June 15, 2016

Extinctified -- by your SUV!


Human-caused climate change appears to have driven the Great Barrier Reef's only endemic mammal species into the history books, with the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent that lives on a tiny island in the eastern Torres Strait, being completely wiped-out from its only known location.

It is also the first recorded extinction of a mammal anywhere in the world thought to be primarily due to human-caused climate change.

An expert says this extinction is likely just the tip of the iceberg, with climate change exerting increasing pressures on species everywhere.

Tiresome on stilts. We cannot truly pin down what portion of the small warming is outside of spec, what part of sea-level is apportioned to temperature. And -- I am not a biologist, but there is no way I accept certainty that this loss can be pinned on sea level rise.

I know you're already looking forward to Review Corner, just 'cause. But Sunday's How Not to be Wrong is a dive into misuse of statistics and faulty conclusions. I think The Guardian hit the trifecta on fallacies.

Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe Posted by John Kranz at June 15, 2016 12:18 PM

Wait a minute - these scientists were monitoring this population of Bramble Bay melomys, watched on as the ocean rose and killed them all, and did nothing? Nothing other that bitch to the newspapers, I mean?

Did it not occur to these science geniuses (genii?) to round them up and move them? Transport them to some sort of animal conservancy, where they could live out their lives is safety? THEY LEFT THEM TO DROWN?

As I thought in my head as I looked at your picture... "rat. Bastards... Rat bastards!"

Seriously, it didn't occur to any of them to take a couple of them home to save their lives? Is it that much more satisfying to them that they can say they whinged to the Powers That Be to no avail, instead of manning up and doing it themselves?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at June 15, 2016 2:47 PM
Pinpointing the extinction (or pseudoextinction) of a species requires a clear definition of that species. If it is to be declared extinct, the species in question must be uniquely distinguishable from any ancestor or daughter species, and from any other closely related species.

What is the uniquely distinguishable characteristic of this "mosaic-tailed rat?" A mosaic pattern on its tail? Come on, man!

As Wikipedia summarizes, isolated extinctions are quite common. And the source article (not linked in the post but available here) agrees, in its closing paragraph:

"Certainly, extinction and climatic change has gone hand in hand throughout the history of the world," he [John White, an ecologist from Deakin University in Australia, who was not involved in the study] said. "So, if this is one of the first, it is more than likely not going to be the last."

To which one should add, ... in the history of the world.

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2016 3:28 PM | What do you think? [2]