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Extinctions Due to Global Warming Predicted 725

PizzaFace writes "A study being published today in Nature predicts that global warming will doom 15 to 37 percent of plants and animals to extinction by 2050, according to various news sources. The study looked at how predicted warming would affect the suitability of the areas that particular species inhabit, and whether displaced species would be able to migrate to suitable habitat. Many of the unlucky species are being caught between the hammer of global warming and the anvil of habitation destruction." The BBC has a story about climate engineering: long-range planning on making major changes in order to reduce the effects of global warming.
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Extinctions Due to Global Warming Predicted

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  • Low credibility (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dugless ( 453465 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:00PM (#7923960) Homepage
    I think this same prediction was made in 1981 by Paul Ehrlich when he predicted half the earth's species gone by 2000 and all of them gone by 2010-25. Maybe these predictions should be treated the same as claims of working perpertual motion machines.
    • Re:Low credibility (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nathanm ( 12287 )
      Paul Ehrlich's first predictions were in his book The Population Bomb [], originally published in 1968. In it, he warned of massive famines in the 70s and 80s, when hundreds of millions would die of starvation. (Here is a good critique [] of Ehrlich, and a good book review [] of The Population Bomb.)

      He has more than 30 years of dire doomsday predictions, none of which happened. Truly the epitome of the boy who cried wolf. But what's really baffling is how so many people still hang on his every word. Somehow he's st
  • Worst-case scenarios (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:00PM (#7923961) Homepage Journal
    As usual, the panicizers are out to scare us into doing something dumb. Talking about one particular animal, they say
    About 90% of its distribution would become climatically unsuitable by 2050, on maximum climate warming scenarios.
    In other words, if their worst case scenarios come true, some of this might happen.

    Color me unconvinced.

  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:00PM (#7923965) Homepage
    This raises the question of weather or not we should even fool with the weather.

    Many recent studies have shown that humans may not be a significant cause of global warming.

    If this isn't our fault do we have the right or the responsibility to alter the course of nature?

    If we screw this up, the consequenses will be chatastrophic.
  • Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blinder ( 153117 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `evad.rednilb'> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:00PM (#7923966) Homepage Journal
    they can't predict the weather over 24 hours with any degree of accuracy, but of course we are supposed to just believe them when they tell us how things will be in 50 years.

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Informative)

      by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:53AM (#7926588) Homepage Journal
      They can't predict the weather over 24 hours with any degree of accuracy, but of course we are supposed to just believe them when they tell us how things will be in 50 years.
      They can't predict the quantum entanglement of even a few atoms, so why should I believe that they can predict the motions of the planets around the sun?

      We don't know how much rain they'll be next Wednesday, but we can estimate the total rainfall for February very accurately.

      Write out 100 times: Climate is not weather.
  • Rrrright.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Considering the data on which the global warming theory is based is statistically dubious at best, i'll treat this report as something less than gospel...
    • Considering the data on which the global warming theory is based is statistically dubious at best, i'll treat this report as something less than gospel...

      In a slightly more productive sense, can anyone out there in the Slashdot community link to any solid, conclusive, and convincing evidence that global warming will actually occur?
  • by tonyr60 ( 32153 ) * on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:02PM (#7923978)
    From the WP article... "The researchers concede there are many uncertainties in both climate forecasts and the computer models they used to forecast future extinctions."

    Some certainties...

    - the earth has been warmer in the last few hundred years than it is now,
    - the earth goes through cyclic temp changes with a period of about 300 years
    - it appears that we are now coming out of a minor ice age

    Google if you want references.

    So maybe every few hundred years 15% to 30% of living organisms die out. And likely 15% to 30% of new organisms develop.

    So all normal, maybe?
    • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:24PM (#7924190)
      So maybe every few hundred years 15% to 30% of living organisms die out. And likely 15% to 30% of new organisms develop.

      About 100% of living organisms die off every few hundred years. From the Zoology course I just finished (I'm no expert), it takes a whole lot for a new species to develop. Just from your own experience - for wildly-reproducing fast-dying species, like say the common cold, you get one new noticeable strain every few years - and that's actually from a lot of sources, so the mutation rate there is actually much less often for a new true species to develop. A couple hundred years would not create 15-30% more species there.

      For insects, the process would be slower - they only reproduce one to a few times a year, with an order of magnitude less reproduction, because they tend to live more successfully than bacteria. If you have ever studies fruit flies in a science class, it's not rare to see mutation - but to see a beneficial mutation is rare, and to have those build up to the point where groups grow so different they cannot reproduce together would take a long time. We don't tend to see completely new species of insects pop up in areas that have been observed... only shifts in populations. A couple hundred years does not create 15-30% more species there.

      Mammals take MUCH longer to reproduce and live. In our own recorded history, we've never found groups of humans that could not inter-breed. In our history of dog breeding, it takes dozens of generations of carefully controlled breeding to even intelligently select one trait in one species of dog, often at cost. A couple hundred years would not even come close to 1% more species there.

      I didn't study plants, but I don't believe they multiply or mutate at a higher rate than those animals.

      Perhaps the study is wrong - but it's warnings ARE more dire than is gong to be fixed with natural diversification, from what little I know.

      Ryan Fenton
      • Actually, it is my understanding that there is (or was) one tribe of pigmies in south america who were genetically not compatible with 'standard' humans, but only barely.

        Of course, it's possible they were on of those tribes that got wiped out by the diseases brought to america. Or I could have my facts messed up completly. Or maybe they were just to small to be physiclaly compatible. I do not have hard data.. hmmm, :;opens up a tab and googles::

        gah.. to much data.. to tired to filter it. Maybe if some on
      • it takes dozens of generations of carefully controlled breeding to even intelligently select one trait in one species of dog, often at cost. A couple hundred years would not even come close to 1% more species there.

        Not only that, but we've been messing with dogs for what, about 15 thousand years? And yet they STILL interbreed with wolves.

        Some even say that wolves and dogs are still the same species.
        • Some even say that wolves and dogs are still the same species.
          Dogs were officially reclassified in 1993 as Canis lupus familiaris (instead of Canis familiaris).

          So pretty much everyone, not only some, now count dogs as a subspecies of gray wolf (Canis lupus).
    • by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:51PM (#7924396) Homepage Journal
      The global warming camp insists on shooting themselves in the foot. Global warming may exist, but so far the real data hasn't shown a correlation beyond statistical variation on a long enough time scale. The Maunder Minimum was probably as severe or more severe (albeit in the other direction) and I don't see any reports of massive die offs during in it. I have seen studies seeking to prove Global Warming by showing the effect on animal migrations or germinating times. This of course is a completely backward way of going about proving something. There are dozens of confounding variables to factor in with regard to animal based studies. Plus this type of research suffers from the worse type of experimentation bias -- forming an opinion as to what the outcome should be, then scrounge for any and all evidence that would support that bias.

      Now don't flame me that Global Warming exists, I'm not disputing there may be evidence that it may exist to some degree. But it almost certainly doesn't exist to the degree Global Warming zealots proclaim. To some degree all science and scientists are seen in a more skeptical light by the general public when Chicken Little prognostications don't come to pass.

      We know species are stressed by man's activities on Earth (Global Warming or no). So if one makes predictions that species will become extinct due to Global Warming, and low and behold they become extinct, then perhaps the general public will suddenly get religion about Global Warming. Who cares if Global Warming is really to blame.

    • Oh thank you, now i can go back to driving my S.U.V, leave the lights on all day round, eat more meat products and alltogether act like an overfed energy wasting pig.

      Google references say it can't have environemental impact.

  • I remember in the 80's everyone was saying "20 years". Now they are saying 45. I'm not discounting the seriousness of the issue, just the time scale the scientists use.
  • It's too often global warming comes up, things are getting bad, but really whats a few species becoming extinct? at the same time many more will come about due to evolution. If anything I think the earth needs a good worldwide devestation caused by humans, all these reports mean nothing, we'll still build nukes, we'll still drive our cars, when most of our major cities (most major cities are on coastlines) are pretty much abandoned/sunken/destroyed after ice melts people will say "aww crap we sould be more
    • We need to see how horrible pollution can be firsthand before we really give an effort.

      Maybe you getting a good dose of colon cancer will demonstrate to you that you need to eat less crappy food?

      C'mon, your attitude is just plain dumb. What ever happened to 'prevention is better than cure'?

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:06PM (#7924018)
    ~50 years is a remarkably small time span to lose that many species, even in theory. It takes many, many generations for enough reproductive barriers to stabilize to make one recognizeable species... for this much genetic diversity to be lost would be a true catastrophe. If these theories are even remotely true, this is not something that should be brushed off with a "Life is just adjusting to new conditions"... this much "adjustment" to one life condition leaves what life that survives afterward vulnerable in their new monogenetic state.

    It will be good for some species of reptiles and fish though. Though algea blooms might kill off even those fish that live, and a lack of prey may hurt the reptiles.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by ctwxman ( 589366 ) <> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:07PM (#7924026) Homepage
    Is Global Warming a scientific concern or a political objective? I often ask that question because whenever the global warming scenario is painted, I only hear the bad effects, never the good. That makes me wonder about those doing the painting. A scientific discourse would show good and bad, and be objective.
    • > Is Global Warming a scientific concern or a political objective?

      Is the denial of global warming a scientific concern or a political objective?

      > I often ask that question because whenever the global warming scenario is painted, I only hear the bad effects, never the good. That makes me wonder about those doing the painting. A scientific discourse would show good and bad, and be objective.

      So, would a scientific discourse about the effects of having a large asteroid crash into Kansas also show bo

      • "Is the denial of global warming a scientific concern or a political objective?"

        Read the Logic of Scientific Discovery by Karl Popper (ISBN 0-415-27844-9). This will give you a foundation in empericism, which you seem to need.

        Human-caused global warming has not been proven to the standard of strong inference, which is what science requires. It's how we seperate the corect theories from the incorrect ones. Until a theory has been shown to have satisfactory evidence, it should not be believed. That's differ
  • WTF (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mooncaller ( 669824 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:08PM (#7924034)
    Geologicaly we are in a cold phase. Some authorities even concider the modern era a mild ice age or the tail end or interglacial of the last series. This study apperantly ignors all the geological evidence of the last 1 million years. I grew up in a sonoran biotype. Two hundred kilometers from my home was an alpine enviroment. Animals that have trouble with the new enviroment will simply migrate. 15 to 30 % extintion is pretty silly.
    • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mudshark ( 19714 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:33PM (#7924267)
      You're obviously not a biologist. When the animals migrate (that is, when the ones that are able to move hundreds of kilometers as a trivial matter do so, assuming that humans have been kind enough to leave interconnected pathways and contiguous biomes for their safe passage) WTF are they going to eat?

      The plants have to be there first. If there is radical climate change, plant communities will not be able to pack up and skip north or even uphill at that kind of rate.

      15-30 percent is probably conservative....
      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mooncaller ( 669824 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @01:47AM (#7925335)
        Well you wrong :P. What you describe has happened quite often. I saw it in my own backyard ( so to speak). Also, the change in enviroment I was refering to over that 200KM distance, was from one extream ( sonoran) to another extreem ( alpine). In most areas of my homeland ( wich is not particularly atyoical), a move of a few miles is all that is needed to change temprature a few degrees. Look up anything on the sonoran enviroment and its history. In resent times, the enviroment around large cities has changed dramaticly ( well over a 2 degree C warming on average), farming has had radical impact on ground water levels. The animal have managed to survive. In some cases fragmented populations are undergoing specification as we speak. Geohistory is filled with examples of quick enviromental changes. Some animals florish, some wain, most just go on. From a geohistorical perspective, the amount of climate change resulting from mans recent activities is minor.

        BTW, my field is ichthyology, specificly the ichthyology of fluvial desert enviroments. The *main* limiting factor to a species distribution is not directly enviromental ( that is the organism can live in far greater range then it is found in), but competition from organisms more suited to the marginal enviroments. The study is flawed ( at least from cursory reading) because it does not take this into account. The other thing that the artical does not take into account is the introduction of organisms into new areas attributable to human activity. This is normaly concidered detrimental, but it can have positive aspects. An example is Ameca splendens, a fish well established in florida ( and the aquarium trade) but concidered extinct in its native waters.

        The final problem is that the authors are relying on a meterological model that is not conciderd very likely by meterologists. In fact, most models show a wide variety of changes, most related to more dynamic weather. This makes sence as most of the extra energy will be goining into driving weather and not just increasing average global temerature. The earths climatic systems have a huge amount of negative feed back. I happen to be aware of this sort of thing becaus my last area of study was the effects of micro-weather on fish distributions.

        I, for one, am much more concerned about the direct effects of human activity on animal populations. City heat island effect, ground water depleation, irrigation, river daming, deforestation, and deliberate non-native organisim introductions ( though the later is benificial to the introduced species, it can be hell on natives, especialy in areas severly modified by human activity) will do more damage in the next 50 years then incresed atmospheric CO2.

        One more thing; Most of the models I have looked at indicate that the enviroment of the part of the world I am from, will actualy return to more historicaly normal conditions. This could include the expansion of a very special subtype of the sonoran that is rare in the US, though was not so 10K years ago. This would include the expansion of the range of some realy cool species.

  • To me this just seems like another one of those outcries in order to get more funding.

    Species go extinct all the time... and more keep poping up. Deal with it. Next they'll be saying that the global warming is heating the earth's core and eventually the entire planet will explode (uh oh... giving them ideas).

    Funny how ALL this is going to happend around 2050. Anybody else notice that?
  • Clarification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:10PM (#7924053) Homepage Journal
    "A study being published today in Nature predicts that global warming will doom 15 to 37 percent of plants and animals to extinction by 2050..." -- As published by Slashdot.

    "A sweeping new analysis enlisting scientists from 14 laboratories around the globe found that more than one-third of 1,103 native species they studied could vanish or plunge to near extinction by 2050... Earth is home to an estimated 14 million plant and animal species" -- As published by CNN.

    Very dramatic difference here.

    • Err no... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MosesJones ( 55544 )

      The study looked at a defined population of species, and then extrapolated the results. This isn't unusual and is one of the reasons for the tolerance in the headline figures.

      Or do you think they'd study everything on planet earth ?

  • by mrpuffypants ( 444598 ) * <mrpuffypants@gmail. c o m> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:11PM (#7924061)
    Goddamnit. Now we have to stuff more corks in the asses of cows. Goddamn farts are gonna kill us all...
  • by Savatte ( 111615 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:11PM (#7924063) Homepage Journal
    we'll all be dead from nuclear war long before these plants and animals become extinct, so we won't even notice.
  • by Mipmap ( 569611 ) that there will be population explosions of other animals and plants. For example, the deer population in the United States is much higher now than it was 200 years ago. Eradication of predators by the colonists.
  • . . . has an opportunity to show leadership on global warming by leading the US away from fossil fuels. Since Bush is a lifelong oilman, he would have added moral authority on the issue.
  • by ThogScully ( 589935 ) <> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:12PM (#7924079) Homepage
    We barely have a catalog of the various plant and animal species present on this planet, yet we can estimate that 15-37% will be extinct because they won't be able to relocate within a few decades?

    While I'm all for protecting the environment and not doing things to dirty it or pollute it more than necessary, some credit has to be given to the shear will of life to continue living. It's worked for millenia, it's not gonna stop wholesale just yet unless it was going to stop without our interference.
  • Unfortunately, coral will be one of the first things to go due to global warming. Warm temperatures cause the coral to eject the algae that grows within them. This gives this a distinctive bleached look... Better enjoy your tropical diving while you can!
  • by Thagg ( 9904 ) <> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:16PM (#7924122) Journal
    I am one of the older members of the Slashdot community, about to turn 44. One of the fun things about the community is the boundless enthusiasm, drive, and accomplishment of the mostly younger people who frequent the site.

    I'm stunned, though, by the response of the younger people here to the real threat posed by global warming. After all, it really isn't going to affect me too badly, I won't be here in 2050 -- but you will. Global warming, for whatever reason, is undeniably real. Especially in the higher latitudes, temperatures are many degrees higher in the winter than they have been even thirty years ago. Talk to anybody in Alaska or northern Canada about it -- there's absolutely no question about the fact of climate change.

    The relexive denial that anything is wrong shocks me. I don't understand it.

    • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:03AM (#7924479)
      It's very passe to think more than 15 minutes ahead into the future. Get with the program old man.
    • by vnv ( 650942 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @01:11AM (#7925061)
      I take it you haven't read the news for the past 10+ years about falling educational test scores, that most teachers in the USA can't past basic proficiency tests, the dumbing down of America, etc ?

      Look at the world situation with HIV. Is it any different? Most people in the world until they see someone die -- in front of them -- and the autopsy confirms it was HIV... they don't believe it exists.

      We see today that HIV is once again on the rise in America... because young people don't believe it's real. And in the rest of the world, HIV is a global epidemic because their education isn't sufficient for them to understand reality.

      It's no surprise that ignorant young Americans (and other young people) scoff at global warming. The education of the average young person is insufficient to understand reality, including the vast amount of black and white data that shows indisputable global warming.

      I know it's a tough thing to accept, but most young people, even the geeks, are severely undereducated. And what they have been taught is mostly brainwashing designed to make them a good worker focused on the small picture. The literacy of young people is almost zero.

      If you have the motivation to look into the matter, I would recommend reading "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" [] by Paulo Friere --

      The methodology of the late Paulo Freire, once considered such a threat to the established order that he was "invited" to leave his native Brazil, has helped to empower countless impoverished and illiterate people throughout the world. Freire's work has taken on especial urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is increasingly accepted as the norm.

      Excerpted from The Catalyst Centre [], a Canadian organization that promotes cultures of learning for positive social change.

      Obviously things are going to get a lot lot worse before they get better.

  • by Pave Low ( 566880 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:17PM (#7924131) Journal
    Gregg Easterbrook, a man who knows his environmental policy and science masterfully skewers this study point by point. []

    The study is entirely a computer simulation, and as anyone familiar with this art knows, computer models can be trained to produce any desired result.

    The case for species preservation should be made on hard ground, not on computer-generated squish.

  • by Graabein ( 96715 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:42PM (#7924319) Journal
    I find it interesting that a lot of Americans, including here on Slashdot, see the efforts by environmentalists to get global warming under control as an attack on America and The American Way Of Life(tm).

    This is stupid because there is no one (except perhaps /bin/laden and his ilk) who would find any joy in seeing Americans have to adjust their lifestyle a bit. Most of the rest of us either don't care or do our best to emulate it anyway.

    No, the only people actually feeling the effects of the environmentalists' crusade are those of us living in "progressive" countries where gas has been $5/gallon for a long time already and where every conceivable form of energy is taxed through the roof "in order to save the environment".

    Nevermind that we need that energy to go about our daily business whatever the cost so demand isn't reduced anyway, nevermind that those same progressive governments put exactly zilch of that tax revenue back into alternative energy research and nevermind that it doesn't make any difference anyway because the rest of the world is still polluting at least as much as they ever did, so....

    You get the drift. It's enough to make a poor sod wonder if this global warming panic isn't a huge scam cooked up by politicians to allow them to tax the populace with impunity.

    Not that I doubt that the climate is changing, but wouldn't it be a good idea to get everyone to agree on the scientific basis for claiming man is (at least partly) behind the change, what measures to implement and then to implement them globally? Reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases 1% globally must be better than reducing them by 10% in a just couple of medium/small countries.

    Also, it wouldn't leave those of us living in those countries feeling like we're having to do all the lifestyle adjusting in a massive and costly gesture of futility while the rest of the world doesn't really give a rat's ass.

    Note that I'm not saying that the claims that the climate is changing are a scam, but I do think it's prudent to wonder out loud about the global warming panic that, as far as I can see, has only ever resulted in raised taxes in some countries. Where is the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gasses? Where is the reduction of the ozone holes? In short, where did our money go?

    So, my dear Americans. Be prepared for the day when you too have to pay $5/gallon for gas, only make sure that when that day comes your money will actually be used for something that makes a difference.

    • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:58AM (#7924951)
      This is stupid because there is no one (except perhaps /bin/laden and his ilk) who would find any joy in seeing Americans have to adjust their lifestyle a bit. Most of the rest of us either don't care or do our best to emulate it anyway.
      That's a stupid thing to say. As an American, I want the rest of my countrymen to moderate a little more. There are some things that are just complete excess. Where I live, half the cars on the road are SUVs, and many people use them for nothing more than driving a few miles to work and dropping their kid off at school! I don't know about other Americans, but I think its sick that we consume 25% of the world's energy, while having only 5% of the world's population.

      I think there should be laws to at least provide a monetary incentive to pollute less. In some industries, corporations pay to pollute. If they pollute less than they paid for, they can sell that excess capacity to other companies. That creates a competitive market for pollution credits, which has had dramatic results in driving down pollution. I'd like to see the same thing applied to individuals.

      And before anybody bitches at me about liberty, let me tell you that I'm the first one to regret additional government oversight. But we live in a republic, not an anarchy. Our society recognizes that some government restrictions are necessary, and most importantly, our economic system (capitalism) recognizes that certain things are outside the bounds of the free market. These are things like national defense and a clean environment, things that everyone benefits from. A free market will produce less than the efficient quantity of these things because everybody will want to let somebody else pay for it, because they know they can still get the benefits. Government oversight is unfortunately required for such things.

      I also think that the Republican party's stance on Kyoto is laughable. They ask: why should we cut more than Thailand? The answer: because we pollute more! Compare this to the answer they give when we ask: why should the rich get larger tax cuts? Because they pay more taxes?
  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @11:45PM (#7924351) Homepage Journal
    How many of you jumping on the global warming bandwagon don't believe the weather predictions on the local news?

    How come you're willing to believe weather prediction of 50 to 100 years into the future?
    • How many of you jumping on the global warming bandwagon don't believe the weather predictions on the local news? How come you're willing to believe weather prediction of 50 to 100 years into the future?

      Quick clue. If I watch one spin of a roulette wheel, I have a pretty ordinary chance of guessing whether the casino will win, or the dude betting against it.

      If however I look at all the games in the casino, understand their rules and the associated probabilities, measure the number of people who come

  • hurry (Score:3, Funny)

    by gyratedotorg ( 545872 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:02AM (#7924469) Homepage
    i wish global warming would hurry up. im getting sick of these new-england winters.
  • by gizmonic ( 302697 ) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:40AM (#7924760) Homepage
    I've said this before, but I still think we give ourselves too much credit. I think we are seeing the results of much larger cycles in the sun that we do not fully understand.


    Because Mars is experiencing global warming [] too.

    Don't get me wrong, I think we are trashing the environment, and that if we don't do something about it, it will come back and bite us in the ass as a species, but I don't think it is a given fact that global warming is a direct result of our actions. There is simply too much we don't understand.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @02:41AM (#7925663) Homepage
    It's a climate change. There are winners and losers. And the US is a winner.
    • The Northwest Passage (Atlantic to Pacific, north of Canada) is becoming passable. Icebreakers have forced it in the past, but it's starting to show potential as a shipping route.
    • The US upper tier of states, and the lower parts of Canada, become more desirable real estate.
    • More sun, less snow can't hurt.
    • The US doesn't have that much lowland. The Mississippi Delta and south Florida may be flooded seasonally and during storms, but that happens already. There's going to be some bitching from beachfront property owners, but this is a slow process, slower than a mortgage.
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @02:53AM (#7925735)
    the most diversity of species are the hot ones. So I hereby call baloney-sausage on this psuedo-science! And as always, I must conclude by pointing out the earth has been much hotter in the past, and much colder than it is now. Don't like the climate on earth, just wait, it'll change.
  • Not the first time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:00AM (#7926213) Homepage
    Is there any evidence of mass extinctions in the Climatic Optimum of the early middle ages when temperatures werre warmer by 3 to 6 degrees and Vikings established their flourishing colonies in Greenland?

    Is there any evidence of mass extinctions in the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715 where temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees colder?

    Not to mention that many scientists doubt the fact that there is any significant warming and claim that when the samples tainted by local city hot spots are removed there is nothing that registers above the noise.
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @05:26AM (#7926310) Journal
    I have just read through a whole load of "damn tree-hugger", "this theory is crappola" and the insanley cliched "statistics can be made to fit any point of view" posts. Nothing unusual for the slashdot crowd who seem to fear the nature and its consequences as much as they love out of this world science fiction.

    I have a message for you: There is a difference between a scientific study and a "raving" environmentalist.

    I've lived here in Europe for 17 years now, and even here I can that climate is changing. The yearly winter and fall storms are getting worse, the summers are getting much hotter and drier (three of the last four summers have been far hotter than normal accompanied by droughts and flash floods) and the winters are much warmer than they were 12 years ago (When I got here there was snow for months in winter, now if there's snow for weeks you're lucky), and all that repeatedly, so please spare me the comments on sunspot cycles and freak seasons.

    Mod this down if you wish, but I firmly believe that this demonising of the warning on climatic change is extremely counter productive.
  • hogwash (Score:4, Informative)

    by delong ( 125205 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:34AM (#7926534)
    Virtually Extinct

    By Iain Murray Published Tech Central Station

    It seems that virtually every news organ in the English language has carried the story of new scientific claims published in Nature magazine that by 2050 over a million species will be doomed to extinction owing to the effects of global warming. Yet few of them realized how flimsy the story actually is. Writing on another claim of mass extinctions almost two years ago, I said, "This area of research is prone to wild exaggerations," and here we have another one.

    There are several reasons this claim should be laughed out of the court of public opinion. First, the research doesn't say what the researchers themselves claim. They have extrapolated to all species a model that looked at only 1,103 species in certain areas (243 of those species were South African proteaceae, a family of evergreen shrubs and trees). For one thing, we don't know how many species there are -- estimates vary from 2 million to 80 million -- and have only documented 1.6 million. However, assuming the 14 million figure widely used in the press reports is anywhere near accurate, the sample size is a mere 0.008 percent of the total species population of the planet, with certain species vastly over-represented (there are only 1,000 species of proteaceae on the planet). All the researchers have demonstrated is that, if their model is correct, certain species in certain habitats will run a risk of extinction. Extrapolating to the entire planet from this small, unrepresentative sample is simply invalid. So when the lead researcher told the Washington Post, "We're not talking about the occasional extinction -- we're talking about 1.25 million species. It's a massive number," he was guilty at the very least of over-enthusiasm, if not outright exaggeration.

    This problem would be devastating enough for the claims, if it wasn't the case that the model on which the calculations are made is itself suspect. It relies on the 'species-area relationship,' the idea that smaller areas support fewer species. A researcher at the evocatively-titled Golden Toad Laboratory for Conservation in Puentoarenas, Costa Rica, writing a commentary on the study for Nature, called this "one of ecology's few ironclad laws." The trouble is that there are many exceptions to this supposedly ironclad law. The wholesale deforestation of the Eastern United States, for example, seems only to have caused the extinction of one species of bird. While in Puerto Rico, the island's loss of 99 percent of its forest cover caused the loss of 7 out of 60 species, but after the deforestation the number of bird species on the island actually increased to 97. The species-area relationship (plotted as a linear function in 1859) seems to be a poor model on which to base extinction rates.

    So the model is suspect and the extrapolation invalid. What about the link to global warming? The researchers assume that global warming will reduce habitat. Yet this isn't the case. The earth is not shrinking. The reduction of one area of habitat does not mean that it is replaced by void. Other habitats expand. And so far, all the evidence we have points not to desertification or other changes to less hospitable climates as a result of global warming. Instead, the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere seems to have led to a six percent increase in the amount of vegetation on the earth. The Amazon rain forests accounted for 42 percent of the growth. To model only reductions in habitats and not expansions accounted for by global warming stacks the deck. The researchers created a model that dictated that global warming will cause extinctions. Surprise, surprise! When they ran the model that's exactly the result they got.

    Thank goodness for the New York Times, whose writer John Gorman was careful enough to note the limitations of the study. While others talked about millions of extinctions, he said, "By 2050, the scientists say, if current warming trends continue, 15 to 37 percent of the 1,103 species they studi
  • Fear no warming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:32AM (#7926706)
    I am constantly and consistently amazed at how frightened people can become over global warming. To me, there are two ways to look at it. You can look at it either from the environments perspective and ours.

    From the environments perspective, humans are a brief hiccup. The earth has seen drastically more damaging environmental disasters, and simply put, disasters are how nature changes and evolution is produced. Disasters are in fact a fine things to happen if biodiversity is your concern as they give rise to new and more exotic creatures with each passing. Even the most terrible of disasters, such as the comet that killed the dinosaurs, are not enough to put nature down and out. In fact, that disaster is what led to our rise in the first place. Humanity could probably rape and pillage this world with all of its might, and in the long term things would be okay. I am not suggesting that we do so, but I am not going to sweat much if biodiversity takes a short term fall.

    So some animals die? New animals will replace them. Granted, it isn't going to happen on a time scale we can appreciate, but I think that is the problem. Environmentalist look at the world on their time scale which has the attention span of 50 years, when evolution and natural selection is far more concerned with a much broader picture in which sudden mass extinctions are not the end of life.

    The other perspective from the human perspective. From the human perspective, this problem is more of a nuisance. There is absolutely nothing humanity could willingly do to the environment that could kill off humanity outside of all out nuclear/biological war (and even then). Humans force evolution upon themselves too damned quick to kill themselves. The entire ozone layer could vanish tomorrow in a single instance and humanity as a whole would go on. We can certainly make our selves struggle a little and rack up a body count in the process, but in the end, humanity will go on, even if it means we have to live inside or protect ourselves from our own environment. That isn't exactly a pretty way to live, but it certainly is not a sigh of the end.

    More then the simple fact that we will cling to life and force our own evolution through technology to survive, we also can repair the damage we do in time. Already we have learned some powerful bioremediation techniques to clean up some of the more harmful things we have done. It would come as little shock if in 50 or 100 years we have the capacity to do nature's job and produce new creatures from scratch that can live wherever we please them to live. It might be that 200 years from now biodiversity has shot through the roof far beyond anything nature has ever seen simply because we wanted it that way. It also would come as little surprise if we simply expand our terraforming powers to include the entire earth. Instead of altering the environment to suit our needs immediately surrounding ourselves with clothes, cars, and houses, it is no stretch of the imagination to see humanity setting its goals even broader and altering the entire earth's environment to our needs. It might very well be that there comes a day when we simply decide that we want a thicker ozone layer and build machines to build more ozone and repair the damage we have done.

    Our impact on the environment is no threat to humanity or the environment as a whole. Yes, we can shoot ourselves in the foot in the short term and that should certainly be avoided. I don't fancy the idea that I can't go to the beach without SPF 100 on. That said, we need to moderate how much we are willing to sacrifice for the environment and keep it in perspective that this is an issue of comfort and health, not life or death for humanity and the environment as a whole. Take steps to slow wanton destruction, but don't tie humanities hands in the process.
  • Easterbrook (Score:3, Informative)

    by verloren ( 523497 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:08AM (#7926823)
    Gregg Easterbrook has a good column (The 'EasterBlogg') on why this is nonsense:

    Basically we've had climate change of this type fairly recently, and no mass extinctions besides what we've caused by chopping up various creatures to make our gonads bigger. Actually Easterbrook didn't make that last point, but his article is well worth a read.

    Cheers, Paul
  • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @11:04AM (#7927925) Homepage Journal
    A study being published today in Nature predicts that global warming will doom 15 to 37 percent of plants and animals to extinction by 2050

    Any chance that the human kind is among those 15-37 percent? Because that would solve everything. At least for awhile - until next inteligent parasite would come.

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