The Guardian triggers largest mass extinction since Mesozoic

Is it an asteroid? Is it a plague? No, it’s The Guardian Australia:

Australia’s major political parties are facing calls to explain what role they will play in securing a global deal to save nature after a major scientific report warned a million species across the world face extinction.

The assessment by an international scientific panel convened by the United Nations, known as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, warns species are declining at a rate unprecedented in human history, with three-quarters of land-based environments and two-thirds of the marine environment significantly altered.

Compiled by 450 scientists and diplomats over three years, the assessment says accelerating species extinction is likely to have significant implications for human society and urgent systemic change is needed to reverse the decline and restore lost ecosystems.

With countries to meet in Kunming, China next year to set targets as part of the global convention on biological diversity, scientists and environment groups urged the next Australian government to take a lead.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s nature program manager, Basha Stasak, said Australia, as a developed nation with mega-diverse native life, should be at the forefront of the push for a meaningful deal.

She said the report made clear protecting species and landscapes would require fundamental change, including increasing funding to the national environmental budget – down more than a third since 2013 – and reversing the loss of more than 7.4 million hectares of threatened species habitat since the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act was introduced 20 years ago.

She called on the next government to back measurable targets and obligations, including a goal of protecting 30% of Earth’s land and waters by 2030.

“Scientists tell us [it] is key to tackling mass wildlife extinctions and climate change,” Stasak said. “Us being in the room and pushing for a strong agreement in China, and the meetings leading up to that, is critically important. We have a unique voice that we can add to this debate and we haven’t in the past.”

The WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor cited government data that showed Australia had the highest rate of native mammal extinction over the past 200 years, having lost 27 species. It is the only developed country on a list of 11 global deforestation hotspots.

Indeed yes, our record is shocking. So bad, in fact, that The Guardian also says that we’re going to starve:

Human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems, the world’s leading scientists have warned, as they announced the results of the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken.

From coral reefs flickering out beneath the oceans to rainforests desiccatinginto savannahs, nature is being destroyed at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10m years, according to the UN global assessment report.

The biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%, natural ecosystems have lost about half their area and a million species are at risk of extinction – all largely as a result of human actions, said the study, compiled over three years by more than 450 scientists and diplomats.

Fair enough. I’m on board. What must we do to stop it?

From The ABC in late 2017:

Scientists based their findings on the worsening in conservation status of species between 1996 and 2008 on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.

The IUCN red list uses a series of categories to rank how close a species is to extinction, from “least concern” through to “extinct in the wild”.

Of the 109 countries studied, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China and the United States (primarily Hawaii) also ranked inside the top seven as the worst offenders on conservation…

“Once you actually work out [which country] might have been responsible for the loss of diversity, Australia is standing there at number two,” Dr Waldron said.

“I knew there were a lot of threatened species in Australia, but I didn’t realise things were getting worse so quickly”…

They identified key pressures on biodiversity loss to be agricultural development and increasing population.

This report supports another released in December 2016, which found that Australia was the worst performing developed nation with regards to habitat loss, driven by land clearing for pasture, agriculture and urbanisation.

It also follows the latest federal government State of the Environment report. which found that Australia’s natural environment is being placed under acute strain from rapid population growth and economic activity:

The federal government’s State of the Environment 2016 report (prepared by a group of independent experts, which I chaired), released today, predicts that population growth and economic development will be the main drivers of environmental problems such as land-use change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change…

We continue to lose agricultural lands through urban encroachment. Over the past five years land-clearing rates stabilised in all states and territories except Queensland, where the rate of clearing increased.

Coastal waterways are threatened by pollutants, including microplastics and nanoparticles…

Population growth in our major cities, along with Australia’s reliance on private cars, is leading to greater traffic volumes, which increase traffic congestion and delays as well as pollution…

In 2010, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) called for Australia’s population to be stabilised and nominated human population growth as a “key threatening process” to Australia’s biodiversity.

Well-known environmentalist and former Australian of the Year recipient, Professor Tim Flannery, has estimated that the long-term human carrying capacity of the Australian continent and Tasmania might be as low as 8 million to 12 million people and has many times called for the nation’s population to be stabilised.

In 1994, when Australia’s population was just under 18 million, the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) convened a symposium on the future population of Australia. Its analysis was extended to Australia’s resources of water, minerals and arable land, and the interactions between present lifestyle and present environmental damage, and between future expectations and the costs of increasing population.

The AAS cautioned that “if our population reaches the high end of the feasible range (37 million), the quality of life of all Australians will be lowered by the degradation of water, soil, energy and biological resources” and concluded that “the quality of all aspects of our children’s lives will be maximised if the population of Australia by the mid-21st Century is kept to the low, stable end of the achievable range, i.e. to approximately 23 million”. Just 22 years later, Australia has already breached 24 million, thus exceeding the AAS’ recommended maximum population.

International organisations and commentators, too, have raised alarm at population growth’s impacts on the environment.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has nominated human population growth as the key risk factor for endangered species, noting that “the current rate of extinctions is 100 times what would be considered normal without the impact of human activity… more of us means more of that” (see below graphic).

ScreenHunter_15830 Nov. 01 17.55

And recently, legendary documentary maker, David Attenborough, nominated population growth as the most fundamental issue facing the world.

So why does The Guardian Australia so wholeheartedly endorse this population-driven mass extinction event by refusing point black to ever discuss reducing immigration without labelling everybody who does so a “racist”?

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. Can we all just agree that ‘progressives’ pose the biggest threat to humankind right now?

    Not pandemics, not deranged jihadists, not cancer. Progressives.

    • Stewie Griffin


      Yup 100% agree.

      Now if we could only track down the Cultural force that spits out these “Progressive” values that all our educated, civilized barbarians latch onto as ‘truths’ then we would start making some head way….

      • Break this down for me, Stewie.

        Who (which actors) should we clobber over the head with a brick?

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        I dont know why Brother but Your response of ,….”Yup 100% agree.” Had me spontaneously and warmly laughing out loud.
        God love ya.

      • Stewie Griffin

        Neoliberalism. Monetarism. Multiculturalism. Blank Slatisim. Cultural Marxism.

        Peachy take a look at researching into who individuals who formulated these ideas (but not necessarily implemented them)….it will take some time, but a common cultural background will soon emerge.

        The problem for nations like Australia, the UK and the US, is that they were largely built by fa fairly culturally and ethnically homogeneous group of people – the result is that their entire societies were effectively in-groups.

        As a result of these strong shared values our societies were able to prosper and build strong institutions to support the individuals within it, a symbiotic relationship between society and individuals that helped project their cultural values forward into the future.

        However an irony of having a society composed of in-group population is that it actually encourages a sort of rugged individualism, but of a different type to the sort of individualism I have criticised.

        In an homogeneous but individualistic society, when someone is a bad actor, the members of that society tend to blame the individual rather than question whether or not the behaviour is in fact an attribute of the cultural or ethnic affiliation of the individual in question.

        Consequently the majority populations in Aust, the UK, US, etc are the position where their individualism blinds them to the possibility that differently aligned cultural groups may in fact be toxic to our own cultural values – where and when different values clash, or when and where different ethnic capabilities clash, we tend to see it as a problem of individual bad actors rather than a systemic cultural issue.

        This issue is the reason why many Australians refuse to see Muslim or African migration as a problem, any bad behaviour is seen as individual bad actors and not as an issue of systemic cultural values or intractable ethnic differences. It is also part of this issue of why we cannot outright call out ‘progressive’ values for what they are.

      • Stewie even worse the recognised major players have power grabbed in conservation area. From the Great Forest project, going on for decades, periodically leaching from private idealists including very young, grabbing as much money for the leaders as possible to self fund chatting, to the conservationists who extracted huge money and commitment out of us, turned into the Green Morons, others….a conservation group asking and getting big money and from me again, bought land in big acreages round Australia to return to nature but no way could I come and visit, very unusual response when I asked to go bush and see.
        Part of problem is betrayal by those out front pretending to do something. I and my family gave so much. Money, time, careers on the line. The original wood chipping agreement had a time clause and very specific limitation, I know, my father was obliged to do it, extracted price at multiple arranged against will of powers that be, this contract was broken and as hardwood expert the information was then locked away so he could not see it. He lived to a 100 Well, articulate and intelligent, for much I think in case there was a Royal Commision.
        We are at the mercy of the lowest common denominator. As H&H. wrote, the species.

      • Replying to you second post where Australians don’t see the wood/forest/bush for the trees. Or the cultural unit for the individual……Aus has lost its identity. 20% Han chinese and it’s theirs according to chinese research for example.
        51% likely are concrete operators cognitively, don’t abstract, Mollison said ‘ Give an Amazonian Pygmy a tee shirt and chainsaw and he will clear the amazon for you”.
        Lots of People don’t see the big picture. They see the immediate small time, local. Irish bloodlines in Aus from the past are a bit better from my observation …Kerry O’Brien for example.
        Whitlam govt educ reforms tried to increase percentage of Aus who did abstract, see the bigger picture.

    • Progressives (within the democratic context) can be frustrating but they have a much better environmental record than conservatives at this point. Ultimately, conservatives that reject globalism, neoliberalism and corporatism may prove to have a better overarching environmental stewardship. But right now, the progressives may support open borders but it’s the neoliberal corporatists and their growth economics that are tearing the place to bits.

  2. Rational RadicalMEMBER

    “So why does The Guardian Australia so wholeheartedly endorse this population-driven mass extinction event by refusing point black to ever discuss reducing immigration without labelling everybody who does so a “racist”?”

    I’m all for reducing the NOM rate for all of the very good evidence based reasons documented so thoroughly on this site.

    But I’m sorry, are MacroBusiness conflating change in the global population with migration of global populations? Sort of like conflating level/quantity of wealth with distribution of wealth? If you take the purely Australian perspective of biodiversity and species loss etc, then yes, empirically NOM is worsening extinction rates. But it would be selective and myopic to ignore the other side of that empirical ledger which suggests a lower extinction rate in the source countries of such NOM…

    Sure, there will be distributional and per-capita differences in the overall outcome, but the United Nations report is addressing global extinction, not Australian extinction, and I believe it’s disingenuous to analyse it purely from the Australian lens.

    I’m open to arguments about why reducing Australian net migration rates will somehow lower global extinction or biodiversity rates, but I haven’t seen the case being made here. Perhaps we judge it not as important as preserving Australia’s biodiversity? Then at least make that clear in the contention of the article. Otherwise, I’m to assume it’s either being ignored, or it’s not understood properly.

    An alternative critique of the Guardian could for example question their lack of call for lower human birth rates globally, with perhaps richer nations contributing a greater reduction, in keeping with their greater per-capita consumption rates…?

    • Two points here that might help you understand the focus. You are right to question it and this is the key debate we need to have – and are not having. So well done. If such questions were asked in the MSM and answers genuinely sought, two key things would need to be understood and explained that I can only briefly touch on:

      1. Sustainability is about Ecological Footprint and not ‘population’ growth per se.

      In other words, population is not an issue just because people have different idea that there are too many or too few people. It is about a human population that can allow sustainable use of resources and allow ecosystems to recover – the word sustainability is misleading in this regard.

      A nation state is the only political unit that is within the influence of citizens in a democracy i.e. there is very little opportunity for Australians to affect population policy in the rest of the world. However in an island continent we are in a unique position to do just that. This is one of the key assets we have that those who argue a utopian ‘global’ approach to population are throwing away a unique capacity to manage ecosystems that have no bordering nations. Because you can only manage the biodiversity that you have sovereign control over and it is a lie to suggest that Australia can change policies in the rest of the world. Non-binding global agreements can not work in general, especially if they are subject to the demands of massive domestic populations that consume resources. Once you have crossed that rubicon you cannot attain sustainable living very easy and the environment will be ‘eaten’.

      2. Real demographers will tell you that populations can only be regulated by four things:

      1. Birth
      2. Death
      3. Immigration
      4. Emigration

      No one is suggesting that we use #2 and forcing people from the country (#4) is slightly unethical. Because people have not been breeding (#1) to the satisfaction of those who run a growth economy that leaves #3 – immigration.

      Regulating immigration is the only practical means for Australia to develop a sustainable population. Once our population hits a critical ecological footprint (or exponential growth phase) there is no going back unless #2 and #4 are accelerated. No one wants that for what it implies. That happens when the environment is stressed and no longer supports a good quality of life.

      Unfortunately our coterie of fake demographers and fake Greens refuse to address ecological footprint and population demography.

      The best thing we can do for global ecosystems is to get out house in order and stop going down the path that is leading to mass extinction. In effect, we can do no more than this anyway.

      • Rational RadicalMEMBER

        I actually think that was a great reply too Clive, thanks for making an effort to construct a rational response. I don’t really accept the contention that nation states are the only solution to global challenges, hence the UNITED nations publishing this dire report, an organisation that despite its deep flaws has for example helped save a large portion of humanity from the worst horrors of war that humans can be capable of. But I do accept your arguments about demographics and local biodiversity. Hence my prompting for the authors to put some of those arguments across instead of leaving them implied, or worse, ignored.

        So indeed you illustrate perfectly how complex and poorly understood the issues raised by the UN report actually are. I don’t pretend to have the answers. I’m just pointing out that a well constructed argument like yours could be a much more useful critique of the Guardian than implying that “the Guardian’s support for mass immigration is causing a mass extinction event”. I don’t think the UN is at all suggesting countries stop their migration programs as a solution to GLOBAL mass extinction, but that has not been covered in this analysis. Indeed the report seems to point to the fact that if Clive’s assertion about local nation states true, then we’re actually fucked anyway so what’s the point. Global action may be impossible, but if we accept it as so, my feeling is that it’s all over anyway. Have you been following Game of Thrones…?

        I’m honestly asking what Leith and Dave think is the answer to GLOBAL mass extinction, because it’s existential, and not confined to isolated nation states. I honestly support a reduced migration rate, but I’m calling it a long bow to draw to imply that the migration of global populations is the cause of a global mass extinction event. It’s simple really. Can’t our authors see that it’s not rigorous analysis, an accusation frequently put to other media outlets – such as the Gaurdian?

        Sometimes calling out subtleties of the immigration debate on MacroBusiness is ironically akin to being accused of racism for supporting lower immigration; I must be a filthy brainwashed globalist for pointing to root causes and concerns beyond our fair shores.

        I say this each time, but no need for such thin skins guys, I’m just trying to put forward a carefully constructed critique of your good work, being someone who has heavily invested reading and writing time over the years. Offering a devil’s advocacy of sorts. I don’t comment much these days for a few reasons. One, i don’t actually have many criticisms for obvious reasons. And two, I feel like despite having some reasonable and nuanced observations to make, I have to put forward giant disclaimers like this one, lest I hurt people’s feelings, or just simply get shouted down as a lefty globalist, or worse, a (gulp) crashnik.

        Thanks for your effort Clive, it’s folks like you that keep me daring to post the occasional comment! And Peachy of course, gotta love poking the MacroBusiness BullBears…

    • Immigration to a developed country does increase loss of biodiversity, and not just in obvious ways or in that particular developed country alone. Unless the migrants are already rich or come from other rich countries, they will achieve a massive increase in environmental footprint on coming to Australia. See

      Many of our migrants come from countries far poorer than China. It is true that a lot of the damage in poorer countries is due to growing populations cutting down forests, etc. just in order to survive, but demand from the richer countries is also fueling a lot of the destruction. Think of the disappearing orangutans due to those palm oil plantations in Indonesia. If you look at the 2010 ACF report that Leith linked to above, you can see that the damage here in Australia extends far beyond the densely populated areas. This is partly due to the need for exports to pay for the imports needed by the bigger domestic population.

      I also suspect that people in the poorer countries might be more willing to have fewer children (and solve their other problems) if they didn’t have immigration as a personal solution or a way to have their children send them remittances. There were studies in the past comparing fertility rates on Caribbean islands and in Welsh valleys that did or didn’t have a tradition of emigration. People who expected some of their children to emigrate were considerably slower to bring down their fertility rate.


    I’ve got no doubt that the environment is turning to shite in Australia particularly in the area of water storage and availability, but I’m inherently suspicious of anything that has the imprimatur of that rancid toxic sewer the united nations. I’d rather accept advice from some other respected and trustworthy international body such as the International Olympic Committee or FIFA.

    There’s a bit of hint about the cause of my concerns where it says the report was “Compiled by 450 scientists and diplomats over three years”. Diplomats?

    Back to smoothing the crinkles in my tinfoil hat.

  4. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    “securing a global deal to save nature after a major scientific report warned a million species across the world face extinction.”

    Save Nature?
    Isn’t survival of the fittest and last man standing and all that what evolution is all about?
    So sayed that Charles Derwin bloke.

  5. What’s obvious is that both progressive and conservative ideology is failing, totally. This is not a drill anymore, our cities and our regions are being strip mined of biodiversity at a rate so fast it is almost incomprehensible.

  6. I’m deeply skeptical of the methodology that forecasts “species loss” at this rate. I suspect, based on the rebuttals of previous such “forecasts”, that it is based on “extrapolation” of detailed studies of extremely small areas that suffered major environmental impact of some kind. This approach fails to correct for the certainty that the same species at the sample locations studied, will exist and survive elsewhere.

    These alarmists need to be asked every few years for the LIST of ACTUAL SPECIES GONE EXTINCT in the last few years that supports “the rate at which you people say the extinctions are happening”.

    If they do provide an impressive list, it will be based on the elimination of this or that beetle or snail from this or that location, without any admission that something identical exists elsewhere or very likely does so. Producing a register of “all species” and cross-checking which ones all over the place are actually the same, is a project not particularly well advanced as yet. And one doubts the sincerity of the activist organizations on this; their resources will be devoted to alarmism based on microscope-level “studies”.

    • Extrapolation of trends is the point Phil. Without change the trends are brutal. Check out global sea birds and shore birds for a total horror show.

      • You misunderstand me. I did not refer to extrapolation of “trends”, I referred to the extrapolation of study results for an extremely small area, to apply to the whole world. Maybe the term “scaled up” would be better. I specifically referred to the survival, globally, of “species” that in reality, activist scientists have invented to describe some creature at some specific location. They simply can’t know it is unique to that location and in fact the very idea is absurd.

        Global sea birds and shore birds must be untouched by humanity in most of the locations where they exist or can exist. In fact humanity tends to be a magnet for at least the scavenging varieties.

        The way the Green movement uses pretexts of any kind to obstruct projects whether a dam or a highway or a mine or urban development, is riddled with bad faith.

    • Phil,

      I guess you’re no dill, so I assume you’re quietly accusing the report writers of scientific fraud, as I’m sure you must be aware that they would be aware of and understand the issue you raised.

  7. I rode around the Hume Dam on the weekend, and it’s staggering to see how little water is in there. How a dry country like ours will support all the people the Guardian and all the pollies want to bring here to boost our consumption for GDP will eventually damage us all. I don’t think it’s that far off. Eventually, we’re going to get our butts taxed off to support a largely unproductive nation of a 100M or more in maybe 100 years time.

    • And yet how many millions of gallons per day flow into the sea? And how about actually retaining some of that flood water that comes along periodically? It hardly appears “good faith” for activists to be decrying “shortage of water” on one hand, and on the other hand opposing practical schemes to capture more of what is there, on the grounds of some allegedly “rare” mollusc or something at the proposed site of the scheme.

      • Phil, I agree. Our policies are deranged wrt to the environment. I want sustainability, but I know it’ll never come from the pollies. I go to a lot of trouble to live as sustainability as I can, and that’s about all I can do. I think we all need to think about this, but you can be sure the greens will lecture on it but never reallt act, and the same for others but they are not as self righteous. Every dam we have could be made a pumped hydro system, but no support from the pollies..I’m going to be a farmer one day as I can already pretty much be self sufficient with three back yard veggie plots…damn the bugs/rats/indian myners though.

      • Oh bulls1t. Floods have a purpose. The idea we should be damming or somehow retaining flood waters is stupid thinking. We have stuffed up the Murray – Darling and it seems we haven’t learnt our lesson.