Want Mass Extinctions? Enact Greta Thunberg’s Vision

Member Group : Gregory Wrightstone

On September 23, an irate 16-year-old Swedish girl told the United Nations General Assembly that her elders are failing to address the supposed dangers of climate change. Greta Thunberg had arrived in New York the previous week, ironically, aboard a “zero-emissions” carbon-fiber racing yacht composed of the same petroleum products that she seeks to ban. The fifteen-day voyage was made in order to reduce her “carbon footprint” but those plans were foiled when it turned out that at least four overseas flights were required to ferry crew members to and from England.

While it is easy to poke fun at the blatant virtue signaling of this whole affair, more dangerous is her vitriolic message that was accepted uncritically by the world’s media as factual. It turns out that very little of what she said is supported by science. Not only does Thunberg lack a vast amount of information, she compounds her ineptitude by thinking she knows so much.

Others have debunked in detail, the errors in her speech to the U.N., here we will just examine her notion of an Earth that is deteriorating quickly due to man-made warming. According to Thunberg, “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

It was all very compelling theatre, just not true. Not by a long shot.

UN chart showing cumulative extinctions by century
UN chart showing cumulative extinctions by century

Her reference to mass extinction was likely driven by a recent U.N. report on biodiversity which claimed that “human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before” and that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades.” Included in the report was a very frightening chart dating back to the year 1,500 and showing extinctions skyrocketing.

IUCN Red List - Extinctions per decade since 1500
IUCN Red List – Extinctions per decade since 1500

Closer examination of the chart reveals that there were only six data points, each representing a full century of species extinctions and graphed cumulatively in order to accentuate the alarming nature. When I examined the exact same data that the U.N. used but on a more detailed decade by decade evaluation, an entirely different story emerged. Rather than species extinctions increasing, the data showed clearly that they had peaked in the late 19th century and were now in significant decline.

IUCN Red List - Extinctions per decade since 1870
IUCN Red List – Extinctions per decade since 1870

Most compelling was the fact that the average species extinction per year over the last four decades was about two annually. Yet, in order for the predicted “one million” extinctions to be realized it would require 25,000 to 30,000 species to bite the dust every year. Fewer than 900 extinctions have been documented in the 500 years since A.D. 1,500.

Compounding the inaccuracies of the U.N. report was its claim that there were 8 million species on Earth. As Dr. Patrick Moore pointed out in his testimony before Congress recently, there are only 1.8 million species currently identified, therefore one million of the 6.8 million unknown species could go extinct overnight and we would not notice it because we would not know they had existed.

In an ironic twist, the UN report identified loss of habitat as the greatest endangerment to the future health of species and yet what solution do they offer for halting man-made climate change? Greatly increased habitat loss to construct vast solar arrays and industrial scale wind turbine farms.

According to a new study by Paul Driessen, if America were to replace all of its electricity generation capabilities with wind, it would need some 14 million turbines, each one 400 feet tall, each one capable of generating 1.8 megawatts at full capacity when the wind is blowing at the proper speed. At 50 acres per turbine that works out to 700 million acres (ten times the size of Arizona). He notes that eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, geese and other high-flying birds and bats would virtually disappear from our skies. Insects and vermin would proliferate.

Oh, my. I wonder if Miss Thunberg realizes the unintended consequences of her proposals. Maybe it is time for her to return to school and stop lecturing us on things she knows so little about.

This commentary was first published at American Thinker on 9/29/19