Weird weather and species extinction


Speed River Journal’s nature news roundup for Feb. 20, 2014, highlights a few recent comments, forecasts and data on climate change.

This week Greenpeace published analysis of recent weird weather patterns around the world and explaining their connection to climate change. Reuters reports the heavy impact on developed countries is getting the attention of politicians before a 2015 deadline to work out a U.N. climate deal.

While climate change affects temperate regions more adversely, tropical species are also experiencing the impact. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences found New Guinean birds are shifting their distributions up mountain slopes. Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds blog reports, this trend puts species in an ever more precarious situation, and some may become extinct by 2100.

A new book by American journalist Elizabeth Kolbert puts such predictions in context. The Sixth Extinction, published this month by NPR books, places the current acceleration of extinctions on the timeline of Earth’s history, relating her own experiences as well as interviews with specialists. Drawing on peer reviewed science, she predicts between 20 and 50 percent of living species will become extinct by the end of this century.

Meanwhile, Anny Revkin at Dot Earth posted the text of a speech by political scientist David G. Viktor, “Why do smart people disagree about the facts? Some perspectives on climate denialism.” In it, Viktor warns against trying too hard to defeat denialists.


Weird weather and species extinction — 5 Comments

  1. Very interesting information. I think that, after this winter, we are more aware of how climate change affects us. The floods in Wales and Sw england are very unusual. I am sure it affects the birds.
    some years back, we missed the Monarch butterflies at Pelee and I noticed thhat there are less varieties coming into the garden.

    • Last spring was particularly hard on monarchs. Apparently cold weather in Texas killed the milkweed crop and interrupted their migration, but they are also losing winter habitat in Mexico. It’s sad. We used to get big flutters (that’s a collective noun) of butterflies in September at our place on Lake Erie, too, but I doubt that will happen again.

  2. I don’t feel it’s productive to label people “denialists” any more than it is to label them “warmists” or “AGW alarmists.” Too many “-ist” labels floating around. Yes, the global climate is changing, but I decided to listen and research rather than react. What I believe “denialists” are saying is that the model of carbon dioxide as THE culprit of global warming isn’t the whole story. Leaving aside theories and fears about globalists (another “-ist”) imposing taxes or laws that not everyone supports… What’s also happening is the military-industrial complex is using airplanes that fly very high in the atmosphere, spraying something in the sky and leaving those long, fluffy trails that expand and never seem to go away, and soon after, a clear sky becomes overcast. People think these are ordinary airplane contrails, but this is not the case. It’s been hard to be privy to info that would blow most people’s minds on this subject, but any time I try to discuss what I think is going on, I get shut down, or shot down, as a conspiracy theorist, or worse. There’s another “-ist” for us… I’m tired of labels.

    It’s a short hop to YouTube to search for geo-engineering videos and documentaries. Or try searching for “what in the world are they spraying?” / “Why in the world are they spraying?” You have to sift through wild-eyed idealists (sigh) and rants from survivalists (ugh, another one) to get the kernel of what’s going on, but it’s better to have a more rounded view of what’s happening.

    • No doubt, carbon dioxide is only part of the picture. But there are lots of other reasons why people don’t accept the prevailing arguments about climate change. That’s what Viktor explains to some extent: so-called denialists have a variety of motives and perspectives. Some people do it just for fun. To me it’s alarming that the arguments distract people from taking responsibility and action.

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