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(SFGate)   According to scientific analysis of millions of years of data, Earth is doomed to see its sixth epic mass extinction thanks to habitat destruction, pollution and global warming   (sfgate.com ) divider line
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4729 clicks; posted to Geek » on 21 Dec 2009 at 11:12 PM (6 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



189 Comments     (+0 »)
 


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2009-12-22 12:05:43 PM  

slayer199: Ambitwistor: study is published in PLoS ONE, which is a peer reviewed journa

That it's published in a Journal doesn't mean it's relevant or widely peer-reviewed.

Point is, I'm a skeptic about most things....particularly things that are geared to spread fear.


Two words: scientifically illiterate

What the hell does widely peer reviewed mean? They should ask non-scientists (e.g. ask the next waiter you have their opinion on that funny rash you have)? They should ask scientists in another field of study (e.g. ask a psychologist to develop a new cleaning compound)?

You realize that we have experts for a reason...right...?

Skepticism is a pretty big part of the scientific process. Also, if you read or have read any peer reviewed research they don't tend to do much fear mongering. Rather, The green movement, pushed by non-scientists, tends to do that.

There is a difference between skepticism and willfully blind ignorance.
 
2009-12-22 12:06:22 PM  
slayer199:

That it's published in a Journal doesn't mean it's relevant or widely peer-reviewed.

It's as widely peer reviewed as any other scientific paper is.

Point is, I'm a skeptic about most things....

If you studiously avoid learning about things, and use "those Berkeley guys are a bunch of radical libs" as your justification, a default position of skepticism isn't very intelligent.

particularly things that are geared to spread fear.

Give me a break.

The article is reporting DATA showing elevated mammalian extinction rates in North America shortly after humans arrived there. They don't assert causality, but merely note that the timing is suggestive, and consistent with the hypothesis that the extinctions had to do with humans. The paper is here, in case you'd prefer to educate yourself, rather than pat yourself on the back about how "skeptical" you are of those rabid Berkeley hippies. If you have a problem with their DATA, be sure to let us know.
 
2009-12-22 12:17:46 PM  

Scruffinator: Maybe the Earth is better off without intelligent life. To my knowledge, no other species has farked things up as much as we have(assuming we are responsible, which we more than likely are at least to an extent).


Oh, I think maybe the former occupants of Earth would have a word or two to say to the little buggers who started pumping all that poisonous oxygen into the atmosphere a while back.
 
2009-12-22 12:28:43 PM  

slayer199:

That it's published in a Journal doesn't mean it's relevant or widely peer-reviewed.



Publication in a peer-reviewed journal was *your* criteria. Now you're saying it's not enough? Were you lying before?

Also, what does "widely peer-reviewed" mean? The review boards of most journals are around the same size.
 
2009-12-22 12:39:53 PM  
Perhaps what we should take from this paper is that YES, it is likely that we have an effect on our world in the same sense that every living thing does.

Rather than get bent out of shape about whether our effects should be accompanied by guilt or blame, how about we instead acknowledge that for the first time in the history of our species, we have the opportunity and ability to shape our world to meet our needs and wants. In this regard, there are strong arguements for maintaining a diverse population of living organisms...from the potential for yet-discovered chemicals and medicines, to resilience against diseases, to just the basic human pleasure of seeing all the wonderous creatures out there.
 
2009-12-22 01:09:29 PM  

Nuclear Monk: Rather than get bent out of shape about whether our effects should be accompanied by guilt or blame, how about we instead acknowledge that for the first time in the history of our species, we have the opportunity and ability to shape our world to meet our needs and wants.


That is already well understood. The biggest question deals with how do you balance the needs of the natural environment with the needs of the human race to continue our way of life. Most perfer to take a middle ground, altough there are a great deal of folks on either extreme.

Take a look around you and just think of what impacts on the natural environment all of your 'stuff' caused. Everything you see is either mined, logged, or otherwise 'harvested'. When given the choice, very few would really be willing to give it all up.
 
2009-12-22 01:13:49 PM  

Scruffinator: Damnhippyfreak: jjorsett: How do you think evolution happens? Organisms get stressed and adapt. Did you think the earth was going to be static from now on? If we kill ourselves and 99.9% of every other life form, the earth will recover and new species will emerge. Species come and go and the universe doesn't give a crap. Momma nature's a biatch. Deal with it.


Most people would consider the extinction of the human race setting the bar just a wee bit low. As far as weak excuses for not taking responsibility for our actions, 'because we shouldn't care if we even survive' has got to be one of the weakest.

Maybe the Earth is better off without intelligent life. To my knowledge, no other species has farked things up as much as we have(assuming we are responsible, which we more than likely are at least to an extent).


The Earth has no intrinsic value without us here to value it...
 
2009-12-22 01:28:38 PM  
ryarger:

Also, what does "widely peer-reviewed" mean? The review boards of most journals are around the same size

Apparently, you guys haven't done your homework on PLoS ONE's "peer-review" process. If you had, you'd understand my skepticism.
 
2009-12-22 02:03:30 PM  

slayer199: Apparently, you guys haven't done your homework on PLoS ONE's "peer-review" process. If you had, you'd understand my skepticism


Wow... more vague, unsubstantiated bullshiat. Shocking!
 
2009-12-22 03:31:51 PM  

ryarger: Occam's Nailfile: But stop trying to scare me with this global warming crap. Even if you're right, which I doubt, I still don't give a shiat.


Fine, if you stop trying to scare me with this gravity crap. Trying to tell me that you *will* fall to your death if you jump off a tall building even though you have no proof at all! Then you try to get me to spend billions on a "space" program that works using the same unproven theory.


The difference between gravity and AGW is that gravity can be tested and those tests can be repeated. There's a huge leap from the testable aspects of climate science and the conclusions drawn from them. The conclusion that man is a primary cause of climate change doesn't rise to the level of theory... it's nothing more than a hypothesis. Ditto for the hypothesis that climate change (or global warming... whatever you want to call it) is a bad thing that will have a net negative effect on the planet. And neither are testable or repeatable.

Also, climate models are no more than junk science. We don't know all the variables that make up the climate, we don't know exactly how the variables affect each other (as little as ten years ago the "consensus" was that clouds, by reflecting sunlight, had a net cooling effect), and we don't know exactly what the initial conditions were. These three things are absolutely necessary for any computer model of any process that includes co-dependent variables and feedback mechanisms.
 
2009-12-22 03:47:50 PM  
I don't know why you're all getting your panties in a bunch. Everyone here is eventually going to die either way.
 
2009-12-22 03:52:08 PM  

fatassbastard: We might be totally farking ourselves with species extinction and climate change, but IT DOESN'T MATTER because that type of thing has happened before and it wasn't because of humans.


Important word highlighted for you.

We MIGHT be farking ourselves over with "climate change," but we will definitely be farking ourselves over with a centrally planned economy adjucated by even the smartest scientists. All the self-declared geniuses, from the Fascists of Italy to the Bolivaran Socialists of Venezuela, have tried to use first their own money, then other people's money, then threats of violence, then actual violence, all to make people live exactly the right way so we wouldn't cause the End Of The World. And that's just the atheist ideologies of the Industrial Age; add in the various religions that exchange the "End Of The World" with "Wrath Of The God(s)," and even the most enlightened totalitarianism has a record of failure extending as far back as recorded history.

Innovation thrives in freedom, and dies off in even the most comfortable and beautiful cage of the most compassionate and enlightened dictator. A centrally planned and rigidly enforced "green" global economy MIGHT be able to take control of the entire world's climate and steer it away from the direction that you seem to think it's heading... but doing so will eliminate the very civilization that made it possible, and the technology with it.

And that doesn't even count how weasely the phrase "climate change" is. Reminds me of the Toronto protester... "[Global warming] could make the world hotter, it could make the world colder, it could make the world wetter, it could make the world drier... all we know is that the weather is going to change, and the change will destroy all life as we know it, and it's all George W. Bush's fault!"
 
2009-12-22 04:20:46 PM  

Occam's Nailfile: The planet used to be one farking continent. It's gonna change, like it has been changing since it parked its fat blue ass in orbit around the sun.

Someday, man likely will be extinct. I don't give a shiat.

Does my position suggest that mean we shouldn't try to improve air quality, and work towards spewing less crap into the atmosphere? No. Those are good ideas. They would improve our quality of life. But stop trying to scare me with this global warming crap. Even if you're right, which I doubt, I still don't give a shiat.

I don't care about polar bears, who would eat me if they could. I don't care about indigenous tribes of people on remote islands who are too dumb to move if their island starts shrinking. You want to help them, without pissing away gazillions of dollars on cap and trade garbage? Build them some farking apartment buildings somewhere on dry land.

If all the jackalopes who spend their days and nights trying to prove that industry is heating up the planet would instead spend their time on creating technologies to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we'd be a hell of a lot closer to solving pollution problems than we are now.


I think the implication is that a large scale extinction will likely destroy the underpinnings of various food webs across the planet.

Take the example of Ocean pH and the possibility of hindering or stopping the base food source of the ocean; plankton. This could lead to the collapse of the fishing industry that feeds billions of people.

What if swaths of bee populations suddenly died off and crop pollination suddenly meant agricultural output withered? Again, there are direct implications to our immediate quality of life.

Please do not make the mistake of assuming I am saying these things will happen, but, the incredibly complicated interconnections between species is impossible to fully understand.

Lets boil it down to something simple: Jenga

Picture a Jenga tower hundreds of feet tall. Natural selection, evolution, random chance will destroy/create a small number of species/habitats over time. This is like adding Jenga blocks and taking some away. Mans habitat destruction and over harvesting of species increases the rate of block removal substantially. The more blocks we remove, the more likely a portion (small or large) of the Jenga Tower falls.

This. Is. What. An. Educated. Rational. Person. Should. Be. Aware. Of. When. Contemplating. What. We. Are. Doing. To. This. Planet.
 
2009-12-22 05:39:02 PM  
I am interested to see how the slow reproducing homonids turn out.

The rest of nature is much more durable than we are, forests regrow in a few hundred years, new species arise in a few million. Will our offspring be there to see it?

/preserve things because when there is room for owls, elephants and stuff it also means there is room for us too.
 
2009-12-22 07:25:19 PM  

fatassbastard: slayer199: Apparently, you guys haven't done your homework on PLoS ONE's "peer-review" process. If you had, you'd understand my skepticism

Wow... more vague, unsubstantiated bullshiat. Shocking!


No, you're just too lazy to look it up yourself. Lazy people like yourself are so quick to anoint scientists as "experts" and studies as valid claiming "It's peer-reviewed" when if you really took the time to investigate, the PLoS peer-review process is hardly that. Their goal is to publish, not review.

So instead of casting aspersion on my doubt, why don't you do some of your own research instead of being too lazy to think for yourself.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2009-12-22 07:28:06 PM  
slayer199

I second the advice to read the paper and not the pop science PR spin (or the Fark headline).

Looking at the article, the big question is the validity of this: "We used only fossil data to avoid the sampling and analytical complexities of comparing fossil with modern samples." That limitation invites bias if young fossils are less often recorded in databases than old. The paper says the data appear to be biased the opposite way, making the conclusion conservative. I don't know how seriously to take the hard numbers. As a study of the evolution of life on earth, I'll accept the paper until something else comes along. As justification for present policy, I am not yet convinced.
 
2009-12-22 07:47:59 PM  

ZAZ: slayer199

I second the advice to read the paper and not the pop science PR spin (or the Fark headline).

Looking at the article, the big question is the validity of this: "We used only fossil data to avoid the sampling and analytical complexities of comparing fossil with modern samples." That limitation invites bias if young fossils are less often recorded in databases than old. The paper says the data appear to be biased the opposite way, making the conclusion conservative. I don't know how seriously to take the hard numbers. As a study of the evolution of life on earth, I'll accept the paper until something else comes along. As justification for present policy, I am not yet convinced.


I read the paper...and while like you, I'm not convinced it should be justification for government policy, it doesn't mean I don't think it's in our best interests to care about ecology.

The real problem I have is that people read the article and don't cast a skeptical eye on things they read. "Oh, these guys are experts and it's peer-reviewed, so it must be true." Nobody questions the peer-review process (especially for something like PLoS ONE).

The bigger problem in terms of the article is that what if they are right? What is the end-game? The ONLY way to stem the decline of a mass extinction would be to wipe out humans. The world population will continue to grow and the need for resources along with it. Naturally, humans will encroach on formally pristine natural areas in a quest for resources. Ultimately, the only way to stem the need for resources will be to eliminate humans. Otherwise, species will either adapt or perish which is Darwin at work.

Here in the U.S. we do a pretty good job with the Park systems. I've enjoyed hiking Yellowstone and Isle Royale. We do a pretty good job of protecting endangered species. We don't pollute the rivers and lakes as we did in my youth when the Great Lakes where unswimmable. As for the rest of the world....probably not so much.

I have a good buddy that has toured the world checking out wildlife...he wants to see it before it's gone. You can see some of his great work here (new window)
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2009-12-22 08:17:27 PM  
slayer199

I can't grade the NPS. I have been to the wildlife refuges and White Mountain National Forest rather than the big parks. I think we're doing a bad job in the USA overall unless you grade on a curve to take into account places like China where breathing the air can kill you.

We bulldoze many acres per day while obsessing over the Spotted Owl or fashionable species du jour. That is not good environmental policy. The article noted the area-species relationship. We're destroying and fragmenting usable area at a rapid rate.
 
2009-12-22 09:08:33 PM  

Weaver95: OMG! DOOOOOOM! dooom. we're doomed. a man with a clipboard confirmed it. Doomed for sure. Yup - completely hosed. nothing good will come of this, just you wait and see.

Doom.

doom.


We're not going to brekenridge.
 
2009-12-23 02:07:59 AM  

MLWS: Please do not make the mistake of assuming I am saying these things will happen, but, the incredibly complicated interconnections between species is impossible to fully understand.


Yet, we're all being told that if we don't start taxing the shiat out of coal electric plants, we're all going to die a hot, thirsty death.
 
2009-12-23 04:22:39 AM  

Occam's Nailfile: MLWS: Please do not make the mistake of assuming I am saying these things will happen, but, the incredibly complicated interconnections between species is impossible to fully understand.

Yet, we're all being told that if we don't start taxing the shiat out of coal electric plants, we're all going to die a hot, thirsty death.


There are plenty of other reasons to stop using coal-fired electric plants, but that's not one of them.
 
2009-12-23 03:21:16 PM  
You're all just biatching about the science behind the article. I really find this paragraph/sentence to be the most disturbing:

"The study of the fossil and archaeological record over the past 30 million years by UC Berkeley and Penn State University researchers shows that between 15 and 42 percent of the mammals in North America disappeared after humans arrived."


I really do not think UC Berkeley, or Penn State have been around for 30 million years. Someone should tell me if I'm wrong...
 
2009-12-23 06:12:26 PM  
twofeetcia:
Is this my queue to start panicking ?

We have to line up to panic now? Dammit.
 
2009-12-23 06:25:21 PM  
Weaver95:
Treygreen13: If there was something I could type here to help out the planet, I'd do it.

rm -rf climate change

Well played. But, if that actually worked, we'd REALLY be screwed.
 
2009-12-23 06:31:18 PM  
Jon Snow:
Jon Snow: I'm one to claim that switching to a low carbon energy infrastructure will "ZOMG WREX TECH ECONOMEEZ"- that's alarmist.

Yeah, I noticed.


/ I suppose you're going to claim this was a Freudian slit... er, slip.
 
2009-12-23 06:39:03 PM  
Weaver95:
Jon Snow:

You might even say I know nothing.

Valar morghulis.

Valar Doeharis.
 
2009-12-23 06:47:38 PM  
Sun God:
Damnhippyfreak: Sun God: Jon Snow: Sun God: In the book there are many interesting arguments about global warming/climate change.

Having footnotes, repeating long debunked talking points, and misrepresenting the work of people you cite is a hallmark of antiscience.

That guy was smart.

In his memoirs he talks about being able to see peoples' auras and bend spoons with his mind. "Smart" isn't the word I'd use, especially in the context of real-world knowledge. Successful, perhaps.

I think you might be not smart because you haven't read the book.


I think you might not know what 'smart' means if you are using whether one has read a particular book or not as a criterion.

Okay. I think you're a dick. Is that helpful for the global warming debate?
Way to go, Sun God! Yay, team! Ra, Ra, Ra!
 
2009-12-23 06:53:05 PM  
thisispete:
I don't think anyone is missing the giant beaver.

Didn't she move back to San Francisco?
 
2009-12-23 07:33:07 PM  
Okay, I read this whole thread, looking for the significant data. They're not here.

This article is illustrative of the problems with peer-reviewed literature. First, Slayer199 is quite correct when he suggests that people should check out FLoS's review policies before simply assuming that this is normal peer-review. (The same is true of any climatology peer-review at the moment, by the way.) Skepticism is far and away the best approach to science, and anything else for that matter. The world needs MANY more skeptics, and many fewer acolytes, of whatever faith. But, Slayer199, don't be too harsh with them. I like their approach -- more will be available, even if it conflicts with alleged "consensus" viewpoints. I'm not very fond of their idea of paid publishing, but...

It's context. What's missing from the paper is context. What is missing is the fact that HUMANITY died out on the North American continent at the same time. The "Clovis People," after a run of thousands of years, and interesting arrow technology, pretty much vanished, and other people gradually inhabited North America. Presence of a carbon layer just at the "Clovis boundary" along with various spherules, iridium, and nanodiamonds indicate that a comet or asteroid smashed into North America about 13,000 years ago, probably into Subury... at a guess. There was an ice sheet over the area at the time, so the crater would have been in the miles-thick ice sheet, which melted at the end of the ice age.

The Clovis boundary layer marks the end of the large mammals, and the Clovis people. This paper at FLoS was submitted only a couple months ago, so there is no excuse for omitting this information, other than that it is inconsistent with the desire to scare people and make them feel guilty. Or, perhaps I'm missing something.... If so, what?
 
2009-12-23 10:02:57 PM  

slayer199: Lazy people like yourself are so quick to anoint scientists as "experts"...


Please point out where I've "anointed" anyone or anything. You're the one who tossed out the vague BS, YOU back it up.

Throwing out that crap and telling the person you're debating with (which isn't me, btw) to substantiate it themselves isn't just lazy, it's dishonest.

Tatterdemalian: Important word highlighted for you.


Way to completely miss the point of my post. I haven't (and don't) advocate any specific remedy. I just think it's hilarious and sad that people think saying "the climate has changed before" is a good argument against what's being proposed.
 
2009-12-23 10:14:39 PM  

fatassbastard: slayer199: Lazy people like yourself are so quick to anoint scientists as "experts"...

Please point out where I've "anointed" anyone or anything. You're the one who tossed out the vague BS, YOU back it up.

Throwing out that crap and telling the person you're debating with (which isn't me, btw) to substantiate it themselves isn't just lazy, it's dishonest.


Read my post at 2009-12-22 07:47:59 PM for further clarification.
 
2009-12-24 12:19:52 AM  
There

slayer199: Read my post at 2009-12-22 07:47:59 PM for further clarification.


There is no mention whatsoever in that post about why one should be skeptical of PLoS ONE's peer review process, which is what started this particular exchange.
 
2009-12-24 02:45:38 AM  

fatassbastard: oever in that post about why one should be skeptical of PLoS ONE's peer review process, which is what started this particular


You can't google it yourself (try "PLoS ONE peer-review")? I'll throw you a couple bones.

1. Researchers pay $1500 to have an article published.
2. The PLoS ONE peer-review process is not really a peer-review process. The advisory board judges the article for merit. They are scientists from a wide-variety of fields, but not necessarily the field of study. The only peers that review the article come AFTER the article is posted via their comment system.
3. Articles in PLoS one are only reviewed for 3 weeks before they are published...whereas in a traditional peer-reviewed journal, it can take up to 6 months.

In other words, the "peers" in the PLoS one process are not the same type of "peers" you'd have in a legitimate and widely peer-reviewed article published in a journal in a particular field of study.
 
2009-12-24 02:49:54 AM  
slayer199:

1. Researchers pay $1500 to have an article published.

P.S. I forgot to mention the more than obvious conflict-of-interest that the board has if they reject an article for publishing. No $$$.
 
2009-12-24 10:33:10 AM  

fatassbastard: Way to completely miss the point of my post. I haven't (and don't) advocate any specific remedy. I just think it's hilarious and sad that people think saying "the climate has changed before" is a good argument against what's being proposed.


Yet a specific remedy HAS been proposed: a centrally planned and managed global economy based on "carbon credits," with the not-inconsiderable military might of the UN backing it. (Just because they seldom use it doesn't mean they don't have it, as Serbia found out last decade.) You seem to have missed my point that the attempt to forcibly control the entire world's industry to return us to a "sustainable" technological level is a spectacularly bad idea.
 
2009-12-24 03:23:24 PM  

slayer199: You can't google it yourself (try "PLoS ONE peer-review")?


Of course I could, but again, throwing out something vague and unsubstantiated, then saying, "Look it up yourself" is BS.

Tatterdemalian: You seem to have missed my point that the attempt to forcibly control the entire world's industry to return us to a "sustainable" technological level is a spectacularly bad idea.


I didn't miss the point of your post. It just didn't address my point: It's stupid to suggest that the fact that the global climate has changed in the past without human influence somehow means the current science on the subject is invalid.
 
2009-12-24 03:26:13 PM  

Tatterdemalian: Yet a specific remedy HAS been proposed...


Not by me, and I agree with you that a centrally controlled world economy under the auspices of the UN is indeed a "spectacularly bad idea".
 
2009-12-24 05:00:15 PM  
fatassbastard:
I didn't miss the point of your post. It just didn't address my point: It's stupid to suggest that the fact that the global climate has changed in the past without human influence somehow means the current science on the subject is invalid.

Sure, by itself. It's just one facet of the problem. The AGW hypothesis essentially rests on a long series of assumptions, ALL of which have to be true before there's a problem we can deal with. One of the CENTRAL ideas is that, since CO2 is a greenhouse gas, increasing it will raise the temperature. It turns out that one isn't true. When other greenhouse gasses increase, water vapor in the upper troposphere decreases, keeping the greenhouse effect at what amounts to a constant.

There are simple problems with the "CO2 warms the planet" bit of the AGW hypothesis. First, there have been MANY times in the past when huge amounts of CO2 have been added to the air at once. Every supervolcano eruption, every asteroid and comet hit have released HUGE quantities of CO2, and the planet hasn't even seemed to notice this. The "dinosaur killer," which actually may not have killed the dinosaurs, for example... And, keeping it on topic here, the asteroid that wiped out the megamammals, including the Clovis People, set fire to essentially EVERYTHING in North America at once. I'm thinking that releases rather a LOT of CO2 at once. No change in planetary temperature.

Also, atmospheric CO2 FOLLOWS temperature. I don't care how much peer-reviewed irrelevancy you wave in my face, it is IMPOSSIBLE for a trailing indicator to be driving the change. That's like saying the speed of a car determines how far down the gas pedal gets pushed.
 
2009-12-24 05:39:03 PM  

fatassbastard: slayer199: You can't google it yourself (try "PLoS ONE peer-review")?

Of course I could, but again, throwing out something vague and unsubstantiated, then saying, "Look it up yourself" is BS.


So I throw out an answer, and you've got nothing to say?
 
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