Climate Change Officially Relegated To Second Division – Now Just “one of the greatest threats that face humankind”
The BBC has just reported on the newly published Summary for Policy Makers of the as yet unpublished UN 1800 page global assessment of nature compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The two day old ‘climate crisis’, so recently [not] declared by the British government has already been knocked off the top spot as far as existential crises are concerned and is now officially languishing in 3rd place, in the Second Division. Land use change is now Premier Division. However, unlike action on the ‘climate crisis’, which has become a $1.5 trillion industry, action on land use change has been negligible to non-existent. Even hunting (legal and non-legal) and the direct exploitation of wildlife is one division above climate change in terms of the threat to biodiversity. Bugger all has been done to address these threats too, relatively speaking, during the last three decades, whereas trillions has been thrown at ineffective, and socially, economically and environmentally damaging attempts to limit global warming to 2C (and latterly 1.5C). I warned about this 3 years ago.
They just expect us to ignore this devastating indictment of international policy, shrug our shoulders and now accept the new recommendations for ‘saving the planet’ (eating less meat and getting rid of your dog!). It’s not going to happen. People will be angry – very angry – at being so dreadfully misled for so long by finger-in-the-pie climate doom merchants and they are going to be even more sceptical about the claims of imminent catastrophe now being advanced by the new merchants of doom at the UN.
The BBC does seem to be just a little concerned maybe that it might be about to lose its favourite environmental hobby horse with which it has scared us all for so many years and so recently and notably with the much heralded broadcast of Attenborough’s Climate Change – The Facts. They’re gonna have to get the old boy to do a swift follow up program soon: Biodiversity – The Even More Shocking Facts.
Is this worse than climate change?
Climate change is a crucial underlying factor that’s helping to drive destruction around the world.
Greenhouse gas emissions have doubled since 1980 and temperatures have gone up 0.7C as a result. This is having a big impact on some species, restricting their ranges and making extinction more likely. The global assessment finds that if temperatures go up by 2C, then 5% of species are at risk of climate-driven extinction, rising to 16% if the world warms by 4.3C.
“Of the prioritised list of proximate drivers of biodiversity decline, climate change is only number three,” said Prof John Spicer from the University of Plymouth.
“Climate change is certainly one of the greatest threats that face humankind in the near future – so what does that tell us about the first and second, changes in land/sea use, and direct exploitation? The current situation is desperate and has been for some time.”
The report’s authors hope that their assessment becomes as critical to the argument about biodiversity loss as the IPCC report on 1.5C has done to the debate over climate change.
They must be a bit miffed at the Beeb, having just invested so much effort into misleading the public about the existential threat of climate change and no doubt helping to get a ‘climate emergency’ [not] declared.
My enfeebled memory about species extinction is that most of the current rise is due to losses from small islands where limited habitat results in already small and critical numbers and even small changes caused by hunting, deliberate elimination (of “pest” species), habitat losses and introduction of out-competing alien species or diseases have already caused major losses in biodiversity. I cannot predict what the do-gooders are going to suggest, but neither do I understand what the UK, and especially the BBC, can do about these problems. I wait in expectation.
I wonder if we’ll soon be faced by “impending catastrophe” saturation. The boy who called “Wolf” provoked “Wolf” saturation, but may not have affected nervousness about bears, or coyotes, or the threat of the sky falling.
It does appear that we are developing an “impending catastrophe” industry, where if public apprehension about the catastrophe du jour wanes, another can be ginned up post haste.
All of this fuss about loss of species while lacking an accurate count of the number of existing species seems wrongly focused. We probably should be worrying about the evolution of new species, ones which don’t like us.
Alan, I think there have been about 800 documented extinctions in the last 400 years and most of them have occurred on small islands in niche communities which were uniquely vulnerable to human settlement and introduced alien species. This observed extinction rate is miniscule in comparison to the estimated modern extinction rates. But since when did the UN let actual observations get in the way of a good scare story? The truth is, extinction rates are very tricky to calculate and the numbers can vary by an order of magnitude, which is handy when you’re trying to sell a catastrophe. In the early 80s, scientists estimated that 50% of species would have gone extinct by 2000. Sounds familiar.
Exactly John. This is just another arm of the catastrophe industry and the solutions to avoiding catastrophe are remarkably similar to those proposed and indeed being rolled out for the avoidance of Thermageddon, i.e. more taxes, less consumption, less focus on economic growth, more luvvie-duvvie feel good anti-capitalism. The extinction rate figures are pie-in-the-sky basically.
Smacks of solutions in search of a problem. If one problem fails to excite, surely another will get the job done. It is so obvious.
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The 16%-at-risk-if-4.3C thing is credited to ‘xx’ in the new report’s SPM. As it happens, Geoff Chambers mentioned ‘xx’ in a comment here last month – ‘xx’ is this 2015 single-author stats paper by field biologist Mark C. Urban:
A very quick google suggests that Urban has subsequently become somewhat suspicious of the stats-based approach to extinctionology he used in his much-cited 2015 paper. For example:
He’s no less doomy (or not quantifiably so using valid stats-based methods). He just thinks that extinctionology needs stats and models with improved inputs and greater granularity.
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Vinny, if estimating current and future rates of extinction due to land use changes, hunting and exploitation, pollution etc. is, to say the least, somewhat tricky, estimating extinction rates due to projected climate change is an order of magnitude (or two) even trickier!
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Yes, this is going to be tricky. For Alarmism Central I mean. But we have to be careful too. There may well be policy suggestions in this area that are more rational than radical emission reduction will ever be, given all the science, certain and uncertain, greening and warming. And indeed China.
Richard, the SPM steers away from specific policy suggestions, unlike the most recent IPCC report. But don’t be fooled. Sustainability is the agenda and it is as radical as anything put forward thus far by the global warming zealots, perhaps even more so. It all comes under the umbrella of “transformative change”:
“Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while simultaneously meeting other global societal goals through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative changeSocietal goals – including those for food, water, energy, health and the achievement of human well-being for all, mitigating and adapting to climate change and conserving and sustainably using nature – can be achieved in sustainable pathways through the rapid and improved deployment of existing policy instruments and new initiatives that more effectively enlist individual and collective action for transformative change. Since current structures often inhibit sustainable development and actually represent the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such fundamental, structural change is called for. By its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good.”
I find the last sentence (in bold) particularly chilling.
“Transformations towards sustainability are more likely when efforts are directed at the following key leverage points, where efforts yield exceptionally large effects (Figure SPM.9): (1) visions of a good life; (2) total consumption and waste; (3) values and action; (4) inequalities; (5) justice and inclusion in conservation; (6) externalities and telecouplings; (7) technology,innovation and investment; and (8) education and knowledge generation and sharing. Specifically, the following changes are mutually reinforcing: (1) enabling visions of a good quality of life that do not entail ever-increasing material consumption; (2) lowering total consumption and waste, including by addressing both population growth and per capita consumption differently in different contexts; (3) unleashing existing widely held values of responsibility to effect new social norms for sustainability, especially by extending notions of responsibility to include impacts associated with consumption; (4) addressing inequalities, especially regarding income and gender, which undermine capacity for sustainability; (5) ensuring inclusive decision-making, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of and adherence to human rights in conservation decisions; (6) accounting for nature deterioration from local economic activities and socioeconomic-environmental interactions over distances (telecouplings), including, for example, international trade; (7) ensuring environmentally friendly technological and social innovation, taking into account potential rebound effects and investment regimes; and (8) promoting education, knowledge generation and maintenance of different knowledge systems, including the sciences and indigenous and local knowledge regarding nature, conservation and its sustainable use.”
“A key constituent of sustainable pathways is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth. That implies incorporating the reduction of inequalities into development pathways, reducing overconsumption and waste and addressing environmental impacts such as externalities of economic activities, from the local to the global scales. Such an evolution could be enabled through a mix of policies and tools (such as incentive programmes, certification and performance standards) and more internationally consistent taxation, supported by multilateral agreements and enhanced environmental monitoring and evaluation. It would also entail a shift beyond standard economic indicators such as gross domestic product to include those able to capture more holistic, long-term views of economics and quality of life.”
Filling the remaining open spaces either wind turbines, solar cell farms, and hydropower lake filled valleys will not reduce stress on animal species.
The Hallmark of extremists saving the world is that they inevitably need to destroy the world first.
The Pope’s opening bilge in his encyclical on the environment was the provably false assertion that the Earth is becoming a giant garbage dump.
The only way that presently false claim actually happens is if the Pope and St. Greta get their way and the climate consensus gets imposed on us.
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Truly radical solutions might be applicable in the case where we have a truly radical problem. The truly radical problem here is phrased very specifically as a ‘global extinction crisis’, the so called ‘sixth mass extinction’, not as a series of serious environmental challenges to nature posed by the activities of man across the world. There’s a difference. The latter might be solved by measures imposed at the local level by national governments; serious, targeted measures aimed at reducing the impact of human activity upon the natural environment. The former is a global problem, an existential problem, a crisis unprecedented since the last major extinction 66 million years ago, which the dinosaurs, bless them, were so tragically unprepared for. We fortunate human primates, however, have the UN, who can advise on global governance solutions to a truly global problem.
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That’s well put Jaime. There are two prongs. What the worst of UN activist-bureaucrats desire will itself be transformed by the democratic process further down. What’s left of it.
But I sense they’re just not sure. Attenbollocks now this. We have a real opportunity because of the ridiculous imbalance of the first.
Aha, the extinction problem is only susceptible to a global cure. What better solution could we have than a UN bureaucratic one? Not soluble locally? Nah.
This pending disaster got full coverage in the US today and even a special section with interview of one of its authors on Public Television.
We now endured weeks on the Climate Crisis. I wonder if the public will suffer whiplash from the sudden revelation that we could starve to death before we fry. The starving was a function of the extinction of bees.
I suppose it’s understandable, this virtual equation of biodiversity loss = extinction, but it’s wrong. It also includes such matters as the diminution of individual species abundance and/or the extent of their range (which can be considered local extinction). In the UK there have been relatively few vertebrate extinctions (and in many cases the species still live in mainland Europe). If anything there have been recent increases with reintroductions (beaver, wild boar) and introductions (wallabies, several deer species, rabbits, grey squirrels). Yet focusing on species only hides the huge effect we have had with our burgeoning numbers on the abundance and range of our wildlife.
While considering the writing this post I thought about my experiences as a schoolboy in the 1950s. I grew up in East London – a vast desert of closely packed housing, prowled by huge numbers of domestic and feral cats that kept wildlife to a minimum. (I understand that today brave foxes have evolved, have moved in, and do battle most nights). My love of nature, and through that of science, was the result of visiting nearby Epping Forest and Wanstead Park. The latter had several lakes,and as a boy walking along their banks you heard the plop, plop, plop of water voles entering the water ahead of you. The last time I walked those banks – silence, water voles all gone. In Epping Forest as a boy I found a small pond with Great Newts. None left now. Even my parents’ garden had treasures. I once found a stag beetle, which my reading assured me had already disappeared from my area. I pity any schoolboy living now where I did. Their opportunities to observe nature have diminished greatly due to biodiversity loss, although the species that have gone still exist, in smaller and smaller numbers, but elsewhere in the UK.
This latest fad, will concentrate all its efforts on saving already rare and endangered species, whilst ignoring the bigger problem of declining wildlife in general. Yes I know the argument, by concentrating on preserving key endangered species, you preserve the ecosystem, and therefore all the other species. I just don’t buy it.
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Wow. Thank you, Alan. What the next generation may indeed be missing. (Though am I wrong to want a second opinion even on this?)
As if by magic, I buy a paper version of Standpoint (very unusual) for its lead stories on the Twitter outrage mob, after the defenestration of Roger Scruton as government adviser, and the first letter is what sounds to me an informed critique of George Monbiot and whether it makes sense to reintroduce lynxes and wolves to the UK for the sake of ‘diversity’. The cats and dogs are in the detail, as I suspected. And this I assume is the tiniest of examples.
I still feel for Alan’s water voles.
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One of the things that caused the protestant movement was the overselling of miracles, holy relics and evidence of divine intervention.
While veneration is not worship, they are both on a spectrum of belief. And as such there can be an evolution between them.
Our climate consensus/ eco fanatics are, by declaring every challenge an apocalyptic crisis that only true believers can cure, in effect doing the same thing.
From the Pope’s sanctimonious reactionary position to St. Greta’s fevered echo chamber of doom to Gore’s grifting for climate fear dollars, the climate/eco consensus is playing their song of doom more and more predictably.
While ignoring the facts on the ground and in the ocean.
Like purveyors of holy relics and scary interpretations of vague prophecies they seek Lee’s to inform than to control and profit.
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BBC making extraordinary claim
Yawn, I’m not even goy to waste my time reading their BS
..cos #1 Truth will out in time
Is it PR or is it news ?
Is their deception by omission ?
The title says “one million species”
.. it omits to say out of how many million s
Therefore it omits important context
and since species may run into millions and maybe a trillion
I’m not worried.
I suspect as usual it’s based on extrapolating , cherry picked data by putting it into dodgy computer models and throwing away half of it.
If there’s an extinction crisis, it’s definitely among amphibians. These creatures seem to be the hardest hit and the reasons may have less to do with catastrophic anthropogenic biodiversity loss and more to do with fungi. Having said that, we used to have loads of frogs hopping about in our garden and I used to love listening to them saying goodnight to each other on warm summer evenings. Then the primary school next to us dug up the pond and replaced it with a kitchen sink for ‘health ‘n’ safety’ reasons and all the frogs disappeared. I was devastated. Fine example of conservation to set to the younger generation
Jaime – the beeb never let reports regarding potential dead things go unreported – http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141121-this-new-ant-might-die-out-soon
By Melissa Hogenboom 24 November 2014
“A new species of ant has been discovered on the Spanish island of Mallorca, but it is already on the verge of extinction”
“As a result, their discoverer Gerard Talavera of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, thinks the species has a “low probability” for survival.
Climate change is also a threat, as the ants are not well equipped to deal with dramatic changes to their habitat. Talavera’s team say the find represents a unique chance to observe “real-time climate-based biodiversity loss”.”
I also saw a beeb item this week on ants somewhere in England that faced a similar doom!!!
Yeh, but I’ve seen a (documentary?) film (1960’s?) where giant ants take over the Earth.
Alan: Either way it’s a scientific catastrophe and you’ve got to stop racking up those frequent flier miles. You know it makes sense.
I have long been under the impression that certain groups might be reluctant to jump on the species extinction bandwagon except inasmuch as it can be blamed on the collective exhalations of Western civilisation.
It’s obvious to me that the greater threats to species are direct ones and are therefore local in scope, viz: introduced species, hunting, deforestation, development, pesticides. Some of these can be blamed on us indirectly (our market for palm oil) or as a ghost of past failings (rats introduced to tropical islands).
We have certainly done our share, but it is mostly in the past. As well as tropical island introduced species, we also have hunting (great auk, dodo, giant tortoises…). Our ancestors wrecked the wildlife of the UK too. Here is a list of animals trapped in Glen Garry from 1837 to 1840 (it’s from W.H. Pearsall’s old book Mountains and Moorlands):
78 feral cats
301 stoats and weasels
15 golden eagles
27 white-tailed eagles
63 hen harriers
5 marsh harriers (probably Montagu’s)
9 ash-coloured falcons (probably male hen harriers)
6 gyr falcons
7 orange-legged falcons (probably red-footed falcons)
285 common buzzards
371 rough-legged buzzards
3 honey buzzards
71 short-eared owls
35 long-eared owls
3 tawny owls
All trapped as “vermin” to preserve game. Notably some of these species later became extinct in Scotland (white-tailed eagles in the entire British Isles). We’ve come a long way since those days.
The point I have been circuitously reaching for is that wealthy countries will conserve wildlife. Where grinding poverty is the norm, no one will give two hoots. Developing that wealth probably depends upon emitting more CO2 tomorrow than yesterday. I’ll take more CO2 in the atmosphere over the more direct effects of humans on wildlife any day.
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On the real science of extinctions, and its relationship to capitalism, Matt Ridley wrote an excellent, balanced, fact-filled piece in Reaction on Tuesday, which I only noticed today.
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Richard. I agree mostly with what Matt says. But this is a really sweeping generalisation which does not do his intelligence and insight any credit at all:
“Why are wolves increasing all around the world, lions decreasing and tigers now holding steady? Basically, because wolves are in rich countries, lions in poor countries and tigers in middle income countries. Prosperity is the solution not the problem.”
Firstly, there are three species of wolves: The Grey Wolf, the Red Wolf, and the Ethiopian Wolf. The Grey Wolf is increasing in numbers in some parts of the US, but under severe threat in other areas. Its fortunes in Europe are mixed, where wolves still suffer from fear-based persecution, hunting and habitat loss:
The Red Wolf which is native to the SE United States is still critically endangered and there are not many parts of the world richer than the south eastern US. The Ethiopian Wolf is Africa’s most endangered carnivore and it does not live in rich countries.
South Africa is not a poor nation but its wild lions are under threat from poaching and hunting.
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Jaime, Ridley’s preceding sentence is also blather:
Ospreys, sea eagles, cranes and beavers have ‘returned to abundance’?
And why mention the beaver, a critter whose renewed (non-abundant) presence in Britain is so controversial?
He’d have done far better to list the pine marten, which is rapidly returning to abundance under its own steam without help from legal and illegal reintroduction schemes.
One might almost think that the famed zoologist doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
(He’s right about otters, though. One even visited my garden last year.)
I agree Vinny, that list is very much pick and mix. Roe deer have repopulated much of England under their own steam. But then so have Muntjac, which are not native. I have never seen an osprey, sea eagle, crane or beaver, but have noticed an increasing abundance of marsh harriers, buzzards, grey herons and wild pheasants. The only mammal I can definitely say has become more abundant (apart from deer) is the mole!
Thanks, Jaime and Vinny. I’m very happy for the chips to fall where they may on wolves, prosperity and any other factlet. I said earlier “we have to be careful too” and that obviously applies to Matt. We can feel the urgency to respond to this multi-faceted pressure from above and from below. Those of us trying to achieve balance, that is. But not this guy.
Sorry, that’s not to do with IPBES, but the lack of response really disappoints. I used to count Roger as a friend in NW5 in 90s when he was already at the BBC but nothing to do with the environment. I walked Steve McIntyre over to meet him just south of All Souls Langham Place in July 2010. To be taught history so egregiously wrong and not even to get a reply to the most obvious correction (Ben Pile went on to deal with the China part) is galling.
I hope Matt corrects any factual errors. Sorry to rant.
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Richard, that must be irritating. Friendship counts for nowt on Twitter and especially when it comes to fighting the climate wars. Roger has become a zealot. Hickman too. Fascinating that he should even describe Andrew Neil as one of the ‘usual suspects’. He is the very antithesis of the ‘usual suspect’. Desperate verbiage from a climate fanatic intent on twisting the truth and distorting perception.
Curiously, Dan Hannan, writing in the Washington Examiner, also sings the praises of capitalism re. the protection of endangered species and he apparently plagiarises Matt ridley’s comments about wolves, tigers and lions, giving no credit to Ridley for the original.
“Which brings me to the error that lies behind not only this report but much modern eco-thinking: namely, the idea that economic growth is bad for the environment.
Tigers are doing better than lions but not as well as wolves. Why? Because wolves live in rich countries, tigers in middle-income countries, and lions in poor countries.”
Really, if you’re going to nick somebody’s idea, you should at least give them credit for the original and it’s always advisable to check that the idea stands up to basic scrutiny too! Naughty Dan.
Well spotted, Jaime.
Note also that Hannan’s lizard orchid anecdote is utter bollocks. Not unique (‘the only one of its kind in the world’!), not new to Newmarket, and not on the churned-up racecourse itself but on adjacent land.
Hannan can be a good writer. He can also be a preening dimwit.
(Red kites are the most obvious winners around here. In about fifteen years they’ve gone from one sighting a year to several a day.)
The red kite is an interesting example. In 2004 it was one of several European species listed as “at risk of extinction due to climate change.” See here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3377185.stm
This was actually quite early on in the subversion of the truth, where anything bad that happens has to be due to climate change, which as far as I can see is like blaming the Devil for everything evil that happens. Here, red kites were persecuted to within an inch of their existence and clung on in a small wooded pocket in South Wales. This had nothing to do with climate change. Now they are everywhere in the UK, thanks to protection.
Further to the above: just dug out my RSPB book of British Birds from 1977, which says of the red kite: “About twenty-six pairs currently breeding in central Wales, where extensively protected by RSPB.”
Now on the RSPB’s website it has a green conservation status and 1,600 pairs. It goes without saying that its recolonisation is being limited in certain places due to ongoing persecution by the ignorant.
Jaime: Interesting yet predictable that Hannan, with less of a science background than Ridley, would follow the path he’s outlined. We can’t possibly be experts on all this stuff, especially at the click of a mouse. But accuracy matters, a lot.
While I’m in moan mode, I was grateful to Steve Mc for retweeting this on Wednesday. And unsurprised that Betts and Lynas found other things to do than reply. Before or after reading it, though? That would be interesting to know.
The polarisation has got so bad. Still, one has to admire Nigel Farage’s answer on the climate question on Andrew Marr this morning. (Not that I have any clue where the current Brexit Party opinion polling is going to lead.) And with that, I must say a fond farewell, for a while, to Cliscep. Respect to all who sail in Pyrrho’s remarkable little boat.
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Take care Richard. See you again soon.
Sooner than you or I expected! I should have said a fond farewell to Cliscep, unless and until an open-minded millennial asked me some questions about my most recent thread. (Which I only spotted because of an email from WordPress.com, as the comment was trapped in moderation. Best-laid schemes of mice and other UX devices.)