Not So Fast on Mass Extinctions?

Der Spiegel reports that the IPCC’s new draft report is backing off the claim of mass AGW-caused extinctions.

“There is very little confidence that models currently predict extinction risk accurately,” the report notes. Very low extinction rates despite considerable climate variability during past hundreds of thousands of years have led to concern that “forecasts for very high extinction rates due entirely to climate change may be overestimated.”

In the last assessment report, Climate Change 2007, the IPCC predicted that 20 to 30 percent of all animal and plant species faced a high risk for extinction should average global temperatures rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius… The current draft report says that scientific uncertainties have “become more apparent” since 2007.

How about that? As the research continues, we know more about what we don’t know. Anti-science types might not grasp that thisus an indicator of good science, and may jump on it as evidence that scientists don’t really know anything about climate change. I expect that. What I’m curious about is whether the acolytes who worship the IPCC reports like holy scripture will give this due notice or pretend it never happened?

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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11 Responses to Not So Fast on Mass Extinctions?

  1. Matty says:

    It strikes me there are a lot of uncertainties comparing extinction rates now and in future with those over geological time. You are looking at number species that are recorded at least once then not recorded for 50 years versus number of distinct fossil types that disappear between layers.

    The timescales involved are completely different. The things being compared aren’t the same, several biological species may leave virtually identical fossils or different fossils could be adults and larvae of the same animal etc.

    We can hope there is enough of a correlation to extrapolate, and hope that both numbers are related to the actual number of extinctions but I don’t see how certainty is possible.

  2. Matty says:

    Correction, it seems the 50 year rule is no longer being used http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5015201

  3. lancifer666 says:

    There is actually plenty of good science in the IPCC reports. Unfortunately the “Summary for Policy Makers” often has more to do with politics than science. Which shouldn’t be a huge surprise since the “I” in IPCC stands for “Intergovernmental” and represents the fact that the IPCC is first and foremost a political organization.

  4. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Lance,
    But you know that saying so makes you–ironically enough–anti-scientific in some people’s eyes?

  5. lancifer666 says:

    James,

    Yeah, I love how some people have made the word “skeptic” somehow “anti-scientific”. Skepticism is the basis of all scientific thought.

    That is what impassioned my interest in global warming er…climate change I mean…climate disruption (or whatever they’re calling it these days). The more questions I asked the more angry, emotional blow back I received. When I pointed out inconsistencies and problems with the alarmist claims versus the not so big deal realities, the personal insults would fly. Not the hallmark of someone impassionately defending a valid scientific theory.

    Like Al gore, most of the people that are most convinced that we face a “climate crisis” are not trained in the sciences. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to be a scientist and educator and be disparaged as “anti-science” by people that couldn’t balance a checkbook let alone derive the quadratic equation from scratch or tell you one of Newton’s Laws.

    The contemptible Mr. Heath comes to mind.

  6. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Newton’s law of politics: for every action there is an opposite and disproportionate reaction,

  7. pierrecorneille says:

    Considering the way basic questions sometimes get smacked down as anti-science, I once asked a friend of mine what the evidence was for AGW, and she said, “it’s like breathing in fumes from a car’s exhaust pipes.” And that was her argument.

    Not that I can credibly claim to be a scientist. in fact, I’m sometimes prone to leanings that can be legitimately called out as being on the outskirts of “anti-science.” But that type of argument is not going to win me over.

  8. Major Zed says:

    Bjorn Lomborg has an interesting discussion of the latest IPCC report here:

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/bj-rn-lomborg-says-that-the-un-climate-panel-s-latest-report-tells-a-story-that-politicians-would-prefer-to-ignore

    “Climate change has been portrayed as a huge catastrophe costing as much as 20% of world GDP, though brave politicians could counter it at a cost of just 1% of GDP. The reality is just the opposite: We now know that the damage cost will be perhaps 2% of world GDP, whereas climate policies can end up costing more than 11% of GDP.”

    So, to answer your original question, I’m betting on “pretend it never happened.”

  9. michaeldrew says:

    The amount of notice that’s due will depend on how much weight anyone has placed on the extinctions dimension of the problem, no?

  10. Gabriel Conroy says:

    Testing links and gravatar (I used to be Pierre Corneille). Please feel free to delete.

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