Year 3, Month 6, Day 18: Oh, Not HIM Again!

More on the Barnosky study, from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Barnosky, who tracks longtime changes in the fossil record, and 22 other scientists spent two years in conferences and research to produce their review. It is timed for a U.N. conference on sustainable development – known as the Rio+20 Conference – that is scheduled for Rio de Janeiro from June 22 to 24. The conference will mark 20 years since the first “Earth Summit” at Rio, involving delegates from 172 governments, produced the first international conventions on climate change and biodiversity.

In their report in Nature, the scientists say their research shows many combined factors are thrusting the world toward the tipping point they foresee. Among the problems are these:

— The rapid growth in the world’s human population – to 9 billion or more by 2050 and possibly 27 billion by the end of the century – is quickly consuming available resources.

Fossil fuels are being burned at a rapidly increasing rate, increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 35 percent since the industrial revolution began. At the same time, ocean acidity has risen by 5 percent in the past 20 years.

— Ocean productivity is being diminished by vast “dead zones” where no fish swim, while 40 percent of Earth’s land mass that was once “biodiverse” now contains far fewer species of crop plants and domestic animals.

— More animal species than ever are becoming extinct, and many plant and animal species are being forced by global warming to seek new ranges that could place them at risk of extinction, as well.

— Within the next 60 years, the average global temperature “will be higher than it has been since the human species evolved.”

And look who got the call to be the voice of doubt! Sent June 7:

While the doctrine of false equivalency demands that a nominal “skeptic” be represented in any discussion of the rapidly accelerating greenhouse effect and its consequences for humanity, it’s a measure of climate-change deniers’ desperation that the only climate scientist still available for this role is Dr. Richard Lindzen.

When asked to comment on the study led by Dr. Anthony Barnosky which assembles an impressive (and genuinely terrifying) array of evidence for an imminent climatic “tipping point,” Lindzen remarks that “no one thinks anything terrible will happen in anything like the future they see.” Of course, the report’s 23 co-authors might beg to differ. If Lindzen mistakes twenty-three scientists for “no one,” what does this say about his statistical acumen?

Oh, yes: while it’s irrelevant to the climate debate, it’s nevertheless noteworthy that Dr. Lindzen continues to dispute the statistical validity of another important scientific consensus — the one linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer.

Warren Senders

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