New bogus climate factoid: Average species shift

What is an average species and can it move?

We missed this study when it came out last month in Science, but as recounted by the New York Times editorial page this morning,

A team of scientists from the University of York examined the movement of 2,000 animal and plant species over the past decade. According to their study, published in Science last month, in their exodus from increasing heat, species have moved, on average, 13.3 yards higher in altitude — twice the predicted rate — and 11 miles higher in latitude — three times faster than expected. These changes have happened most rapidly where the climate has warmed the most.

Aside from the study failing to link climate change per se (as opposed to, say, human encroachment) with the above-described “exodus” and the notion that species aren’t supposed to move, the concept of an “average species shift” is at least as bogus as the concept of “average global temperature.”

What is the answer to, say:

(Worm + Lion + Canary + Whale)/4 = ?

And then, whatever the answer, is it really meaningful to say how it has moved its stomping grounds?

Levity aside, can the short-term moves of aquatic, avian and land-based species really be averaged together than then blamed on slight changes in average temperature?

If a population of whales has moved 100 miles north and a population of worms has moved 100 feet north, has the whale-worm moved 50 miles and 50 feet north? What could that possibly mean?

The Times’ editors conclude their latest polemic with the following melodrama:

We are holding the future of every species on this planet — including ourselves — hostage.

But when we asked a researcher who had supposed reviewed 1,100 studies on the topic of species endangered by climate change, he failed to produce a single example of such harm.

3 thoughts on “New bogus climate factoid: Average species shift”

  1. Is this related to the drama over the Alaska King Crab invading Antarctic waters, eating the rare and beautiful worms down there?

  2. Ummm, this is a very good example of averaging what should not be averaged, reducing it to far too low a timescale, and then wildly extrapolating the results. 13.4 yards vertically and 11 miles horizontally is effectively zero. You can expect migratory birds to move hundreds of miles in a year, but that would depend greatly on growing conditions (you won’t have many birds migrating to Texas this year due to the drought). On the other hand. Flowers move maybe half a mile each year, and Oak trees might move as far in 10.

    One year of bird transition could easily override the hundreds of other species movements and then reverse it all the next year.

    Do these people not understand freshman level statistics?

  3. If evolution is more than a theory could it not also be said that the moving species is simply adapting to a new environment and at the end of the move may have evolved into a new species, or that the species has evolved to better manage in its habitat? What I find really fantastically funny is that the Greenies think nothing ever changes, that the planet will always be as they see it right now. What a bunch of idiots.

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