‘Frightening’ number of plant extinctions found in global survey. Study shows 571 species wiped out, and scientists say figure is likely to be big underestimate

Some people are easily frightened, it seems. No details or reasoning are given to show why it is frightening so it seems we are reading nothing more than yet another screech of Greenie emotionalism.  If they had named just one lost species that is/was important to humankind they might have had a case -- but they do not. Why? Because there have been no important losses, obviously.  They would be all over it if there were such a loss.

I have commented on the Daily Mail version of this report a couple of days ago.  It is the Guardian version below.  I also append the journal abstract at the bottom of the Guardian article -- which is VERY interesting.  But we will get to that.

The reason I am reopening this matter is that I want to make clear how grossly unscientific the study is. I am pointing in particular at the egregious claim that:  "the plant extinction rate was 500 times greater now than before the industrial revolution".  How do they know?  How do they know what the plant extinction rate was before the industrial revolution? Unless they have got a fully operational Tardis, there is no way they CAN know.

To know that they would have to be able to point to a study like theirs which was conducted in (say) the 18th century.  There is no such study.  Even if there were a good species count available from 18th century England, how do we know how typical events in England were?  England has never been typical of anything as far as I can see.  So there is an excellent chance that they were not typical at all. The whole claim is pure bunk, pure guesswork.  And if they are relying on the fossil record, they are no better off.  The most prominent thing about the fossil record is the "gaps" in it.

Interestingly, they do NOT repeat their hysterical claim in the journal abstract.  Where they could have said: "at 500 times the rate of  background extinction", they in fact wrote: "at a higher rate than background extinction", which is not nearly as crazy.  So we have yet another example of crooked Greenie "science".  We all know that there is no such thing as a happy Greenie and I am fast coming to the view that there is no such thing as an honest Greenie. Exterminate! (With apologies to "Dr. Who")

Human destruction of the living world is causing a “frightening” number of plant extinctions, according to scientists who have completed the first global analysis of the issue.

They found 571 species had definitely been wiped out since 1750 but with knowledge of many plant species still very limited the true number is likely to be much higher. The researchers said the plant extinction rate was 500 times greater now than before the industrial revolution, and this was also likely to be an underestimate.

“Plants underpin all life on Earth,” said Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who was part of the team. “They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems – so plant extinction is bad news for all species.”

The number of plants that have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals and amphibians combined. The new figure is also four times the number of extinct plants recorded in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list.

“It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct,” said Dr Maria Vorontsova, also at Kew. “It is frightening not just because of the 571 number but because I think that is a gross underestimate.”

She said the true extinction rate for plants could easily be orders of magnitude higher than that reported in the study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. There are thousands of “living dead” plant species, where the last survivors have no chance of reproducing because, for example, only one sex remains or the big animals needed to spread their seeds are extinct.

It takes many years to be sure a plant has been wiped out, meaning there are many species awaiting formal confirmation. “How are you going to check the entirety of the Amazon for your lost plant?” Vorontsova said. And some plant species may have gone extinct before ever being discovered. Botanists find about 2,000 new species a year.

The main cause of the extinctions is the destruction of natural habitats by human activities, such as cutting down forests and converting land into fields for farming.....


Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery

Aelys M. Humphreys et al.


Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name a recently extinct plant. We present a comprehensive, global analysis of modern extinction in plants. Almost 600 species have become extinct, at a higher rate than background extinction, but almost as many have been erroneously declared extinct and then been rediscovered. Reports of extinction on islands, in the tropics and of shrubs, trees or species with narrow ranges are least likely to be refuted by rediscovery. Plant extinctions endanger other organisms, ecosystems and human well-being, and must be understood for effective conservation planning.

Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019)

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