Humans to Blame for Mass Extinction
Amid all the debt limit and budget news last week, you may have missed this nugget. The human race is causing the sixth mass extinction in earth history. It seems that those discredited, zany, and extremely well-funded climatologists have no corner on conceit or hokum. Biologists now want in on the action.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that biologists are alarmed about humans killing off the world's fauna - or most it, anyway.
Biologist E.O. Wilson once pondered whether many of our fellow living things were doomed once evolution gave rise to an intelligent, technological creature that also happened to be a rapacious carnivore, fiercely territorial, and prone to short-term thinking.
We humans can be so destructive that some scientists believe we've now triggered a mass extinction -- one that in several hundred years will rival the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs.
Quite a whopper of a claim -- human actions rivaling the asteroid strike that waylaid the dinosaurs. The "Humans as Gods" belief is a nice carryover from the global change wars that raged for decades.
In the poker game underway on Planet Earth, humans, according to Apostles of Doom biologists, not only can meet nature's wager, but raise and beat it. Humans will show asteroids a thing or two about mass destruction, though it may take humans "several hundred years" to get there.
Lest anyone think of humans as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (at least for frogs and cicada), think again. None of these wise biologists' claims are settled science. Their claims shouldn't really even be characterized as educated guesses; more like beliefs in the Church of Anti-modern Civilization.
No? Well, read this claptrap from the esteemed Stuart Pimm, who chairs conservation ecology at Duke University:
"We are clearly living in an era where we're driving species to extinction 100 to 10,000 times faster than they should be going extinct," he said.
There's a wide range in those numbers because the fossil record shows just a fraction of what lived in the past, and scientists don't know exactly how many species exist today.
From what they can tell, said Pimm, the normal "background" level is quite slow. His estimate: About one bird species disappears per century and one amphibian every 150 years.
Now, he said, "species are going extinct every year."
This from a Pimm peer:
We don't know exactly how many we're losing because we don't know even a fraction of all the species that exist. "We have a remarkably incomplete inventory of life," said University of Chicago paleontologist David Jablonski. "There are plenty of species that have gone extinct before they were ever discovered."
It's not that scientists are lazy, he said, but that there are a staggering number of species of insects, amphibians, birds, plants, and other living things, especially in tropical areas.
The upshot is that scientists are speculating based on very incomplete data and records. This is what passes for modern doomsday science.
But gloomy scientists have an ace up their sleeve. They're citing Haiti as a prime example of humans' ability to devastate the animal kingdom.
In Haiti, it's clear there's a mass extinction going on, said Pennsylvania State University biologist Blair Hedges. The country, which occupies the western part of the Caribbean island Hispaniola, is still reeling from the massive earthquake in January 2010. Over the years, it has lost 99 percent of its forest, once home to a great diversity of plants, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Never mind that Haiti is a grossly dysfunctional, poverty-wrenched society occupying a portion of a small Caribbean island. And never mind that frog species on Haiti's side of the island are dying off in no small measure due to a fungus brought by African frogs. Haiti, suggest biologists, is the world's future.
Hubris, thy name is modern science -- or those scientists who should append their names with the appellation "charlatan."