The Birds

March 14, 2010

The Birds, a Hitchcock film from 1963 with Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren – love that film!  But that’s not the subject of my post today.  It’s this report on The State of the Birds, 2010, issued by the Interior Department.  This is the press release headline at the link:

Secretary Salazar Releases New “State of the Birds” Report Showing Climate Change Threatens Hundreds of Species
Austin, TX–Climate change threatens to further imperil hundreds of species of migratory birds, already under stress from habitat loss, invasive species and other environmental threats, a new report released today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar concludes.

Reading through this notice of key findings, I see that it is the same as many others I read in press releases and article abstracts.  Climate change is happening, and it’s having bad effects on our environment.  This seems to be a good example of climate bandwagon-ism. Everything is, and must be shown to be related to the threat posed by climate change.  Beat the drum loudly! Consider the key findings (emphasis mine):

  • Oceanic birds are among the most vulnerable species because they don’t raise many young each year… and they nest on islands that may be flooded as sea levels rise. All 67 oceanic bird species…are among the most vulnerable birds on Earth to climate change.

Okay, but what if climate predictions are wrong?  Fact is, these birds are threatened by a lot of things now!

  • Hawaiian birds … already face multiple threats and are increasingly challenged by mosquito-borne diseases and invasive species as climate change alters their native habitats.

The assumption is that global climate change has altered their habitat and will continue to do so, presumably at ever increasing rates.  I wonder how much worse the threats will be than they are already?

  • Birds in coastal, arctic/alpine, and grassland habitats…show intermediate levels of vulnerability; most birds in aridlands, wetlands, and forests show relatively low vulnerability to climate change.

Just for the record, this accounts for most species, not that those minority bird populations aren’t important!

  • For bird species that are already of conservation concern… the added vulnerability to climate change may hasten declines or prevent recovery.

Like the poor people of the world, the species that are in trouble now are the most likely to suffer most when anything changes and makes life a bit more difficult.

  • The report identified common bird species … that are likely to become species of conservation concern as a result of climate change.

Aren’t these species in habitats that are least likely to be affected?  So, from among these “safer” species, the report picks out the ones that have the  greatest likelihood of showing some stress, when that climate change kicks in as we all know it will…must!  Just wondering, how much of a risk is “of concern..?”  Have to read the report.

After the listing of Key Findings, there is this:

    “All of the effective bird conservation efforts already taking place to protect rare species, conserve habitats, and remove threats need to be continued,” said David Mehlman of The Nature Conservancy. “Additionally, they need to be greatly expanded to meet the threat climate change poses to bird populations.”

Bravo for that!  Yes, I am all for maintaining and expanding our efforts to conserve bird populations, bird habitat, and species diversity.  What does climate change have to do with it?  Why bring it in other than to try and build concern…hysteria?

Okay, they are bureaucrats, and they write reports.  So, let’s see what they’ve given us:

Many bird populations are threatened now by human settlement patterns.  Birds that have insecure populations now will be less secure if climate change occurs as predicted.  We may see birds that are common now show some stress if climate changes occur as predicted.  If climate change occurs as predicted, our present efforts to stabilize bird populations may not be as effective as hoped.

That’s it.  May, might, if…Now this report will start turning up in arguments that use it to prove that AGW is a clear and present danger to human and biosphere health!  We are already such a destructive force in the biosphere that computer models of climate change are the last thing birds should be worrying about.  They should be more concerned about how they will look in the planned remake of Hitchcock’s gem!