Guest essay by Larry Hamlin
The latest 2019 Earth Day event, the 50th since the first such propaganda event started in 1970, has the proclaimed theme of “Protect Our Species” and offers the usual and often repeated litany of species mass extinction alarmist exaggeration including:
“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.”
“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.”
Going back to the first 1970 Earth Day species endangerment claims finds the following repeat of the purely speculative species extinction alarmist exaggeration doom and gloom that occurred nearly 50 years prior but now proven to be flawed and failed and characterized as:
Even more idiotically alarming was the claim that “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” There were many other totally ridiculous alarmist assertions contained in the Earth Day themes of 1970 that proved completely wrong and demonstrate the lack of any credibility in this politically contrived scheme.
The species extinction assessment process has evolved over the last 50 years with results that claims of global species extinction have been shown to be scientifically unsupportable and just plain wrong.
“The extinction vulnerability of a particular species might help to draw public attention to a damaged ecosystem, and in the US it could trigger protection mechanisms of the Endangered Species Act, but in most cases it is at best an indirect sign of what is going wrong.”
“Part of the problem is in the way we classify degrees of endangerment. The Red List categories read, in order: extinct; extinct in the wild; critically endangered; endangered; vulnerable (that goes for Atlantic cod); near-threatened; and least concern. ‘Least concern’ is strange language. What it means is ‘doing fine’. It applies to most of the 76,000 species researched by the IUCN, most of the 1.5 million species so far discovered, and most of the estimated 4 million or so species yet to be discovered. In the medical analogy, labelling a healthy species as ‘least concern’ is like labelling every healthy person ‘not dead yet’. It’s true, but what a way to think. (The IUCN is aware of the problem, and to its great credit is developing a ‘Green List’ that will report on species whose situation is improving. It will categorise according to degrees of hope, for a change, instead of relying solely on degrees of dread.)”
“Of the several million species yet to be discovered, there is a reasonable argument that many are very rare and thus extra-vulnerable to extinction, but the common statement that ‘Species are going extinct faster than we can discover them’ does not hold up to scrutiny. According to the paper in Science ‘Can We Name Earth’s Species Before They Go Extinct?’ (2013) by the marine ecologist Mark J Costello at the University of Auckland and colleagues, the rate of documenting new species was 17,500 a year over the past decade, rising above 18,000 a year since 2006. There are ever more professional taxonomists (currently about 47,000) doing the work, along with burgeoning crowds of amateur taxonomists newly enabled by the internet.
“With a realistic current extinction rate of less than 1 per cent of species per decade and a discovery rate of something like 3 per cent a decade, the authors conclude: ‘the rate of species description greatly outpaces extinction rates’.”
“Consider the language of these news headlines: ‘Fueling Extinction: Obama Budget Is Killer For Endangered Species’ (Huffington Post, February 2015). ‘“Racing Extinction” Sounds Alarm On Ocean’s Endangered Creatures’ (NBC News, January 2015). ‘“Extinction Crisis”: 21,000 Of World’s Species At Risk Of Disappearing (Common Dreams, July 2013). ‘Australian Mammals On Brink Of “Extinction Calamity”’ (BBC, February 2015). ‘The Sixth Extinction Is Here – And It’s Our Fault (Re/code, July 2014). The headlines are not just inaccurate.”
“No end of specific wildlife problems remain to be solved, but describing them too often as extinction crises has led to a general panic that nature is extremely fragile or already hopelessly broken. That is not remotely the case.”
“Many now assume that we are in the midst of a human-caused ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ to rival the one that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. But we’re not.”
“The fossil record shows that biodiversity in the world has been increasing dramatically for 200 million years and is likely to continue.”
The article contains an excellent graph presenting a more rationale assessment of species diversity and health than that proclaimed by Earth Day political proponents.
As usual the long established track record of flawed and failed Earth Day scientifically unsupported alarmist claims and exaggerations is clearly reflected in this most recent event of purely politically driven propaganda pronouncements.