A “Sixth Mass Extinction” helps breed mistrust of science

By now many of you have either read about or have seen on television news reports of a coming Sixth Mass Extinction. The theory is that by the year 2050 over seventy percent of species on Earth could be extinct and it is being attributed to (you guessed it) human activity with a little climate change to spice things up. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the more human civilization grows, the more animal populations will shrink:

A 2009 analysis by Barnosky of millions of years of data found that between 15 and 42 percent of the mammals in North America disappeared after humans arrived 13,000 years ago. More than 50 species disappeared within 2,000 years, including mammoths, saber-toothed cats, giant ground sloths and other large animals, according to that study.

What this means is that North American mammals are already well on the way to a level of extinction comparable to five other known mass die-offs over the past 450 million years. That includes Earth’s last great extinction, which wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago and also killed off 75 percent of the species on the planet.

It should be noted that the author of the study is none other than Doctor Doom himself, Paul Ehrlich of The Population Bomb fame. Ehrlich is quoted as saying:

“In real terms, we’re in trouble,” said Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford professor and president of the Center for Conservation Biology who co-authored the study. “This is another indicator that we are sawing off the limbs that we are sitting on.”

Ehrlich and co-author Anthony Barnosky, a paleontologist at UC Berkeley, said extinctions thus far have been the result of overhunting and habitat destruction from overdevelopment, but climate change is likely to push things over the edge.

Articulating it in that way gives the impression that Ehrlich could conduct objective research. But if his prior revelations of doom and gloom are any indication the man, most often than not, is embarrassingly wrong. A prime example is his 1968 book The Population Bomb when he said that mankind would experience an ecological disaster of epic proportions within ten years due to population growth.

A few years ago, Tim Chivers at the UK Telegraph wrote an excellent op-ed listing some of the predictions Ehrlich made that ended up being nothing more than hype. Chivers states (in part):

So, let’s take a look at some of his predictions, made in 1968:

1) “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate,” he said. He predicted four billion deaths, including 65 million Americans…

What actually happened: Since Ehrlich wrote, the population has more than doubled to seven billion — but the amount of food per head has gone up by more than 25 per cent. Of course there are famines, but the death rate has gone down. I don’t think a significant number of Americans have starved….

3) “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

What actually happened: I’m not hungry. I just ate. Are you hungry? Were you hungry in 2000, especially? Does England exist?

I have previously commented on this subject but neglected to identify it by its proper title. I also wanted to address it again due to Ronald Windsor Vincent bringing this matter up after I thrashed him and his blog post yesterday where he calls for shooting Republicans in order to save the environment.

As far a Paul Ehrlich is concerned, you can’t take much of what he states seriously due to his embarrassingly wrong forecasts. I am sure many people will dismiss Ehrlich as a has-been quack, but it doesn’t mean he won’t stop trying as (to this day) he still gets press coverage and knows generations and time passes where people forget about his debunked theories.

Ehrlich is nothing more than an ideological priest of the environmentalist movement. If you want to know why people now-a-days have a hard time believing climate predictions its because of people like him. Not only to mention the fact that, according to former Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, this prognosis was reported by National Geographic in 1999. That also includes what little trust there is in the media since there are green-friendly reporters who push this hype where it gets repeated by other news outlets.