Monday, October 22, 2018

It will take the Earth 3 million years to recover from the species going extinct in the near future

This is utter nonsense.  To make such a claim, you have to have a firm count of how many species there already are plus an equally firm count of the number of species that existed on at least one occasion in the past.  No such counts exist.  So it is all just guessing.

And in any case extinctions have always happened, sometimes on a massive scale.  On some estimates, 95% of all the species that have ever lived on earth are now extinct. We don't grieve that the once ubiquitous trilobites are no more so it would seem normal to accept the reality of death and extinction. But given the modern-day efforts at nature conservation, it is entirely open to us to conclude that extinctions actually have slowed down in the modern era.  LOL

Note that a lot of the extinctions we know about were from the pre-modern or early modern era, not the product of 20th and 21st century civilization:  The mammoth, the dodo and the passenger pigeon, for instance.  And the extinction of the Australian megafauna appears to date from the arrival of Aborigines in Australia, who were pretty good hunters of slow animals -- and that was about 50,000 years ago -- so definitely not the fault of modern man

And note the implicit assumption that the non-extinction of all animals is good.  Why is it good?  I think we could make a case that it does not matter at all -- excerpt perhaps for sentimental reasons.  The possibility that some one or other of the existing animals might do us some unknown good in the future would have to be vanishingly small at this stage of our knowledge.  We don't allow for all the possibilities in our lives -- or else we would never do anything

Humans will cause so many mammal species to go extinct in the next 50 years that the planet's evolutionary diversity won't recover for 3 to 5 million years, a team of researchers has found.

The Earth may be entering its sixth mass extinction: an era in which the planet's environments change so much that most animal and plant species die out. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature predicts that 99.9% of critically endangered species and 67% of endangered species will be lost within the next 100 years.

The five other times a mass extinction has occurred over the past 450 million years, natural disasters were to blame. But now, human activity is killing mammal species.

In a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark calculated how fast extinctions are happening, and how long it would take for evolution to bring Earth back to the level of biodiversity it currently has.

The scientists concluded that in a best-case scenario, nature will need 3-5 million years to get back to the level of biodiversity we have on Earth today. Returning to the state Earth's animal kingdom was in before modern humans evolved would take 5-7 million years.

Evolution can't keep up

Evolution is the planet's defense mechanism against the loss of biodiversity. As habitats and climates change, species that can't survive die, and new species slowly emerge. But it takes a long time for new species to fill the gaps — and that process is far slower than the rate at which humans are causing mammals to go extinct.

For their calculations, the Aarhus University researchers used a database containing existing mammal species and mammals that already went extinct as humans spread across the planet. They combined that data with information about extinctions expected to come in the next 50 years, and used advanced simulations of evolution to predict how long recovery would take.

Their estimates are based on an optimistic assumption that people will eventually stop ruining habitats and causing species to die out, and the extinction rate will go back down. But even in that best-case scenario, the timeline depends on how quickly mammals start recovering. If the extinction rate doesn't start falling for another 20-100 years, more species will likely disappear, causing greater diversity loss, the study said.

The researchers noted that in their model, certain species were given more importance than others. Matt Davis, a paleontologist at Aarhus University who led the study, cited the shrew as an example. There are hundreds of species of shrew, so if one or two go extinct, that would not kill off all shrews on Earth.

But there were only four species of sabre-toothed tigers on the planet. So when they all went extinct, many years of evolutionary history disappeared with them.

"Large mammals, or megafauna, such as giant sloths and sabre-toothed tigers, which became extinct about 10,000 years ago, were highly evolutionarily distinct," Davis said in a press release. "Since they had few close relatives, their extinctions meant that entire branches of Earth's evolutionary tree were chopped off."

Today, other large animals like the black rhino are facing extinction. Asian elephants' chance of making it to the 22nd century is less than 33%, the study found. These elephants are one of only two remaining species from a group of mammals that once included mastodons and mammoths.

"We now live in a world that is becoming increasingly impoverished of large wild mammalian species," Jens-Christian Svenning, an Aarhus University professor who researches megafauna, said in the press release. "The few remaining giants, such as rhinos and elephants, are in danger of being wiped out very rapidly."

He noted that the planet no longer boasts giant beavers, giant deer, or giant armadillos.

Though the researchers' findings are dire, the scientists said their work could be used to figure out which endangered species are evolutionarily unique, which might help conservationists decide where to focus their efforts to prevent the most devastating extinctions.


Lady big eyes compares global warming to Nazism

Democratic socialist congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to address global warming the same way America defeated the Nazis during World War II.

Speaking at a campaign event on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez made the case that, since Nazi Germany and global warming are both “existential threats,” the same tactics used against one should be levied against the other.

“So, when we talk about existential threats,” said Ocasio Cortez, “the last time we had a really major existential threat in this country was around World War II. So, we’ve been here before, and we have a blueprint of what we did before. None of these things are new ideas.”

Thunberg's recent actions have been celebrated by climate activists including co-founder Bill McKibben, who highlighted the march and thanked the teen for her leadership in a tweet on Saturday:


So stopping less than 2 degrees of warming is worth 60 million dead?  That's what it took to beat Nazism.  But Greenies hate people anyway so that might not be a problem to them

Warmists now relying on kiddy wisdom

Addressing some 10,000 people in Helsinki on Saturday at what some campaigners are calling Finland's largest ever climate demonstration, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg urged marchers to fight for the major systemic changes that experts have said are necessary to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert a looming climate catastrophe.

"Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground, so we can't save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change. Everything needs to change and it has to start today," declared the Swedish teenager, who traveled to the capital city of her nation's Nordic neighbor for Saturday's massive march.

"A lot of people say that Sweden or Finland are just small countries and that it doesn't matter what we do," Thunberg added. "But I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to."

Thunberg garnered international media attention when, ahead of Sweden's September election, she refused to attend school and instead protested outside the Swedish parliament, handing out educational pamphlets to passersby. Now that the election has passed, the self-described "climate radical" and others who have joined the strike return to school for four days each week but still protest on Fridays.


Consumers will suffer the hangover from Trump's ethanol binge

President Trump announced earlier this week that he intends to take actions to increase the mandate to add ethanol to fuels. Currently, refineries producing transportation fuel must demonstrate each year that they have blended certain volumes of renewable fuel into gasoline or diesel, or else acquire expensive credits from others who do so.

The Trump administration’s action, which would require formal rulemaking, would direct the EPA to allow gasoline with 15 percent ethanol to be distributed year-round, reversing the current ban during summer months.

That action might be politically savvy, to make good on a campaign promise and to ease the impact of foreign tariffs on U.S. corn farmers by artificially raising demand for corn. (In this country, ethanol is obtained largely by fermenting corn.)

But it has little else to recommend it.

Politics aside, any defense of U.S. ethanol policy must embrace a series of fallacies which include: 1.) ethanol produced from corn makes the U.S. less dependent on fossil fuels, 2.) ethanol lowers the price of gasoline, 3.) an increase in the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline boosts the overall supply of gasoline, and 4.) ethanol is environmentally-friendly and lowers global carbon dioxide emissions.

Not one of these claims is true. Yet, the ethanol lobby continues to promote them, and many politicians and lobby groups seem intoxicated by them.

Politicians like to say that ethanol is environmentally-friendly, but these claims must be put into perspective. Although corn is a renewable resource, it has a far lower yield relative to the energy used to produce it than does ethanol from sugar cane. Moreover, ethanol yields about 33 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, so mileage drops off significantly when it is added. Motorists, who buy fuel in order to travel distances, are thus over-charged for every gallon of blended fuel. Fuel costs for Americans are artificially inflated due to the lower energy content of ethanol and the high costs faced by fuel companies trying to comply with ill-conceived fuel regulations.

The truth is that the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates ethanol blends in the first place, has failed miserably in achieving any of its stated goals.

Lower-cost biomass ethanol — for example, from rice straw (a byproduct of harvesting rice) or switchgrass — would make far more environmental sense, but large volumes of ethanol from biomass will not be commercially viable for many years. Moreover, production will be delayed by government policies that specifically encourage corn-based ethanol by employing subsidies.

American legislators and policymakers seem oblivious to the scientific and economic realities of corn ethanol production. Brazil and other major sugar cane-producing nations enjoy significant advantages over the U.S. in producing ethanol, including ample agricultural land, warm climates amenable to vast plantations, and on-site distilleries that can process cane immediately after harvest.

Thus, in the absence of cost-effective, domestically-available sources for producing ethanol, rather than using corn, it would make far more sense to import ethanol from Brazil and other countries that can produce it efficiently.

But, of course, this would defeat the purpose of the policy, which is actually meant to be a sop to Midwestern farmers.

The Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group, applauds the administration’s proposed action, because it creates increased demand for its flagship product. Several years ago, the organization opposed the EPA’s proposed lowering of the Renewable Fuel Standard when severe drought boosted corn prices. A spokesman made this particularly ironic comment: “Ultimately, the market will sort out any imbalances in supply and demand.” But the association had evinced little confidence in the forces of supply and demand when they convinced Congress to mandate the diversion of 38 percent of the corn supply to ethanol production.

This intense lobbying reminds us of this observation by 18th-century philosopher and economist Adam Smith: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Politicians may be drunk with the prospect of corn-derived ethanol, but it is consumers who will ultimately suffer the hangover.


Australia's climate policy not changing: treasurer

Climate change has been touted as an important contribution to the Liberals' loss in Wentworth but Josh Frydenberg says the coalition won't shift its policy.

Not even being on track for a minority government will force the coalition into a shift in thinking on climate change, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed.

Independent Kerryn Phelps is headed for victory in the Wentworth by-election after a historic swing of more than 20 per cent against the Liberal Party.

The expected result will see the coalition with 75 seats in the House of Representatives - one short of a majority - with Labor holding 69.

The Australia Institute's exit polling shows climate change and replacing coal with renewable energy was the biggest issue motivating voters in Wentworth.

The research shows 77 per cent of voters said it influenced their vote, with one-third stating it was the most important issue when heading to the polling booth on Saturday.

While Mr Frydenberg conceded climate change was important to the people of Wentworth, he believed other issues were at play.

He said the predicted defeat for candidate Dave Sharma was more about the Liberal Party's ditching of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had been the local member since 2004.

"The message from the voters of Wentworth is you've been punished for the events of recent weeks with the leadership," Mr Frydenberg told Sky News on Sunday.

Mr Frydenberg went on to tell reporters on Sunday the government was on track to meet emissions targets. "What we will not do is increase people's power bills as a result of these policies," Mr Frydenberg said.

"That is very different to Bill Shorten. He has a 50 per cent renewable energy target and a 45 per cent emissions reduction target. That spells higher power bills for Australians."

Dr Phelps said the public was tired of the government's "self-interest" and important issues must be kept on the agenda. "They want to start to see some movement on action on climate change," Dr Phelps said.

Senior Labor MP Tony Burke said former prime minister Tony Abbott was still in charge of the coalition's policies. "The hard-right agenda has made this government incapable of dealing with issues like climate change and people have had enough of it," Mr Burke told ABC TV on Sunday.

Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie said the message from the public on climate change was clear. "A couple of critical issues in the Wentworth by-election and people raise with me every day in Mayo is ensuring we have climate change action in the parliament," Ms Sharkie told ABC TV on Sunday.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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