Evolution in the News - July 2020
by Do-While Jones

Why Try to Make Extinction Extinct?

If the theory of evolution is true, extinction is a good thing.

The theory of evolution depends upon random mutations filtered by natural selection. Natural selection depends upon survival of the fittest. Life becomes better (that is, more highly evolved) when the weaker species are replaced with stronger ones. Evolution depends upon the extinction of less fit species.

Therefore, if evolution is a good thing, we should be encouraging extinction rather than trying to prevent it. So why are scientists (all of whom must be evolutionists because all real scientists are evolutionists ) trying to prevent extinction?

Some scientists want to limit the number of species going extinct every year, world-wide, to 20 or less. This isn’t the first time they have tried to limit extinction. They have tried before, and failed every time.

Next year, all eyes will be on Kunming, China, as talks resume on a new set of global goals to protect biodiversity. These are much needed, because most of the existing 20 targets, which were set in 2010 in Aichi, Japan, have failed to make an impact on the rate of biodiversity loss.

Last month, a team of researchers proposed creating one headline number, suggesting that countries should aim to keep extinctions to “well below” 20 known species every year worldwide. This would be the biodiversity equivalent of the 2 °C climate [change] target: a simple, measurable goal that can be understood by the public and politicians alike.

The proposal, by Mark Rounsevell at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and his colleagues, is intended to break nearly two decades of failure in global biodiversity policy and target setting — the 2010 Aichitargets replaced a previous unsuccessful target to slow the rate of biodiversity loss that countries set themselves in 2002. 1

Science Hijacked by Politics

The “one headline number” is needed because it “can be understood by the public and politicians alike,” who aren’t as smart as the scientists who are trying to drive the political agenda of the left.

The comparison with a 2 °C climate change target was the first of seven references to climate change. Nowhere in the editorial is there any suggestion that climate change is related to extinction. The seven references are there just to make the political point that since some world-wide political power should control the climate, a similar world-wide group should control the rate of extinction, too.

There are many questions for researchers working in biodiversity to explore. For example, how does a target of 20 extinctions per year — across all plants, animals and fungi — fit with IPBES’s own assessment of biodiversity, which says that some one million species are at risk of extinction? Twenty extinctions per year — out of almost two million known species — is ten times higher than the background extinction rate of two per year that existed before humans made a notable contribution to extinctions. But it is considerably lower than today’s estimates of species extinctions, which are in excess of 1,000 times the background rate.

Other questions include how to choose which species to conserve, and who should make such choices. 2

The editorial lists many questions, but not the most important ones. Who decided 20 extinctions a year is acceptable? Who put them in charge? How did they come up with the number 20? Who are they going to punish if more than 20 species go extinct? What is an appropriate punishment? These are political questions—not scientific ones.

Perhaps the most outrageous statement is “the background extinction rate of two per year that existed before humans made a notable contribution to extinctions.” How was that measured? When did humans first make a notable contribution to extinctions? Was it when the first gatherer became a hunter?

The editorial ended with these words:

But they will also know that, although the target to keep global temperatures to within 2 °C of pre-industrial levels was agreed by members of the UN climate convention, that number was subjected to a thorough process of research evaluation by a wide group of researchers in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] before it was adopted.

Any proposal to consider a single numerical target for biodiversity needs to be similarly assessed. IPBES [Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services] — working with the UN biodiversity convention’s own scientific advisers — should be called on to advise. For this to happen, a small group of governments need to make a formal request for scientific advice to the UN convention, and they should do so without delay. 3

In last month’s Evolution in the News column we told you “the word ‘scientist’ has become a politically correct synonym for ‘lackey.’” Here is another example. United Nations bureaucrats are looking for “scientific advice” to justify their need for control.

Since extinction is the engine that drives the evolution of better and better lifeforms, who gives them the right to keep the world from becoming a better place?

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1 Editorial, Nature, 30 June 2020, “Fewer than 20 extinctions a year: does the world need a single target for biodiversity?”, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01936-y
2 ibid.
3 ibid.