High extinction risk from climate change?

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claims to “provide strong empirical support for the assertion that anthropogenic climate change is now a major threat to global biodiversity”… just don’t ask for an example.

The study authors claim to have reviewed 1,120 relevant studies published since 2005, extracting data from 74 of them. They report that:

Mean extinction probability across studies making predictions of the future effects of climate change was 7% by 2100 compared with 15% based on observed responses. After taking account of possible bias in the type of climate change impact analyzed and the parts of the world and taxa studied, there was less discrepancy between the two approaches: predictions suggested a mean extinction probability of 10% across taxa and regions, whereas empirical evidence gave a mean probability of 14%.

They conclude that:

Our metaanalysis [sic] showing high predicted levels of extinction, backed up by consistent data for changes that have already occurred, shows the need to give climate change high priority in conservation planning and to communicate its potentially wide-ranging consequences to policy makers and the wider public.

I contacted study author Ilya Maclean and asked:

Could you please cite a few examples of studies in which you have high confidence that show recent climate change has caused/will cause species extinction?

I believe readers would be interested in knowing the sort of study data that you rely on as input to your meta-analysis.

Maclean responded:

Our study does not make the claim that there are existing examples in which climate change has caused/will cause species extinction so I cannot provide you with these.

Three hours after receiving that response, I followed up with these questions:

How do you reconcile your statement (in the abstract) about your study providing “strong empirical support for the assertion that anthropogenic climate change is now a major threat to global biodiversity” with the absence of actual examples?

Are you saying that a meta-analysis of unverified predictions constitutes empirical evidence that climate change threatens biodiversity?

Maclean responded as follows:

I am out of office until Tuesday 12th July.

Maybe Maclean really did make himself unavailable for interviews until the day after his study comes out. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to answer the questions. I’ll let you know if he responds.

Meantime, enjoy George Carlin on species extinction (WARNING: LANGUAGE).

21 thoughts on “High extinction risk from climate change?”


    Now moot is the gun barrel enforced religious symbolic act of mercurially sacrificing Edison bulbs while churningly turning remaining pristine winded hills and mountains and oceans too into power line and access path fouled support networks for monstrous bird-chopping industrial towers, shadow-casting bat lung blasting icons of the Church of Climatology, the swinging knives of The Green Bank Authority.

    The stolen armor of science falls down before it, yet inertia of the fall itself of this giant of hypocrisy now carries a power grab along, re-energizing it in crucial moment, impossibly, birthing already tooth and claw clad green babes. Up until one century ago there lived, in the Zi Duang province of eastern country, a glass-like spider. Having devoured its prey it would drape the skeletons over its web, creating a macabre shrine of remains. Its web was also unique in that it had many layers, like floors of a building. At the top of this palace-like place, assembled with almost apparent care, were tiny shining objects, glass, beads, dew-drops. One could almost call it an altar. When the breeze blew thru this construction, it produced sounds of wailing, crying.

    Tiny wails, tiny cries.

    The baby spiders would get scared and search frantically for their mother. But the Glass Spider would have long gone, having known that the babies would survive somehow on their own.

    Now that the fast track light bulb ban has garnered fleeted attention, it’s up for normal track vote, likely tomorrow, one that needs only majority instead of super majority support, attached to another bill, in the usual way. Here is a site for you that automatically determines who your representative is and allows you send an e-mail to them, specifically about the sacrifice of greatness to the false gods of falsified science:


    It’s not likely to pass easily into Mr. Bill Becomes A Law, but this will make the GINO (“Green In Name Only”) Demagogues now adopt the prematurely birthed Bush Jr. bulb ban, after Climagegate and a dozen IPCCgates have revealed that all was not right in the state of Denmark, centered around Copenhagen, wherein Man deemed fit to control the weather.

    We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget.


    Version: 2.6


  2. In Canada we have “Professional” full time echo-loon david suzuki, who has said 4 degrees of Klimate Change would cause mass “Extinctions”.
    Anyone with 3 functioning brain cells can riddle their way though this nonsense . . . on the vast plains of Saskatchewan and Manitoba . . . . the temperature from January to July can range as much as 150 F . . . the animals and the folks seem to survive quite well . . .

  3. Anyone remember the guy who stated that there are 400 species going extinct every day; and that they are going extinct so fast that we do not have time to discover their existence? Talk about feathering your nest!

  4. Steve,

    Perhaps saying “out of the office” is a more diplomatic reply than not responding at all which is what I frequently encounter in looking for a response some of my critical comments about some of your postings.

  5. When I was a youngster, I observed that in the winter, as temperatures dropped, I could put on another layer of clothes and keep warm, but in summer, no matter how many layers I removed, I could not get cool. However, I’m finding that here, in my mid-sixties, my comfort zone is quickly narrowing. No doubt, in the next fifty – to – one hundred years, I will become extinct. I will hopefully go peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather did…not screaming like the passengers in his car !

  6. If this study is true, then why hasn’t all the hot air generated by the AGW crowd reduced their numbers any?

  7. The species I studied, terrestrial talitrid amphipods, are extremely sensitive to climate as they are gill-bearing air breathers, and each species has a narrow climatic tolerance. Alpine species are isolated on mountains and presumably change their altitude range in response to climate changes (20 ice ages and innumerable minor climate changes of only a few degrees C in the last few thousand years). Latitudinal zonation is marked with species occupying a zone of only about 2 degrees of latitude. The group as a whole ranges from the Sub-antarctic Island to the tropics, so they are versatile as a group though each species is limited.
    I have detected no changes in either altitudinal range in alpine species, nor latitudinal range in lowland species over recent times.
    Extinction is occurring, but it is due to habitat destruction and degradation.

  8. As a BIG fan of good science I gotta say that these kinds of “meta-studies” are the most annoying and potentially the most deceptive because they are so easily spun to the media and the public as “fact”. Steven, the last sentence of your second email nailed it. Hilarious! If you analyze raw garbage, it’s never going to ever smell any better no matter how many landfills you visit.

  9. Interesting that this kind of study should so closely follow Michael Mann’s exoneration by a Penn State board that had everything to lose if he were found culpable and everything to gain if he were exonerated. The revealing part of the finding, to me at least, is:

    “Science often involves different groups who have very different points of view, arguing for the intellectual dominance of their viewpoint, so that that viewpoint becomes the canonical one.”

    Winning this argument is how, in the official view of Penn State, a theory becomes “settled science.”

    I hereby move that anyone henceforth putting forth an argument that cavils with settled, canonical science be placed under permanent house arrest and, as a salutary penance, required to recite the Seven Penitential Psalms weekly for the first three years.

    We can start with whoever dares to deviate from the faith regarding this taurine poo. I predict we’re going to get a lot of similar studies, now that junk science, junk politics and junk thinkers officially rule America.

  10. This looks like a case where the ultimate scientific response to inquiries regarding data will be of the form “the dog ate it”. Fortunately, the peer review process keeps absurd conclusion-jumping out of the hallowed pages of the Proceedings.

  11. Hopefully climate change alarmists will be on the list. And not a moment too soon!

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