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Scientist who went around proclaiming 27,000 species go extinct every year, can't/won't name a single one

metamars's picture

To paraphrase Fox news, "Some scientists SAY that 25,000 - 50,000 species go extinct every year"

Consider: E.O. Wilson is an honorary board member of the Suzuki Foundation, who has claimed 27,000 species go extinct every year. Humorously (IMO), Wilson claims

"A good proxy for the rate of extinction is the rate of growth in energy used by the human population. In other words, extinction rates are increasing in step with the product of population growth times the growth in affluence."

(This might contain a germ of correlative truth, as burgeoning human population, and greater affluence, will yield more habitat destruction and pollution. By "pollution", I mean real pollution, not the increase of so-called "pollutant" CO2).

However, from Climate Change and Extinction: What Is Natural? :

Wilson claims 27,000 species go extinct every year, or 3 per hour. David Suzuki toured Canada visiting schools and presenting this number as real. I challenged him to name even one of them. I also suggested a daily obituary on his web page listing the 72 per day. Not one name was forthcoming.

Well, maybe Suzuki was the wrong guy to ask. Perhaps somebody should track down E.O. Wilson and ask HIM to name a single species that's gone extinct?

Now, over at the Real News Network, they're reporting that species extinction is even worse than previously thought. From

Climate Change: Have We Reached the Point of No Return?

And the fact is, when we look at, connect all the dots, which Dr. McPherson has done and has been doing for quite a number of years now, that it shows when we look at the pattern of for example the IPCC worst case predictions of, whether it be temperature increases or sea level rise, or CO2 in the atmosphere, the reality continues to dramatically outpace the worst case scenarios. And so the worst case scenarios in the modeling keep being amended with more new data coming in, and the reality is that the reality keeps outpacing it to the extent that even the modeling can't even keep up.

I don't think Dahr Jamail or Sharmini Peries are the journalists for this particular "naming names" task. Let's just say, it doesn't fit their journalistic style, ya know? Or, perhaps like Cheney's frequent draft deferments during the Vietnam War, these two "journalists" simply have other priorities. Who am I to judge?

However, since the fate of not just 25,000 species per year, but also homo sapiens (that us, gentle reader- US!), depends on us dealing with this rapidly developing catastrophe, there should be at least a single journalist, somewhere, somehow, some way, that is willing to make this sort of phone call. If money is tight (say because investigative journalism is underfunded), may I suggest a Skype paid plan, whereby you can make calls to real phone numbers for about 2 cents per minute?

That's quite a bargain, for saving human life as we know it, if you ask me. Oh, maybe it's too late to save 99%+ of us, but if we could just save a few Adam and Eves, no telling what restocking miracles they could accomplish after, say, 50 generations.

Ah, but what do I know?

BTW, my reference also quotes an estimate saying "a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.”

Let's assume that the 91% figure holds for all species. That means that 9% of the species going extinct every day have been "discovered, described and catalogued". That works out to 6.6 known species going extinct every day.

Thus, it should indeed be theoretically possible to have a daily obituary for a number of known species that have kicked the bucket, due to yours and my fossil fuel consumption. By "putting a face on the suffering", that would really help get the word out about how hopeless everything is. Sure, nobody's going to get too excited about a bacteria species kicking the bucket; and I, for one, would probably celebrate is a mosquito species went belly up. But just imaging the advertising potential of a cute mammalian species going bye-bye, or that of a bird species with beautiful, or at least attractive plumage.

Now, that's what I would call a green advertising campaign.

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...species? I find that remarkable and potentially disturbing. Suzuki was a very early campaigner for environmental damage way back in the late 80's. I wouldn't fault him for no knowing names; not his area of expertise.
There's a new project for you; start the website naming and shaming by the names and numbers, those species going or recently gone extinct.
I look forward to a link in the not too distant future...

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

Huh? I think you may have missed the point of my sarcasm. I don't think there's any scientist in the entire world who can name 1 species that has gone extinct, within about the last 50 years, due to climate change due to anthropogenic CO2 production.

Suzuki's not the sharpest blade in the drawer, 'tis true. But I doubt that even the sharper blades in drawer would do any better.

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

Well, a quick google for "species that recently became extinct" turned up this page, which lists one of it's 17 extinct species for which

the best theory is that the El Nino weather pattern along with global warming and airborne pollution dried up pools and ponds the toad lived in.

When you consider the degree of global warming that's occurred, blaming that, alone, would be a ludicrous hypothesis. If you consider the El Nino aspect, if you could credibly blame an outlier El Nino on AGW, leading to an unsustainable environment, that might be plausible. But can you actually prove (or make a convincing case) that AGW can give such an effect?

Note that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation was only discovered in the 90's, and can amplify El Nino impacts. Even if you could successfully disentagle anthropogenic contributions, and say that it put the Golden Toad over the edge, you'd still be far short of new species going extinct, every day.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

We haven't been around long enough to really KNOW anything.
I personally do not believe anything; especially from other.
What I do know is, things seem to be changing and I think that we humans are a large part of that change. I do not like what I see. I do not like watching us humans turning the beautiful blue dot into a ravaged hell hole.
Gaia will abide; us? Not so sure...