Environmentalist significantly overstate the negative ecological effects of global warming when they compare it to previous extinction events in Earth’s history, a Smithsonian paleontologist told The Atlantic Tuesday.
“Many of those making facile comparisons between the current situation and past mass extinctions don’t have a clue about the difference in the nature of the data, much less how truly awful the mass extinctions recorded in the marine fossil record actually were,” Doug Erwin, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution, told The Atlantic. “But I do think that as scientists we have a responsibility to be accurate about such comparisons.”
Environmentalists regularly claim that global warming will devastate the planet’s ecology enough to cause a major extinction event, even though evidence indicates global warming isn’t nearly as devastating as previous events in Earth’s history.
“We’re entering the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history, and it’s totally our fault,” reads a Sierra Club press statement.
Paleontologists estimate 96 percent of all marine species went extinct 252 million years ago in the “Great Dying” extinction event. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also sees little evidence linking global warming to extinctions.
“People who claim we’re in the sixth mass extinction don’t understand enough about mass extinctions to understand the logical flaw in their argument,” Erwin said. “To a certain extent they’re claiming it as a way of frightening people into action, when in fact, if it’s actually true we’re in a sixth mass extinction, then there’s no point in conservation biology.”
Erwin may actually be overstating the vulnerability of Earth’s ecosystem to global warming, a major climate scientist told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Erwin’s main point is that there may be hidden instabilities at the global level,” Dr. Pat Michaels, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, told TheDCNF. “But what may be just as remarkable is the degree to which we have altered the face of the earth (and its atmosphere) without any apparent collapse. What causes this stability given the history of mass extinctions? Judging from the article, no one really knows!”
Recent studies indicate that global warming is far less likely to harm animals than previously predicted. They indicate that climate models can’t make accurate predictions for many species, because they don’t factor in various real world impacts
Scientists regularly discover that plants and animals are far more adaptable to environmental changes than previously believed.
Global warming will likely have many positive environmental impacts such as helping Canadian trees recover from a devastating insect infestation, creating more food for fish in the ocean, making life easier for Canadian moose, improving the environment for bees, could increase agricultural production and literally causing deserts to bloom with foliage.
Despite this changing consensus, environmental groups still believe plants and animals aren’t capable of adapting to changing temperatures, leading to mass extinctions caused by global warming.
“One-fourth of the Earth’s species could be headed for extinction by 2050 due to climate change,” The Nature Conservancy claims. “Rising temperatures are changing weather and vegetation patterns across the globe, forcing animal species to migrate to new, cooler areas in order to survive.”
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