Stop the climate change propaganda
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, February 7, 2008
Professor Darcia Narvaez makes a statement in her column (“A call to conserve,” Feb. 5) that manmade global climate change will be “profoundly affecting the survival of most if not all planetary life forms” if immediate action is not taken to stabilize emissions of greenhouse gas equivalent. That climate change could cause the extinction of most or all species on the planet is a very frightening prospect, to be sure, but is it grounded in fact?
A cursory survey of available evidence from previous climactic shifts, 20th century warming and studies on the effects of warming on species reveal that the professor’s statement is actually nothing more than fearmongering.
First, consider the observations from the 20th century. If climate change will cause unprecedented extinctions across all variations of life, then one would expect that the 0.7 degrees Celsius of warming observed empirically in the 20th century would have definitively caused at least a few extinctions.
However, a Chris D. Thomas survey in 2004 found that global climactic shifts have caused one extinction (that of the Golden Toad of Costa Rica). That global warming should be implicated in so few extinctions is surprising, especially when one considers that Thomas’ survey actively sought to implicate global warming in extinctions.
Furthermore, some evidence suggests that even that estimate may have been an overestimate. If warming has caused at maximum one extinction in the 20th century, claims that warming this century will threaten all life on Earth are highly suspect.
Secondly, to state that manmade warming will threaten the very existence life on the planet is inconsistent with historical data. Most species extant today have existed for at least one million years, and during this period species had to endure climate events ranging from the Holocene Climate Optimum (with temperatures warmer than IPCC estimates for 2100) to the ice ages to the shutdown of the Gulf Stream.
To claim that modern species that adapted to past climate changes will suddenly become completely unable to adapt to modern changes is absurd. A wide body of evidence suggests that the net effect of warming on biodiversity is not negative.
Surveys of many plants, animals and fungi find that warming overall expands their ranges of livable habitats, as the Northern boundary expands and the Southern boundary remains more or less constant. This growth in habitat predicted by warming should, if anything, expand biodiversity, not destroy all life on earth.
In conclusion, based on a wide range of evidence (some not mentioned in this letter due to length), Professor Narvaez’s claim that CO2-induced warming will threaten life on the planet is nothing more than fearmongering.
I do not disagree with the professor’s endorsements of alternative energy investment or individual energy conservation, as both produce long-term and short-term benefits, but her use of wildly exaggerated fear-driven claims is unacceptable.