Earth Day 2019: The sixth mass extinction and the imperative of apocalypse

Having celebrated Earth Day and warned of various dimensions of environmental collapse since 1970, are there any circumstances even barely conceivable under which the environmental left would say that no more Earth Days are needed?

By Benjamin Zycher

Earth Day—Lenin’s birthday—stands for the proposition that environmental crises both immediate and looming are eternal, with mankind always the central cause, and that the unbroken record of failure of Earth Day doom and gloompredictions for almost five decades actually should be a source of pride.

In short, in terms of its endless predictions of apocalypse, the environmental left truly believes—indeed, it is driven to believe, it must believe, it cannot believe otherwise—that an invincible record of past failure is irrelevant with respect to future performance, a point to which we return below.

My AEI colleague Mark Perry has had considerable fun with all of this, but he misses a larger and more important point: While it always is amusing to speculate about the nature of the next environmental scare campaign, Earth Day serves a real purpose.

To wit, it tells us what the next purported environmental crisis will be: an exercise in mass propaganda about the next parade that corporations, think tanks, politicians, pundits, people with big checking accounts, GoFundMe practitioners, kids with piggy banks, undergraduates with ample spare time, and the bureaucracy have a moral obligation to join. And join they will, without need of independent thinking, lest karma in the form of public shaming and the environmental version of the Passover plagues proves to be a harsh mistress.

The Earth Day theme this year is “Protect Our Species,” a clear sign that the anthropogenic climate hysteria is likely to have peaked, due to an utter absence of evidence in support of the “climate crisis” story line, the trivial effects and massive costs of any plausible climate policies, the huge economic benefits of fossil fuels, and the resulting reality that those policy proposals are political nonstarters. Accordingly, for Earth Day this year the climate crisis has been relegated to a back burner, upstaged by the assertion that

…human beings have irrevocably upset the balance of nature and, as a result, the world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. But unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of human activity.

It gets worse or, rather, better:

Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals—the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.

Wow. Perhaps half of all species will be extinct in 31 years? Are the “scientists” making these forecasts among those who have predicted the other forms of environmental destruction for decades? Well, yes: One of the leading proponents of this latest hypothesis of hell on earth is the ineffable Paul Ehrlich, the very same Ehrlich who informed us repeatedly decades ago that a partial mass extinction of humanity from starvation would take place no later than the 1980s, an exercise in Malthusian silliness rather inconsistent with the reality that global food prices have remained constant even as the global population has increased by 110 percent since 1970. Oops.

In any event, it is clear that “scientists” do not know even how many species exist, even within an order of magnitude. And so it is also unclear precisely how “scientists” know how many are being lost annually, let alone the causes, notwithstanding the Pavlovian assertion from the environmental left that mankind is to blame. Of course.

Let us delve briefly into what we do know. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports in its Red List that, of the 98,512 species that it has assessed, over 27,000 are “threatened with extinction.” A recent editorial in Nature argues:

If all currently threatened species were to go extinct in a few centuries and that rate continued, the die-offs would soon reach the level of a mass extinction—the kind of biological catastrophe that ended the reign of the dinosaurs and that has happened only five times in Earth’s history. The sixth mass extinction could come in a couple of centuries or a few millennia, but it lies somewhere in the future if nations keep to their present course.

Stewart Brand notes in a review of that argument that

The range of dates in that statement reflects profound uncertainty about the current rate of extinction. Estimates vary a hundred-fold—from 0.01 per cent to 1 per cent of species being lost per decade. . . . So, if all of those went extinct in the next few centuries, and the rate of extinction that killed them kept right on for hundreds or thousands of years more, then we might be at the beginning of a human-caused Sixth Mass Extinction.

Even under those extreme assumptions about the future trends, a theoretical species crisis “hundreds or thousands of years” distant is rather different from the imminent Earth Day warning that “as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly [are] heading toward extinction by mid-century.” Brand notes also:

The fossil record shows that biodiversity in the world has been increasing dramatically for 200 million years and is likely to continue. The two mass extinctions in that period (at 201 million and 66 million years ago) slowed the trend only temporarily.

John C. Briggs shows in a recent journal article that “for the past 500 years, terrestrial animals (insects and vertebrates) have been losing less than two species per year due to human causes.” In a much broader context, Brand shows that the number of genera has increased from about 1,000 just before the fourth mass extinction 200 million years ago to over 5,000 now. (Genera are the next taxonomic level up from species and are easier to detect in the fossil record.) Table 1 shows the effects of the five historical mass extinctions in terms of the number of genera.

Table 1. Approximate Genera Numbers Before and After Five Mass Extinctions

Mass ExtinctionYears Ago (Millions)Genera BeforeGenera After
Late Ordovician4501,700900
Late Devonian3751,6001,000
End Permian2501,200500
End Triassic2001,000700
End Cretaceous653,0002000
Modern Period05,000+N/A

Source: Stewart Brand, “Rethinking Extinction,” Aeon, April 21, 2015.

Note that the number of genera has increased sharply from about 700 to over 5,000 since the end of the Triassic period 200 million years ago. Nature seems to have recovered after each of the previous mass extinctions, and even a loss of half of the current known genera—not an outcome to be applauded, to put it mildly—still would leave more than 2,500 genera, more than existed from 540 million to almost 100 million years ago.

Again, these are hypotheticals, dubious ones far from having been demonstrated as “reality” in any sense. They are therefore little more than assertions, far from desirable, but sufficiently distant in time that under the highly questionable assumption that they come to emerge, even slow per capita increases in human incomes would allow humanity to correct them. Accordingly, they are radically different from the current Earth Day dogma that a species Armageddon looms only three decades hence.

That is an essential truth that returns us to the endless Earth Day pronouncements of imminent catastrophe. Merely conduct a simple conceptual experiment: Having celebrated Earth Day and warned of various dimensions of environmental collapse since 1970, are there any circumstances even barely conceivable under which the environmental left would say that no more Earth Days are needed?

The question answers itself. An admission that there are no more apocalypses to fear obviously would destroy the movement in a heartbeat, so retreat is unthinkable as a matter of principle. Accordingly, it is precisely the unbroken record of Earth Day predictive failures that guarantees its infinite continuation, because only those who truly believe in the dogma will be willing in the face of an unbroken record of predictive failure to remain in the trenches, together with those whose livelihoods are tied to each succeeding crisis. In short, the Earth Day tradition of apocalypse is in a trap of its own making. It is an imperative that cannot stop.

That is why modern left-wing environmentalism fundamentally is a religious movement, with Earth Day as its central holiday. No amount of contrary evidence can dissuade its believers from belief. Since ancient times, mass fires, destructive weather, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteor strikes, and other such environmental calamities have been interpreted as the gods’ punishment of men for the sins of Man. And so for millennia the pagans attempted to prevent such horrors by worshipping golden idols, just as modern left-wing environmentalists now attempt to do the same by bowing down before recycling bins and by proselytizing in particular to the young.

At a more general level, a reasonable summary of the permanent Earth Day religious dogma is straightforward: In the beginning, earth was the Garden of Eden. But mankind, having consumed the forbidden fruit of the tree of technological knowledge, has despoiled it. And only through repentance and economic suffering can we return to the loving embrace of Mother Gaia. That it is ordinary people—in particular the third-world poor and not the environmental elites—who will suffer the adverse effects of the Earth Day policy agenda is sufficient by itself to question the never-ending nostrums of Earth Day.

Benjamin Zycher is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

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mike the morlock
April 22, 2019 8:16 pm

Earth day is as dead as Lenin and needs his embalmer.

Lenin is doing better.


Dave Fair
April 22, 2019 8:48 pm

Anyone that actually believes that 50% of all species on earth will go extinct over the next 31 years should not be allowed to vote, serve in the military, drive, etc. Its assertion is a cynical ploy by the various and sundry donation hounds and rent-seekers. None of them actually believe it.

Bryan A
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 22, 2019 10:58 pm

Definitely shouldn’t be allowed to procreate

Reply to  Bryan A
April 23, 2019 12:26 am

But Sir David Attenbollocks just told us we are already “half way through” the next mass extinction.

You mean he lied?

Reply to  Greg
April 23, 2019 4:39 am

Not knowingly. He’s old, and possibly been senile for a good while. The older I grow, the less I see value in what he has done. He speaking obvious figurative bullschit is no longer a surprise.

UK Sceptic
Reply to  Greg
April 23, 2019 8:28 am

Sir David Utterbollocks is more descriptive and 100% accurate.

Reply to  Dave Fair
April 23, 2019 5:13 am

I am absolutely fascinated by this repeated meme: Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.

I want A LIST OF THE NAMES of these species. I want it in writing, published where everyone can see it and make a note of it and just what difference it’s going to make. Accuweather is now promoting the “extinction” of that inbred rat on some small island off the coast of Australia. Didn’t WUWT do an article on that critter several weeks ago? And just WHAT impact will it have if it DOES go extinct? If it is descended from an import – a rat that jumped onto a ship in the 19th century – just how is it important to anything except as a local food source?????

Having spent many years observing the birds coming to my feeding station, if there’s no food there, they go elsewhere to find it. If I have a bunch of grackles in my yard picking up the seeds that were dropped by other birds, fine by me. I doubt seriously that the disappearance of grackles or cowbirds from my yard has any “extinction” significance, because they have enough sense to go elsewhere. And that is a LOT more than I can say for the majority of the people who pound this “mass extinction” stuff and throw it at us with no specifics.

I want specifics on this extinction rate. It appears to me to be something that is just tossed at the rest of us with a request for more money. And I’m calling HOGWASH on it.

Chris Wright
Reply to  Sara
April 23, 2019 5:59 am

“I want A LIST OF THE NAMES of these species….”
Willis summed it up quite neatly a few years ago. He said something like: if so many species are going extinct, then where are the bodies?

michael hart
Reply to  Chris Wright
April 23, 2019 11:24 am

Yes, I only saw that recently. Here is a link to his talk.

Bryan A
Reply to  Sara
April 23, 2019 10:08 am

Recreate the inbred rat populace and release them back into the wild on that Cay. Leave the extinvtion scientises scratching their heads (if they could find them)

Reply to  Bryan A
April 23, 2019 3:13 pm

Just release a dozen or so Rattus rattus, male and female. Soon any whatsis rats present will either be dead or have happy little hybrid rat families. Within a hundred years the whole little island will be swept clean again by a monsoon leaving a new habitat for another Darwinian try.

Malcolm Carter
Reply to  Sara
April 24, 2019 10:43 am

I think if the grackles left your yard and flew to your neighbours that qualifies as a local extinction. Add that to the robins that I haven’t seen so far this year and the total is two local extinctions. Its worse than I thought.

Reply to  Dave Fair
April 23, 2019 7:29 am

Unfortunately, people like my mother believe it. Elderly, writes checks to Audubon and WWF to keep their silly tote bags and note pads coming in the mail. Flips the channel from MSNBC to NatGeo channel and weeps for the pretty animals who are ALL in jeopardy. Her sister has become a vegan at age 74 because animal cruelty, now peddled like porn on Facebook. They both hate Trump with blinding, irrational passion and believe devoutly that we have irrevocably destroyed the earth. Facts and reasonable arguments have no effect whatsoever because it FEELZ like it must be true.

It IS a religion. And they WANT to believe. Doomsday Cult.

Dave Fair
April 22, 2019 8:49 pm

Is it just me, or did anyone notice Earth Day today?

J Mac
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 22, 2019 10:25 pm

It’s 10:28pm. Thanks for the reminder.

Bryan A
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 22, 2019 11:00 pm

Earth Day…I thought it was mirth day

Reply to  Bryan A
April 23, 2019 5:52 am

No, “Hour of Power”.

Bryan A
Reply to  Hivemind
April 23, 2019 4:40 pm

Hour of no power

Reply to  Bryan A
April 24, 2019 8:32 am

Dictionary dot com seems to think you wanted the word “callous”

2. insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic:
They have a callous attitude toward the sufferings of others.

This is a dictionary of American english, you might get a different answer from an Australian or U.K. dictionary.

James Bull
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 23, 2019 2:20 am

Time to turn on as many electrical devices as possible then.

James Bull

Dave Fair
Reply to  James Bull
April 23, 2019 9:49 am

When traveling, my fellow electric utility types and I would go around turning on all the electrical devices at or various hotels/motels, joking that we were load building to help out the local utility.

Bryan A
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 23, 2019 10:10 am

Well worth saying twice

Dave Fair
Reply to  James Bull
April 23, 2019 9:49 am

When traveling, my fellow electric utility types and I would go around turning on all the electrical devices at or various hotels/motels, joking that we were load building to help out the local utility.

Bryan A
Reply to  Dave Fair
April 23, 2019 10:10 am

Well worth saying twice

April 22, 2019 8:54 pm

The planet does not care if there are no more tigers left. Nor does the Sambar deer. Only we do because we want them around so we can continue to look at them.
In other words, if you worry about extinction all the time, you will be miserable all the time because extinction is part of life and it’s the reason we are here to complain about it.
I can understand the ”Attenborough Urge” to save that rare little bird or that spider but in the end it won’t count for much. If the sabre toothed tiger was around today we would try to save that to.
My friend would say that is what separates us from the rest of nature. I would say if you don’t believe in a creator – which he doesn’t – then you must agree that humans killing off tigers is just as natural as any other extinction.
Am I too callus? Maybe.. I still consider myself an environmentalist. I plant trees and I encourage natural life on my property but I think that’s purely a selfish pursuit.

Reply to  Mike
April 23, 2019 6:34 am

“Am I too callus?”

No, but you might be too callous. 🙂

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
April 23, 2019 8:22 am


Bryan A
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
April 23, 2019 4:57 pm

The planet doesn’t care if there is anything inhabiting it. It’s just an 8000mi diameter rock with surface water in liquid form hurtling through space at roughly 66,000 mph stuck in the gravity well of a star which is itself hurtling through the galaxy at 514,000 mph which in turn is traveling at 1.3m mph through the universe

Dave Fair
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
April 23, 2019 10:49 am

Did you look at his feet, Jeff?

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
April 23, 2019 5:43 pm

No, I meant callus. Or callused….Maybe the wrong word but not callous.

Reply to  Mike
April 23, 2019 7:36 am

“you will be miserable all the time.”

Nailed it! Anyone else here noticed that Leftists pretty much ARE “miserable all the time?” That’s because they believe everything in life is a “problem,” and they have infinite guilt because they can’t solve it, which is their hair-shirt as the self-appointed Ruling Class. The fact that none of them DOES anything to “solve” most problems, beyond emoting and virtue-signaling, is entirely beside the point. They believe life is a perfectable state, but since it isn’t perfect they’re not allowed to be happy. Wouldn’t be right. And they think you’re just ill-informed if you ARE happy. Sometimes I think they’re just a consortium of chemical depressives looking for life to validate their endless bummer.

Jon Salmi
Reply to  Goldrider
April 23, 2019 11:42 am

Goldrider, you have something there, guilt seems to be at the core of nearly every liberal I have ever
gotten in a deep political or environmental discussion with. It must truly be a terrible burden. Few have any idea of what to do about their guilt except as you say emoting and virtue signaling. Rather than taking well-thought-out actions they depend on government to guide them. When I tell them I feel guilt only about certain of my personal decisions, they act flabbergasted. Perhaps some psychologists need to get into their heads and find the root of their soul-seering guilt.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Goldrider
April 24, 2019 5:23 am


Picking up on the hair shirt angle, it is interesting (sort of) that the main leader of the Spanish Inquisition wore a hair shirt at night. It was extremely uncomfortable – the idea being to be tortured all night and wake sleepless in the morning having suffered for the good of all – and then pass it on, of course, throughout the day.

It is a form of virtue signaling (if you talk about it). Do you see a parallel between the “voluntary suffering of the ruling class” expressed as their need to step forward and take the throne and rule the masses for their own good in a manner that will expunge their misbehaviours?

I do.

In the past the self-righteous have accomplished much, a great deal, ma-a-any things. Most, not so nice.

April 22, 2019 8:57 pm

Comedian Billy Connolly once summed up the pontificating of environmental and other ‘experts’ –
“How do they f’n know??”

Anthony Banton
Reply to  Mr.
April 23, 2019 1:28 am

““How do they f’n know??””

In that case, you could say, how do we know anything?
Just because we don’t know everything – it doesn’t mean we know nothing.
Else mankind would have gotten anywhere.

Reply to  Anthony Banton
April 23, 2019 5:00 am

I put up that question (how do they know?) when I hear people complaining using sourceless or badly sourced data with weak framing and alarming conclusion – as in “freaking many species died / will die soon and you shall submit to our policies because of that”.

Often these come from NGOs pushing for certain social or policy goal such as higher female paychecks, more tax money on the cause, or taxes to reach human behavioral goals such as excessive taxing of fuel. It all boils down to killing discussion by framing ‘others’ as whale-killers, bigots, white supr emacists, moonlanding-hoaxers etc.

What is said is partly just a big lie, partly a partial truth, but often the public has little means to change the biased public discussion on the topic held ongoing by national public broadcasters.

They don’t ask my opinion, they just pretend wonder why I like to kill whales as all good prople are on the other side.

Reply to  Anthony Banton
April 23, 2019 6:36 am

“In that case, you could say, how do we know anything?”

By your reasoning, it’s ok to spout patent nonsense as long as you’re “saving the planet”? Not even a little evidence needed?

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
April 23, 2019 9:23 am

“Not even a little evidence needed?”

It’s the creed he lives by.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Anthony Banton
April 23, 2019 12:15 pm

What a cheap dodge.

April 22, 2019 9:10 pm

The current day CC extinctions exist only in computer models. As real as any contrived statistical projections, like 2.5 species going extinct everyday now. Not 2.3 species/day, nor 2.7 species/day. But precisely 2.5(+/- 0.1) species/day disappear everyday entirely due to CC.
To the ignorant Left, raised on computer games and SciFi simulations, that in silico-synthesized result is as real as the sun rising in the eastern sky tomorrow. As real as Avenger superheros flying across a CGI sky.
Amazingly many of today’s “educated” consensus climate scientists call synthesized computer model results “data”.

So given their lack of critical thinking, is it any wonder that species-not-named are dying every day from an inert, trace gas gas increase? After all, even climate pseudo-scientists and tarot card readers need to make a living by telling the future.

All cynicism aside of the Climate Change idiocy… We live in an Amazing Era of Prosperity and Human Ingenuity and Intellectual Advancement. Real advances are being made to living standards aound the world. Everyday.
People should be relishing in how much better we have it today than 30 years or 300 years ago. We live in an amazing age where use of fossil fuels are allowing unbelievable advances, advances that can make fossil fuels irrelevant if we continue on a path of higher energy density. And not a path to lower energy density.

Meanwhile, the Socialist-Malthusians desires for power-density that will to destroy all of that. Their wind and solar power “solutions” take us back to the equivalent energy density of cavemen burning dung and wooden sticks over a firepit to cook a 1/2 day-old dead rabbit. Meanwhile they completely ignore that very real need to use copious fossil fuels to manufacture and install even a single wind turbine or solar farm. Yet they want 100’s of thousands more turbnes and solar installations that will have to be replaced every 20 years or so. Ignorant beyond belief.

Nuclear fission power generated electricity moves us up to the next higher level of energy density from oil, gas, and coal, without any intrinsic emissions. And the environment of this planet will be the better for it.
Anytime you find a Green zealot who is against Nuclear Power, you know you have found a Socialist-Malthusian who would be happy to see 90% of the Global human population disappear. Then ask them if their caveman-style survival skills are up to the task.

Ron Long
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 23, 2019 3:57 am

Good of you to support nuclear, Joel and you are right about low-impact. If care about design, location, and safety standards were exerted the result would be really positive. Radiation? Some people just can’t deal with it. A green visiting me recoiled at the horrors of radiation, and I turned on my small detector and got some bananas and showed her that radiation was everywhere, and normal, but when the detector showed radiation coming from the bananas it made things much worse. Why is this? Reality makes things worse? Looks like some mas brain-washing is happening.

mark green
April 22, 2019 9:45 pm

Environmentalists often overstate their case. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing and disturbing reduction in the number of wild megafauna worldwide. Soon, many majestic animals may be observable only in zoos.

There is a massive reduction in the number of large wild animals. The list famously includes the (truly threatened) African rhino and numerous wild cats and even some bird species. While extinction may not result, the enormous reduction of wild tigers and other great beasts is truly regrettable.

Human hunting and human-caused habitat destruction are the primary culprits.

David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  mark green
April 22, 2019 10:29 pm

And the obsession with blaming the climate means opportunities are lost to mitigate these tragedies.

Reply to  David Guy-Johnson
April 22, 2019 10:56 pm

There is no “tragedy” in the extinction of a species. Millions of such extinctions have occurred and millions more will occur in the future. Extinctions are perfectly natural, and, what’s more, imperative. Why whine about it?

Reply to  brians356
April 23, 2019 1:10 am

Absolutely true!
The ”Extinction Rebellion” would not be around to complain extinctions if it were not for earlier extinctions.
Ask a Sambar deer if they mind tigers going extinct. It’s all relative.
We only consider extinction as how it relates to us…not the planet, which couldn’t give a toss.

Reply to  brians356
April 23, 2019 2:47 am

There is tragedy because tragedy is a human construct.

Some of us like the look of tigers, as long as they aren’t eating us, and others like to eat various parts of them [ Most of us would be sad if they disappeared, would even consider it a tragedy.

But peak carnivores have chosen a precarious ecological niche and are constantly in danger of losing their patch ; sabre-toothed cats, american lions, giant short-faced bear, dire wolf, american cheetah, australian drop bear-where are they now?

If people were around to observe these extinctions they would probably have considered them blessings. It’s only with hindsight and a life protected from nature’s red teeth and claws that we consider their loss a tragedy.

And does the planet care?
No more or less than about the survival or extinction of a bacteria.

Reply to  brians356
April 23, 2019 2:36 pm

never any mention of new species filling the void left by the recently extinct. It’s a two way highway, and species (and genera) will be still traveling both ways long after one particular species has become a minor part of the geologic record.

Reply to  mark green
April 22, 2019 10:30 pm

Mark Green – why are the radical greens so anti-environmental?

7. Radical greens have caused enormous harm to the environment, for example:

· Clear-cutting the tropical rainforests to grow sugar cane and palm oil for biofuels;

· Rapid draining of the vital Ogallala aquifer in the USA for corn ethanol and biodiesel production;

· Clear-cutting forests in the eastern USA to provide wood for the Drax power plant in Britain;

· Destructive bird-and-bat-chopping wind power turbines.

8. Why are the radical greens so anti-environmental?

Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder and Past-President of Greenpeace, provided the answer decades ago. Moore observed that Eco-Extremism is the new “false-front” for economic Marxists, who were discredited after the fall of the Soviet Union circa 1990 and took over the Green movement to further their political objectives. This is described in Moore’s essay, “Hard Choices for the Environmental Movement” written in 1994 – note especially “The Rise of Eco-Extremism”, at

For radical greens, it was never about the environment – the environment was a smokescreen for their extreme-left totalitarian political objectives.

To better understand radical green objectives, see, excerpted below:

· “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”
– Club of Rome, premier environmental think-tank, consultants to the United Nations

[end of excerpt]


Regards, Allan

April 23, 2019 4:14 am

“· Clear-cutting forests in the eastern USA to provide wood for the Drax power plant in Britain;”

From everything I’ve read, this not happening. Land is clear cut for lumber and pulp, but only scraps, trashy trees, undesirable species, undersized trees, etc (along with sawdust and wood waste products) are used for wood pellets. It’s actually a great use for a waste resource that formerly was burned or left to rot, and damaged/crappy trees left standing after a clear cut. This talking point needs go away because it’s not true, except perhaps in cases where an owner wants to get rid of marginal tracts and start over with better plantings.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  icisil
April 23, 2019 5:42 am

“From everything I’ve read, this not happening. Land is clear cut for lumber and pulp, but only scraps, trashy trees, undesirable species, undersized trees, etc (along with sawdust and wood waste products) are used for wood pellets. It’s actually a great use for a waste resource that formerly was burned or left to rot

California ought to look into doing this. They could reduce the available material that usually burns up in deadly forest fires and turn all that wood into a positive rather than a negative.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Tom Abbott
April 23, 2019 10:46 am

Actually, those pellets come mainly from farmed timber in the Southeast U.S.

Reply to  icisil
April 23, 2019 5:58 am

“only scraps, trashy trees, undesirable species, undersized trees, etc … are used for wood pellets”

That’s just so implausible. You simply can’t get enough waste wood to run a large power station. Other reports I’ve seen also say that they are clear-felling forests to get enough wood.

Reply to  Hivemind
April 23, 2019 8:51 am

I’d like to see those reports. I have seen a picture of a logging truck full of logs in an article by an environmental watchdog that was imilying it was proof of clear cutting for wood pellets. The problem is, though, that the logs weren’t of sufficient size or quality (twisted/deformed) for lumber. A couple of logs were large enough, but they could have been rotten, had barbed wire embedded in them, or been an undesirable lumber species.

Reply to  Hivemind
April 23, 2019 9:01 am

And btw, there is almost as much “waste” wood in a tree as there is lumber-quality wood. Also, lumber-quality wood is too valuable to burn as fuel.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Hivemind
April 23, 2019 10:48 am

Farmed trees, Hivemind.

Reply to  icisil
April 23, 2019 8:14 am

Drax has now received over £1bn to convert boilers to wood pellet consumption. It supplies about 7% of Britain’s electricity, with two thirds coming from wood pellets. You have obviously read the Drax publicity which gives the impression that this is all done with sawdust sweepings from carpentry workshops (ok, a slight exaggeration).
This results in the emission of over 12 million tonnes of CO2 (from pellets), but the pellet burning plant is, of course, given the status of carbon neutrality by EU definition. Madness. They have now rigged up a carbon capture scheme which stores a whole tonne (yes, just the one) of CO2 every day – thus rendering the whole fiasco “carbon positive”. But we can all relax because they are now talking about installing battery storage – no problem there either.
The only good thing is that the British Government cancelled the additional £1bn carbon capture research support.

Reply to  icisil
April 23, 2019 9:27 am

Material that’s left to rot provides fertilizer for the next generation of plants.

mark green
April 23, 2019 1:33 pm

Hi Allan. I basically agree. I still believe in animal conservation however. After all, the spike in human population (still underway) has occurred over the past century because advanced, science-driven civilizations have shared their technology, their guns and their health care with primitive human societies who were once kept in check by natural forces. This will not turn out well.

Save the tiger. Save the rhino. Save the Mexican wolf. And many others magnificent animal species.

Reply to  mark green
April 23, 2019 6:40 am

“There is a massive reduction in the number of large wild animals.”

Imagine how few there are today as compared with millions of years ago. 99.99999% of large wild animals died out long before we were even hominids.

April 22, 2019 10:38 pm

a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate

Well that would be between 1,000 and 50,000 species per year being lost. It should be trivial for these people to produce hundreds of examples of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects that were alive just last year.

Oh wait, their bodies just evaporated. Climate change can do anything.

ray boorman
Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 23, 2019 12:07 am

Not on your nelly, david.

You must remember that the vast majority of these “extinctions” are of microscopic, single cell critters that evolved about 2 weeks ago in a few drops of water that evaporated the next day, killing off these new species before they had a chance to find a new home. This was caused by humans, probably you & me, because the water was spilled, unnoticed by us, on our laundry floor one day.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
April 23, 2019 6:01 am

A lot of the problem is that most of these species are made up & don’t actually exist. One Australian biologist tried to claim that (in the view of the modern, much corrupted standard for science today) the Australian Dingo was a distinct species, not simply a variety of dog.

Stanley Park
April 22, 2019 11:43 pm

Judging by the numbers in the table, it seems that the numbers of genera INCREASE after each major extinction event.

April 22, 2019 11:44 pm
Coeur de Lion
April 22, 2019 11:53 pm

The arrival of man in Australia and, recently. in America, probably with domesticated dogs, crashed many megafauna. But it could have been ‘Climate Change ‘, scientists say. CO2 was where 40 and 14kya?

Flight Level
April 23, 2019 12:16 am

All cult sects have a mandatory “the end is near” chapter in their books. Some have gone as far as mass suicides by the hundreds.

Catastrophe predictions is an essential ingredient for mass indoctrination.

April 23, 2019 12:20 am

To avoid the 6th mass extinction the best place to start would be to end the mindless slaughter of millions of birds and bats on the alter of ‘renewable energy’, which is happening now.

Reply to  jolan
April 23, 2019 1:47 am

… and the destruction of forests for the growing of biofuels.

Reply to  climanrecon
April 23, 2019 5:07 am

As I said already, my whereabouts had much less forest in 1900, and it is still growing in its total mass. We can’t log the yearly growth because Greens tend to go hug the trees and claim they’re the last we have. And every year, you should take about 2% of the wood away (~ two hectares out of a sq km), otherwise the trees will start dying and drying.

Reply to  Hugs
April 24, 2019 4:51 am

At the turn of the previous century (i.e. 1900), much of my home state of New Hampshire was farmland, with maybe 10% of the state forested. Today, around 85% of the state is forested. I am not aware of any clear-cutting operations (with one exception) as almost all cutting done I’ve seen around the state is selective. (That may not be true up in the northernmost part o fthe state.)

The one exception I am aware of was one of our local farmers clear cut a section of his land a few years ago to put it back into use to grow vegetables. Back 60+ years ago that section of land was used for farming. How do I know this other than photos showing that section of land under cultivation back in the 1950’s? The answer is simple: the stone walls that delineate the edge of the all old fields. These stone walls run through what is now forestland all over the state. (The Abenaki and Penacook tribes certainly didn’t build them through the forests before the Europeans showed up.)

April 23, 2019 12:31 am

Needless to say that it doesn’t matter how many ‘Genera’ will disappear in the current mass extinction, as the only species we actually care about are humans. And they will disappear within a few generations. There will be noone left to remember. This is what the author sophisticatedly is trying to avoid to say…

Joshua Peterson
Reply to  Bouleazero
April 23, 2019 7:51 am

Genera extinction rates matter. The extinction rates of higher level taxa are the only reasonable way we have of piecing together the past, and making comparisons to the present. Species extinction rates cannot be realistically studied in the fossil record, and say nothing about the probability of survival of humans or any other species.

April 23, 2019 2:45 am

We must remember that the Endangered Species Act is really the Genetically Distinct Population Act. The Act purports to provide government protection over every variation in color, size, and shape irrespective of the ability to reproduce. For example, there is the infamous case of the Mount Graham Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis, found only in the mountains of Arizona, a sub-species of the common American Red Squirrel species Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. The Mount Graham Red Squirrel almost derailed construction of the Mount Graham International Observatory. Mount Graham squirrels show a variation in color and size but otherwise belong to the common species of American Red Squirrel. Most Americans probably believe the Endangered Species Act does what it says, protect species. This is fertile ground to convince people that rare populations displaying color, size and shape variations are proof of a great biological die-off

Reply to  Jim
April 23, 2019 7:48 am

Has anyone stopped to think that just maybe some of these are not “going extinct”, but emerging as a new sub-species? Fossil records are inadequate to distinguish red/scarlet/crimson squirrels. If, in a million years or so, the new crimson squirrel out-competes the old red squirrel, who is the “threatened” species then?

Joshua Peterson
Reply to  Jim
April 23, 2019 7:48 am

From the US Fish & Wildlife Service ( “The term ‘species’ includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.”

Good luck finding this sort of differentiation in the fossil record.

April 23, 2019 4:32 am

Tell me then, why can’t we bring about the extinction of dandelions in lawns?

Despite massive, concentrated efforts by millions of people spending billions of dollars, those @%#! dandelions in lawns across the US and much of the rest of the world are still coming up.

We are trying our hardest to drive a particular plant to extinction with no success, yet a trip to the garden store to buy more weed killer is going to release a gas that will cause another few species to go poof.

“I don’t think so, Tim.”
~Al Boreland

Tom Abbott
Reply to  H.R.
April 23, 2019 5:51 am

“Tell me then, why can’t we bring about the extinction of dandelions in lawns?”

Some living things are thriving, aren’t they, H.R. 🙂

April 23, 2019 5:16 am

As I remember back in about 1989 the popular hysterical prediction of the time was that by about now around 70% of the Amazon basin rain forrest would have been wiped-out.

Not so much.

Reply to  WXcycles
April 23, 2019 6:14 am

Science doesn’t care much about your faulty memory. (Except your doc, maybe)

April 23, 2019 5:28 am

27,000 / 98,512 = .27

So of all the species the Red List monitors, 27% are threatened (this includes “vulnerable”, not exactly on the way out at all) and 73% are doing just fine!

Yup, we’re all gonna die.

Joshua Peterson
Reply to  AelfredRex
April 23, 2019 7:44 am

Even if all the threatened species went extinct, we are not losing any genera or families; genus and family loss are the only useful metric we have for mass extinctions, and the loss rate there is effectively zero.

April 23, 2019 5:34 am

As I said, I want a list of these 10,000 whatevers about to go extinct on us. I want names. Don’t include the remaining megafauna, because they were on their way out long ago. The people who want to keep them from dying out are the same people who want to make pets of tigers, or run a breeding farm for them to make a bundle of cash. They aren’t doing that “for the species”. They are doing it to load their own pockets.

How come dragonflies are still around? How come horsetail rushes and ferns are still around? Those are leftovers from the Carboniferous period. They should all be gone, shouldn’t they? And spiders? How come spiders are still around? And wasps, flies, and mosquitoes? They’re all still here, after all these bazillions of years? Why? How come sharks are still around?

This is ridiculous. The control freaks are so afraid of change that anything different scares the pants off them. I wonder how they’ll react when glaciers loom right outside their highrise apartments.

Reply to  Sara
April 23, 2019 6:12 am

Almost forgot: SAVE Quetzalcoatlus northropi!!! I might get some t-shirts printed with that slogan.

Reply to  Sara
April 23, 2019 7:43 am

Snapping turtles–you forgot the snapping turtles . . .

Reply to  Goldrider
April 23, 2019 10:01 am

You’re right. My bad. We have the American alligator snapper here in my area, as well as several others. I should get turtle tees printed, too.

Save the Turtles! Oh, and how about “Save the Griffinfly”, too?

Joshua Peterson
April 23, 2019 5:56 am

Politically minded evolutionary biologists often presume a good understanding of historical species extinction rates in order to argue that we are experiencing a mass extinction event, or equate species extinctions with genera and families. The poor quality of the fossil record, and the difficulty of matching fossils to generally used species concepts, makes determining species extinction rates much more difficult than the same calculation for genera and families. For this reason, species extinction rates matter little to understanding extinction rates; for that, we depend on higher-level organizations of life, such as genera and families. Genera and family extinction rates are currently approximately zero; mass extinction events typically had rates of (arguably) >50% and >15%. Modern times are about as far from a mass extinction event as one can get.

Johann Wundersamer
April 23, 2019 6:57 am

Always condenses to bees&glyphosate.

No earth days planned for Varroa mites.

April 23, 2019 7:39 am

Anthony, I fully agree that the idea of a current mass extinction is laughable, but that does not make it impossible.
That there is more genera today than in the past is an argument that is somewhat akin to alarmist style arguments.
Since we only have a fossil record it is quite possible that there were twice as many genera in the past but we simply do not know about them. We are not even sure we know all the current ones. Paleontology and Geology are not settled sciences or there would be no point to future research

Larry Hamlin
April 23, 2019 8:21 am

Great article Ben!! Thanks.

April 23, 2019 10:39 am

If humans went extinct, then the world might be better off, since less stupidity would be active.

Maybe a mass extinction that takes out humans is part of the natural course of things. Alarmists would never concede this, however, because they are too anthropoegotistical.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
April 23, 2019 12:41 pm

If there is a mass homo sapiens extinction, it will only occur because citypeople will get themselves all bottled up in cities – maybe walled cities (we should be so lucky) – and the rest of us will be out in the hinterlands with the savages (see Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for that) doing just fine. I haven’t tried making biscuits of soy and lentil flour just yet, but there’s no reason it couldn’t happen…. 🙂

April 23, 2019 11:02 pm

Awww. I missed Earth Day and all its scaremongering. Again.


In Victoria BC the alleged end of the world started with light showers and ended up sunny with a few stiff breezes. Still a bit chilly for barbecues.

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