Do We Have Time to Save Species from Climate Change?
Climate change is expected to result in heightened risk of extinction for many species.
[This is one of those true statements that has been true since the emergence of life on this planet. However, once can not simply conclude that the evolutionary system should be subject to human tampering without the potential for extremely harmful – including the risk of mass extinction – events.]
Because conservation scientists are just starting to understand this threat, many have concluded that current risk assessment protocols, such as the International 'Red List' published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and based on rules established in the 1990s, will fail to identify many species at risk from climate change.
[Again, we are still discovering species and research as to how they interact with the planet’s biosphere and ecology is an on going study. Since the underlying interaction of an individual species with its environment is dodgy at best – trying to extend those species at risk amount to little more than an expansion of the current cause célèbre to implement public policies that mirror the political agenda of the progressive socialist democrats and to secure additional funding of these political activities. Many research reports are becoming little more than propaganda pieces designed to use science to convince a skeptical audience that they need to suffer and sacrifice in order to save the planet and its lifeforms.]
However, an international team of researchers, including Professor Resit Akçakaya of Stony Brook University’s Department of Ecology and Evolution, counter that current assessment methods are able to identify such species. Their findings are published in the journal Global Change Biology.
According to the scientific team, this is the first study to quantitatively test the ability of any warning system for identifying species vulnerable to climate change.
[Albert Einstein famously said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” I wonder how he would have viewed any methodology that purports to “quantitatively” categorize something that is speculative and is reactive to little more than a hypothesis that exists only in the silicon memories of a computer? And, one that is suggestive of a need to tamper with nature on a scale that may exceed the impact of the first atomic weapons discoveries. Possibly altering nature to the point where Obama’s man-made disaster turns into a real planetary catastrophe as an unstoppable virus kills off plant and animal life?]
They tested the performance of the IUCN Red List system, the most commonly used method for identifying species threatened with extinction. They used computer models to project the future abundance of 36 species of salamanders, turtles, tortoises, snakes and lizards under climate change.
[Are there any studies that indicate that these 36 species of salamanders, turtles, tortoises, snakes and lizards are necessary to man’s existence on this planet? How many millions of research dollars could be used to improve the living conditions of people in the here and now? Other than supporting scientific institutions and individual researchers, what is the value of this research relative to more urgent matters such as building out water retention infrastructure or hardening our living conditions to deal with severe volcanic and plate-tectonic events and/or any severe weather conditions that we are bound to see in an endless future?
And about those computer models … what assumptions were made, how were these assumptions translated into code, what is the verifiable validity of the input data, and can the computerized conclusions be tested in the real world by observation and/or experimentation?]
Next, the team performed "virtual" Red List assessments, following the IUCN guidelines to determine the Red List Status (e.g., "Critically Endangered") of each species throughout the simulation.
The study, “Warning times for species extinctions due to climate change,” funded by NASA, showed that the Red List system would provide several decades of warning time for species that might go extinct because of climate change.
[Has anyone noticed that nature appears to be evolutionary on a long timescale and that adaptive and self-correcting feedback loops appear in most natural environments?]
“Although the study shows that the time between when a species is identified as threatened and when it is goes extinct (without any conservation action) is on average over 60 years, the warning time can be as short as 20 years for many species, especially if information about their populations is limited,” explained Professor Akçakaya. "That may not be enough time for saving a species,” added Akçakaya, who cautioned that whether the warning time provided by the IUCN Red List system is sufficient to prevent extinctions depends on how fast conservation actions can lead to recovery of species.
[There is always a demand for immediate action, whether it is funding dollars or implementing draconian public policies like those that favor California’s “Delta Smelt” over the millions of water-starved people and agricultural enterprises – effects that are adverse to our state and national economy and all of the residents affect by lost of jobs and higher priced foods.
We have seen these short-term warnings before – especially in climate change predictions that go back forty years – and nothing has happened and we are still seeing the same dire warnings of drastic consequences. Unfortunately the drastic consequences are to people in the here and now – and they are not theoretical, but real pain, suffering, and misery based on little more than unproven, and possibly, unprovable hypotheses.
I would like to see the benefit from keeping the California Condor alive? A scavenger that is continually inbred from only four matriarchal blood lines and has become an outdoor pet – and funding source – for a small group of researchers.]
"There are going to be a lot of challenges for conservation under climate change. But, I think what we found here is actually positive," said Dr. Jessica C. Stanton, the lead author of the study, and a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey. "This means that we already have some of the tools we are going to need for identifying species vulnerable to climate change."
[Yes, you have a tool (global warming or global climate change as it is now called since there is no appreciable warming for the past 18 years) – a hammer; and researchers who believe that everything is a nail that demands being hammered down lest it disrupt the planet.]
Another important finding of the study is the need to initiate conservation action as soon as a species is listed at the lowest threat level, which is "Vulnerable" in the IUCN Red List system. After a species is listed at the highest level (called "Critically Endangered"), the warning time is predicted to be shorter than 20 years for most species, even with good information. Dr. Stanton explained that "this is because species at the highest threat level have declined to very low levels or exist in very small areas, and as a result they are already on the brink of extinction."
[Sort of like the mascot of global warming – the polar bear. And, we are now finding out that the counts are estimates and large areas containing polar bears have never been studied. Most scientific studies are localized by the need for cost containment and project management – and not all local studies can be globalized with any degree of accuracy or repeatable reliability.]
Currently, there are 22,176 species listed as threatened in the IUCN Red List (www.iucnredlist.org); of these, about 21% are listed at the highest threat level of Critically Endangered.
"The bad news is that climate change will cause many extinctions unless species-specific conservation actions are taken,” said Dr. Akçakaya. “But the good news is that the methods conservation organizations have been using to identify which species need the most urgent help also work when climate change is the main threat."
[Self-serving claptrap! Again, on what basis should man interfere with nature – especially evolutionary species about which they know little or nothing when it comes to long-term environmental impacts?]