Shocker: Nature Conservancy chief scientist admits 'data simply do not support the idea of a fragile nature at risk of collapse'

The eco-fragility trope of Rachel Carson and Al Gore is wrong, says an unlikely source.

Peter Kareiva writes in the Breakthrough Journal that:

… The fragility trope dates back, at least, to Rachel Carson, who wrote plaintively in Silent Spring of the delicate web of life and warned that perturbing the intricate balance of nature could have disastrous consequences. Al Gore made a similar argument in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance. And the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment warned darkly that, while the expansion of agriculture and other forms of development have been overwhelmingly positive for the world’s poor, ecosystem degradation was simultaneously putting systems in jeopardy of collapse.

The trouble for conservation is that the data simply do not support the idea of a fragile nature at risk of collapse. Ecologists now know that the disappearance of one species does not necessarily lead to the extinction of any others, much less all others in the same ecosystem. In many circumstances, the demise of formerly abundant species can be inconsequential to ecosystem function. The American chestnut, once a dominant tree in eastern North America, has been extinguished by a foreign disease, yet the forest ecosystem is surprisingly unaffected. The passenger pigeon, once so abundant that its flocks darkened the sky, went extinct, along with countless other species from the Steller’s sea cow to the dodo, with no catastrophic or even measurable effects.

These stories of resilience are not isolated examples — a thorough review of the scientific literature identified 240 studies of ecosystems following major disturbances such as deforestation, mining, oil spills, and other types 
of pollution. The abundance of plant and animal species as well as other measures of ecosystem function recovered, at least partially, in 173 (72 percent) of these studies…

Read the entire essay.

8 thoughts on “Shocker: Nature Conservancy chief scientist admits 'data simply do not support the idea of a fragile nature at risk of collapse'”

  1. The business (truly) of The Nature Conservancy is to buy up tracts of land in need of ‘conservation’, which can be bought cheaply. Then it divides these tracts up into acreages for luxury homes that are ‘nature friendly’. This accounts for nearly all of its funding, making it in fact a real estate development company.

    The above is a broadside against green critics who disagree with its business model, plain and simple.

  2. when there is an ice age the ocean level drops 300 feet . that is a major change but life goes on .
    in the last 150,000 years there have been seven ice ages in the yukon terriory where the yukon river has been covered by a mile of ice. the ice goes away ,the animal,fish etc come back and life gooes on . you cant kill nature .

  3. and collapsed in 28% by your own admission… and only partially in others?

    Remind me again the basis of your diatribe about nature not being fragile?

  4. Keith, he reviewed disasters. In a mining disaster that left toxic concentrations of heavy metals in the ground it won’t recover quickly, if at all. However, even in large scale disaster areas, nature returns: Chernobyl, the Gulf of Mexico, and even the Valdez have significantly recovered from their respective tragedies.

  5. The ecosystem from Valdez has significantly recovered?
    In November 2006, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, a division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game jointly established and staffed by state and federal agencies, issued a report titled “Update on Injured Resources and Services.” The report found that the ecosystems in the area of Prince William Sound had yet to fully recover from the incident:

  6. Keith the key word is “fully recovered”. You can recover from anything with time. That’s the key lesson to take away.
    http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/3571.cfm

    Of course, like anything, the actual conditions vary depending on who you are talking to
    http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/about_issues_valdez.aspx
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-01-31-exxon-alaska_x.htm

    As Exxon is legally liable for its claims and the other researchers are not, I’d actually put more faith in Exxon’s analysis than in that of the Greens.

  7. If you trust Exxon above: the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, a division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game jointly established and staffed by state and federal agencies.

    Then their is nothing to debate: You put your faith in a for profit organization who’s legal and fuduciaiary duty is to the financial well being of its shareholders…… above a public organizations that charged with reporting to and in the interest of the US public.

Comments are closed.