Climate: The Worm Turns Some More

The other day I took note of the fact that, as I have long predicted, the media is losing interest in climate change in large part because the climate campaign long ago became an unimaginative crashing bore.  Moreover, as also long expected, we’re starting to see the “counter-intuitive” narrative start to appear—namely, that moderate warming might have net benefits.  (Actually the IPCC reports have implied this all along, but the notorious Summary for Policy Makers, which is all most journalists and politicians ever bothered to read, always leaves this out or obscures it.)

And so here’s another one.  Remember how the polar bear became the charismatic megafauna of the threat of global warming (even though there are credible claims that polar bear numbers have increased in recent decades)?  Well, there a new article in the scientific journal PlosOne that concludes most arctic species will benefit from global warming.  Here’s the abstract:

Arctic and subarctic (i.e., [sub]arctic) ecosystems are predicted to be particularly susceptible to climate change. The area of tundra is expected to decrease and temperate climates will extend further north, affecting species inhabiting northern environments. Consequently, species at high latitudes should be especially susceptible to climate change, likely experiencing significant range contractions. Contrary to these expectations, our modelling of species distributions suggests that predicted climate change up to 2080 will favour most mammals presently inhabiting (sub)arctic Europe. Assuming full dispersal ability, most species will benefit from climate change, except for a few cold-climate specialists. However, most resident species will contract their ranges if they are not able to track their climatic niches, but no species is predicted to go extinct. If climate would change far beyond current predictions, however, species might disappear. The reason for the relative stability of mammalian presence might be that arctic regions have experienced large climatic shifts in the past, filtering out sensitive and range-restricted taxa. We also provide evidence that for most (sub)arctic mammals it is not climate change per se that will threaten them, but possible constraints on their dispersal ability and changes in community composition. Such impacts of future changes in species communities should receive more attention in literature. (Underline added.)

To me the most important part of this article is the late underlined bit, which makes the point I’ve been trying to make for a long time—the main driver of species contraction is not climate but changes in habitat and/or habitat fragmentation.  But to climate fanatics, everything gets reduced to climate.


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