Claim: 5-6C Global Warming Could Even Kill Tardigrades

Co-extinctions reduce the robustness of planetary life to catastrophe. Response of global diversity to environmental change: progressive, monotonic increase (‘planetary heating’; left panel) or decrease (‘planetary cooling’; right panel) trajectories in local temperature. Species either go extinct based only on their tolerance to environmental conditions (‘environmental tolerance’ scenarios = blue curves), or where species go extinct not only when unable to cope with changed environmental conditions, but also following the depletion of their essential resources (‘co-extinction’ scenarios = magenta curves). Solid lines represent mean values, and shaded areas indicate the system boundaries (minimum-maximum) arising from 1000 randomly parametrized models (see Methods for details). Dotted lines show the decline in ‘tardigrade’ (extremophile) species richness in the environmental tolerance (blue) and in the co-extinction scenario (magenta) for both temperature trajectories. Source Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to computer models created by Dr Giovanni Strona of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, working with Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University Australia, 5-6C global warming would wipe out most life on Earth by collapsing food chains, even though individual species might on their own be able to survive such a shift.

Losing species to climate change causes global ‘extinction domino effect’

New research reveals the extinction of plant or animal species from extreme environmental change increases the risk of an “extinction domino effect’”that could annihilate all life on Earth.

This would be the worst-case scenario of what scientists call ‘co-extinctions’, where an organism dies out because it depends on another doomed species, with the findings published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

Think of a plant’s flower pollinated by only one species of bee — if the bee becomes extinct, so too will the plant eventually.

“Even the most resilient species will inevitably fall victim to the synergies among extinction drivers as extreme stresses drive ecosystems to collapse,” says lead author Dr Giovanni Strona of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, based in Ispra in northern Italy.

Researchers from Italy and Australia simulated 2000 virtual earths, linking animal and plant species. Using sophisticated modelling, they subjected the virtual earths to catastrophic environmental changes that ultimately annihilated all life.

What we were trying to test is whether the variable tolerances to extreme global heating or cooling by different species are enough to explain overall extinction rates,” says co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University.

“But because all species are connected in the web of life, our paper demonstrates that even the most tolerant species ultimately succumb to extinction when the less-tolerant species on which they depend disappear.

“Failing to take into account these co-extinctions therefore underestimates the rate and magnitude of the loss of entire species from events like climate change by up to 10 times.

“Another really important discovery was that in the case of global warming in particular, the combination of intolerance to heat combined with co-extinctions mean that 5-6 degrees of average warming globally is enough to wipe out most life on the planet,” says Dr Strona.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change

Giovanni Strona & Corey J. A. Bradshaw

Climate change and human activity are dooming species at an unprecedented rate via a plethora of direct and indirect, often synergic, mechanisms. Among these, primary extinctions driven by environmental change could be just the tip of an enormous extinction iceberg. As our understanding of the importance of ecological interactions in shaping ecosystem identity advances, it is becoming clearer how the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources — a process known as ‘co-extinction’ — is more likely the major driver of biodiversity loss. Although the general relevance of co-extinctions is supported by a sound and robust theoretical background, the challenges in obtaining empirical information about ongoing (and past) co-extinction events complicate the assessment of their relative contributions to the rapid decline of species diversity even in well-known systems, let alone at the global scale. By subjecting a large set of virtual Earths to different trajectories of extreme environmental change (global heating and cooling), and by tracking species loss up to the complete annihilation of all life either accounting or not for co-extinction processes, we show how ecological dependencies amplify the direct effects of environmental change on the collapse of planetary diversity by up to ten times.

Read more:

The strongest argument against the validity of this modelling exercise is that climate shifts of the magnitude described as catastrophic have already occurred in the recent past.

The Younger Dryas for example was an abrupt drop in temperature of between 2-6C in at least the Northern Hemisphere, which lasted for 1,200 years. The Younger Dryas occurred 12,900 years ago.

I’m not kidding when I say abrupt, some scientists suggest the Younger Dryas may have struck with full force in as little as a few months. In some locales such as Greenland the temperature shift was more extreme than 2-6C.

The recovery from the Younger Dryas was also very rapid in at least some locales, as you can see from the graph below.

Younger Dryas
This image shows temperature changes, determined as proxy temperatures, taken from the central region of Greenland’s ice sheet during Late Pleistocene and Beginning of Holocene. By United States Geological Survey –, Public Domain, Link

The Younger Dryas did not cause a mass extinction event, not even close. If observations contradict your model, time to have a closer look at the model.

Where did the researchers go wrong? The following quote from the study suggests one possible problem with their model;

At each step of the environmental-change trajectory, we removed from each locality all species with temperature-tolerance limits no longer compatible with the changed conditions (see Measuring environmental compatibility). This single mechanism defined species loss in the environmental-tolerance scenario. In the co-extinction scenario, in addition to the primary extinctions caused by climate change at each step, we also accounted for the loss of consumers driven to extinction by the depletion of their resources. In so doing, we explored various assumptions regarding the minimum amount of resources ensuring the survival of a consumer, and the ability of the food web to rearrange interactions following species loss (see Modelling co-extinctions). …

Read more: (Same link as above)

In the real world, species subject to heat or cold stress don’t just sit there and die, they migrate. Obviously there are isolated cases where migration is impossible, but the loss of say a handful of thick furred critters clinging to a mountain top in the middle of a tropical desert does not constitute a mass extinction event.

I’ll give the researchers credit that they provided the code associated with their research. If anyone has the time to analyse the code in depth, please post the result of your analysis in comments.

Update (EW): Forgot to include the money quote, the claim by the study authors that 5-6C could wipe out most life in the planet

Update 2 (EW): Percy Jackson points out that the study authors did attempt to emulate colonisation and migration due to environmental changes, so I was wrong about what is wrong with the model. Nevertheless there is something badly wrong with the model, because model predictions contradict evidence of resilience in the face of abrupt climate events which actually occurred, such as the Younger Dryas

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Tom Halla
November 14, 2018 12:11 pm

Wasn’t it rather more than 2 to 6 degrees warmer during the Cretaceous? or more than that colder during the last ice age cold period?
As if the basic premise was true, everything would have long since died off. And I thought Paul Ehrlich made bad predictions.

Tom Halla
November 14, 2018 12:12 pm

Wasn’t it rather more than 2 to 6 degrees warmer during the Cretaceous? or more than that colder during the last ice age cold period?
As if the basic premise was true, everything would have long since died off. And I thought Paul Ehrlich made bad predictions.
and the duplicate comment filter is acting as if made by Microsoft.

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 14, 2018 12:45 pm

Tom Halla make another double post, and as usual, adds a tag line that the comment filter is acting up.
So it is not really a double post.
I do not mean to be obnoxious, but this has really got me curious as to what is going on.
When you press the “Post Comment” button, do you use the mouse, like most of us at a computer would? (As opposed to some mobile device)
I had a mouse that started failing and would send out multiple “Button Down” events in rapid succession for every button click. Most apps were very tolerant of the errant behavior, making the trouble difficult to pinpoint. But some apps were most difficult to get to work.

Just a thought.

Joel Snider
Reply to  TonyL
November 14, 2018 1:26 pm

It takes a minute or two for posts to appear on the site, but I’ve never had one not appear.

Reply to  TonyL
November 15, 2018 10:35 am

I had a mouse do that exact same thing. It would bring up multiple pages (15-20) of the same thing with every click of the mouse. I was pulling my hair out & trying all kinds of fixes when someone told me it was probably the mouse going haywire. I bought a new mouse & the problem was solved.
I engraved that problem in my memory so as to never forget it.

Michael burns
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 14, 2018 1:53 pm

The time stamp sees the posts entered at diferent time –one minute apart….

Reply to  Michael burns
November 14, 2018 2:16 pm

Good point.
Consider this scenario.
1) The user presses the “Post Comment” button and the mouse sends out two or more button clicks.
2) The user’s browser sees the first button click and grabs the comment and queues it up to send to the host website.
3) The second button click immediately comes in to the button handler of the browser, so the browser “helpfully” queues up a second copy of the comment to send to the host.
4) The first copy of the comment goes off across the void to the host, which takes a moment or two for processing.
5) The second copy of the comment is now queued up for sending next………….

Don’t you just love modern technology.

Tom Halla
Reply to  TonyL
November 14, 2018 2:25 pm

I had no idea both were posting. You may be right.

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 14, 2018 2:39 pm

If you see the double post warning, then your first post is in the system, it just isn’t displaying yet.
Patience you padawan.

Reply to  TonyL
November 14, 2018 5:48 pm

Trick is we are dealing with wordpress, which is a rather buggy platform. Not as bad as others, still buggy.

Joel Snider
November 14, 2018 12:15 pm

Gambler’s Ruin meets the Butterfly Effect – important ingredients in any designer-model catastrophe.

Reply to  Joel Snider
November 14, 2018 12:42 pm

There are too many meanings for Gambler’s Ruin.

The butterfly effect describes the exquisite sensitivity of chaotic systems to very tiny changes in their initial conditions. I’m not sure that’s the case here. I suspect that, if you change the initial conditions slightly, the model results won’t change much. I also suspect that the model was, deliberately or subconsciously, designed to give the result it did.

Reply to  commieBob
November 14, 2018 3:36 pm

I created meself an model that when when I kill all dem Der planty thingies all da animals croaked also. See how smart I am. It should be published.

November 14, 2018 12:17 pm

….as long as they are going to make up numbers…might as well make it 50 degrees
….oh hell, make it 5000

Thomas Homer
Reply to  Latitude
November 14, 2018 12:32 pm

Latitude prods the researchers to magnify the changes in their modelling, but they already admit this was their intention:

[ ” Using sophisticated modelling, they subjected the virtual earths to catastrophic environmental changes that ultimately annihilated all life. ” ]

Did they try running their model with an ever dwindling amount of atmospheric CO2? A certainty of leading to ‘annihilating all life’.

Without stirring up a frenzy, how did they model the Laws of Evolution whereby each species can adapt to environmental changes?

Reply to  Thomas Homer
November 15, 2018 12:25 am

Someone said something to the effect of, “You only find things where you shine a light”. If these people only wanted to prove that heat would kill all life on Earth, that is all they would find. Not actually good science, I know, but you get what you pay for; activists, not scientists.

November 14, 2018 12:25 pm

The Club of Rome nut-cases predicted the extinction in Mankind in 100 years if we didn’t shape up.

Their analysis was flawed by the same problem — numerical models of complicated, complex systems that are non-linear in their very nature can not and do not provide valid predictions or projects of the future,

Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 14, 2018 1:26 pm

only problem with our complex system…is that it’s been stable too long
…all these critters have now branched off to exploit niche markets

…and every one of them gets a new name

Hocus Locus
Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 15, 2018 5:07 am

The MIT nut-cases, you mean. Club of Rome were the spooky monsignor money-men. I have to defend Limits To Growth (see it here, unabridged) a bit… as one who dabbled with mainframes as a kid in the mid 1970s, I have to admit it must have been a real blast to pull those crude graphs from miles of fan-fold paper and crafted algos, be they the simple spreadsheet macros of yesteryear. And sans error-bars they did admit to pursuing the worst case scenario. This was a best-selling book at the time — a companion to Erlich’s Population Bomb — and no one was immune to its unbounded pessimism.

They even “recommended” nuclear energy. Scare quotes because that’s what they did. Nuclear waste was presented as an ever increasing scream of terror, as if the patent office was closed and we’d forgotten how to dig… and cities themselves as thermodynamic heat engines of Doom as if the Earth was an insulated kiln.

Reply to  Hocus Locus
November 16, 2018 8:09 am

I remember well losing the access to the computer center for three days while they ran their final runs.

Please re-read the first part of Limits to Growth. The Drs Meadows and their grad students talk about using Dynamo and how their models were very crude (a sense of humility that got lost by the climate science community somewhere after the book was published). They were basically zeroth-order models and asked that anyone who had better model components should contact them so they could improve their models. They also introduced the concept of “projections”, rather than “forecasts” or (horrors) “predictions”.

And then, of course, the The Club of Rome mandarins wrote an Afterword to the book that basically took all the results as predictions and cranked up the doom. Sort of like a Summary for Policymakers.

We are now about 50 years into that 100-years-to-doom period. Not much has changed.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 15, 2018 1:32 pm

So any species has a single temperature range that above which, or below which, instantaneously 100% of the individuals immediately keel over dead? Uh, huh, no!

Sure sounds like these “researchers” don’t know a damned thing about species, and natural variability, and how natural selection works.

Expose a million humans to 110 degree F heat, and perhaps most of them will die. But many won’t. And those folks will still be around to procreate and produce offspring who will inherit their greater heat tolerance. That’s a pretty extreme example, far more extreme than the 6 deg C change postulated here in the linked post.

Expose the same million humans to 200 degrees, and yeah, they’ll all die. Of course.

The kinds of temperature increase here – up to 6 degrees C – is going to see the vast majority of species respond to natural selection rather non-violently, with most surviving, and those with the greatest heat tolerance will do the best and the overall population will become more heat tolerant. Same with most other species. Those species that are entirely intolerant of relatively small temperature increases are weak to begin with and likely would have died out for any number of causes given time.

The strong survive, the weak die. Natural selection.

And as others wrote, a 6 degree temp increase may cause species to relocate, or change their behavior, in order to adapt. Critters in the African Sahara may already be at the upper end of their heat tolerance, while critters in Alberta Canada could probably use a lot more warming than that.

Allan MacRae
November 14, 2018 12:41 pm

The next major extinction event will be driven by cold, not by heat.

Greg Woods
November 14, 2018 12:44 pm

‘According to computer models’ anything is possible…

Reply to  Greg Woods
November 14, 2018 11:01 pm

But models are absolutely perfect and their output should be trusted implicitly. Didn’t the IPCC’s 2013 report say something like this? No, my mistake. It said that 111 of 114 model runs predicted greater warming than had occurred over the previous 15 years and that “some models” overestimated the influence of greenhouse gases.
As I said, trust a model? You’d have to be joking!

Reply to  Greg Woods
November 15, 2018 12:44 am

Here’s my three line extinction model – easily as good as theirs:

Line 1: change in temperature
Line 2: Species going extinct per half degree change
Line 3: Line 1 times Line 2

The notion these big models do anything more than that is false. Breaking down Line 2 in to lots of other lines is spurious accuracy. You cannot make an assumption you don’t know more accurate by building it up from other assumptions you don’t know.

November 14, 2018 12:54 pm

Let’s do the math on what it takes for a 6C increase. Increasing the average temperature from 288K to 294K increases the average surface emissions by 33.6 W/m^2. Based on their wildly inflated ECS of 0.8C per W/m^2, this increase in emissions is cause by only 7.5 W/m^2 of forcing, which on the surface is absurd and even the IPCC claims won’t occur until CO2 levels have more than quadrupled from their presumed ‘optimum’ level of only 280 ppm. If we are already at peak oil, as many of these same alarmists like to claim, there’s not enough left to get CO2 levels that high unless we start burning limestone on a massive scale for the purpose of enriching atmospheric CO2. To be sure, we will need to do this to keep agriculture from crashing as the next ice age arrives.

If you use the more realistic ECS of 0.3C per W/m^2 and consider that we are only about half way to peak oil, the current 120 ppm increase from 280 ppm can potentially reach a 480 ppm increase for a total of 760 ppm which is less than 1.5 doublings, or less than 1 doubling from current levels. Considering the same inflated 3.7 W/m^2 of equivalent forcing per doubling, the max possible CO2 related forcing from burning fossil fuels is 5.5 W/m^2 corresponding to only about a 1.7C temperature increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution, most of which will be in colder regions and at night which would only be beneficial due to increased growing seasons, decreased heating costs and more pleasant weather. More realistically, considering a doubling from current levels is only about 1C and well within the 1.5C limit they now claim we need to meet. The best and only reasonable course of action is to do nothing about CO2 emissions, except to plan that someday we will need to artificially enhance atmospheric CO2 and we will be out of fossil fuels to do so.

November 14, 2018 12:56 pm

Models say insect sperm fails with heat, fossils say dragonflies grow to the size of a very big bird – what would you believe?

November 14, 2018 12:57 pm

So is Al Gore a ghost co-author now?

November 14, 2018 1:02 pm

What intrigues me about this is how nature knows the first extinction was caused by climate change and why that even matters.
This is the same nature that’s responds to man made CO2 differently than it does to natural CO2.

Nature – stop this. right now

HD Hoese
November 14, 2018 1:05 pm

From a half century old invertebrate zoology text about tardigrades.
“…and the animal can withstand abnormal environmental conditions. For example, specimens have recovered after immersion in liquid helium (-272° C)”, brine, ether, absolute alcohol, and other substances.” Guess this is not covered in simulated computer physiology experiments even though authors do give them exceptional abilities, maybe not knowing about nematodes.

Don’t know about the code, but this does sound like simulated ‘spontaneous generation.’
“Then we used the list of virtual species to ‘populate’ a set of localities extracted at random from all 1° × 1° Worldclim cells.”

Of 40 references, only two predate this century (1999) and 1983 (nuclear winter). While this is not defining, it is better than ‘impact factor.’

This is a computer game, but could be played otherwise. I have actually given some empirical thought as to what it would really take to make an ‘important’ marine species extinct along with what might subsequently happen. This might be valuable for conservation efforts, but most might not like the results since the concept of fragility now overwhelms resilient.

November 14, 2018 1:09 pm

So, basically, they got nothing except more fearmongering. Got it.

November 14, 2018 1:09 pm

Imagine a plant that is only pollinated by one thing… and never can be pollinated by anything else ever. As if shifts don’t happen all the time. As if seagulls don’t eat food trash that people leave. As if wildlife, people, etc, don’t move to where habitat is more hospitable, or adapt to the new normal if they decide not to move. Things change. Niches change. These articles basically say, “if this changes, nothing can adapt and everything will die.” History shows that this DOES NOT HAPPEN. Individual species may die off if they don’t adapt fast enough, but then their niche gets filled by something else that adapts to fill in the gap. It’s called evolution… I thought scientists believed in that?

James Clarke
Reply to  kcrucible
November 15, 2018 7:56 am

Yes. The main flaw, like most of these types of studies, is in the assumptions. For example, they measure species on resilience. What does that even mean? Adaptability is the key for species survival, not resilience. And these studies have always underestimated the adaptability of life.

November 14, 2018 1:12 pm

Heads up people !
The AGW lobby’s BS claims about runaway warming are about to be tested big time and they are going to be found wanting. Because within the next 7 days there will a major “ice age weather pattern” taking place over eurasia. Cold Polar will be flooding down across Russia and blocking over Greenland/northern europe will be drawing some it across europe. The only other time l have seen something on this scale before is in the old pressure charts for the 62/63 winter. l can only say thank god its happening in late Nov and not late Jan.

Joel Snider
Reply to  taxed
November 14, 2018 1:24 pm

Easy enough to spin that: ‘it’s caused by climate change’.

I should write for WAPO.

Reply to  Joel Snider
November 14, 2018 1:39 pm

Well l hope they do. Because it will end up destroying their credibility.

Joel Snider
Reply to  taxed
November 14, 2018 4:10 pm

That’s easy too:

“No, it doesn’t.’
Then they’ll get an expert to say so.

November 14, 2018 1:22 pm

My initial impression of the code is that nobody writes a serious model in a scripting language. I will give them credit for comments, which are better than we see in Model E, although the 3600 high 12 significant digit floating point ‘calibration’ constants undocumented as to their specific origin and uncertainty introduces massive uncertainty in how this ‘game of life simulator’ evolves. The origin and validity of the more than 10K other high precision floating point values referred to as quantifying thermal tolerance also makes the results somewhat suspect.

There also seem to be no accommodation for species evolution/adaption and the migration of related species. Countless species already exist at all possible temperatures predicted by these worst case fabrications by alarmists, so their presumptions of how temperature affects life forms seems dubious at best. The bottom line is that like in so many other cases like this, the uncertainty is woefully understated and there are far too many dials that can tune the behavior.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
November 15, 2018 12:37 am

So, short form:
1. There’s no provision for real life behaviour, like range migration or adaptation
2. It’s assumptions are largely undocumented
3. It was created to prove that life on Earth is doomed

BTW, what language was it written in?

Reply to  Hivemind
November 15, 2018 9:53 am


November 14, 2018 1:35 pm

Sucking CO2 out the atmosphere would most certainly kill us all.

Temperature is the least of our problems if the wacko greens get their way.

We are only ~250 ppm atmospheric CO2 away from guaranteed extinction at ~150 ppm.

I’ll happily risk my kids and grandkids enduring 1,000 ppm and the uncertain consequences of higher temperatures, as long as it moves them further away from what we know ill kill them, 100%.

Not that I imagine for a nanosecond CO2 causes the planet to warm.

November 14, 2018 1:38 pm

To understand how this works you need to consider the rules used in climate ‘science’ .
First rule of climate ‘science’ if the models and reality differ it is always reality which is in error , Secondly rule of climate ‘science’, used ‘skillfully ‘ models can generate the results you require in any situation .
Third rule of climate science, the press will often report on alarming results from models without review or follow up .
Four rule of climate ‘science’ by playing ‘find the lady ‘ you need never worry about being proved wrong
Fifth rule of climate ‘science’, no actual scientific ability is required , if the story is good enough you an always use ‘head you lose , tails I win ‘
Sixth rule of climate ‘science ‘, calling others ‘deniers ‘ and resorting to throwing insults at people ‘is ‘ acceptable professional practice .
Seventh rule of climate ‘science, the IPCC is your god you shall know no other .
Eight rule of climate science , there is no situation when it cannot be ‘worst than we thought ‘
Ninth rule of climate science, poor practice in adjustments to old data are acceptable , if these results increase the chances of grant money .
Tenth rule of climate science , Proxies are like winner the lottery without even buying a ticket , use them as often has you can .

November 14, 2018 1:39 pm

…Using sophisticated modelling, …

Any time you see worlds like this, your BS detector should go off. It is essentially an Appeal to Authority fallacy (argumentum ab auctoritate), but without even an authority.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
November 14, 2018 1:42 pm

Wouldn’t it be nice to read a climate article that said something like

…Using validated modeling …

Unless a model has been validated, it is just fiction from the head of the developer(s).

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
November 14, 2018 2:10 pm

Yes, in the modeling field I’m most familiar with, if the model is wrong, it will end up costing millions of dollars and months of delay to fabricate new tooling, moreover; these models are so complex, they make climate models seem trivial by comparison. You never depend on a single type of model, but develop many models at multiple levels of abstraction all of which need to get the same result. Best practices starts with the highest level model possible and then hierarchically synthesize the lower level details based on conformance to higher level models as constrained by the set of possible realizations all the while simulating the details independently at every level.

There’s no accepted high level climate model to compare low level GCM’s to, so these low level simulations essentially run open-loop leading to nonsense results. This is such a problem because converging to the optimum solution for how the climate system is behaving is an NP-complete problem which has virtually an infinite number of possible solutions, only one of which is optimum and only one of which will conform to the actual system. The climate system has too many degrees of freedom for how it adjusts itself in response to change to be able to simulate low level details and expect that the proper high level behavior will ever emerge.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
November 14, 2018 2:42 pm

Even better,

“Using laboratory data”

Smart Rock
November 14, 2018 1:46 pm

Being in the midst of the sixth mass extinction” …………….

………… are the very first words of the paper, after the abstract. It rather gives their game away, doesn’t it?

I’m still waiting for a list of the species that have been killed off in this anthropogenic global warming – caused mass extinction. Not the facile “every 11 minutes another species goes extinct” with the artful disclaimer that all those disappearing species belong to the “19 million species we haven’t discovered yet”. But a real list.

The smallpox virus went extinct in 1977. There’s one, but it wasn’t killed off by global warming, so perhaps it doesn’t count.

Reply to  Smart Rock
November 14, 2018 2:25 pm

Smallpox virus is only extinct in the wild.

Reply to  Smart Rock
November 14, 2018 2:39 pm

The ‘consensus’ on this thinks that under normal circumstances, .01% of all species go extinct each year. The math doesn’t add up though, since it’s also said that only 99.9% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct, but if the rate is .01% per year, over the 3.5 billion years life has been present on Earth, far, far more than 99.9% of all species that have ever existed will have gone extinct, yet we know of some, like tartigrades, versions of which are known to have been around for at least half a billion years. When a species goes extinct for reasons other than a catastrophic natural event, it’s usually because it was obsoleted by a better version of itself, so new species tend to be added at about the same rate that they’re disappearing. What’s the big deal?

Reply to  co2isnotevil
November 15, 2018 12:48 am

The biggest deal is probably that their model didn’t have any provision for the creation of new species that were better adapted to their current environments. Talk about an unskilled implementation!

November 14, 2018 2:15 pm

Let’s see now, 5-6 degrees at the standard lapse rate of 6.9 deg/1000 m equals an altitude change of 720-870 meters. So in mountainous areas life zones would have to move that much higher.
Here are some figures for the treeline in the Colombian Andes during the last glacial cycle based on Lake Fuquene palynology:

110,000 years ago: 3400 m
88,500 years ago: 2550 m
69,500 years ago: 3200 m
65,800 years ago: < 2200 m
63,300 years ago: 2600-3000 m (short warming interval)
55,500 years ago: 2200 m
53,500 years ago: 3000 m
20,000-26,000 years ago: 2000 m
13,000 years ago: 3200 m
8300-3200 years ago: 3400 m
Now: 3200 m

Source: Bogota, R. G. et al 2011. Rapid climate change from north Andean Lake Fúquene pollen records driven by obliquity: Implications for a basin-wide biostratigraphic zonation for the last 284 ka. Quaternary Science Reviews 30(23-24):3321-3337 DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.08.003

So a 700-900 meter altitude change is in no way unusual for the Andes and certainly doesn’t cause any major extinctions there.

And this was only 5 degrees from the Equator. Of course at higher latitudes temperature changes were vastly larger.

It seems that this rather absurd “paper” does not take any range shifts into account, and also blithely assumes that the current ranges of all species are completely natural and unaffected by human influences and delimits their maximum climatic tolerance, something anyone with minimal knowledge of biogeography and paleontology knows is almost never true.

Bruce Cobb
November 14, 2018 2:46 pm

And 5 – 6C cooling would put us deep into another ice age, which would be disastrous for humans, and lots of other things. So?

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 15, 2018 6:09 am

Yes, but almost all species would survive, since they have all been through this before. Repeatedly.

John in Oz
November 14, 2018 2:54 pm

Using sophisticated modelling, they subjected the virtual earths to catastrophic environmental changes that ultimately annihilated all life.

But…but…but…we used sophisticated modelling, not just your plain, boring and inaccurate ordinary modelling.

Wallaby Geoff
November 14, 2018 4:10 pm

This is just a nonsense study to keep an academic busy, based on a false premise of 5- 6C degrees of warming. Ignore.

November 14, 2018 4:51 pm

These radical bribed … er I mean paid so called ‘scientist’ just keep on getting more and more crazy ideas/forecast as time goes on. It’s all big wild ass guess with no end in sight. It pays good, while it last.

Percy Jackson
November 14, 2018 5:50 pm

Your suggest about what is wrong with the model is clearly wrong. You state
“In the real world, species subject to heat or cold stress don’t just sit there and die, they migrate. ” Which
is included in the model as the authors note “Furthermore, we permitted the replenishment of depleted populations through regular immigration of recruits from surrounding areas” and similarly “Before and while applying environmental change to the virtual Earths, we simulated dispersal processes between communities, with the success of colonization contingent on dispersal distance, and on the ability of a potential colonizer to enter the target community by displacing other species through superior competitive ability.” So migration to other areas is included in the model.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
November 15, 2018 6:03 am

And if you think that can be realistically modelled in a computer I have a nice bridge in New York I would like to sell to you.

November 14, 2018 10:41 pm

We have a planet wuth a variable temperature, from the Poless to the Equater. From Death Vaalley to the neaar constant 32 C of the tropiical seas.

We have the ups and downs of the land masses, and overall we have winds, moving vast amount of energy around.

So how is it possible to say we have a worrlds average temperature.

As far as species are concerned they move. The GBR for example, every year they seeed. Billions of new life seeds float up. They will go in every direction. So if for example they are moved South and its colder, then if they cannot survive they die. Same goes for those moved North , if its too hot they die, although theree are some beautiful Coraals in Madang in PNG and that is close to the Equater.

All life forms move, we tend to on retirement move to a location which suits us at that time in our lives. A lot of tourests go to the likes of Bali and other parts of S.E. Asia. True its cheaper than going to Northern Canada, but to a lot of people its nice to go from cold Melbourne to Baali.

Computer models are no more realible than going to a fortune teller and getting your future told. The operater tells their forcasst based on your reactions, and they are ver y good at it, but that does not mean it will turn out that way.

When these computer weather forcaasters can tell us with a high degree of accuracy what the weather will be in say three months time, I might agree that they have a degree of accuracy, but not before.

Its been a Con job ever since Maurace STRONG decided that he preeferred Solialism to Capitalism.


Alan the Brit
November 15, 2018 12:59 am

“Another really important discovery was that in the case of global warming in particular, the combination of intolerance to heat combined with co-extinctions mean that 5-6 degrees of average warming globally is enough to wipe out most life on the planet,”

Wow! A computer model has made a “DISCOVERY”! What next? Will they “prove” there really are little green men on Mars, using their infallible puter models?


November 15, 2018 3:49 am

abc radio i aus is all over this…sigh, there isnt a clifi item they wont run with.

November 15, 2018 5:43 am

Microbes are extraordinarily diverse; so diverse that the concept of a species is extremely fluid in the microbial context due to an incredibly high rate of exchange of genetic material in these bugs. For instance, members of a microbial taxon with a “species-like” Latin name may have a total of 10,000 genes (pan-genome) in aggregate with only 5,000 genes (core genome) that are shared among all members. In the face of this biological reality, modeling ecological diversity as if it represents elements in a finite periodic table is absurd.

Missing niches are rapidly filled, well before one can realize that they went “missing”. In one George Church lab study, conducted in laboratory glassware, it took less than a fleeting moment on a climate timescale to find at least one soil microbe that could grow on one of over a dozen antibiotics as the sole source of carbon with entirely distinct mechanisms of antibiotic action. These soil microbes may never have seen the respective antibiotics in their evolutionary history but pounced on the opportunity when given a chance. And even if they had, given how fluid genetic material is passed around, they would soon be passing on the secret to surviving and relishing the antibiotic as a new food source to other “species” around them.

If someone claims that the biomass of today’s world can be reduced to one or a few species in a set of conditions that is already known to flourish with any kind of life, they are wrong. In fact, I think that it is is impossible – thanks to the collective knowledge gained by 4 billion years of evolution. So what happens to terrestrial biomass in their scenario? Let us say 1% of the total biomass is DNA. Just 1g of DNA is a sequence of 10^15 base pairs (bp). One gene is 10-100 thousand bp long. There is no way to model what may come out of the megatonnes of earth’s DNA with bazillion gazillion genes. We could look around us and make some guesses. One thing we can be sure of is that DNA, which is naturally replicated by an error-prone polymerase to guarantee evolution, will not exist as a small number of clones of itself and resist evolution. Of course, life may change with climate, but extinction down to a few species, forget it! I believe that we have very little idea about what happened to microbial life during geological mass extinctions. Perhaps, the microbes that survived created the niches for life to adapt. May be evolution – measured in terms of new species created – just accelerates in times of rapid environmental change.

November 15, 2018 6:00 am

You just have to take a quick look at their “cold” diagram to realize that this is utter hogwash. It is arguable that it is a long time since global temperatures were more than about 2 C warmer than now, so it is possible that there would be unforeseeable effects. But there has been about 50 ice ages during the last 2.5 million years, so there are virtually no species on Earth that do not have a proven ability to survive a glacial period with extensive cooling. There is no way that a 1-2 degree cooling will halve diversity like they claim, because that would already have happened. Many, many times.

Also note that the diversity curves go straight down. There is no plateau near zero. Life forms in their modelled world apparently have absolutely no tolerance for any climate change whatsoever, either warming or cooling. Utterly ridiculous.

Gary Pearse
November 15, 2018 11:15 am

5-6C of warming! Wow this must be RPC18.5. This rampant idiocy is how the whole catastrophic global warming meme becomes extinct! As a technical point, were the average to rise 5-6C, the tropics would be essentially unchanged _ max ocean temps of 31C. The warmth would simply spread poleward, ice caps would possibly disappear as per the Mesozoic.

The much warmer than present Eocene had a California climate up as far as the Arctic Circle. In the Ekati diamond mine in Northwest Territories, chunks of preserved redwood trees were found at 300m deep in the open pit due to the explosive eruption of the volcanic diamond bearing kimberlite pipe in the midst if a redwood forest.

BTW, the location of Ekati in terns of latitude was not far from its present location in the Eocene.

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