Al Gore wrote in An Inconvenient Truth that global warming “is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.” As is often the case when the former vice president addresses climate change, he could not be more wrong.
It is estimated there are currently more than 10 million species on Earth—more than at any other time in history. New species are constantly replacing old. Although humans have been responsible for the extinction of some species in recent centuries, extinctions have always been an integral part of life. And, despite recent claims that the Australian brown rat is the first mammal to have been killed off by human-induced climate change, not a single species has been shown to even be threatened or endangered by so-called man-made global warming.
A range of interrelated phenomena contribute to extinctions. They include temperature changes, habitat destruction, competition, invasive diseases, and reproductive failure. Species are more vulnerable when there are major temperature changes over a short period, which is what most experts believe caused the end of the dinosaurs following an asteroid impact. Some scientists are now predicting major extinctions in Southeast Asia from deforestation. The introduction of the brown snake in Guam during World War II is thought to have eliminated a dozen bird species there. The human population was decimated in Europe when the bubonic plague migrated from China. The wooly mammoth and sabre tooth tiger became extinct in North America because their reproductive rate could not keep up with population losses. And there is no question that human activities have contributed to extinctions as our population expanded into animal habitats.
However, none of these extinctions have had anything to do with the past century’s climate change. In addition, NO PROOF exists that measurable climate change is due to our use of fossil fuel anyways.
Happily, many animals, while still endangered, are recovering due to excellent conservation programs. White tail deer, moose, blue whales, and wolves are but a few of these.
Life as we know it cannot exist without carbon dioxide, which forms the basis of photosynthesis. Yet climate change alarmists claim that carbon dioxide is a dangerous toxic gas that needs to be removed from the environment even while horticulturists deliberately inject carbon dioxide into greenhouses to stimulate growth. Beneficial effects of rising carbon dioxide include shortening of required growing seasons, increased plant yields, and increased crop quality.
Tropical forests cover less than 12 percent of all land, yet they contain a majority of the more than 10 million plant and animal species that inhabit the Earth. The Arctic covers 10 percent of the planet’s land area but contains only 600 plant species and only 100 species of birds, no reptiles or amphibians, and only 20 mammals. Obviously, plants and animals thrive in warm climates. Warming is good for life. It is cooling that should most concern us.
Climate change advocates try to circumvent the obvious connection between warm climates and biodiversity by claiming that the secondary effects of global warming, such as droughts or the melting of planetary ice, threatens life. However, droughts are not increasing and, on a planetary scale, the ice is not melting.
Evidence that higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and/or temperatures are not endangering life is clearly seen in the geologic record. During the past 600 million years temperature and carbon dioxide levels have usually been higher than they are today, yet plant and animal life thrived during these periods.
If tropical conditions allow life to thrive, what conditions lead to extinctions? In The Book of Life S.J. Gould tracks 20 mass extinctions in the geologic record. There are strong clues that each event was driven by global cooling.
Conservation organizations routinely rank species relative to their risk of extinction. In descending order of risk, species are: critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened, or of least concern. Threat levels are determined by considering a wide range of factors including existing and historical populations, whether populations are increasing or decreasing, and whether habitats are being destroyed. For example, mountain gorillas, with only 400 and hawksbill turtles (25,000) are on the critically endangered list. Snow leopards (6000) and sea lions (50,000) are considered to be endangered.
Most endangered species are large animals with relatively low reproductive rates. Currently, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has 19 major animal species listed that are critically endangered. All of these are threatened due to human predation and habitat destruction. For instance, the orangutan population of 15,000 is dwindling as a result of deforestation. None of these species are endangered by global warming, however.
The WWF has identified 27 endangered animal species all due to either hunting or habitat destruction. In fact, Galápagos sea lions have grown from 20,000 up to 50,000 since 2002. In the next lower category of threatened animals, the WWF lists 20 that are vulnerable, again due to hunting and habitat destruction, with one possible exception. The climate change advocates constantly claim polar bears are threatened by global warming. The facts show otherwise.
Polar bears, the “poster animal” of the climate change movement, are portrayed as cute and cuddly. In reality, they are the largest land-based carnivore and are at the top of the food chain, eating baby seals for sustenance. Gore warns that, due to ice melting, polar bears will soon have no place to live. But the reality is quite different: floating ice (pack ice) is not melting significantly and polar bears are thriving.
Indeed, the number of polar bears has quintupled in the past 50 years from about 5,000 to about 25,000 today—while carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to rise.
As the global warming argument fails, activists have focused on “ocean acidification,” due to the absorption of carbon dioxide into the oceans. This is supposedly making the oceans more acidic, thereby threatening marine life. In fact, the oceans have never been acidic and show no trend toward increasing acidity despite rising carbon dioxide. Ocean acidification, often dubbed global warming’s “evil twin,” is as much a non-issue as all the rest.
The message to Americans who treasure our wonderful world of animals is a positive one: you have no reason to fear global warming-induced species extinction.