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steve hiker
01-12-2004, 04:23
Thursday, January 08, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.




Global warming called growing threat to species By The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun


In researchers ranging from northern Britain to the wet tropics of northeastern Australia and the Mexican desert said yesterday that global warming at currently predicted rates will drive 15 to 37 percent of living species toward extinction by mid-century.

Dismayed by their results, the researchers called for "rapid implementation of technologies" to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and warned that the scale of extinctions could climb much higher because of mutually reinforcing interactions between climate change and habitat destruction caused by agriculture, invasive species and other factors.

"The mid-range estimate is that 24 percent of plants and animals will be committed to extinction by 2050," said ecologist Chris Thomas, of Britain's University of Leeds. "We're not talking about the occasional extinction ó we're talking about 1.25 million species. It's a massive number."

The study marks the first time scientists have produced a global analysis with concrete estimates of the effect of climate change on habitat.

Thomas led a 19-member international team that surveyed habitat decline for 1,103 plant and animal species in five regions: Europe; Queensland, Australia; Mexico's Chihuahua Desert; the Brazilian Amazon; and the Cape Floristic Region at South Africa's southern tip. The study is being published today in the journal Nature.

The five regions encompass 20 percent of the Earth's surface and "include a fair range of terrestrial environments," Thomas said. "Obviously it would be valuable to expand the scope, but there's no reason to think that doing so would change our results tremendously."

Researchers said the wide geographical scope also overcame outside factors that might affect a single region only: "A prolonged drought might cause one instance of a dieback" but be offset by changes elsewhere, acknowledged climate-change biologist Lee Hannah, who worked in South Africa. "When you see the broader context, the regional blips drop out."

While there is little dispute that the Earth's temperature is rising, debate over the reasons and speed of change remains contentious. Still, most scientists accept that much of the warming is due to the cumulative effects of human-produced emissions of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" ó from power plants and other industries ó that trap and hold heat in the atmosphere.

One skeptic, William O'Keefe, president of the George C. Marshall Institute, a conservative science-policy organization, raised criticisms of the Nature study, saying the research "ignored species' ability to adapt to higher temperatures" and assumed that technologies will not arise to reduce emissions.

The authors also acknowledged that their findings are based on assumptions about population, land use and energy consumption that are likely to change over the next 50 years. Nor do the results take into account future policies or technologies that could reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions and cut back on global warming.

"It's true. We don't know how fast China is going to grow. We don't know what's going to happen with the U.S. economy, whether there will be new policies or an increased use of things like hybrid cars," Hannah said. <!--AB IF="Story_Ads"-->

<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=6 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD align=middle></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!--AB ENDIF="Story_Ads"-->But the study is the first to predict extinctions from global warming on such a massive scale. "None of the other work quantified what's going on to the extent that this does," said Terry Root, an ecologist at Stanford University's Center for Environmental Science and Policy.

Climatologists have developed models that describe the temperature changes that specific regions have undergone over time periods of as long as 30,000 years. The Nature study used United Nations projections that world average temperatures will rise from 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

The trick for the study, Thomas said, was to marry the maps of projected climate change in particular regions with maps describing the habitat ó especially the climate needs ó of plants and animals in the same area.

For this, "we needed to get the people together who knew where the species lived," Thomas said. These were the conservationists on the research team ó ecological experts who study extinctions by looking at traditional culprits: destruction of habitat through agriculture, industry or human settlement; invasive species shoving aside native plants and animals; and hunting and extermination of pests.

"Obviously plants and animals depend on climate for survival, but we figured that if we protect them in place, they would be all right," Hannah said. "But now we realize that we have to take care of them not only where they are now, but where they might have to go."

The team calculated the effects of climate change on extinctions by using what ecologists J. Allan Pounds and Robert Puschendorf, in an article accompanying the study, called "one of ecology's few ironclad laws" ó that shrinking habitat supports fewer species.

The study considered a range of possibilities based on the ability of each particular species to move to a more congenial habitat to escape warming.

If all species were able to move, or "disperse," the study said, only 15 percent would be irrevocably headed for extinction by 2050; but if no species were able to disperse, the extinction rate could rise as high as 37 percent.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

Blue Jay
01-12-2004, 08:42
Most of the posters on this site are extreme antienvironmentalists and will enjoy global warming for many reasons. They can start earlier and end later. Bears will go extinct. Sure there will be no bird sounds but they have their MP3 on anyway and never hear them. The ever increasing fleets of SUV's will pick us up more often. You very rarely ever see any positive posts about the nonhuman animals who live on the AT.

papa john
01-12-2004, 09:06
Where is it written that all species must survive? Extinction is a natural occurence and the only thing man can do is to screw things up more by getting involved. I believe global warming is a myth perpetrated by the environmentalist wackos.

hungryhowie
01-12-2004, 09:36
Where is it written that all species must survive? Extinction is a natural occurence and the only thing man can do is to screw things up more by getting involved. I believe global warming is a myth perpetrated by the environmentalist wackos.

Well, with that logic, what gives humans the right to destroy and kill as we please? Some day, the problems we've made for ourselves due to our mis-stewardship of the Earth will be the end of your line, too, not just some other lesser species. The technologies exist for us to reverse these effects. Only vested interest in the "right places" prevents us from implementation.

-Howie

Matt Pincham
01-12-2004, 09:36
Where is it written that all species must survive? Extinction is a natural occurence and the only thing man can do is to screw things up more by getting involved. I believe global warming is a myth perpetrated by the environmentalist wackos.

Where is what written? It's not about what's written down in any context be it law or religion. Of course different species die out naturally but if you can't see that we are messing this planet up, then you really should open your eyes.

Global warming a myth? I don't know if you're here to cause arguments papa john (1 post) but if you're a prospective WB poster, you shouldn't have left your brain at the front door.

highway
01-12-2004, 09:41
The above article appears flawed and is only partly true, and only from a brief, narrow perspective. We should consider ďThe effect of climate on habitatĒ in itís proper, long-term, evolutionary perspective and not just from some narrow, recent point in time. I donít want to appear about callous about species dying, but it is precisely that living and dying and adaptation (or not) which prompted our own ancestors to come down out of the trees and walk upright when their African Jungle home changed from jungle to savannah. Through the process of natural selection, those from a gene pool who could not adapt succumbed. But, ours, those with the genes that allowed it to adapt (to those particular conditions), survived. And so it has been with all living things here.

The earth is about 4 Ĺ billion years old. That is 450,000,000,000 years. Earliest life sparked from some primordial pool somewhere as a single-cell organism about 3 Ĺ billion years ago. Thatís 350,000,000,000 years. All living things evolved (mutated) from that single cell and it was climate change that prompted it. It is the living and dying in nature that gives everything birth and is the very same influence which has always been a constant cause of the evolutionary development of all living things, including ourselves.

As a species, we are relative newcomers in the global scheme of things, as our ancestors only became barely recognizable as such about 4 Ĺ million years ago. Thatís 450,000,000 years. We came down out of the trees and became Homo erectus about 350,000 years ago and just evolved to our present physique in the past few 150,000 years. And, when we appeared, we left Africa, spread throughout the world and preceded to kill off all other populations of other archaic forms. We are still going about it.

But can you even begin to imagine the literally trillions of different species of life forms that have evolved, lived and become extinct during the intervening years between the beginnings of life from that single-cell organism and our own brief existence here. My calculator could not even compute that number of years of life on Earth without us. Thatís life, I guess. And, thatís death, too.


Anyway, none of this has anything to do with hiking the AT in the present, does it? :D

Lone Wolf
01-12-2004, 09:45
You're right on highway, but the bible-thumpin creationists are gonna give a lot of s**t. :D

highway
01-12-2004, 09:53
You're right on highway, but the bible-thumpin creationists are gonna give a lot of s**t. :D

You are probably right, but Something had to begin the "Big Bang", right? I would like to think that He(She?) did it. That would make us all right.

Matt Pincham
01-12-2004, 09:56
Highway,

Firstly you're reading that from a book/website/scientific journal. I'm the kind of person who doesn't believe everything he's told. These people effectively 'guess', they cannot 'tell' somebody where they come from or how they evolved!!!

Secondly, you're giving numbers such as '450 billion years' and 'trillions of life forms'. I understand this, but this is also why it's so concerning. This article is talking about many of those dying out within 50 years, not 50 billion years.

highway
01-12-2004, 10:04
Highway,

they cannot 'tell' somebody where they come from or how they evolved!!!



I do get the info from books, as we all learn from them. But it is a subject which has interested me for some time. Anyway, anthropologists have been studying our origins from our ancestor's remains for a long time and putting their findings into books. The data given was correct, per the current interpretation of the most recent findings. Any change to it would only fine-tune the dates-not the concept.

highway
01-12-2004, 10:25
Not to long ago it was thought that peoples on the American continent migrated across the land bridge between Asia and Alaska only about 10,000 years ago. Now, human remains have been found to push that back to almost double that. Dates keep getting fine-tuned as we get better at finding, sifting, interpreting, dating, but the concept remains the same.

What about the ice age (and there have been many) which brought about that migration in the first place. Can you imagine just how many species died each time the world's precipitation fell to earth, froze, and continued to do so for thousands of years, till the oceans began to recede so far back that one could walk from Asia to this continent. Much of our planet became encrusted with ice and life underneath died. But each time the ice receded and life was born agan in those barren places.

bearbag hanger
01-12-2004, 11:07
The earth is about 4 Ĺ billion years old. That is 450,000,000,000 years. Earliest life sparked from some primordial pool somewhere as a single-cell organism about 3 Ĺ billion years ago. Thatís 350,000,000,000 years. All living things evolved (mutated) from that single cell and it was climate change that prompted it. It is the living and dying in nature that gives everything birth and is the very same influence which has always been a constant cause of the evolutionary development of all living things, including ourselves.
:D
Somebody needs to go back to grade school math class. 4 1/2 billion is 4,500,000,000. The figure you give exceeds the age of the universe by about 430 billion years!

Anyway, it is something to worry about. This is a long way from the first study of this type that has been done. It's from a different perpective, mainly from global warming, instead of loss of habitat, etc. but there are lots of studies of this sort and they ALL come to the same conclusion. Human activity is killing off the worlds species at a rate that exceeds all previous species die offs the world has ever encountered.

Anyway, what can we do about it? The primary thing we have to do is to stop world human population growth. We can do it voluntarily, like the Chinese are trying to do with their one child per couple, or it will be done for us by mother nature itself. If you have some good ideas, write your congress men and senators.

Lastly, I fail to see how buying life insurance is going to help. I'm not sure if this thread belongs here, but the advertising definitely crosses the line.

highway
01-12-2004, 12:05
Somebody needs to go back to grade school math class. 4 1/2 billion is 4,500,000,000. The figure you give exceeds the age of the universe by about 430 billion years!

Yep, you are right. I'm not accustomed to dealing with that many zeros :D :D
4 1/2 billion=4,500,000,000
3 1/2 billion=3,500,000.000
But the other numbers are correct.

This thread just does not belong here, though. Its not about backpacking :datz

steve hiker
01-12-2004, 13:42
I'm not sure if this thread belongs here, but the advertising definitely crosses the line.
I hate advertising too, and noticed it after I had posted (cut and pasted from a newspaper website). I tried to go back and edit out the advertising, but apparently the Whiteblaze edit feature was disabled when this site was moved to the new server. Hope Attrol fixes it soon.

steve hiker
01-12-2004, 13:45
This thread just does not belong here, though. Its not about backpacking :datz

Methinks highway is disturbed by the report for a different reason. :-?

rickb
01-12-2004, 13:55
Speaking of big numbers, and in an effort to make this thread a bit more directly AT related, I thought I'd toss out that they have identified something like 10,000 diffferent species in GSNP alone. And figure that that the park is host to 10X that amount.

They are in the process of doing a survey now. A search about the All Taxa Biodiversity Study in the park would bring up many pages of info.

The way I figure it, with so many species in the Smokies it would be no problem if we killed off 25,000 or so. Who is going to miss them?

Just kidding.

I would like to see the Norway rat exterpated from the park, though. I still have flashback of them crawling all over me at the Icewater Springs shelter years ago.

Rick B

papa john
01-12-2004, 20:12
but if you're a prospective WB poster, you shouldn't have left your brain at the front door.<!-- / message -->

Well excuse me for having a difference of opinioin from the Forum Moderator on Environmental Concerns. Next time, I will ask your guidance before posting.

As far as my number of posts, if you'd taken the time to look, you'd see that I only signed up here a couple of days ago. If this is the way you treat new members, or those who differ in opinions then maybe I will go elsewhere. I certainly don't need your self righteous crap.

whoops
01-12-2004, 20:52
I'd just like to saw that past conditions on earth tells us that our planet goes through these periods of higher and lower temperatures. Although mass pollution doesn't help our atmosphere at all, global warming seems to me to be just a name to get everybody stirred up.

highway
01-12-2004, 21:10
Well excuse me for having a difference of opinioin..... from the Forum Moderator on Environmental Concerns. Next time, I will ask your guidance before posting.

As far as my number of posts, if you'd taken the time to look, you'd see that I only signed up here a couple of days ago. If this is the way you treat new members, or those who differ in opinions then maybe I will go elsewhere. I certainly don't need your self righteous crap.

Papa John:
Don't get upset as your opinion here is just as valid as those of the opposing side-in this case, perhaps even more so..

The earth has gone through numerous cooling and warming cycles in the past and who is to really say that what appears to be happening now is not the result of one of those normal cycles of nature instead of one directly caused by our meddling influence. Or both. The bare truth is that we really don't know why it is happening or, in fact, exactly what is happening. The last time it happened, we were unable to record the chain of events so this is kind of new to us. :p

There seems to be three distinct sides to this argument and you just happen to be on one side. But neither of the sides can prove their point of view, so don't worry about it. Anyway, none of us reading this drivel will be around when whatever does happen, happens. Personally, I agree with you. :D :D

bailcor
01-12-2004, 22:12
Want something to worry about? Those mountains we all love so much once rivaled the Himalayas and are much older. I have read that we have had no less than 10 ice ages in the last 1 million years. It is also rumored that each one started with a global warming.

So get out there and enjoy those mountains, they probably want be there in another 50,000 years.

chief
01-12-2004, 22:25
Anyway, it is something to worry about. This is a long way from the first study of this type that has been done. It's from a different perpective, mainly from global warming, instead of loss of habitat, etc. but there are lots of studies of this sort and they ALL come to the same conclusion. Human activity is killing off the worlds species at a rate that exceeds all previous species die offs the world has ever encountered.
They do not ALL come to the same conclusion, especially the conclusion you espouse in your last quoted sentence.

Trailjockey
01-13-2004, 01:27
Want something to worry about? Those mountains we all love so much once rivaled the Himalayas and are much older. I have read that we have had no less than 10 ice ages in the last 1 million years. It is also rumored that each one started with a global warming.

So get out there and enjoy those mountains, they probably want be there in another 50,000 years.


Damn! I`m sure going to miss`em! :eek:

Shoe Leather Express
01-13-2004, 09:33
If anyone believes this article, go here (http://archives.warroom.com/archives.php) tomorrow and download today's show. This article is debunked in the radio broadcast quite effectively. This morning's show won't be available until tomorrow morning though.

The Old Fhart
01-13-2004, 12:56
While Iím not an expert in weather or climatology I got to meet a number of real experts in those fields (NCAR scientists, state climatologists, etc.) when working for the Mount Washington Weather Observatory for four winters. What I found from talking with them is there is no clear consensus amongst the experts on the extent of the impact from global warming and even if it is all manís fault. (actually womenís fault too as she probably used more of the hair spray with the bad propellants). I know global warming didnít kill the Dodo bird or put the American Eagle, Bison, Panda, and many others on the endangered species list although they were still manís fault. What we do impacts all life forms and could put many species in a compromised position that could make global warming the straw that broke the camelís back (figuratively, no animals were killed in the writing of this reply). In my humble opinion the article that started this thread sounds way too extremist and unrealistic, kind of like an insurance ad where they have an agenda to convince you to buy a policy or something along that line. To say that in about 20 years 25% of earth species will be killed by global warming could imply that in 40 years 50%, 60 years 75%, and in 80 years the microbes will inherit the earth. In my three score years I have heard many similar scares from floride in the water supply being a communist plot to other apocalyptic warnings and, as of this morning, Iím still here and not a communist. If youíre interested in putting things in perspective, not blindly accepting every alarming thing you see, and reading an extremely interesting well-balanced article on the subject, go to: http://www.stats.org/record.jsp?type=oped&ID=107
(Warning for those with short attention spans- the article, written a few years ago, is long and very detailed)
My feeling is if this stuff interest you, go to a site that is featuring these issues and try to come to an informed opinion and not blindly accept one view (that could be very slanted) as gospel. This entire topic is only tangentially related to hiking and probably doesnít belong here. It detracts from some of the real immediate issues like the AMCís impact on the 100 mile ďwildernessĒ and other topics that are germane. Iím not asking for censorship, just common sense and restraint.

steve hiker
01-13-2004, 19:49
For the skeptics and "so what" types, here's something to think about, written in regard to habitat destruction generally and not global warming per se:

"Researchers of biodiversity agree that we are in the midst of the seventh mass extinction. Even if the current rate of habitat destruction were to continue in forest and coral reefs alone, half the species of plants and animals would be gone by the end of the 21st century. Our descendents would inherit a biologically impoverished and homogenized world."

"Not only would there be many fewer life forms, but also faunas and floras would look much the same over large parts of the world, with disaster species such as fire ants and rats widely spread. Humanity would then have to wait millions of years for natural evolution to replace what was lost in a single century."

--Time Magazine, May 2000 special edition

Blue Jay
01-14-2004, 08:45
Hey, you're starting to depress even me. Join the Earth Liberation Front.

Don
01-14-2004, 10:30
. If youíre interested in putting things in perspective, not blindly accepting every alarming thing you see, and reading an extremely interesting well-balanced article on the subject, go to: http://www.stats.org/record.jsp?type=oped&ID=107
(Warning for those with short attention spans- the article, written a few years ago, is long and very detailed)
.


Old Fhart,

Great article....thanks for recommending it....The article is not about global warming, per se, but about the way the media digests or misdigests scientific evidence... Has tremendous implications for the way the public eventually percieves most any environmental issue......

steve hiker
01-18-2004, 22:03
Good responses. Also, a few related questions come to mind which I'd appreciate some feedback on:

1. Given humanity's environmental record and attitude, do humans deserve a place on planet earth?

2. We are currently in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event in earth's history. Do you think humans will survive as a species?

3. If humans do survive the current extinction event, how great a dieoff will we sustain (what percentage of our population will come out on the other side)?

4. If the human race survives the current mass extinction, would you welcome a mutation in our species that will make us more compatible with the earth's ecosystem? In other words, an evolutionary shift from homosapiens sapiens to the next model? Perhaps a type of human that is more intelligent, less emotional and violent, and less destructive to the earth?

TJ aka Teej
01-18-2004, 22:24
1. Given humanity's environmental record and attitude, do humans deserve a place on planet earth?
It's the attitude of a minority of humans that has the greatest negative impact on 'our' environmetal record.