March 24, 2011

A matter of tense

 This is a typical CYBER WAG (computer generated Wild Ass Guess) article, but it is also a good illustration of another common misrepresentation by the media, which of course is never corrected by the science community. It is a simple matter of tense  note the headline from UPI.

Study: Climate change impacts Joshua trees

In reading the headline you would assume that this is an article about how "climate change" is impacting Joshua Trees....right? would be wrong. Nothing in this article has anything to do with what is happening in the present tense, it all has to do with the future and the past. (emphasis mine)

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- Climate change in the U.S. Southwest likely will eliminate Joshua trees from 90 percent of their current range in 60 to 90 years, a U.S. ecologist says.

Ken Cole of the U.S. Geological Survey and colleagues used models of future climate, an analysis of the climatic tolerances of the species in its current range, and the fossil record to project the future distribution of Joshua trees, a USGS release said Thursday.
As we can see, nothing is currently affecting the poor Joshua trees outside of the Cyber space of some well funded modeler's computer. As often happens in the make believe world of climate science, very little actually happens in the here and now to validate their hypothesis, it is mostly computer generated, and I might add grant generated, studies of future doom.

I would expect, as often happens, that this study will be used to generate further funding for yet another study to determine the future affect on some critter whose future habitat will be Joshua treeless in a computer generated world. The ripple affect of the loss of the Joshua tree could go on for years and millions of tax payer dollars will be fed into even more academic studies. All of this based on what computer models have shown the climate will be beyond the lifespan of those collecting the funds for both the models and the studies they generate.

 The article is short so let's carry on:

The Joshua tree, a giant North American yucca, occupies desert grasslands and shrub lands of the Mojave Desert of California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Joshua Tree National Park in California is named after the iconic species.

Cole and his team were able to reconstruct how Joshua trees responded to a sudden climate warming 12,000 year ago that was similar to projected warming in this century.

The study concluded the ability of Joshua trees to spread into suitable habitat following that prehistoric warming was limited by the extinction of large animals that had previously dispersed its seeds over large geographic areas, particularly the Shasta ground sloth.

Today, the researchers said, Joshua tree seeds are dispersed by seed-caching rodents, such as squirrels and pack rats, which cannot disperse seeds as far as large mammals.

The limited ability of rodents to disperse Joshua tree seeds in combination with other factors would likely slow migration of the trees to only about 6 feet per year, not enough to keep pace with the present warming climate, Cole said.

So 12000 years ago we had temperatures similar to those projected to be in 90 years or so. Which of course means it was warmer then than today, the climate scientist really do need to define what they mean when they say unprecedented. After all the million or more people who roamed the Earth writing on cave walls might have considered themselves a part of the human record,

This article is just another example of how the science community and the media muddle future projections in order to hype potential consequences to create a narrative, not science. The narrative creates anxiety about something which has not happened and probably never will but with a constant cascade of such studies and stories the public is manipulated into believing that science has actually proved something, which in fact they have not. All that they have created is fear.

Of course it all starts in the beginning by just distorting  time, subliminally conditioning the reader to believe something is actually happening when in fact it is not. Lest we forget no Joshua trees are actually being lost to climate change. But Journalism like Climate Science is no longer about facts and truth, it is about ideology and manipulation and just a matter of tense.

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