Was there a 'scientific consensus' on this?

Nature is a lot more complex than many supposed scientists realize. Even in relatively simple systems like the ecology of an island, not to mention the global climate system. The latest example comes from Macquarie Island, declared a "world heritage island" between Australia and Antarctica. The must-not-be-quoted AP reports that brilliant scientists decided to "save" native sea birds by eliminating the population of feral cats which were devouring the avian population.

Sounds great, except that removing the cats allowed rabbits to multiply, devastating the local vegetation. Now the island is described as an environmental catasptrophe, requiring an expensive rescue.  An untested model yielded an 'unintended consequences' disaster.

Modeling the ecosystem of an isolated island is child's play compared to modeling the global climate. And the scope of the catastrophe possible when intervening to wreck the world economy based on questionable, unverified models dwarfs the damage done to Macquarie Island.

"Nature bats last," as the old bumper stickers used to read. When Al Gore or an editorial writer claim they understand the world's climate future well enough to tank the world economy to prevent a hypothetical disaster, remind them of this incident.

Rachel Nowak of The New Scientist writes:

... the newly rampant rabbits have devastated vegetation over 40% of the island. Clearing up the mess is expected to cost at least $16 million, and it remains unclear whether the island will ever fully recover. (See a live webcam of Macquarie Island.) A landslip in 2006 that badly damaged a penguin colony has been blamed on rabbit destruction of the vegetation.

Hat tip: Susan L.

Update: For good background reading on why computer models “predictions” of nature are suspect, see: Scientists Claim Computer Model Predictions are 'Useless Arithmetic' – 2007 Book entitled “Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future”

Hat tip: Mark Marano 

Nature is a lot more complex than many supposed scientists realize. Even in relatively simple systems like the ecology of an island, not to mention the global climate system. The latest example comes from Macquarie Island, declared a "world heritage island" between Australia and Antarctica. The must-not-be-quoted AP reports that brilliant scientists decided to "save" native sea birds by eliminating the population of feral cats which were devouring the avian population.

Sounds great, except that removing the cats allowed rabbits to multiply, devastating the local vegetation. Now the island is described as an environmental catasptrophe, requiring an expensive rescue.  An untested model yielded an 'unintended consequences' disaster.

Modeling the ecosystem of an isolated island is child's play compared to modeling the global climate. And the scope of the catastrophe possible when intervening to wreck the world economy based on questionable, unverified models dwarfs the damage done to Macquarie Island.

"Nature bats last," as the old bumper stickers used to read. When Al Gore or an editorial writer claim they understand the world's climate future well enough to tank the world economy to prevent a hypothetical disaster, remind them of this incident.

Rachel Nowak of The New Scientist writes:

... the newly rampant rabbits have devastated vegetation over 40% of the island. Clearing up the mess is expected to cost at least $16 million, and it remains unclear whether the island will ever fully recover. (See a live webcam of Macquarie Island.) A landslip in 2006 that badly damaged a penguin colony has been blamed on rabbit destruction of the vegetation.

Hat tip: Susan L.

Update: For good background reading on why computer models “predictions” of nature are suspect, see: Scientists Claim Computer Model Predictions are 'Useless Arithmetic' – 2007 Book entitled “Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future”

Hat tip: Mark Marano