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Millions Of Species Going Extinct? Well, Maybe Only 600 !

July 1, 2019

By Paul Homewood



It was not long ago that we were bombarded with ludicrous claims that a million species were threatened “by humans”.

A new study puts all of this into perspective:



Almost 600 plant species have been lost from the wild in the last 250 years, according to a comprehensive study.

The number is based on actual extinctions rather than estimates, and is twice that of all bird, mammal and amphibian extinctions combined.

Scientists say plant extinction is occurring up to 500 times faster than what would be expected naturally.

In May, a UN report estimated that one million animal and plant species were threatened with extinction.

Researchers say their analysis of all documented plant extinctions in the world shows what lessons can be learned to stop future extinctions.

Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few could name an extinct plant, said Dr Aelys Humphreys of Stockholm University.

"This study is the first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from and how quickly this is happening," she added.

The lost plants include the Chile sandalwood, which was exploited for essential oils, the banded trinity plant, which spent much of its life underground, and the pink-flowered St Helena olive tree.

The biggest losses are on islands and in the tropics, which are home to highly valued timber trees and tend to be particularly rich in plant diversity.

Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University found that 571 plant species had disappeared in the last two and a half centuries, a number that is more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct (a combined total of 217 species).

This data suggests plant extinction is happening as much as 500 times faster than what would be expected normally, if humans weren’t around.


I think we can discount that last sentence for a start, as it implies only one species would have been lost in the last 250 years.

And as is noted, many losses are on islands, where inevitably species will die out for all sorts of reasons.

But the consensus is that there are more than 300,000 plant species (see here and here).

600 species out of that lot is miniscule, and does not support the current hysteria, particularly as this is spread over 250 years, long before SUVs and global warming.

Similarly, the figure of 217 animal species lost must be set against a background of 66,000 species in total.

Extinction is always an emotive word. Yet we know that species only go extinct when they are on their last legs, backed into an evolutionary cul-de-sac over a long period of time. Mankind may provide the final shove, but in most cases they would disappear naturally anyway.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 1, 2019 11:54 am

    OTOH climate is good for flowers.

    Mr Harrabin himself told us:

    Which you reported –

  2. Andrew Harding permalink
    July 1, 2019 12:04 pm

    It has been estimated that 99.9% 0f all species that have ever existed are now extinct.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 1, 2019 12:36 pm

      I also remember reading that 60% of all species declared extinct are subsequently rediscovered – I wonder if they double count when they go again!

  3. John Cooknell permalink
    July 1, 2019 12:09 pm

    Humans increase diversity by introduction of invasive species, this can cause other species to become extinct.

    Increasing diversity is good thing?

  4. July 1, 2019 12:30 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 1, 2019 12:34 pm

    Many unique plant and animal species used to be found in China’s rivers and river valley sides, before the dams came. A few have been saved in special reserves but they are decimated, isolated, and ultimately doomed. Ecological destruction for the sake of renewable energy, so no problem!

    BTW June 2019 ended up with a very average CET (1961-90 base).

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 1, 2019 1:41 pm

      Have no fear this will be the hottest year.

      • Mack permalink
        July 1, 2019 4:04 pm

        Yup, the boys and girls at NOAA have been doing some fantastic statistical gymnastics with their adjustments of late so expect the worst. I do believe that even the ‘unadjusted’ original historical data is now getting properly mangled. He who controls the past etc etc….

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 1, 2019 7:38 pm

        Apparently our own Met Office has been doing some ocean heating too!

        New version out – guess what!

  6. Saighdear permalink
    July 1, 2019 12:43 pm

    AS I’ve been pretty well being saying for YEARS, it doesn’t say much for the Credibility of a lot of our Trade & Science Jornalists. How many of them spout forth on which they have NO Educational knowledge of? When is a Writer a Reporter or Journalist? is there a difference? …. Little wonder there is so much tripe being broadcast around.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      July 1, 2019 1:55 pm

      There is an increasing demand for “news”, fed by 24-hour TV channels and the internet. It is, as you say, little wonder that so much of it is tripe since genuine news is in short supply.

      The months of July and August used to be known as the “silly season” because with parliament in recess and the courts not sitting there was very little serious news for the dailies and they filled the space with tripe. Today there is virtually an infinite increase in the amount of space that needs to be filled, serious court reporting has all but vanished and (to my mind, regrettably) we no longer take our politics seriously. At any level!

      Thirty years ago when I was a freelance reporter-cum-occasional editor on a local weekly paper, the activities of the local council and the local courts ‘anchored’ the front half of the paper with local sport anchoring the back half. That same paper today has gone from 60:40 advertising to editorial to closer to 75:25; regular court coverage and police reports have been cut as has council coverage. Staff has also been reduced which means any old press release is likely to get a “top and tail” spin put on it — ‘click-bait’ in effect — and then goes from the in-tray to the typesetter without passing through the brain.

      It’s the world we live in, man!!

      • Barbara Elsmore permalink
        July 1, 2019 2:32 pm

        There were dedicated village reporters assiduously sending in village news – my grandfather reported on his village for 50+ years – and the lengthy obituaries for local people, which have all but disappeared, will be greatly missed by future family historians and the like.

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 1, 2019 12:48 pm

    cough cough wind turbines cough cough

    Even if the tracker isn’t destroyed in the collision there’s massive incentive for operators to quickly cover up the ‘crime’ and avoid the negative publicity.

    All a wild unsubstantiated conclusion obviously – except that other raptors have been documented as killed by wind turbines in Perthshire.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      July 1, 2019 1:16 pm

      Aquila addax the wedge tailed eagle. A protected species in Australia.

      Twenty-nine wedge-tailed eagles were killed in 2017-18 — a dramatic rise form from the 12 killed the previous year
      Eleven wedge-tailed eagles deaths were reported in 2015-16.

      Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles are classified as endangered, with the adult population estimated at about 350 breeding pairs. Considered a sub-species as there doesn’t seem to be any breeding with eagles on the mainland.
      “They’re a long-lived bird, they can live for 30 or more years. To lose this many birds is going to take a long time — if ever — for the population to recover.

      And why are the numbers killed rising? Nothing to do with the increasing numbers of wind turbines esp. on the NW of Tasmania. Not on the ABC (BBC lite).

  8. July 1, 2019 1:08 pm

    Just hope that the species “Homo viridi” is included in the list. The sooner the better

    ( viridi – Latin – Green. For those like me who had to look it up!)

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 1, 2019 2:51 pm

      More likely Homo Viridi will evolve a small stature to use less resources, from there they may just undergo a behavioural change.

      • July 1, 2019 6:16 pm

        Yes – quite probably.
        My Grandad used to call me puffin many moons ago. He had a poem but I can only remember the first verse:
        There’s nuthin, nuthin, nuthin
        Quite so happy as a puffin
        When he’s busy doing nuffin
        In the blue.

        A good philosophy for life.

        Do you have the rest of it? Would be most grateful if you could send it to me:

        Love your blog.

  9. July 1, 2019 1:14 pm

    There are other reasons for “extinctions”. Here is the case of Elliottia racemosa Muhl. which was originally found at 7-8 sites in Georgia and south on oak ridges and sandhills of the Coastal Plain. It is in the Ericaceae or Heath family. I have seen it in Georgia where it is a clonal species which reproduces by underground rooting. There are other species in the same predicament and are “on their way out.” These are ancient species, many of which developed in the Miocene. Over time, they have quit producing viable seed and only reproduce vegetatively. Thus they have no new genetic material coming in and are unable to “roll with the punches.”

    My little “Southern Belle”, Franklinia alatamaha Marsh. in the Theaceae (tea family) is another example. It also was found on the Coastal Plain of Georgia along the Altamaha River in 1765 by John and William Bartram of Philadelphia. They brought it back to their well known gardens and named it for their friend, Benjamin Franklin. It still grows there today. It was never seen in the wild since 1790 and we only have it today as clones of those collections. We now surmise that it was actually a more northern species which got left behind during the back and forth fluctuations of vegetation north and south during the various glacial episodes.

    As a note: If you misspell a name when publishing a species, too bad. It stays. That is why Franklinia alatamaha Marsh. is not altamaha for the Altamaha River. So blame Humphrey Marshall (the Marsh. refers to the name’s author, just as L. is Linnaeus, etc.) for the misspelling. Also Franklinia is a “conserved name” as the genus would be “Gordonia” today had the name honoring Franklin not undergone an International Code of Botanical Nomenclature “nomen conservandum” decision.

  10. Gamecock permalink
    July 1, 2019 1:32 pm

    First, you have to get people to care.

    A weed in Ceylon died out. SO WHAT? I have no reason to care.

    A plant ‘which spent much of its life underground’ is extinct. How would you know?

    • AndyG55 permalink
      July 2, 2019 11:48 pm

      “How would you know?”

      You dig it up to see if its still alive, of course. !

  11. Gamecock permalink
    July 1, 2019 1:33 pm

    ‘documented plant extinctions’

    They have proof of a negative in hand.

  12. July 1, 2019 1:54 pm

    The background extinction rate is virtually unknown –

    “The fact that the total number of species, in the past nor the present, is currently unknown makes it very difficult to accurately calculate the non-anthropogenically influenced extinction rates. As a rate, it is essential to know not just the number of extinctions, but also the number of non-extinctions. This fact, coupled with the fact that the rates do not remain constant, significantly reduces accuracy in estimates of the normal rate of extinctions”.

  13. bobn permalink
    July 1, 2019 2:02 pm

    ‘Almost 600 plant species have been lost from the wild in …’

    So these plants are lost from the wild, but how many are not extinct due to them being conserved by humans in gardens and collections? It maybe that ‘the wild’ has given up on them but humans have had a positive effect on reducing extinctions!!!!!

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 1, 2019 3:05 pm

      Exactly. I noted that caveat, which is then basically ignored in the story. Many of the 600 will be grown at Kew or wherever, with seeds stored.

  14. Dodgy Geezer permalink
    July 1, 2019 2:19 pm

    “Extinction is always an emotive word….”

    Why? It just proved that evolution is still operating properly. Surely we should be worried if extinctions didn’t happen?

    • Saighdear permalink
      July 1, 2019 2:58 pm

      Aye for sure! Politicians and some Media controllers

  15. Philip Foster permalink
    July 1, 2019 2:20 pm

    Paul Ehrlich, in 1981, predicted that by the year 2000 half of the earth’s species would be extinct and all would be gone by 2015 – well, it is now 2019 and we are all still here. Why anyone should go on listening to such a person after that remains baffling, but they do.
    The trouble is that these figures were simply plucked out of the air. Norman Myers, author of ‘The Sinking Ark’ (1979), started this particular scare. His argument was bizarre. He asserted that until 1900 one species went extinct every four years. Then, quoting a 1974 conference in which a ‘guess was hazarded’ that extinction rates had reached 100 a year, he arbitrarily decided that this figure was still too low. He suggested that 100 species a day would be a better figure or about 40,000 a year or 1 million in 25 years. And that is the whole basis for the scare. It starts with an estimate and then this is multiplied by 160,000 and we are told we face disaster.
    The reality is very different. It is true that species do go extinct and that man can be the cause of some of these extinctions, but there is no evidence that any extinctions have been caused by ‘climate change’ in the last four centuries. No-one has the slightest idea how many species exist on the earth anyway. Estimates vary from 3 million to 80 million. If we take the lowest estimate, then over 80% of the species are insects; if the higher estimate, then over 98% would be insects. Deciding if a species smaller than a human fingernail has become extinct presents almost insuperable difficulties—how can we possibly search every square inch of the globe to check if a particular small insect does not exist any more?
    And 40,000 NEW species are named every year!

  16. Colin Brooks permalink
    July 1, 2019 2:42 pm

    If they think losing a hundred or even a thousand species is bad then what will they say when the CO2 has all been extracted from our atmosphere and ALL life on the surface is extinct? Except of course none of us will be around to tell them what f*****g idiots they all are.

  17. Broadlands permalink
    July 1, 2019 3:01 pm

    The loss by extinction should be the NET of actual extinct species (not those threatened!) and the number of new species being discovered each year.

    “The IISE… International Institute for Species Exploration, which is dedicated to finding 10 million new species of life on Earth during the next half century, says about 18,000 new species were discovered in 2012. Scientists estimate that they’ve only identified about 2 million of an estimated 12 million living species, with millions more species existing in the microbial world.”

    And, most of the modern extinctions have been due to the actions of a few individuals or groups…. not the total environment or carbon dioxide.

  18. Tim Spence permalink
    July 1, 2019 3:04 pm

    Most of these ‘species’ are just sports or genetic mutations, curiosities of remote locations, if they were valuable then humans would care for them like crazy as they did with rubber plants during the rubber revolution.

    I mean, carrots used to be purple like beetroot, when the orange colour appeared then people forgot about the purple carrots. Same goes for the red banana still grown in Tanzania.

    I don’t believe that most species that ever existed have become extinct because they’re continually evolving to fill every nook and cranny of the habitat.

    At the time of the Dinosaurs there were only two species of tree, a handful of ground plants, grasses hadn’t yet evolved. Neither had flowers. (so we’re well and truly recovered from that ‘not so mass’ extinction).

    Not convinced the dinosaurs were knobbled by the Asteroid either, they were dying out 20m years before the KT event and still dying out 2m years after.

    • Smoke&Mirrors permalink
      July 1, 2019 6:19 pm

      Spot on about the dinosaurs. Nice sexy theory, but the (inconvenient) geological record says otherwise. They’d have gone in a week if they’d been zapped by an asteroid, not ‘lingered’ on for 2m years.

    • tom0mason permalink
      July 2, 2019 10:37 am

      “Not convinced the dinosaurs were knobbled by the Asteroid either, they were dying out 20m years before the KT event and still dying out 2m years after.”

      The larger dinosaurs realized that the rapidly growing populations of smaller herbivore dinosaurs were ruining the planet with their thunderous gaseous evacuations and piles of slimy excrement everywhere and well, were generally ruining their ‘Garden of Eden’. So they set up a system of ‘sustainable bowel movements’.
      The rest is history … 🙂

  19. Phoenix44 permalink
    July 1, 2019 3:10 pm

    There is no steady state natural extinction rate. It’s much more likely to be pulses of extinction as conditions change for numerous species in a particular area – a volcanic eruption on a decent sized but remote island say. That could take out hundreds of species in a day.

    These scares are based entirely on guesses by people motivated to guess its all bad. The BBC simply should not be publishing this stuff – it is not science, it is not nwes, it is literally propaganda fabricated by political activists.

  20. alexei permalink
    July 1, 2019 5:44 pm

    The argument that man is not to blame for anything deleterious in the natural world is as blind as its converse, as so often spouted by warmists. The dying out of numerous animal species in the last, say100 years, is undoubtedly the direct result of human action or sometimes just human existence, i.e. by their own rapidly expanding numbers encroaching on certain species’ habitats or in some cases, hunting to extinction.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 1, 2019 7:51 pm

      Indeed, that’s why is it so wrong-headed that everything is blamed on climate change.

      The RSPB is a typical example – whereas archived reports used to blame endangered birds on real things like habitat destruction, these reasons have vanished and been replaced by climate change.

      How can ‘fighting’ an imaginary threat, or at best, a very minor factor, save a species?

      Walruses, Polar Bears, Whales……… it was the control of hunting that saved them.

      I see the Brazilian Forests are being ravaged at an accelerating rate again, stopping that would be a good fight. Stopping Brazilians having access to cheap reliable energy will only fuel forest destruction.

  21. tom0mason permalink
    July 1, 2019 7:46 pm

    No the BBC Fabian-fiction-factory (aka BBC journalists) and management still DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT.
    Even after the BBC has made programs about Darwin.
    And BBC has made programs about Darwin’s book ‘On the Origin of Species’.
    And BBC has made programs that highlighted that it was a British economist Herbert Spencer who first used the term “survival of the fittest” , as he compared Darwin’s theory to an economic principle in one of his books.

    No, all that ‘edutainment’ is lost on the BBC luvies and the Fabianist managers and journos.

    • July 2, 2019 9:31 am

      Robert Zubrin wrote Merchants Of Despair, Radical Environmentalists,Criminal Pseudo- Scientists, And The Fatal Cult Of Antihumanism (2013)
      Zubrin is a PhD nuclear engineer with 9 patents to his name or pending.

      He traces how nuclear power has been falsely demonised, though it is by far & away our safest & cleanest form of power, particularly now inherently safe molten salt systems can use up existing nuclear “waste” as safe fuel & cannot be used for atomic weapons.
      Also discusses fusion.
      Nuclear has been demonised via the fake news MSM, overburdened by bureaucratic regulations & hobbled by govt underfunding.

      Zubrin shows how the worthy cause of environmentalism has been hijacked by the racist Darwinian & murderous Malthusian schools of the the Brit Empire, which has effectively been replaced by the multi-billionaire robber baron bankster class.

      Similarly falsely demonised has been CO2 & humankind itself.
      CO2 is both the base of all life on Earth & the ‘exhaust’ gas of industry, as Dr. Tim Ball puts it, in his great little layman’s handbook, Human Caused Global Warming The Biggest Deception In History. Only 121 pages, reveals all, names names.
      The endgame? Deindustrialisation, depopulation, a one world totalitarian govt.
      Click on Quotes.

      John Doran.

      • tom0mason permalink
        July 2, 2019 9:36 am

        Well said!

      • July 2, 2019 10:01 am

        I understand what you say and will agree with your Content.
        How to be a Team player when the team heads off in the wrong direction and the Manager & Captain are just members of the “blind leading the blind” class ? I’ve given up on being a eam Player on most things -‘cos the Teams seem to be populated by individuals with their own agenda, of one diametrically opposed to Educated Sense. Whatever did they learn from whom? … and it WILL get WORSE when the education system corrupts the minds so much.

      • Colin Brooks permalink
        July 2, 2019 12:51 pm

        I read that book and it was damn good! ^.^

      • July 2, 2019 3:17 pm

        Grim yes, perhaps, but excellent definitely.

  22. Jason Olson permalink
    July 1, 2019 8:44 pm

    First humans will kill off ocean life, then animal life on land. Then we’ll kill off all forest life, as well as polluting the air. Finally we humans will die off and we will have deserved it. I don’t think this can be stopped.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 2, 2019 12:17 am

      Unduly pessimistic. You haven’t been frequenting XR brainwashing events have you?

  23. yonason permalink
    July 2, 2019 9:01 am


    Cambrian Explosion

    Happened when avg world temp was as high as it ever gets, with CO2 the highest it’s ever been.

    High CO2 and warmth appear to be very conducive to life, it seems.

  24. July 2, 2019 10:13 am

    Rationally & amusingly, Matt Ridley discusses extinctions, population, CO2 greening & progress, 19 minutes:
    Or, Matt Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet

    John Doran.

  25. fretslider permalink
    July 2, 2019 1:51 pm

    …if humans weren’t around.

    That’s what it’s really about

  26. tom0mason permalink
    July 2, 2019 2:18 pm

    Cold winter and warm summer and butterflies are on the increase. Some were even reported by the BBC. Have a look here for more than the BBC know of

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