Extinction Hype and Dubious Biodiversity COP15 in Montreal

Headlines Claim, But Details Deny

The advertising proverb says it all: “The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away.”

Unfortunately, climate science is rife with this. A research announcement is released and the same text appears in media articles everywhere, the only difference being who can attach the scariest headline. One list of things claimed to be caused by global warming numbers 883, including many head scratchers.

For example: species extinctions.

WWF claims “The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. MSNBC laments the “fact” that 100,000 species of flora and fauna will no longer be with us by next Christmas. And yet, WWF also estimates the number of identified unique species to be between 1.4 to 1.8 million, an uncertainty of 400,000. As someone said, “Anytime extinctions are claimed, ask for the names.”

Note from California Academy of Sciences:

How many species on Earth?  Eight million, seven hundred thousand species! (Give or take 1.3 million.)

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth—the most precise calculation ever offered—with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million dwelling in the ocean depths.

Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere within the large range of 3 and 100 million.

The new study, published yesterday in the open access journal PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

The debunking is done in detail here:  Plenty of Wiggle Room in Scientific Certainty

They know that 99.9% of all species that ever existed on Earth are now extinct. They know that in the last 540 million years there have been five events in which more than half of the planet’s “animal genera” have died off. (They have not been able to link all of these events to the activities of Big Oil yet, but they’re working on it.) They know we are in the midst of Sixth Great Mass Extinction that the “experts” say is more destructive that the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Source: Phanerozoic_Biodiversity.png Author: SVG version by Albert Mestre

Chris D Thomas Professor of Evolutionary Biology, University of York writes in the Conversation New species are coming into existence faster than ever thanks to humans. Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

Animals and plants are seemingly disappearing faster than at any time since the dinosaurs died out, 66m years ago. The death knell tolls for life on Earth. Rhinos will soon be gone unless we defend them, Mexico’s final few Vaquita porpoises are drowning in fishing nets, and in America, Franklin trees survive only in parks and gardens.

Yet the survivors are taking advantage of new opportunities created by humans. Many are spreading into new parts of the world, adapting to new conditions, and even evolving into new species. In some respects, diversity is actually increasing in the human epoch, the Anthropocene. It is these biological gains that I contemplate in a new book, Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction, in which I argue that it is no longer credible for us to take a loss-only view of the world’s biodiversity.

Entirely new species have even come into existence. The “apple fly” has evolved in North America, thanks to European colonials bringing fruit trees to the New World. And house sparrows mated with Mediterranean “Spanish” sparrows somewhere on an Italian farm. Their descendants represent a brand new species, the Italian sparrow. Life on Earth is no longer the same as it was before humans arrived on the scene.

There is no doubt that the rate at which species are dying out is very high, and we could well be in for a “Big Sixth” mass extinction. This represents a loss of biological diversity. Yet, we also know that the Big Five mass extinctions of the past half billion years ultimately led to increases in diversity. Could this happen again? It seems so, because the current rate at which new animals and plants (such as the apple fly, the Italian sparrow and Oxford ragwort) are coming into existence is unusually high – and it may be the highest ever. We are already on the verge of Genesis Number Six – a million or so years from now, the world could end up supporting more species, not fewer, as a consequence of the evolution of Homo sapiens.

China Practicing Sun Tzu’s Art of War?

Beyond the exaggeration and fear-mongering featured in all these UN gatherings, there are particular reasons to be skeptical of this Biodiversity COP15 in Montreal.  For one thing, it serves as a platform for Virtue-Signaler-in-Chief, Justin Trudeau, to burnish his social justice warrior creds.  And for another thing, there’s a devious collaboration with China’s despot.  Terry Glavin explains in his National Post article Trudeau Liberals too eager to buy into China’s green ‘co-operation’. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

No country has cooperated with China on environmental issues
more enthusiastically and obsequiously than Canada

China’s President Xi Jinping

As at least 10,000 delegates and observers from more than 190 countries gather in Montreal for the Convention of the Parties’ biodiversity summit this week, it’s difficult not to be dreary about the summit’s prospects for reversing the alarming trends that continue to push the earth’s animal and plant species over extinction’s cliff edge.

It’s not all bad news. But it’s pretty bad. And with Beijing as the co-host with Canada, it’s hard not to be at least a bit cynical about the whole thing.

The conference in Montreal was supposed to be convened two years ago in Kunming, China, but COVID-19 got in the way, so now the event is being held in Canada owing to the Trudeau government’s decision to oblige the Chinese. In the lead-up to Kunming, the United Nations’ Global Biodiversity Outlook prepared a report card on how the world had progressed by then on the 20 biodiversity targets set 10 years earlier when the parties met in Aichi, Japan. It’s pretty grim reading.

Of the 20 Aichi targets, none were met. Of the 60 “elements” within the targets, only seven were achieved and 13 registered no progress at all. The UN couldn’t figure out what was going on with a couple elements, but there was progress in 38 elements.

Numerical analyses don’t illuminate much on a global scale, but that’s the scale the COP15 gathering in Montreal is dealing with. The rate of global deforestation had slowed by a third over that decade, but overfishing has accelerated, and wetlands continued to vanish. Still, harmful invasive species were eradicated from islands in 200 projects. Also to the good: 44 per cent of the critical areas of the world identified as particularly rich in species diversity ended up with some degree of protection, up from 29 per cent identified at the Aichi gathering.

It doesn’t help to be cynical about these things but Beijing is, after all, in the wheelhouse here.

The hollowest banality you’ll hear when it comes to China is the one about how, sure, the Chinese Communist Party might be a world-devouring rogue state that we have to protect ourselves from, but gosh, we do have to get along with Chinese strongman Xi Jinping when it comes to big-picture challenges like the impact of climate change on human well-being and global biodiversity.

The way that platitude is put in Ottawa’s recently-unveiled Indo-Pacific Strategy: China may well be “an increasingly disruptive global power,” but “China’s sheer size and influence makes co-operation necessary to address some of the world’s existential pressures, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, global health and nuclear proliferation.”

And fair enough. It makes sense. But the thing is, we’ve been co-operating like crazy already, all along. No country has co-operated with China on environmental issues more enthusiastically and obsequiously than Canada. How’s that been working out? For all its much-lauded investments in electric cars and solar panels, China had given the green light to 8.63 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power in the first quarter of this year. China now emits more greenhouse gases than the entire developed-world output, combined.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, but it’s hard to put your finger on a folly more obvious now than the 1981 decision by Pierre Trudeau’s government to rejig the Canadian International Development Agency’s eligibility requirements so as to allow China to qualify as a foreign-aid recipient. Within a year, CIDA’s role in China was fashioned to suit the purposes of the trade lobby, and that’s how CIDA was run in China until the agency was folded into Global Affairs in 2013.

China has used its “developing country” pretensions to evade a variety of the multilateral environmental and climate change obligations that burden “First World” countries. The result has been that in the existential challenge of global warming, you’d never know it but the greenhouse gas output from Europe and North America have pretty much flatlined over the past quarter of a century, while China’s output has quadrupled.

LULUCF refers to emissions from land use and forestry, which can be in addition or subtraction.

China has been at the forefront of assertions that it is the developed economies’ job to bear the greater costs of climate change mitigation, owing to the legacy of the Industrial Revolution. There’s a case to be made for that, but according to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project, the volume of carbon dioxide China has pumped into the atmosphere over the past eight years exceeds the two-century output of the United Kingdom, where the Industrial Revolution began.

So perhaps, yes, “China’s sheer size and influence makes co-operation necessary,” but Canada has never shied away from co-operating. Canada never stopped co-operating, in just the way Beijing wanted, long after CIDA was folded up.


Many know of the Latin phrase “caveat emptor,” meaning “Let the buyer beware”.

When it comes to UN climate science, remember also “caveat lector”–”Let the reader beware”.

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