Deniers like to claim they aren't stupid and they aren't ignorant. I can't say what happens in the rest of their lives, but those who deny climate science, when it comes to climate science, are either stupid, or ignorant or knowingly telling lies. There is no middle ground.
There's an example again today at WUWT (archived here). Again it's from Eric Worrall. He wonders why, if global warming is threatening the food chain, it didn't threaten it during the Cretaceous period. You don't believe that anyone could be so foolish? It's true. Eric wrote:
The obvious question – why didn’t this hypothesised collapse occur during previous epochs with high CO2 levels, such as the Cretaceous Age? According to Wikipedia, the Cretaceous age enjoyed CO2 levels of around 1700ppm. Yet the Cretaceous was also the age of the Dinosaurs – the period was characterised by large tropical jungles, shallow warm seas, and a vast abundance of life, both marine and terrestrial. I suggest it takes a pretty robust food chain to support a predator like the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
It's as if he's never heard of any of the great extinction events, like the massive Permian Triassic events, which in part were the result of rapid greenhouse warming.
It's not just the change, it's the pace of change that's the killer
What Eric's failing to recognise is that it's not the global warmth that is the problem as such. Once the earth has stabilised over a few million years, life will most probably start to flourish again. The problem is the rate of change. We are currently on track for warming that is ten times faster than any in at least 65 million years.
Species don't have time to adapt. Slow change (on geological time scales) is fine. It's the fast change that kills off species. And there's a domino effect. If one species is particularly susceptible then everything that depends on that species is susceptible, and everything that depends on those susceptible species is susceptible, and so on.
Some species are more adaptable than others. We humans, for example, can survive in a wide range of environments, even very harsh ones, by constructing shelters and shaping our surroundings. We don't depend on any single species, nor on only a few species. We can eat insects for protein if fish and mammals run out. Or birds, if there are enough of them around. And plants. And we can harvest seed and grow plants. They might not always thrive out in the open, but we can build glass houses and bring in all the nutrients the plants need (provided we have access to the nutrients and water).
So of all species, humans and some others, like cockroaches, will probably be able to muddle through changes that will decimate many less adaptable life forms.
I find it very perplexing that this point isn't immediately obvious to science deniers. Why can't they recognise that very rapid change can make life very difficult. Particularly when so many of them are scared shitless of change in their own lives. That's one of the main motivations for science denial. People afraid of a world that uses clean energy. People afraid of policies and programs designed to improve our lot. (Think of all the protests from deniers about environmental regulations. You'd think that the EPA and its equivalent around the world was insisting that coal fired power plants emit gigatonnes of mercury, instead of insisting they emit as little as possible.)
It gets hot in sunny Queensland
It gets worse (as if you couldn't guess). Eric thinks that:
As for the direct effect of warming – even if warming occurs, the net result in most cases would surely be a slight shift in geographic habitat. For example, the range of temperatures on offer as you travel along say the Australian East Coast far exceeds temperature changes most alarmists predict will occur in the next century, due to global warming.
Seriously? The equivalent of "it gets hot in Queensland"? (Well, it's not as hot in the tropics as it is further south - or not usually.) Clearly Eric has never tilled the soil, or grown a tree, or hunted animals, or fished the oceans. Not only does he have no understanding of the interdependence of species, but he thinks that if everyone in Hobart was as warm as people in Queensland, it won't make any difference to life on the planet.
He doesn't even mention changing weather patterns or drought or floods or rising seas - probably thinks that ice doesn't melt when it warms. It does. The latest news is that we could be heading for a lot worse than previously thought from the melting of Antarctica.
Fisheries and ocean systems at grave risk
Anyway. That's about all I can say on the matter. Except for a link to a press release about the paper that prompted Eric's silly outburst. The authors, Professors Ivan Nagelkerken and Sean D. Connell, are research scientists from one of my alma maters, The University of Adelaide. (There's a podcast of Ivan talking about his general research, if you are interested.) The summary isn't hopeful, and reads:
A world-first global analysis of marine responses to climbing human carbon dioxide emissions has painted a grim picture of future fisheries and ocean ecosystems.
And except for letting you see some of the silly thoughts that WUWT-ers have bashed onto their keyboard before they have time to process them.
From the WUWT comments
MarkW is a typical science denier, who is ruled by fear, not reason:
October 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm
More evidence that the boffins know that the global warming scam has just about run it’s course.
Now they are trying to find a new scare on which to hang their give us all your money and all your freedom train on.
Patrick could be mocking the mockable at WUWT, or he could be a real live climate conspiracy theorist, one of the mockable, himself:
October 14, 2015 at 8:11 pm
Well we know global warming is a hoax, so there is no chance of that happening. Pleases me on both counts!
I don't know what NavarreAggie saw in the search, Google is clever and feeds you based on your viewing history. All I saw was lots of links to scientific websites, intermingled with some news reports on the current widespread bleaching event:
October 14, 2015 at 11:24 am
“Claim: Global Warming will cause ocean food chains to collapse”
Of course, if you take a look at one of Jeff Masters’ recent posts, another epidemic of coral bleaching is underway and will doom us all. However, if you run a quick Google search, you will notice something very peculiar about the vast majority of domains turning up hits about coral bleaching. I got to the end of the second search page before I just closed the browser.
References and further reading
Ivan Nagelkerken and Sean D. Connell. "Global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing human CO2 emissions." PNAS, October 12, 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1510856112
- Global marine analysis suggests food chain collapse - press release from ScienceDaily.com
- The oceans are changing too fast for marine life to keep up - article by Ivan Nagelkerken at The Conversation, October 2015
- CO2 and the Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction Events - April 2015
- "Let's mess with Earth some more" Anthony Watts of WUWT implies. Does he want to hasten extinction? - August 2013 - discussing other major extinctions
- A DuKE of deniosaurs at WUWT say: Bring on the Cretaceous! - April 2015