Monday, January 19, 2015


Yeah, Name One

The ecoblogs and ecosites are full of dire predictions about the number of animal and plant species going extinct each year. Of course these tree hugger organizations only exist in order to gin up concern for Nature so even natural rates of extinction would upset them. So there's that bias.

And the numbers vary. By a lot.

WWF says 10,000 species are going extinct each year. The Center for Biological Diversity says it's "literally" dozens per day. The National Geographic Society says its between "100 to 1,000 species lost per million [species] per year, mostly due to human-caused habitat destruction and climate change."

They just have a lot of trouble naming any.

In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature says, "only one animal has been definitely identified as having gone extinct since 2000. It was a mollusk."

Here is a sobering number (for them) from the newspaper of record, the NYT. Here is the money quote:

Species began going extinct at a much faster pace. Over the past five centuries, researchers have recorded 514 animal extinctions on land. But the authors of the new study found that documented extinctions are far rarer in the ocean.
Before 1500, a few species of seabirds are known to have vanished. Since then, scientists have documented only 15 ocean extinctions, including animals such as the Caribbean monk seal and the Steller’s sea cow.
So that's a little over one per year. What about the other 9,998 and 1/2?

The real trouble is that we don't know how many species there are (or what is the natural rate of extinction, for that matter); so talking about a set percentage of loss of species by 2040 or 2100, for example, is nonsense.


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