The world’s wildlife population is collapsing – with fewer than half as many wild animals around today as there were in 1970. So claims the WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) in its latest headline-grabbing report.
Here are some reasons why we ought to take these claims with a massive pinch of salt.
1. The WWF is not an objective scientific body but an environmental activist organisation with a strong vested interest in ramping up public hysteria, a) to put pressure on government to advance its preferred green totalitarian measures and b) to increase donations.
This is clearly evident if you actually look at the report from which these headline figures are taken. It abounds with scaremongering claims like: “We are not only threatening our health, prosperity and well-being, but our very future”, with pseudo-scientific greenie-lefty jargon like “planetary boundaries” and “sustainable development”, and anti-capitalist, anti-growth admonitions like “Changing our course and finding alternative pathways will not be easy. But it can be done.”
2.The environmental movement has a long and undistinguished track record of overstating population decline and species extinctions in order to exaggerate its case. Most recently we saw this in the tale of the “extinct” giant snail that wasn’t. Few would dispute that as human populations grow and land is developed and deforested animal populations will come under increasing pressure. But that 53 per cent figure looks about as trustworthy as those equally dubious claims by ecologists claiming that as many as 40,000 species go extinct every year. Really? Where are the bodies?
3. These are not solid scientific figures but extrapolations based on estimates, expressed as a modeled trend. The Global Living Planet Index (LPI)? Oh yeah? And what’s one of them when it’s at home? In order for us to take it seriously, we must first trust the accuracy of the raw data on individual species populations (dependent on what may be partial and limited field studies), second the way this data has been adjusted by the WWF to extrapolate a global trend. As we’ve seen with global warming, the opportunities for cherry-picking, confirmation bias and outright fraud are legion.
4. From the report: “Climate change is the next most common primary threat in the LPI. Climate change has already been linked to the population decline and possible extinction of a number of amphibian species in the Neotropics…and in Australia.” Yes – and every one of these claims has been roundly debunked. The fact that the WWF still cites them shows it has absolutely no regard for scientific objectivity.
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