The prestigious scientific journal Nature recently published a new study by Dr. Chris D. Thomas, et al, that predicted more than a million species will become extinct by 2050 if global warming is allowed to continue unabated. The story was carried in major media around the world, and National Public Radio interviewed one of the scientists who droned on and on about the imminent disaster, unless the United States gets on board with the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol.

The New York Times report of the study says, “The analysis is built on layers of computer models of climate change and other models of the ways species become extinct. …”


Computer models of extinction patterns based on computer models of global warming? Wasn’t it computer models that gave birth to the concept of “garbage in, garbage out”?

Computer modeling is not science; it is a tool used by science to test a hypothesis. The result produced by computer modeling is determined by the data supplied to the computer. A computer modeling run can say whatever the researcher wants it to say. If an advocate’s desired outcome is stated by a scientist, supported by computer models, well then, it must be gospel, and politicians should certainly heed the word from on high.

Computer models of global warming have improved over the last decade, but are nowhere close to reality. If they were accurate, known data from the last century fed into the models would produce temperature projections near to the actual temperature recorded over the century. Not even close. The models produce a range of possible temperature, from about two degrees, to 10 degrees of warming over the century.

On top of this uncertainty, Dr. Thomas, a professor of conservation biology at the University of Leeds in England, constructed additional computer models that produced the scary scenarios of species extinction. Bob Ferguson, from the Center for Science and Public Policy, provides a critical review of the study. Conservation biology is not science; it is political advocacy that uses the color of science to advance a political agenda.

Dr. Stephen Schneider, an outspoken advocate of global cooling in the 1970s, and of global warming in the 1990s described the proper role of scientists to Discover magazine in October 1989. He said:

“To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest.”

Conservation biology strives to be “effective”; science strives to be honest.

The claim that “1.25 million species” will become extinct by 2050 is a scary scenario designed to “capture the public imagination.” Science has documented only about 1.6 million species in the entire world. Estimates of the total number of species range from 2 million to 60 million, and more. No one knows. Nevertheless, conservation biologists are quick to predict massive extinction of species that are not even known to exist.

The “garbage in, garbage out” method is a convenient tool used by political activists to shore up claims that might otherwise be considered stupid by the unwashed masses. For example, were someone to say that there are 1,000 times too many people on earth, it might sound ridiculous. But if a scientist produced a new study that “proves” there are 1,000 times too many people on earth, well then, politicians should sit up and take notice.

Politicians have paid far too much attention to these “scary scenarios” produced by “garbage in” assumptions. The “garbage out” is an array of unnecessary public policies that value wolves, grizzlies, panthers, bugs and weeds higher than human beings. Of course, animals have first choice of habitat, and humans must be prohibited from treading on their turf – ask any conservation biologist.

These “scary scenarios” sound much like the “sky is falling” fable. Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” of the 1960s didn’t explode. Stephen Schneider’s global cooling of the 1970s didn’t happen. Carl Sagan’s “global winter” didn’t happen. The U.N.’s “global warming” of the 1990s isn’t happening. Chris Thomas’ “massive extinctions” is just more political activism dressed up in the color of science.

Ordinary people know precisely what to do with garbage; politicians, on the other hand, seem hellbent to recycle it into public policy.

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