failure in my life. And of course, there are all the studies showing sea level isn’t rising very much faster than it’s done for hundreds of years; we’ve had the longest CAT-3 or higher hurricane drought since we started tracking their occurrences; the amount of forest and land area destroyed by wildfires annually is a tiny fraction of what it was a century ago, and so on.

    The disconnect between what we can measure and observe in the real world today and the hysterical, highly speculative predictions about what may happen a century from now is astonishing. I read chapters from the book, “Extraordinary Mass Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” for a college course. I can’t help but recall it whenever the discussion turns to man made climate change.

  36. Picture previous mass extinctions; the sky darkened for months, maybe years by gigantic impacts or vast volcanic eruptions which lasted for thousands, even millions of years; Poisonous fumes spreading across the entire world, choking the life out of entire continents; A handful of animals and plants somehow scrounging warmth and food from an almost lifeless wasteland.

    No that is not a correct characterisation of what Doug Erwin is saying. Mass extinctions are not 100% from environmental violence directly acting on organisms. Instead, the above article itself expresses Erwin’s much more plausible view (in view of the theory of nonlinear networks pertaining to ecosystems and their lifeforms):

    “Erwin … proposed that earth’s great mass extinctions might unfold like these power grid failures: most of the losses may come, not from the initial shock—software glitches in the case of power grid failures, and asteroids and volcanoes in the case of ancient mass extinctions—but from the secondary cascade of failures that follow. These are devastating chain reactions that no one understands. Erwin thinks that most mass extinctions in earth’s history—global die-offs that killed the majority of animal life on earth—ultimately resulted, not from external shocks, but from the internal dynamics of food webs that faltered and failed catastrophically in unexpected ways …”

    The commentary at the end is not a fair reflection on Erwin’s actual views on mass extinction.

  37. After past mass extinctions, life has always recovered and gone on to evolve ever more complex ecosystems and biodiversity. However, in about 500 million more years, diversity will start declining, reversing the trend to become less diverse. That is, unless intelligence has increased by then to such an extent that earth and the solar system can be engineered to maintain complexity despite changes in the planet and sun.

  38. How do you expect to entice people to read anything that doesn’t forecast or acknowledge catastrophic disaster at the hands of greedy anthropogenic influence? Get with the program man! Nobody wants to hear boring evidence that doom is not eminent.

    • Easy, pepper the articles with pictures of scantly clad models, or write article that claims AGW will enhance intimacy with their partner.

    • Doom is more likely to lie in entertaining these never ending neomarxbrothers assaults on civilization And the real environment. It is, in the minimum, a huge burdensome tax holding back economic development and prosperity for the world. We endeavour to turn off the funding for terrorists and they are a lesser threat than the rich environmental terrorist NGOs. Cut these suckers off. We are heading for peak population, 80+% there. We can hurry this blessed state by hurrying global prosperity. Killing the US and European economies is the biggest threat to us all and to the environment. It is deliberate to ensure the survival of these non productive stifles.

  39. How do you expect to entice people to read anything that doesn’t forecast or acknowledge catastrophic disaster at the hands of greedy anthropogenic influence?
    Nobody wants to hear boring evidence that doom is not eminent!

  40. Erwin should stick to paleontology. His comparison with inching up to the event horizon of a black hole is silly and emotional. You would be pulled apart by gravity long before you got there

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