IPCC omissions on species extinctions

WUWT reports in The IPCC: More Sins of Omission – Telling the Truth but Not the Whole Truth the greatest failing of the IPCC, if not environmental sciences. The article describes how the effects of climate change on climate, hunger and water storage are misrepresented to exaggerate negative effects. Here I show that the same deception is in play with the statements on species extinctions in AR4.

In Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability it is stated, that:

up to 30% of known species being committed to extinction * (Chapter 4 Section 4.4.11 and Table 4.1; Thomas et al., 2004;

and in other places, with statements to the effect that 20-30% of species are at increased risk of extinction. Revkin at NYT recently drew attention to the sloppiness of expression throughout the IPCC report. No-one seems to know what ‘committed to extinction’ means.

But its worst than that. The way the figure is worked out in Thomas et.al. is to map the change in the aggregate area of the individual species, using various models under various climate change scenarios, and use a relationship of the risk of extinction to the size of the species range (smaller ranges are more risky).

That is, if the total area of all species before warming is S1, and the total area after is S2, then S1>S2 implies increased risk of extinction.

Now there are a lot of hairs on this approach, with many sources of potential bias, but the foremost can be easily seen by considering that the expected area of the range of a typical species does not change under climate change. It may move north in the NH, or south in the SH, but given it does not run into the ocean, the expected sizes of species ranges should stay constant. How then can you get risks of 20-30% of extinctions?

What Thomas et al. (2004) does is to simply disregard all species whose ranges increased for any given climate change, and only sum the ranges of the species that decreased with climate change! That is, if their risk of extinction increases, they are counted, if the risk of extinction decreases (due to enlarged area) they are not counted. That way a zero net expected change in risk of extinction is transformed into a massive increase in the risk of extinction.

It gets worse when you look at the actual data on what happens to species when climate changes. One of the first major reports by the Idso’s in 2003 was a review of all the species response data called The Specter of Species Extinction: Will Global Warming Decimate Earth’s Biosphere? They and others have found that the overwhelming reaction of species to climate change is to do nothing, or to EXPAND their range. In the NH, the northern limit usually expands because that is where it is temperature limited. The southern limit is usually determined by other factors, such as rainfall.

Similar results expansions of ranges have been seen in more detailed modelling by Anderson et.al. (2009), whereby the southern margins (in the NH) stay constant while the northern ranges expand under warming. If we are to regard range size as an indicator of extinction risk, then warming should reduce the risk. These results are consistent with the view that climate variability increased biodiversity, not decreases biodiversity.

The paper by Anderson et.al. is coauthored by Professor Brook, who will incidentally be debating Monckton and Plimer at the Brisbane luncheon on the 29th of January. Prof. Brook should be well aware of the mass of evidence contradicting the massive extinction theory.

This post provides more background to the issue and ways it has been brought to the attention of the scientists involved. But, as we have known for years, and the general public are now being informed by the MSM, these results have been deliberately ignored by the IPCC as they would have undermined the case for drastic greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Not only is the IPCC report starting to smell like prawns in the sun, the bias of the contributors themselves is becoming obvious. As Indur M. Goklany concludes in WUWT:

Perhaps they didn’t want to get crossways with their political masters. But if that was the case, what function does the SPM serve other than rubber stamp political leanings? Regardless, they committed sins of omissions and, it seems, with due deliberation.

Anderson, B.J., Akçakaya, H.R., Araujo, M.B., Fordham, D.A., Martinez-Meyer, E., Thuiller, W. & Brook, B.W. (2009) Dynamics of range margins for metapopulations under climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London – Series B, 276, 1415-1420. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1681

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