Fisking some Green stats

February 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A new column in the Dom Post is how to greenify your life. The column cites some stats to motivate you. Now I think it is very laudable to encourage recycling, use solar power etc etc but I also think one has to take care with some of the stats.

According to National Geographic, each year we’re losing 46,923 square kilometres of forest due to human activities. That’s an area the size of Panama. 

Firstly Panama is 75,517 square kms, not 46,923.  Also worth noting that the rate of deforestation is declining. I agree the rate is too high, and ideally any trees cut down should be replaced by new trees.

More than 50 percent of all living creatures on the earth reside in tropical rainforests, and they’re disappearing at a rate of 100 species per day. 

The 50% figure is fairly well established. The rate of disappearance is less so, as it is an estimate based on forests lost and average density of species. WWF say the rate of loss may be somewhere between 200 a year and 100,000 which is a daily rate of 0.5 to 274.

Average temperatures will increase by 2 – 6 degrees celcius by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current pace. 

Actually the IPCC range is from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees.

So all important issues, but be careful of getting the facts right.

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21 Responses to “Fisking some Green stats”

  1. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    To be fair, the Greens and Facts are usually unfamiliar with each other, so at least they made an attempt this time to be somewhere in the ballpark.

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  2. redqueen (506 comments) says:

    It’s the ComPost, the only thing ‘green’ about it is that newspaper can be recycled and the only thing intelligent about it is that you don’t have to read it…

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  3. toad (3,671 comments) says:

    So all important issues, but be careful of getting the facts right.

    And use a lower case “g” if you don’t want to mislead people into thinking the Green Party is somehow involved in such misinformation.

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  4. Vinick (215 comments) says:

    Sorry Toad, last time I checked the Green Party don’t have a monopoly on the word ‘Green’.

    It’s a well known term. I for one wasn’t confused, in the same way I don’t confuse “Labour Day” with the Labour Party.

    Perhaps to avoid confusion the Green Party could change their name to something a little less generic?

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  5. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    New Zealand Socialist Party would be more accurate, if less likely to get the “feel good” votes.

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  6. Ed Snack (1,771 comments) says:

    I wonder if they included the forests cut down to make way for “green” biofuel plantations.

    Solar power, research work is the most important thing on solar right now, IMHO, potentially significant gains in efficiency and also in “flow” batteries that might make solar genuinely usable at a reasonable economic cost. But investing heavily in the current tech is a waste right now. With enough power generation we can also deal with the problem of liquid fuels, make them from H2O and CO2, at a cost, but if energy is cheap enough…with say Thorium fission reactors…

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  7. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    if you don’t want to mislead people into thinking the Green Party is somehow involved in such misinformation.

    Nobody is being misled; we are fully aware that the Greens normal trait is to indulge in misinformation.

    That, or to cry ‘racism’ at the first opportunity…

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  8. Pete George (23,140 comments) says:

    Some more Green misinformation:

    Jessica Williams ‏@mizjwilliams

    Another @KimDotcom related brain fade! @RusselNorman can’t remember if he rang Kim or Kim rang him proposing to meet. What IS it with him?

    Norman may have caught John Banks Memory Syndrome. Dotcom must be a carrier.

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  9. jp_1983 (200 comments) says:

    How about changing the name of the Green Party to
    ‘Green Party sponsored by Komrade Kim’

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  10. Elaycee (4,318 comments) says:

    And use a lower case “g” if you don’t want to mislead people into thinking the Green Party is somehow involved in such misinformation

    The word ‘Green’ isn’t trademarked. Anyone can use it with or without a capital ‘G’ – and many do (as per link). To suggest otherwise, is just…. well, bollocks.

    But most people will be able to tell if something containing the reference ‘Green’ is bullshit or not: If the term is part of a press release / speech or something said by a member of the similarly titled NZ Parliamentary Party, they’ll know it’s most likely not a true reflection of reality.

    Sorted.

    http://www.iponz.govt.nz/app/Extra/IP/TM/Qbe.aspx?sid=635278121800735703

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  11. bob (2 comments) says:

    Another recent claim is that “50% of NZ lakes are polluted”, no definitions, when 99% of NZ lake water is unpolluted by any reasonable standard. Another is working towards ensuring that 1000 NZ rivers are safe enough from pollution to swim in, no definitions, when many 100s of NZ rivers are currently entirely non polluted and very few rivers worthy of swimming are not swum in somewhere. The problems are bad enough without exaggeration!

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  12. profile (13 comments) says:

    100 species per day? Fisking? NGO scare mongering for funding?

    “According to the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 122 bird species and 58 mammals have gone extinct in the last 500 years. But of these, only six birds and three mammals were on continents—out of 8,971 and 4,428 continental species, respectively. None was exclusively a forest dweller, and none was extinguished exclusively by habitat loss.

    Europe got through the 20th century without losing a single species of bird. (The Faroese pied raven was at most a subspecies.) The last European breeding bird to die out altogether was the great auk—an island species—in the 1840s. In a drastic and unusual case of habitat destruction, an underwater volcano off Iceland finally did in the flightless bird, after centuries of human persecution.”

    “the Brazilian coastal rain forest. Ninety percent of it has been destroyed, but not a single bird species has gone extinct as a result (though one survives only in captivity).”

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304066504576341701026427260

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  13. big bruv (13,450 comments) says:

    “the Green Party is somehow involved in such misinformation.”

    Lol!

    That is all the Green party do Toad. Lie, after lie, after lie.

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  14. CryHavoc (45 comments) says:

    “Average temperatures will increase by 2 – 6 degrees celcius by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current pace.

    Actually the IPCC range is from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees.”

    I think you should fisk the word “will.” Given that all the IPCC models (and there are many) are outside their 95% confidence limits after about ten years of projections, they wouldn’t have a sh*t show of getting the range right in 100 years.

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  15. sustainablenz (4 comments) says:

    At least she made an effort to reference (via a link) where she got her stats for temperature rise. She referred to National Geographic and her “46,923 square kilometres” refers to the area of forest cover of Panama. There is no reference for species loss, however, the figure of 100 is below the median of 0.5-274 that you quoted so she at least is being conservative (although she should have used justified this number). And finally, apart from the fact that she lives in Wellington, she doesn’t state that she is a Green Party member – she may well be a paid up member of United Future!

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  16. OneTrack (2,737 comments) says:

    How much is ” 2 – 6 degrees celcius ” in degrees Celsius?

    Maybe it means 0.2. to 0.6 degrees C, which actually might more closely align with real climate observations.

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  17. itstricky (1,681 comments) says:

    sustainablenz, you got down votes simply because of your name. Never mind your logical post.

    When you look at the very easy to Google reference from National Geographic:

    http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation-overview/

    Deforestation is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths the size of Panama are lost each and every year.

    The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.

    Doesn’t specify a number – it simply says the size of Panama. So DPF, having thankfully provided the area of Panama for everyone – it could just be that the *actual* size of loss (according to National Geographic) is *greater* than that which the author mistakenly presents.

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  18. itstricky (1,681 comments) says:

    I’m not entirely sure that F E Smith knew that this wasn’t an article about or authored by the Greens, nor that Toad knew that he was making a joke (if he was, it’s hard to tell, really)

    But I guess nothing gets in the way of making a joke of The Greens ™

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  19. sustainablenz (4 comments) says:

    Thanks itstricky – down votes are all good. I just thought DPF was being a bit nit-picky with this post. As he is one who clearly enjoys unspoilt natural environments I find it a little paradoxical that he would potentially foster antagonism towards protecting the natural environment. I’m glad he enjoys holidaying in our beautiful national parks.

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  20. Crusader (291 comments) says:

    DPF: “Actually the IPCC range is from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees.”

    You don’t actually give that crowd the slightest credence do you? They have been wrong in almost every prediction they have made so far. (i.e. always over-estimating the warming)

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  21. itstricky (1,681 comments) says:

    As he is one who clearly enjoys unspoilt natural environments I find it a little paradoxical that he would potentially foster antagonism towards protecting the natural environment

    Yeah, but what I think he likes more than a good tramp is a bit of controversy – it’s good for business you see. He knows there are a lot of posters here who listen more to their political ideologies and political interference than to their hearts and minds. So when he posts like this a whole bunch come screaming to applaude the fact that someone has it wrong by two microns and twenty-two millimetres and to decry anything with the word ‘green’ in it because that’s not bettering people’s lives – it’s just a fad that wastes people’s time and destorys jobs! They kind of forget the bigger picture and get lost in their intense analysis of climate change experts. Those with more liberal, open minds obviously disagree.

    But, in his favour, to prove that it’s not just about business – he has said these are important issues.

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