In this week’s Congressional hearing on the recent (and dire) UN Global Assessment of Biodiversity, conservation scientist Dr. Jacob Malcom did not mince words as he explained the report’s startling findings that one million species are at risk of extinction.
“We are, as you have heard, losing species faster than ever in human history, tens to hundreds of times faster than the background rate of extinction,” the Defenders of Wildlife scientist told the Congressional House Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee. “We are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, where the last time this happened it was because an asteroid hit the planet. Today we are that asteroid.”
Such a massive loss of plants, animals, and other species would also, quite naturally, affect human life on earth. But just as they have with hearings on the climate crisis, Congressional Republicans and their witnesses used this opportunity to attack the well-documented scientific evidence of a far-reaching global threat to life. And they even used some of the same climate science deniers and tired arguments to do it.
The comprehensive report they attacked gathers even more evidence that human activities are having a significant effect on global biodiversity, just as the scientific consensus shows humans are driving rapid changes in the climate.
“The evidence is crystal clear: Nature is in trouble. Therefore we are in trouble,” Sandra Díaz, one of the co-chairs of the UNGlobal Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, told National Geographic.
Business as Usual With Republican Science Denial
Marc Morano isn’t a scientist but does make his money attacking scientists. From 2006 to 2009, Morano was the communications director for Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who will be remembered for his stunt of throwing a snowball in Congress as he tried to discredit climate science.
Morano moved on from politics to working for organizations funded by oil companies, and he currently runs the website ClimateDepot.com, a project funded by the climate science-denying Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a conservative think tank which has received funding from ExxonMobil, Chevron, and the Koch brothers.
This week, Morano wasted no time in attacking some of the actual scientists on the hearing’s panel, specifically Sir Robert T. Watson, who heads the UN agency that produced the biodiversity report. These attacks on fellow witnesses resulted in hearing Chairman Jared Huffman (D-CA) twice reprimanding Morano.
Rep. Huffman had to ask that Morano “show respect for your fellow panelists.”