Species decline or scaremongering?

tiger in the snow

A study from the University of Exeter on species decline declares “climate change warnings not exaggerated.”

However the press release leaves one singularly unimpressed with the raw activism of the lead researcher, who says: “It is time to stop using the uncertainties as an excuse for not acting. We need to act now to prevent threatened species from becoming extinct. This means cutting carbon emissions.”

The paper is in press, but it mentions “existing responses to climate change.”

Decreased ice cover in the Bering Sea reduced the abundance of bivalve molluscs from about 12 to three per square metre over a very short period of time (1999-2001). These shells are the main food source for species higher up the food chain, such as Spectacled Eider.

Arctic sea ice cover is mostly a function of the winds. It’s a shame the molluscs have declined, but it was not caused by global warming, anthropogenic or not.

Climatic warming and droughts are causing severe declines in once-common amphibian species native to Yellowstone National Park in the United States of America. Between 1992-1993 and 2006-2008, the number of blotched tiger salamander populations fell by nearly half, the number of spotted frog populations by 68 per cent, and the number of chorus frog populations by 75 per cent.

So the recent amphibian virus infections widespread through North America have nothing to do with these reductions?

In Antarctica, few animals exist on land, but one of the most abundant, a nematode worm living in the soil in dry, cold valleys experienced a 65 per cent decline between 1993 and 2005 as a result of climate change.

First, so what? Second, there’s no evidence of warming temperatures in Antarctica except Steig’s deprecated paper using the peninsula data “smeared” over the rest of the continent. Quite naughty. Third, there are few scientists even in the dry valleys; I demand a recount.

Next, we’re treated to examples of “predicted responses” to climate change. How insulting is this? “We found some guys who made these forecasts. Be afraid, they could happen.”

This is not science!

On Tenerife, an endemic plant, the Caňadas rockrose has a 74 to 83 per cent chance of going extinct in the next 100 years as a result of climate change related droughts. [Who “calculates” these odds?]

In Madagascar, climate warming is predicted to cause endemic reptiles and amphibians, often found in mountain ranges, to retreat towards the summit of the mounts. With a warming of just two degrees Celsius, well within current projections, three species are predicted to lose all of their habitat.

Birds living in northern Boreal Forests in Europe are expected to decline as a result of global warming. Species such as Dotterel are predicted to decline by 97 per cent by 2100 and species such as Two-barred Crossbill and Pine Grosbeak could lose their entire range within Fenno-Scandia.


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Richard C (NZ)
Richard C (NZ)

Nick, I’ve checked the Climate4you spec. humidity plot and discovered that it is for 90N – 90S, not 20N – 20S (tropics as in the D&D Fig 3 plot) so I’m wrong to compare one to the other. However I still don’t know what radiosonde data D&D have plotted in Fig 3 now that I’ve checked the ESRL database here:- http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl Here’s the raw data for these parameters:- 300mb Pressure Level Specific Humidity (gr/kg) Latitude Range used: 20.0 to -20.0 Longitude Range used: 180.0 to 180.0 Weighted area grids = yes http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries.pl?ntype=1&var=Specific+Humidity+%28up+to+300mb+only%29&level=300&lat1=20&lat2=-20&lon1=180&lon2=180&iseas=0&mon1=0&mon2=0&iarea=1&typeout=1&Submit=Create+Timeseries And the plot of that data:- http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries.pl?ntype=1&var=Specific+Humidity+%28up+to+300mb+only%29&level=300&lat1=20&lat2=-20&lon1=180&lon2=180&iseas=0&mon1=0&mon2=0&iarea=1&typeout=2&Submit=Create+Timeseries This plot from 1979 – 2009 does not look like the D&D plot. If we take 1980 for example, the annual average of the 12 ESRL monthly datapoints is 0.6 g/kg.but the D&D plot shows 0.5. Similarly 1990 ESRL 0.62 D&D 0.51, 1995 ESRL 0.54 D&D 0.45, 1998 ESRL 0.488 D&D 0.45, 2000 ESRL 0.4 D&D 0.4, 2005 ESRL 0.48 D&D 0.4, 2009 ESRL 0.49 D&D 0.4. Except for 2000 where ESRL corresponds exactly to D&D, the other D&D values seem about 0.1 g/kg too low last century and 0.085 too low this century.… Read more »

Richard C (NZ)
Richard C (NZ)

Turns out that the MERRA reanalysis (the main satellite input based plank of Dessler and Davis) has problems of its own. See:- A Comparison of MERRA and NARR Reanalyses with the DOE ARM SGP data Aaron D. Kennedy, Xiquan Dong, and Baike Xi Shaocheng Xie and Yunyan Zhang Junye Chen 2011 (PRELIMINARY ACCEPTED VERSION) 257 Near the level of non-divergence (~400-500hPa), all biases change in sign from negative to positive. The MERRA bias has a peak of 8% near 300 hPa and then decreases towards 0% at 100 hPa, 6% is approximately 1 g kg-1 so MERRA is more than 1 g kg-1 too moist at 300hPa RH in the study location. 262 The MERRA moist bias in the upper troposphere is also larger during the summer months and doubles during time periods of precipitation. 264 To better understand these humidity biases, histograms were calculated at 925 hPa and 200 hPa (Fig. 2) which represent the boundary layer and near the tropopause, respectively. […] Fig. 2a clearly shows that MERRA is dry [below 300hPa] as its distribution is shifted approximately 5-10% to the left of the other datasets. 306 MERRA captures the general… Read more »

Richard C (NZ)
Richard C (NZ)

This “Rebuttal of Miskolczi’s alternative greenhouse theory”, an article by Rob van Dorland and Piers M. Forster cites “A more robust analysis of water vapour changes by Mears et al. (2010) shows that total column water vapour is increasing over the oceans in the period 1988-2009 at a rate of 0.27 +/- 0.08 mm/decade” So what? That’s just TCWV over the ocean. The “more robust analysis” (Mears et al (2010) turns out to be merely a chapter (page 29) in the report “State of the Climate in 2009” headed c. Hydrological cycle 1) Total column water vapor—C. Mears, J. Wang, S. Ho, L. Zhang, and X. Zhou http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/climate-assessment-2009-lo-rez.pdf Figure 2.11 shows the over-the-ocean-only 0.27 +/- 0.08 mm/decade TCWV trend (NOTE THAT THE TREND IS A FRACTION OF A MILLIMETRE PER DECADE) that van Dorland and Forster describe as “more robust”. But when we look at GLOBAL TCWV it’s a different story entirely. See the following plot:- Total Column Water Vapor (cm): 21-Year Deviations and Anomalies of Region Monthly Mean From Total Period Mean Over Global Go to the bottom windows of this page:- http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/products/browseatmos.html Select a variable:[Total Column Water Vapour] Select a geographic… Read more »

Richard C (NZ)
Richard C (NZ)

Miklos Zagoni rebuts van Dorland and Forster here|-


Dear Dr. Dorland, Dear Professor Forster,

With full respect, I must say that your attempt to understand Miskolczi’s results correctly was only a partial success.

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