Abrupt Warming – How Much And How Fast?

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2017


How much could temperatures rise? As the image shows, a rise of more than 10°C (18°F) could take place, resulting in mass extinction of many species, including humans.

How fast could such a temperature rise eventuate? As above image also shows, such a rise could take place within a few years. The polynomial trend is based on NASA January 2012-February 2017 anomalies from 1951-1980, adjusted by +0.59°C to cater for the rise from 1750 to 1951-1980. The trend points at a 3°C rise in the course of 2018, which would be devastating. Moreover, the rise doesn’t stop there and the trend points at a 10°C rise as early as the year 2021.

Is this polynomial trend the most appropriate one? This has been discussed for years, e.g. at the Controversy Page, and more recently at Which Trend Is best?

The bottom part of above image shows the warming elements that add up to the 10°C (18°F) temperature rise. Figures for five elements may be overestimated (as indicated by the ⇦ symbol) or underestimated (⇨ symbol), while figures in two elements could be either under- or overestimated depending on developments in other elements. Interaction between warming elements is included, i.e. where applicable, figures on the image include interaction based on initial figures and subsequently apportioned over the relevant elements.

A closer look at each of these warming elements further explains why abrupt warming could take place in a matter of years. As far as the first two elements are concerned, i.e. the rise from 1900 and the rise from 1750 to 1900, this has already eventuated. The speed at which further warming elements can strike is depicted in the image below, i.e. the rise could for a large part occur within years and in some cases within days and even immediately.

Assessing the Danger

The danger can be looked at on three dimensions: timescale, probability and severity. On the severity dimension, a 10°C temperature rise is beyond catastrophic, i.e. we’re talking about extinction of species at massive scale, including humans. On the probability dimension, the danger appears to be progressing inevitably toward certainty if no comprehensive and effective action is taken.

In terms of timescale, a 10°C temperature rise could eventuate within a matter of years, which makes the danger imminent, adding further weight to the need to start taking comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.

The Threat

With little or no action taken on global warming, it appears that the Antropocene will lead to extinction of the very human beings after which the era is named, with the Anthropocene possibly running from 1950 to 2021, i.e. a mere 71 years and much too short to constitute an era. In that case a better name for the period would be the Sixth Extiction Event, as also illustrated by the image below.

[ See: Feedbacks in the Arctic and the Extinction page ]

In conclusion, it’s high time that homo sapiens starts acting as genuinely wise modern human beings and commit to comprehensive and effective action as discussed at the Climate Plan.

Further reading

Read more about the threat here. Warming elements are discussed in more detail at the Extinction Page, while specific elements are also discussed in posts, e.g. methane hydrates are discussed at Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean, decline of the snow and ice cover and associated feedbacks is discussed at Arctic Ocean Feedbacks and less take-up by oceans of CO₂ and heat from the atmosphere is discussed at 10°C or 18°F warmer by 2021? and at the new post High Waves Set To Batter Arctic Ocean.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.


• Climate Plan

• Feedbacks

• Extinction

• The Threat

• Controversy

• Which Trend Is best?

• 10°C or 18°F warmer by 2021?

• Arctic Ocean Feedbacks

• Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean

• High Waves Set To Batter Arctic Ocean

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade

2°C crossed

FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2020


It’s time to stop denying how precarious the situation is.

Remember the Paris Agreement? In 2015, politicians pledged to hold the global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pledged they would try and limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Well, an analysis by Sam Carana shows that it was already more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial when the Paris Agreement was reached.

In Sam Carana’s analysis, the year 1750 is used as the baseline for pre-industrial. The analysis shows that we meanwhile have also crossed the 2°C threshold (in February 2020) and that the temperature rise looks set to rapidly drive humans and eventually most if not all species on Earth into extinction.

Yet, our politicians refuse to act!

Accelerating temperature rise

Indeed, there are indications that the recent rise is part of a trend that points at even higher temperatures in the near future, as also discussed at this analysis page. Polynomial trends can highlight such acceleration better than linear trends. The 1970-2030 polynomial trend in the image below is calculated over the period from 1880 through to February 2020. The trend points at 3°C getting crossed in 2026.

In above image, the January 2020 and February 2020 anomalies are above the trend. This indicates that the situation might be even worse.

A polynomial trend calculated over a shorter period can highlight short-term variation such as associated with El Niño events and can highlight feedbacks that might otherwise be overlooked. The 2010-2022 trend in the image below is calculated with 2009-Feb.2020 data. The trend indicates that 2°C was crossed in February 2020, and looks set to keep rising and cross 3°C in 2021, more specifically in January next year, which is less than a year away.

Such a steep rise is in line with unfolding developments that are causing the aerosol masking effect to fall away, such as a decrease in industrial activity due to COVID-19 fears. The image below shows a potential rise of 18°C or 32.4°F from 1750 by the year 2026.

Above image was posted more than a year ago and illustrates that much of this potentially huge temperature rise over the next few years could eventuate as a result of a reduction in the cooling now provided by sulfates. In other words, a steep temperature rise could result from a decline in industrial activity that is caused by fears about the spread of a contagious virus, as also discussed in the video at an earlier post.

The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


• Analysis: Crossing the Paris Agreement thresholds

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

• How much warming have humans caused?

• Arctic Ocean January 2020

• Climate Plan

In the video below, Guy McPherson discusses the situation.

Jacksonville beaches reopen in Florida as states begin easing stay-at-home restrictions

Jacksonville, Florida (CNN)Beaches and parks in Jacksonville, Florida, reopened Friday afternoon as more states consider easing restrictions put in place to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The scene at Jacksonville Beach wasn’t one of caution in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Crowds cheered and flooded the beach when police took the barriers down. People were seen swimming, biking, surfing, running and fishing.
Social distancing seemed to be the last thing on anyone’s mind Friday. Some residents told CNN not being able to go to the beach was “torture.” People were out with their towels, coolers and sunbathing. There were very few masks.
Beaches will be open from 6 to 11 a.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. daily with some restrictions, according to Jacksonville’s website. Recreational activities such as running, biking, hiking and swimming will be permitted during this soft reopening, the city’s website said.
Despite the scene at the beach Friday, the city’s website said activities such as sunbathing or any type of group activity will not be allowed at beaches during the restricted hours and items like towels, blankets, chairs, coolers and grills will not be permitted on the beach.
“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” Mayor Lenny Curry said. “Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.”
People were excited to be able to get back out onto the sand.
“I’m planning on going and riding my bicycle or surfing,” Elliott Toney told CNN affiliate WJXT
But not everyone thought reopening the beaches was a good idea.
“There’s a potential for the virus to blow into the air, so I think it’s a risk,” Lisa Mancini told the affiliate.
Officials aren’t afraid to pull the plug on beachgoers if they don’t abide by the social distancing rules and beach restrictions, Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser said at a press conference Friday.
“This not a time to lounge. This is not a time to party. This is a time where you need to exercise, keep moving and then go home,” Glasser said.
Parks will resume regular hours but the city’s order limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people remains in effect.
Gov. Ron DeSantis was criticized back in March for his handling of spring break and not closing the beaches sooner. As a result, he issued a “Safer at Home” order that went into effect April 3 and is in effect until April 30. The order limits movement outside homes to providing or getting essential services or carrying out essential activities and applies to interaction with other people outside of residents’ homes.
close dialog
DeSantis supported the idea of reopening beaches, parks and other public spaces as long as social distancing is practiced, WJXT reported.
“You look at how this disease is transmitted, it’s transmitted overwhelmingly when you are in close, sustained contact with people, usually in an indoor environment,” DeSantis said. “Going forward, we got to be promoting people to get exercise, do it in a good way, to do it in a safe way.”

Recipe For Disaster

Consider this blog a chronicle of mankind’s last days. What were humans thinking when they took this incredibly beautiful, fragile, planet down—in the name of greed, selfishness, arrogance, sport or self-esteem?

Some of the articles I post might seem unrelated, off-topic or out of place when examined alone. But they are all part of the bigger picture which someday may be viewed by a higher intelligence who comes across it in their quest to know just how one species—out of so many—thought they had the right to exploit all others, carte blanc, under the narcissistic delusion that non-human lives on Earth had no rights at all.

Whether or not mankind survives the assault they’re putting the planet through is a non-issue for me. Personally, I hope they don’t. They do not deserve a second chance to rule this vibrant, watery orb any more than they deserved the first chance to steal Nature, abuse and forever change her.

But why all this on an anti-hunting blog? Because hunting, and ultimately meat-eating, is where humans first started screwing things up. For a plant-eating primate to leave the trees, take weapon in hand, turn carnivorous and claim the planet and everything that walks, crawls, swims or flies as their own was a recipe for disaster…

‘The only uncertainty is how long we’ll last’: a worst case scenario for the climate in 2050

The Future We Choose, a new book by the architects of the Paris climate accords, offers two contrasting visions for how the world might look in thirty years (read the best case scenario here)

 Christiana Figueres, author: ‘This is the decade and we are the generation’

Red clouds in a dark sky
 ‘The air can taste slightly acidic, sometimes making you feel nauseated.’ Photograph: Arctic-Images/Corbis

It is 2050. Beyond the emissions reductions registered in 2015, no further efforts were made to control emissions. We are heading for a world that will be more than 3C warmer by 2100

The first thing that hits you is the air. In many places around the world, the air is hot, heavy and, depending on the day, clogged with particulate pollution. Your eyes often water. Your cough never seems to disappear. You think about some countries in Asia, where, out of consideration, sick people used to wear white masks to protect others from airborne infection. Now you often wear a mask to protect yourself from air pollution. You can no longer simply walk out your front door and breathe fresh air: there might not be any. Instead, before opening doors or windows in the morning, you check your phone to see what the air quality will be.

Fewer people work outdoors and even indoors the air can taste slightly acidic, sometimes making you feel nauseated. The last coal furnaces closed 10 years ago, but that hasn’t made much difference in air quality around the world because you are still breathing dangerous exhaust fumes from millions of cars and buses everywhere. Our world is getting hotter. Over the next two decades, projections tell us that temperatures in some areas of the globe will rise even higher, an irreversible development now utterly beyond our control. Oceans, forests, plants, trees and soil had for many years absorbed half the carbon dioxide we spewed out. Now there are few forests left, most of them either logged or consumed by wildfire, and the permafrost is belching greenhouse gases into an already overburdened atmosphere. The increasing heat of the Earth is suffocating us and in five to 10 years, vast swaths of the planet will be increasingly inhospitable to humans. We don’t know how hospitable the arid regions of Australia, South Africa and the western United States will be by 2100. No one knows what the future holds for their children and grandchildren: tipping point after tipping point is being reached, casting doubt on the form of future civilisation. Some say that humans will be cast to the winds again, gathering in small tribes, hunkered down and living on whatever patch of land might sustain them.

More moisture in the air and higher sea surface temperatures have caused a surge in extreme hurricanes and tropical storms. Recently, coastal cities in Bangladesh, Mexico, the United States and elsewhere have suffered brutal infrastructure destruction and extreme flooding, killing many thousands and displacing millions. This happens with increasing frequency now. Every day, because of rising water levels, some part of the world must evacuate to higher ground. Every day, the news shows images of mothers with babies strapped to their backs, wading through floodwaters and homes ripped apart by vicious currents that resemble mountain rivers. News stories tell of people living in houses with water up to their ankles because they have nowhere else to go, their children coughing and wheezing because of the mould growing in their beds, insurance companies declaring bankruptcy, leaving survivors without resources to rebuild their lives. Contaminated water supplies, sea salt intrusions and agricultural runoff are the order of the day. Because multiple disasters are often happening simultaneously, it can take weeks or even months for basic food and water relief to reach areas pummelled by extreme floods. Diseases such as malaria, dengue, cholera, respiratory illnesses and malnutrition are rampant.

The aftermath of a wildfire in northern California, November 2018.
 The aftermath of a wildfire in northern California, November 2018. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

You try not to think about the 2 billion people who live in the hottest parts of the world, where, for upwards of 45 days per year, temperatures skyrocket to 60C (140F), a point at which the human body cannot be outside for longer than about six hours because it loses the ability to cool itself down. Places such as central India are becoming increasingly challenging to inhabit. Mass migrations to less hot rural areas are beset by a host of refugee problems, civil unrest and bloodshed over diminished water availability.

Food production swings wildly from month to month, season to season, depending on where you live. More people are starving than ever before. Climate zones have shifted, so some new areas have become available for agriculture (Alaska, the Arctic), while others have dried up (Mexico, California). Still others are unstable because of the extreme heat, never mind flooding, wildfire and tornadoes. This makes the food supply in general highly unpredictable. Global trade has slowed as countries seek to hold on to their own resources.

Countries with enough food are resolute about holding on to it. As a result, food riots, coups and civil wars are throwing the world’s most vulnerable from the frying pan into the fire. As developed countries seek to seal their borders from mass migration, they too feel the consequences. Most countries’ armies are now just highly militarised border patrols. Some countries are letting people in, but only under conditions approaching indentured servitude.

A young boy picks material from a rubbish dump in Taez, Yemen.
 A young boy picks material from a rubbish dump in Taez, Yemen. Photograph: Ahmad Al-Basha/AFP via Getty Images

Those living within stable countries may be physically safe, yes, but the psychological toll is mounting. With each new tipping point passed, they feel hope slipping away. There is no chance of stopping the runaway warming of our planet and no doubt we are slowly but surely heading towards some kind of collapse. And not just because it’s too hot. Melting permafrost is also releasing ancient microbes that today’s humans have never been exposed to and, as a result, have no resistance to. Diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks are rampant as these species flourish in the changed climate, spreading to previously safe parts of the planet, increasingly overwhelming us. Worse still, the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance has only intensified as the population has grown denser in inhabitable areas and temperatures continue to rise.

The demise of the human species is being discussed more and more. For many, the only uncertainty is how long we’ll last, how many more generations will see the light of day. Suicides are the most obvious manifestation of the prevailing despair, but there are other indications: a sense of bottomless loss, unbearable guilt and fierce resentment at previous generations who didn’t do what was necessary to ward off this unstoppable calamity.

 This is an edited extract from The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, published by Manilla Press (£12.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over £15

 Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac will be in conversation at a Guardian Live event at the Royal Geographical Society, London SW7, on Tuesday 3 March, 7pm

Scientists show solar system processes control the carbon cycle throughout Earth’s history

Scientists show solar system processes control the carbon cycle throughout Earth's history
Geologists studying the Lower Jurassic (Pliensbachian) Belemnite Marl Member mudstone succession in Dorset, UK, showing orbitally paced variations of the sediment composition similar to the studied core in Wales. Credit: Dr Micha Ruhl


The world is waking up to the fact that human-driven carbon emissions are responsible for warming our climate, driving unprecedented changes to ecosystems, and placing us on course for the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history.

Using chemical data from ancient mudstone deposits in Wales, an international team involving scientists from Trinity College Dublin discovered that periodic changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit around the Sun were partly responsible for changes in the carbon-cycle and global climate during and in between the Triassic-Jurassic Mass Extinction (around 201 million years ago, when around 80% of the species on Earth disappeared forever) and the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (around 183 million years ago).

In addition, volcanic activity released large amounts of greenhouse gases into the oceans and atmosphere at that point in time, which resulted in major global carbon cycle perturbations as well as  and environmental change.

Dr. Micha Ruhl, Assistant Professor in Sedimentology at Trinity, said:

“Our work shows that for the 18 million years or so in between the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction and the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, Earth’s global carbon-cycle was in a constant state of change.”

Scientists show solar system processes control the carbon cycle throughout Earth's history
Eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The fluctuation between a nearly circular and elliptical orbit drives cyclic changes in the Earth’s environment, including the global carbon cycle. Credit: Marisa Storm

“Periodic changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun impacted on the amount of energy received by Earth from the sun, which in turn impacted climatic and environmental processes, as well as the carbon-cycle, on local, regional and global scales.”

“Although this phenomenon is well known for having caused the glacial cycles in more recent times, the present study shows that these external forcing mechanisms on Earth’s systems were also operating, and controlling Earth’s carbon cycle in the distant past, even during non-glacial times when Earth was marked by hot-house climate conditions.”

Present-day orbital configurations and solar system processes should have resulted in a future return to glacial conditions. However, anthropogenic carbon release will likely have disrupted this natural process, causing rapid global warming, rather than a steady return to cooler climates.

The study of past global change events, such as the end-Triassic mass extinction and the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, as well as the time in between, allows scientists to disentangle the different processes that control global  cycle change and constrain tipping points in Earth’s climate system.

A major international research team, made up of scientists from across Europe, North and South America and China, and including Dr. Micha Ruhl and other researchers from Trinity, will soon commence drilling a 1 km deep borehole to retrieve rock samples.

These samples will comprise detailed climatic and environmental information and allow for further improved understanding of the processes that led to past major global change events and mass extinctions. Drilling of this borehole will occur as part of the International Continental Drilling Program.

Doomsday Clock nears apocalypse over climate and nuclear fears

The Bureau of Atomic Scientists unveil the clockImage copyrightBAS

The symbolic Doomsday Clock, which indicates how close our planet is to complete annihilation, is now only 100 seconds away from midnight.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) said on Thursday that the change was made due to nuclear proliferation, failure to tackle climate change and “cyber-based disinformation”.

The clock now stands at its closest to doomsday since it began ticking 1947.

The idea began in 1947 to warn humanity of the dangers of nuclear war.

graphic shows the clock
Presentational white space

Last year the clock was set at two minutes to midnight – midnight symbolises the end of the world – the same place it was wound to in 2018.

BAS President Rachel Bronson told reporters in Washington DC on Thursday that the time was now being kept in seconds rather than minutes because the “moment demands attention” and that the threats level is worsening”. She said the world was now menaced by powerful leaders who “denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats”.

The decision is made by the BAS Science and Security Board, which includes 13 Nobel Laureates. For the first time this year, the board was joined by members of The Elders – a group of international leaders and former officials first founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

“We must act and work together,” said former UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, a member of The Elders. “Not a single country or person can do it alone. We need all hands on deck and we can all work together.”

Media captionGreta Thunberg and Donald Trump give different takes on climate change

Former California Governor Jerry Brown, another member of the panel, said: “Dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increases the likelihood of nuclear blunder. Climate change just compounds the crisis. If there’s ever a time to wake up, it’s now.”

Astrophysicist Robert Rosner, another member of the panel, said: “The fact that the clock is now a mere 100 seconds from midnight signals really bad news,” said . “What we said last year is now a disturbing reality in that things are not getting better.”

“Past experience has taught us that even in the most dismal periods of the Cold War, we can come together. It is high time we do so again,” he added.

The clock was first created by US scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the world’s first nuclear weapon.

World is getting warmer graphic

Georgetown University Professor Sharon Squassoni told reporters that the threat from nuclear weapons had increased, in part due to the collapse of the Iran nuclear deal, North Korean nuclear weapons development and continued proliferation from countries such as the US, China and Russia. She called the situation “dangerous” and demanding of an “urgent response”.

Another threat the committee warned of, particularly ahead of the US presidential election in November, was “government-used cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns to sow distrust in institutions and among nations”.

Board member Robert Latiff called “untruths, exaggerations and misinterpretations” a problem that could lead to the “wholesale trashing” of scientific evidence. Deepfake videos, he said, “threaten to undermine truth from fiction”.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson said “the world needs to wake up”, equating her reaction to that of “an angry granny”.

he Faces of Extinction: The Species We Lost in 2019


We lost a lot of species in 2019.

The year started with the extinction of a tiny Hawaiian snail and ended with the loss of one of the world’s largest freshwater fishes.

Along the way we also said goodbye to three bird species, a shark, two frogs, several plants, and a whole lot more.

Of course, you can only count what you know exists. Most extinctions, sadly, occur among species that have never been officially observed or named. These plants and animals often live in extremely narrow habitats, making them particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction, pollution, extreme weather events, invasive species or other threats. That doesn’t mean they’ll never be identified — several recently reported extinctions represent species that were discovered among museum samples long after the plants or animals were gone — but you can’t save what you don’t know needs saving in the first place.

Although it may take some time to truly understand this year’s effect on the world’s biodiversity, here are the species that scientists and the conservation community declared lost during 2019, culled from the IUCN Red List, scientific publications, a handful of media articles and my own reporting. Only one of these extinctions was observed in real time, when an endling (the last of its kind) died in public view. Most haven’t been seen in decades and were finally added to the list of extinct species. A few represent local extinctions where a species has disappeared from a major part of its range, an important thing to watch since habitat loss and fragmentation are often the first steps toward a species vanishing. Finally, some of these extinctions are tentative, with scientists still looking for the species — an indication that hope remains.

Achatinella apexfulva — The last individual of this Hawaiian tree snail, known as “Lonesome George,” died in captivity on New Year’s Day. Disease and invasive predators drove it to extinction. This tiny creature’s disappearance probably generated the most media attention of any lost species in 2019.

Alagoas foliage-gleaner (Philydor novaesi) — Known from just two sites in Brazil, this bird was last seen in 2011 and was declared extinct in 2019 following the destruction of its habitats by logging, charcoal production and conversion to agriculture.

Boulenger’s speckled skink (Oligosoma infrapunctatum) — A “complete enigma,” unseen for more than 130 years. Scientists hope the announcement of its possible extinction will jumpstart efforts to relocate it and conserve its endangered relatives.

Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola) — Last seen in 2009 when rising oceans lapped at its tiny islet habitat, the melomys was officially declared extinct in 2019, making it the first mammal extinction caused by climate change and sea-level rise.

Catarina pupfish (Megupsilon aporus) — This Mexican freshwater fish was known from one spring, which was destroyed by groundwater extraction. The fish was last seen in the wild in 1994, and the last captive population died out in 2012.

Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) — One of the world’s largest freshwater fish, native to the Yangtze River, the paddlefish probably died out between 2005 and 2010 due to overfishing and habitat fragmentation. The IUCN still lists it as “critically endangered,” but a paper published Dec. 23, 2019, declared it extinct after several surveys failed to locate the species.

Corquin robber frog (Craugastor anciano) — Last seen in 1990. Native to two sites in Honduras, it was probably killed off by habitat loss and the chytrid fungus.

Cryptic treehunter (Cichlocolaptes mazarbarnetti) — A Brazilian bird species last seen alive in 2007 — seven years before scientists officially described it. Its forest habitat has been extensively logged and converted to agriculture.

Cunning silverside (Atherinella callida) — This Mexican freshwater fish hasn’t been seen since 1957. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2019.

Etlingera heyneana — A plant species collected just one time in 1921 near Jakarta, on Java, the world’s most populous island. The IUCN listed it as extinct in 2019, noting that “practically all natural land in Jakarta has been developed.”

Fissidens microstictus — This Portuguese plant species lived in what is now a highly urbanized area and was last seen in 1982. (Scientists declared it extinct back in 1992, but the IUCN didn’t list it as such until this year.)

Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) in Laos — A local extinction (known as an extirpation) and a major loss for this big cat.

Lake Oku puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus njiomock) — Known from one location in Cameroon and unseen since 2010, the IUCN this year declared the recently discovered species “critically endangered (possibly extinct).”

“Lost shark” (Carcharhinus obsolerus) — Described from museum samples in 2019, the species hasn’t been seen since the 1930s. It was probably wiped out by overfishing.

Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Piliocolobus waldronae) — Unseen for more than four decades, researchers haven’t given up that the rare monkey might still exist but they’ve still declared it “possibly extinct.”

Nobregaea latinervis — A moss species last seen in Portugal in 1946 and declared extinct in 2019 (based on a 2014 survey).

Poo-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma) — Invasive species and diseases wiped out this Hawaiian bird, which was last seen in 2004 and declared extinct in 2019.

Pycnandra micrantha — A plant species from New Caledonia collected just once in 1901. Its only home on tiny Art Island has been extensively mined and subject to brushfires.

Sierra de Omoa streamside frog (Craugastor omoaensis) — Another frog from Honduras. Unseen since 1974, it was probably a victim of habitat loss and the chytrid fungus.

Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in Malaysia — Another extirpation, although the species still exists (on tenuous footing) in Indonesia.

Vachellia bolei — A rare legume tree possibly driven extinct by sand mining and other habitat destruction.

Victorian grasslands earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) — Last seen in 1969. Again, conservationists haven’t given up hope of finding it, but if it’s really gone it would represent Australia’s first known reptile extinction.

Villa Lopez pupfish (Cyprinodon ceciliae) — This Mexican fish’s only habitat, a 2-acre spring system, dried up in 1991 and it hasn’t been seen since. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2019.

Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) — The last known female of this species died in China in April during an artificial insemination procedure, making the species effectively extinct.

In addition to these extinctions, the IUCN last year declared several species “extinct in the wild,” meaning they now only exist in captivity. They include the Spix’s Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii), Ameca shiner (Notropis amecae), banded allotoca (Allotoca goslinei), marbled swordtail (Xiphophorus meyeri), Charo Palma pupfish (Cyprinodon veronicae), kunimasu (Oncorhynchus kawamurae) and Monterrey platyfish (Xiphophorus couchianus).

What will the future hold for these and other lost species? Some could be rediscovered (the Miss Waldron’s red colobus seems the most likely candidate), but the rest should serve as a stark reminder of what we’re losing all around us every day — and a clarion call to save what’s left.

The Concession to Climate Change I Will Not Make

And illustration of the earth melting

Our first child was born at the end of August. I am not a young parent; I was born in 1974, and in the span of this one generation, global carbon levels rose by nearly twice as much as in all of human history before. I teach environmental law, so naturally people get around to asking whether my wife and I struggled with what it means to bring a child onto this troubled planet, and whether it is a good thing to do at all.

I take the point. James added his seven pounds, 10 ounces to a planet where humans and our domestic animals together outweigh the other land-based vertebrates by 24 to 1. As an American, he can expect to emit 16 metric tons of carbon a year, compared with five for a French newborn and about two for a baby in India or Indonesia. Unless he’s a saintly hermit, he’ll have little personal choice about that carbon load. Most of it is dictated by the roads, engines, and sources of energy that will keep him cool or warm, provide his food, and move him around. He can’t opt out of these systems without opting out of human life as we live it now.

Sometime not too long after he starts asking about the change from winter to spring, or the migration patterns of the geese that sometimes pass high overhead, I will need a way to explain that climate change is destroying habitats, acidifying the oceans, and making large parts of the planet’s land uninhabitable for people. To quote the cards from friends and family that we’ve lovingly placed around our apartment: Welcome, baby.

On one level, my answer to “How can you have a child now?” is simple. I have never been tempted to think we should all stop having children and disappear. Part of the reason climate change is so terrible is the threat it poses to human life and culture, and I want to help them go on. So the question I ask myself every day is how to explain this suffering world to a newcomer. This is what I find myself saying, to this little person who can’t understand me quite yet: “The world is good, for all the bad in it—a good place. And you are good: full of joy, born innocent. But you are not good for the world. When you do all the things you will do—work, play, love—you will be breaking down its systems, making it unlivable. And there is very little that you, personally, can do about it.” What kind of welcome is that?

It is a truthful one, at least, but it raises more questions. What does it mean to teach a child to live in a time of perennial crisis, always in the shadow of loss? I think about trying to teach him love and wonder first, before he inevitably learns fear. I would like him to be fascinated by a Manhattan red oak, a red-tailed hawk perched in its limbs, or a morel mushroom at its roots, before he thinks, This forest is going to die, with everything in it. When the thought of climate doom arrives, I hope it will arrive in a mind already prepared by curiosity and pleasure to know why this world is worth fighting to preserve.

And I hope it will soften the edge of doom for him to know that the world we love has been desolated and climate-changed for a very long time. I imagine we’ll conjure together the ghosts of the wolves and elk that once lived in Manhattan, and the long-lost bison in the West Virginia hills where his grandparents live. A little later, he will know that 10,000 years ago there were giant ground sloths, dire wolves, mastodons, and more. He will learn that before 125th Street was a commercial hub of southern Harlem, it was a streambed running out of the stony flanks of Morningside Heights and curving down to what is still a wetland at the northeastern corner of Central Park. Some of the wonder of the world is what is already gone from it. Nothing he learns to love will be undamaged. Love for half-broken things and places is what he will have to practice, like all of us.

A love for imperfect and impermanent things isn’t a bad starting point for passionate democratic politics. We’ll be sure to tell him that being personally powerless to change the world doesn’t mean being collectively powerless, that we can still make a politics big and generous enough to change course. James was less than a month old when tens of thousands of people rallied in New York City for the global climate strike. We walked him down Riverside Drive and quietly joined in with the chants of elementary-school children marching for the planet. “Look, James,” I whispered, “big kids!” I hope he and his classmates will assume that the Green New Deal is only the beginning of what we need to make peace with the planet, and with one another.

Much of our unease about having children today is rooted in fear of what they will do to the planet. We fear, too, what this changing world will do to them. Children in some places, unprotected by wealth or geography, will be predictably less safe than others, but no one will be beyond danger. Like any parent, I feel this like a cold hand on my heart. But most human lives have begun under threat, from war, exploitation, disease, starvation, or storm and drought. Our moment is radically exceptional in that a few hundred million people have been able to imagine real safety as the normal background of human life.

That is a precious thing, but to preserve and extend it, we have to be willing to go on without its assurance. The only alternative to giving up on humanity is to have children whom we cannot keep as safe as we would wish, or as safe as some of us were raised to imagine we could. And if we are ultimately going to build a world that is both safer and fairer, we will have to start by working to save as well as transform the same civilizations that have ruinously misused the Earth. For now, as the poet Wallace Stevens wrote in a 1942 poem eerily titled “The Poems of Our Climate,” the imperfect is our paradise. This ever more broken world is the only route to a better one.

New York City is a good place for a post-natural naturalist’s education in uncertainty. It has been climate-changed forever. We can study seasons by looking upriver at the forest-topped cliffs of the Palisades near the George Washington Bridge, already bare in late fall while the trees of Manhattan’s heat island stay halfway green. He will learn that in the city, raccoons are not nocturnal as they are elsewhere, not afraid of dogs or people—that, like other migrants to New York, they have adapted to its rhythms. He will learn that in this beautiful place, nothing is permanent or entirely secure.

After James had his vaccinations, his 7-year-old cousin, William, came into the city to meet the baby. While James slept, William and I walked into Riverside Park, to what I think is one of the last free-flowing springs in Manhattan, which pops out of a hillside and flows less than 100 feet to a drain running to the Hudson. I helped him gather stones, branches, and leaves to dam the little stream. We watched our pool build up, then broke the dam for the brief pleasure of watching newly freed water leap downhill, for just a moment, as wild as anything in the world.

Giant Chinese paddlefish dubbed the ‘Panda of the Yangtze River’ is declared extinct due to overfishing and habitat loss

The giant Chinese paddlefish was said to be up to 22 feet in length but was on average around 10 feet long - one of the biggest freshwater fish in the world

  • The giant Chinese paddlefish up to 10 feet in length has been found to be extinct
  •  Researchers say its native Yangtze River has been affected by human activity 
  • Conservation efforts on endangered Yangtze fishes are now urgently needed.