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McKie reports: "Past transformations that saw planetary temperatures soar took millions of years to occur. The one we are creating will take only a few generations to take place. Either evolution speeds up 10,000-fold, which is an unlikely occurrence, or there will be widespread extinctions."

Species that live on mountains, such as the snow leopard, are particularly at risk. (photo: Tom Brakefield/Getty Images)
Species that live on mountains, such as the snow leopard, are particularly at risk. (photo: Tom Brakefield/Getty Images)



Climate Change Is Happening Too Quickly for Species to Adapt

By Robin McKie, Guardian UK

17 July 13

 

A study has shown that the speed of evolutionary change is far outstripped by the rate of global warming, meaning many creatures will face extinction

mong the many strange mantras repeated by climate change deniers is the claim that even in an overheated, climate-altered planet, animals and plants will still survive by adapting to global warming. Corals, trees, birds, mammals and butterflies are already changing to the routine reality of global warming, it is argued.

Certainly, countless species have adapted to past climate fluctuations. However, their rate of change turns out to be painfully slow, according to a study by Professor John Wiens of the University of Arizona. Using data from 540 living species, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, Wiens and colleagues compared their rates of evolution with the rates of climate change projected for the end of this century. The results, published online in the journal Ecology Letters, show that most land animals will not be able to evolve quickly enough to adapt to the dramatically warmer climate expected by 2100. Many species face extinction, as a result.

"We found that, on average, species usually adapt to different climatic conditions at a rate of only by about 1C per million years," Wiens explained. "But if global temperatures are going to rise by about four degrees over the next 100 years as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that is where you get a huge difference in rates. What that suggests overall is that simply evolving to match these conditions may not be an option for many species."

The study indicates there is simply not enough time for species to change their morphologies - for example, by altering their bodies' shapes so they hold less heat - to compensate for rising heat levels. Too many generations of evolutionary change are required. Nor is moving habitat an option for many creatures. "Consider a species living on the top of a mountain," says Wiens. "If it gets too warm or dry up there, they can't go anywhere."

The crucial point of the study is that it stresses a fact that is often conveniently ignored by climate change deniers. It is not just the dramatic nature of the changes that lie ahead - melting icecaps, rising sea levels and soaring temperatures - but the extraordinary speed at which they are occurring. Past transformations that saw planetary temperatures soar took millions of years to occur. The one we are creating will take only a few generations to take place. Either evolution speeds up 10,000-fold, which is an unlikely occurrence, or there will be widespread extinctions.

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-53 # Depressionborn 2013-07-17 08:13
"Climate change"

In some places, with some people, you can’t say Wednesday follows Tuesday.
rsn global warming nonsense has a bunch of them. I doubt they can read a graph. Instead they believe charlatans who make up future fantasy for profit. Not good.

Global warming is cooling, sorry-look at the data. If it doesn't stop cooling, food will become scarce. Not good.
 
 
+15 # Glen 2013-07-17 10:38
Certainly Depressionborn, it is extremely important to follow independent researchers and not follow governments with an agenda, or extreme environmentalis ts with an agenda. BUT, it is also necessary to observe, do your own research, and so forth in order to assess just how quickly the changes are taking place.

Where I live and where I have traveled there is obvious change and chaos. Weather is not the same as climate, of course, but 20 to 50 years of observation, which has been done by thousands, testify to the fact of warming and change beyond what living things can adapt to. Yes, there are plants that are stimulated by a bit of an increase in radiation, but in some places the increase is causing blindness in animals and an increase in cataracts in humans. There are vines and insects and birds and animals moving into territory to the north where they were never found before, and that is an actual observation on my part, among many others.

Take it slow when making decisions and offering derision. Travel, spend some time where the ocean is rising or affecting the coastal zones, and so much more on this planet. Oh, and hey, how about that missing permafrost in Alaska and the melting Arctic.
 
 
-12 # Depressionborn 2013-07-17 13:05
Yep # Glen 2013-07-17 08:38

Everything you wrote is unarguably right on. So what. Your right yes, but nothing you wrote has anything to do with global warming politics which is about money.

Temp data is clear: Warming has begin to stabilize. It may increase again,it may not. Ice core data is factual, no wishful computer modeling possible there.

The earth get warmer, it gets colder.

Lately sunspot activity appears to be falling and sunspot cycles could be a big temperature deal, not a $ charade: very real famine.
 
 
+8 # Dust 2013-07-17 14:51
Depressionborn~

Global warming *politics* may indeed be about money, which makes it capitalism and the effort to get the greatest return for the least expenditure.

*Politics* however, are distinct from *science*.

You are correct that sunspot activity has an effect on solar output (generally on an 11-year cycle) which in turn has an effect on planetary climate. It does not, however, have any bearing on whether human beings affect climate.

"Temp data is clear: warming has begun to stabilize".

Can you cite your data sources? Two years of relatively similar temperatures does not imply stabilization any more than a single extremely hot or cold winter/summer means anything regarding climate.

What are your data sources that support the assertion that 1) warming has stabilized; and 2) that "global warming [is] nonsense"? I am assuming from your posts that you are of the opinion that research and science do not support the idea that human beings affect climate - is that correct?
 
 
-7 # Depressionborn 2013-07-17 19:15
yes, correct

According to the latest UK Met Office report, first reported by the Daily Mail, there has been no noticeable increase in global temperatures since early 1997. The alleged warming trend supposedly observed from 1980 to 1996 was about as long as the current “plateau” period, the paper reported. Prior to that, climate scientists admit, global temperatures had been stable or dropping for decades, a fact that prompted previous generations of climate alarmists to sound the alarm about the supposed dangers of man-made “global cooling.”

More than a dozen climate experts, including professors at the most prestigious universities in the world and scientists who worked with the UN Intergovernment al Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also told The New American in recent months that the global warming models were deeply flawed at best. .

The spectacular implosion of the alleged “science” behind now-discredited global warming theories in recent years has led many experts and scientists to distance themselves from the hysteria. However, some apparently oblivious politicians, even in the United States, where the public has largely become hostile to the alarmism and proposed “solutions,” continue to insist that taxpayers must fund ever more expensive and grandiose schemes to stop “climate change.”
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
 
 
+3 # Dust 2013-07-18 09:57
Hmmm...

Well, I'd not heard about the UK Met report. If you refer to their current website, it states the climate is warming, and also that the rate has slowed since the early 1990s. It also states "Therefore, there's overwhelming and growing evidence that the warming we've seen is due to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It's very likely this warming has been caused by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels (like petrol and coal) and changing land use (such as chopping down forests for cattle grazing)."

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change

Regarding flaws in global warming models,especial ly in terms of magnitude of prediction, I'd not be surprised at all. Forecasting is hard. On the other hand, the issue is magnitude, not cause.

I was hoping you might cite peer-reviewed scientific papers, not secondary or tertiary media sources to support your views.

Doing a quick search on the subjects you mentioned (UK Met report and IPCC global warming models) produces a plethora of references, almost all of them from The New American. P'raps a better source for science might be found?

One of the most recent, dealing with temperature record reconstruction:

Marcott et al. 2013. Science, Vol. 339 no. 6124 pp. 1198-1201
 
 
-1 # Depressionborn 2013-07-19 12:28
data is data, sorry.

new temperature data released by the U.K. government

"The British government's meteorological service recently released new figures on global temperatures that prompted the Daily Mail, a conservative British tabloid, to declare: "Global warming stopped 16 years ago." The bold headline rekindled the often bitter debate over climate change, and what world leaders should do about it. Have climate scientists changed their minds about what's happening to Earth's temperatures, and how pollution affects those temperatures? Here, a brief guide:

What is the big news here?
According to the Daily Mail, The U.K.'s Met Office released new data showing that there was no rise in aggregate global temperatures from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012. That, the Daily Mail reported, means that the gradual rise in the world's temperatures has hit a "plateau" or "pause" that's lasted 16 years — roughly as long as the upward climb that ran from 1980 to 1996."

Temp graphs are the most interesting, but I cannot post, sorry
 
 
+1 # Dust 2013-07-20 15:08
No need to be sorry - you are correct: data are data.

Yet in this instance, the data do not imply, suggest, or support the conclusion that you have been told is appropriate. (As an aside, why would you EVER consider the Daily Mail or New American as valid and reasonable sources of scientific information??)

From your post: "The British government's meteorological service recently released new figures on global temperatures that prompted the Daily Mail, a conservative British tabloid, to declare: "Global warming stopped 16 years ago." The Daily Mail is lying. The subtext, of course, is that the meteorological service of the UK has posted a report saying that: a) human beings do not affect climate; b) the planet is no longer warming; c) the UK government knows (a) and (b) and has "admitted" that climate change isn't an issue.

In reality, the UK Met released a concluding summary of the Hadley Center Observations dataset (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2012/hadcrut-updates). I can only assume that the Daily Mail (David Rose, who has written a number of fraudulent climate change reports, all of which have been debunked and identified as lies by real scientists: http://www.skepticalscience.com/media_v_reality.html) then took the data set, cherry picked the last 16 years of data, ignored everything else, and screamed that the planet is not warming.
 
 
+1 # Dust 2013-07-20 15:09
Evidently, seeing as how The New American, FOX news, and idiots like Anthony Watts uncritically picked it up, Rose was successful in propagating a lie that the data do not support.

Rose's tactic was to ignore the long-term warming trend of the last 110 years, and in the data since 1977, he arbitrarily created "cut-off" points that allowed him to "show" that climate was "stable". Overall temperatures have been climbing, but can be manipulated into a starecase shape, in which periods of sharp temperature increase are followed by level or slightly decreasing steps. Rose simply took a flat, ignored the staircase itself, and claimed scientific support for a lie.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/going-down-the-up-escalator-part-1.html

In addition, the UK Met iself issued a statement following Rose's report: "Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual."
 
 
+1 # Dust 2013-07-20 15:11
Lastly, simply because human beings affect climate does NOT mean that all the other drivers of climate vanish, including sunspot cycles which have an 11-year period (roughly). The vectors still influence climate, including periods in which a reduction in solar output reduces the rate of planetary heating but has NOTHING to do with the rate at which human beings are driving change. Dishonest people like Rose, however, seize on observation during these periods and use them to dismiss human influence on climate.

If you would like references to real science, I can give you those. You are absolutely correct that assessments of climate should be based on data, but you have no done so: you have read third-rate reports that skew data and fabricate conclusions to support an unscientific and a-priori world view.
 
 
+2 # Malcolm 2013-07-17 13:22
You realize, presumably, that global cooling is now blamed ON------GLOBAL WARMING! Oops. My bad. It's morphed into "climate change"
 
 
+5 # ericlipps 2013-07-17 15:24
Quoting Depressionborn:
"Climate change"

In some places, with some people, you can’t say Wednesday follows Tuesday.
rsn global warming nonsense has a bunch of them. I doubt they can read a graph. Instead they believe charlatans who make up future fantasy for profit. Not good.

Global warming is cooling, sorry-look at the data. If it doesn't stop cooling, food will become scarce. Not good.

Then you believe that climate scientists, the great majority of whom now accept the reality of human-caused global warming, are all incompetents or frauds?

Global warming is NOT cooling; sorry, look at the data. Look at the long-term trends and not a few years cherry-picked because they seem to indicate cooling.
 
 
-3 # Depressionborn 2013-07-17 17:34
I meant global warming "politics" is nonsense.

The temp data is from memory and as I recall it was ocean temps that showed no increase for somewhat less than two decades, not very long to mean much.

I will find the longer term ice core data that shows a general warming form the more or less 1400AD cold spell. Too busy now.

I will search again on "global warming fraud". Anytime there is big money involved I become skeptical...

Warmer grew more food.
 
 
+16 # indian weaver 2013-07-17 08:53
No one can adapt to Global Warming fast enough, including all living things like me too. Look at worldwide starvation, look at worldwide fascism and totalitarian states breathing last gasps for survival, look at worldwide loss of clean water / air / Earth. Nothing can adapt to what is coming down, and nothing will adapt because what is coming down will continue to accelerate: i.e., warming / heating beyond comprehension / livability. Animals are most obvious because they can't turn up the a/c or move elsewhere like some rich humans can. For the rest of us, rots of ruck, including our best friends: the animals, plants, etc.
 
 
+4 # Sunflower 2013-07-17 14:51
We Can adapt, but the question is, will we??

There is abundant evidence that Solar/Wind production of energy is possible and do-able. Even if current technology is
not ideal, it will improve with time.

The best way to switch over to clean energy is to tack a reasonable carbon tax on all carbon emissions, and spend
the money raised in putting in more
clean energy resources.

Perfectly simple and straightforward , only needing political will.

Maybe it is easier to let the planet fry?
 
 
+5 # MidwesTom 2013-07-17 09:14
Maybe our Masters (those at the Bildiberg) think that the coming war that they are planning will kill off enough people to slow down the consumption of this earth.
 
 
0 # jwb110 2013-07-17 09:37
Quoting MidwesTom:
Maybe our Masters (those at the Bildiberg) think that the coming war that they are planning will kill off enough people to slow down the consumption of this earth.

Killing off people is killing off profit. That will never be part of the "plan".
 
 
+2 # jwb110 2013-07-17 09:35
People are animals of a kind also. The die off of many other species could move us much father down the food chain. Should the predators take the longest to become extinct, we may become their next meal.
 
 
0 # indian weaver 2013-07-18 14:58
Slime molds and crypobacterium will survive long after all other living and inanimate parts of Earth have been incinerated. But they will fry too. The smart move would be to sacrifice your meaty body now for feeding a few coyotes. That would be a positive way to die with still contributing to the way it WAS. Even better, take out any congress people and lying coward in the congress along with you, do something really noble, become a Martyr and deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, unlike Obama the big baby boy toy.
 
 
+12 # fredboy 2013-07-17 09:43
In Florida, the prolonged heat combined with massive, constant fertilizer tonnage streaming off golf courses and lawns into the Gulf resulted in an unprecedented six month "red tide" (a gentle term for deadly neurotoxic bacteria) in our tidal waters durng the pas year.

Our canaries in the mine are manatees, and their deaths from the neuropoisoning are mounting.

The heat-fertilizer mix is likely to spark more dangerous strains of bacteria, delivered in both waterborne and airborne (inhalation) routes. By 2050, I predict a widespread neurotoxic plague here and coastal abandonment. Tragic, but obvious.
 
 
+1 # chrisconnolly 2013-07-17 11:14
Maybe the thought of the deniers promoters is that there certainly will be an increase in healthcare demands. They could stand to make a lot of money on that. Who cares about anything else.
 
 
+6 # angelfish 2013-07-17 11:48
We have been poor stewards of the land and this is the consequence of our inattention and self-deluded superiority over God's other creatures. Shame on us, not only for the devastation of the land, sea and air, but for the annihilation of so many beautiful works of God's art. Once we've succeeded in wiping ourselves off the face of the Earth, maybe, it can recover.
 
 
+1 # indian weaver 2013-07-18 15:00
Humans need to die off and become extinct asap for the good of Mother Earth and the cosmos. Otherwise the entire planet will soon be ashes, and then nothing: no history, no evidence it ever existed.
 
 
+3 # mra500 2013-07-17 12:58
The only predator to the human race IS THE HUMAN RACE. The greedy 1% richest people are responsible for the immense devastation of global climate change. They are making a fortune by pushing filthy fossil fuels - and they are killing us all with their blind greed.
When pollution wipes the human race off the face of the Earth, the birds, dogs, cats, monkeys, and fish will be extinct as well.
 
 
0 # indian weaver 2013-07-18 15:02
Good bye to rainbows and snow and flowers, our most beautiful planet hosting a most ugly organism: humans. It tried. We didn't.
 
 
+3 # khasidi 2013-07-17 14:31
Actually, some scientists think that climate change often occurs really fast. Some tipping point is reached, a commet strikes the earth, there are a series of huge volcanic eruptions, whatever, and, bang, the climate just changes. But who cares if fast climate change is the norm or an anomoly? Whenever fast climate change happens, it is going to cause huge die-offs of species.
 
 
0 # indian weaver 2013-07-18 15:03
It will cause the death of everything. And Mother Earth will also self-incinerate , period. Over and done.
 
 
+2 # Buddha 2013-07-17 14:47
"...or there will be widespread extinctions"

Will be? We've already began the spike in extinction rate more than a century ago. It doesn't even need to be Climate Change itself, simple human overpopulation with its concurrent habitat destruction has been doing it quite effectively, the growing influence of Climate Change will just be the coup de grace on the process of destruction of the Earth's ecological web.
 
 
+1 # WeMustEvolve 2013-07-17 15:15
We actually don't know what this extinction even we are causing will do but it will not be pretty. I saw Gasland 2 on Sunday and it is maddening that we are not only ignoring the fact of man made global climate change but we are letting the Corporation owned government accelerate it. Join the movement to stop these creeps.
 
 
+2 # WeMustEvolve 2013-07-17 15:54
Extinction event. I hear people say that there has been climate change in the past. Of course. Or that there have been relatively rapid changes due to catastrophic events. In fact, we were entering a cooling trend and we reversed. And more rapidly than any geologist could imagine or document. We have cause twice the damage than what we are seeing but we must stop the process. Letting the Government Corporation do the XL Pipeline and massive fracking will be the end game for millions of people on earth.
 
 
+2 # RobertMStahl 2013-07-18 16:25
If there is global warming, technically, a ripple is all the 'absolute' data that will be provided before any catastrophic occurrence in the form of a chaotic separatrix, if it has not already done so. Basins of attraction make up the science, at least in hindsight, and are thermodynamic issues having to do with transient states. Physiologically , CO2 heats while atmospheric particle pollution cools, leaving a net of about one degree C change. The sun has been heating over history and the planet has been cooling, and we are in an inter-glacial period, but the real problem is with the concept that any potential extinction is akin to a sudden change, meaning the transient state of the planet can be altered until it resets to its current state. To ignore the fact that the earth maintains a unique state for life to persist is to think that space is not cold and the magma making up most of the physical earth is not hot. This state we are in is a transient state, and it can be bowled over. Thinking of the Paleocene-Eocen e Thermal Maximum (PETM) and what that means to the mind of a James Lovelock, and then, to think of the advances of learning and cognition making it ALL easier to understand (for everything involved), like the work from The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics and its central tenet resolving the question of 'distribution,' and energy for an intelligent species, how can we afford not to look at both of these ecologically monumental achievements?
 
 
0 # sharag 2013-07-23 22:48
The richest 1%, the government, the oil, coal and gas companies and corporations know full well that climate change is real and that all living species on earth will be adversely affected by this. They are not stupid, they know this from their own science research and observation. They just don't care.
 

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