Climate Change and Biodiversity

Posted: Dec 13, 2010 12:01 AM
Climate Change and Biodiversity

In their quest to control carbon dioxide emissions, together with the economic power that entails, climate alarmists are claiming that global warming will cause massive species extinctions. The geologic record, however, shows the opposite. Major extinctions are associated with ice ages and other cooling events. The current wildlife extinction rate is the lowest in 500 years according to the UN’s own World Atlas of Biodiversity.

Perhaps the first species to be listed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) on speculation of the effects of global warming is the polar bear. On May 14, 2008, the FWS listed the bear as a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), based on the supposition that carbon dioxide emissions are melting its Arctic habitat.

But in deciding whether or not to list the species as "endangered," the FWS is following a political agenda based on junk science, and its Climate Change Strategic Plan is based largely on reports from the discredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In 2007, just prior to listing, the Arctic sea ice reached the lowest level recorded since 1979 when satellites began tracking the ice. However, that same year, Antarctic sea ice reached the maximum extent ever recorded, an episode which went largely unreported.

The Department of the Interior press release on the polar bear claimed, "The listing is based on the best available science, which shows that loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat. This loss of habitat puts polar bears at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future, the standard established by the ESA for designating a threatened species."

But the FWS listing is based on computer projections and false assumptions. An article in Science Daily claims, "Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed ..."

People who live in the Arctic know that polar bear populations have been increasing, mainly due to changes in hunting regulations. Native Inuit hunters say that "The growing population has become ‘a real problem,’ especially over the last 10 years."

The polar bear has been around for a very long time and somehow survived conditions that were warmer than now and even warmer than computer projections. It is also telling that the Canadian government, which oversees 14 of the 19 polar bear populations, has not listed the bear as "threatened" or "endangered." The Alaska Department of Fish & Game opposed the listing claiming that FWS did not use the best available science and that the FWS cherry-picked models, choosing only those which supported their case. Alaska Fish & Game says that polar bear populations "are abundant, stable, and unthreatened by direct human activity."

Real, on the ground, research into the relationship between global warming, species extinction, and biodiversity paints a picture very different from the speculative computer models. Abundant research shows that warming increases the range for most terrestrial plants and animals, as well as for most marine creatures. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes plants more water efficient and more robust.

Looking at the greater geologic record, we see that in the warming period subsequent to each ice age, life rebounded with more speciation and greater biodiversity. We have ample reason to believe this pattern will continue.