Shame on the National Audubon Society for Masquerading Alarmist Propaganda as a Scientific Study

Every single species of North American bird alive today survived the Sangamonian Interglacial Period (~132,000 BP-~118,000 BP), a climate phase when average annual temperatures were as much as 7 degrees F warmer than those of today in the northern latitudes of the northern hemisphere.  This fact alone directly debunks the National Audubon Society’s Birds and Climate Change Report.  The report claims 314 out of the 588 species of birds that live in North America are in danger of extinction by the year 2080 due to global warming.  Their report was not published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.  Instead, it was published as a special issue in the National Audubon Society’s magazine–a periodical that is sent to members who donate to their organization.  In other words it is a propaganda magazine.  Yet, all the major media outlets covering their press release regurgitated their findings without asking a single critical question.   A google search reveals the findings of this report repeated uncritically by The New York Times, USA Today, and dozens of smaller newspapers across the country.  This demonstrates the unanimous scientific illiteracy of journalists who are quick to hop on the bandwagon of anything alarmist and headline-grabbing.  The National Audubon Society’s climate report is akin to the infamous DNA study of bigfoot that was not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but instead was the only article ever published in a phony made-up journal.  Without peer review, the National Audubon Society can publish any kind of nonsense and get away with it.

I study scientific journal articles as a hobby and can recognize the difference between a legitimate scientific study and propaganda. So when I heard David Yarnold, the president of the National Audubon Society, answer questions on National Public Radio about this report, I immediately recognized the report for what it is: a public relations press release.  It’s a total fantasy, not based on real science, and it could not be published in a reputable scientific journal.

Cover of The National Audubon Society’s Propaganda Magazine.  It is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal.  They could put any kind of misleading data in this. The large media outlets regurgitated it without asking a single critical question.

David Yarnold, president and CEO (yes that’s right…a CEO) of the National Audubon Society.  I thought CEO’s were only found in businesses.  The title seems to suggest this so-called charity is actually a money-making business. $1 in every $200 donated to the National Audubon Society goes to this idiotic crook’s salary.

During the NPR interview David Yarnold made some comments that were grossly untrue.  He claimed that “climate is changing at a scale or pace never before seen.”  The below chart shows David Yarnold is completely ignorant of recent climatic history.  Following Dansgaard-Oeschger events (which occurred with frequency), average annual temperatures increased by as much as 14 degrees F within a decade.  Climate did not change slowly in the past over thousands of years as Yarnold falsely claimed.  We are currently enjoying a period of relative climatic stability compared to the past. Yet, all 588 North American birds species that are with us today survived the drastic and sudden climatic upheavals of the past.

Yarnold also confused climate with weather in his NPR interview. He lamented the failure of raptors to nest in southern California this year due to drought.  This drought event is a short term weather event.  It hasn’t occurred long enough to be considered a climatic trend.


Chart showing average annual temperatures as recorded from air bubbles in the Greenland Ice Core.  Note how we are now in a period of relative climatic stability.  This chart clearly shows the current rate of climate change in not unprecedented as Yarnold falsely and stupidly claimed on NPR last week.  A finer scaled chart would show even more clearly how drastic and sudden past climate changes were.

Yarnold makes $460,489 a year as CEO and President of the Audubon Society.  His salary is paid for by the 1 in every 200 dollars donated to the society.  I thought the Audubon Society was supposed to be a charity.  If it was a true charity, this crooked shmuck should work on its behalf for free.  This report is obviously a public relations ploy to increase donations to the Audubon Society, thereby leading to increases in his salary.  He is a greedy corrupt businessman, not a scientist or environmentalist.  Maybe journalists don’t question him because he’s the head of a bird society, and they assume birdwatchers are nice people.  They don’t want to look bad by asking hard questions of a supposed bird lover.

Gary Langham, the scientist behind the alarmist propaganda published by the National Audubon Society in order to solicit more donations that will go to Yarnold’s and his salary.  I can’t find what his salary is but I’m sure he makes 6 figures…far more than the average college professor with a phd in ornithology.

This so-called study used bird surveys and Christmas day bird counts to determine “climatic suitability” for all 588 North American bird species.  Then, they looked at climatic models based on “greenhouse gas emission scenarios,” and estimated where the birds could live in the future.  There are serious problems with each end of this study.  The areas where people find birds now can in no way accurately predict the parameters of where they could potentially live.  The adaptabality of the birds is entirely underestimated.  Climate models are already known to be deeply flawed.  I like to call climate models what they are…wild guesses.  And as I noted at the very start of this essay, these birds survived global warming exceeding that being predicted by these climate models.

Dr. Langham says global warming is a greater threat to birds than habitat loss.  The past climatic history of the earth proves he is wrong.  However, I do think habitat loss resulting from an increase in human development will lead to bird extinctions.  Birds will become extinct in the future but not because of global warming.

Tabloid cover about bigfoot,

The information in the National Audubon Society’s Birds and Climate Change Report is about as reliable as that found in the Weekly World News.


Gornitz, Vivien

Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments

Springer Science and Business 2007

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6 Responses to “Shame on the National Audubon Society for Masquerading Alarmist Propaganda as a Scientific Study”

  1. Erik Says:

    Just found your blog for reasons related to being a geek about trees, sticking around now for the quality of thought on a broader range of subjects. My only quibble with this post, then, would be to suggest that while rapid climate change may not have led to such extinctions in the past, in combination with habitat loss (along with other factors such as chemical pollutants that reduce reproductive success, etc) climate instability may pose a more serious threat to those bird species than it did in those prior climate events.

    Response of tree populations/forest ecotypes to past climate conditions (and what will happen now) is what really interests me, though. Trees don’t get around quite so quickly as birds do.

  2. markgelbart Says:

    It’s habitat loss, not climate change that will cause extinctions. Eliminate the habitat loss as a variable and the birds don’t become extinct.

  3. Karl Says:

    I am a birder and am very well versed in the distribution of birds in North America. I have spent over a week going over Audubon’s climate report. It is a scandal waiting to be exposed. It has the trappings of science but it is a total sham. Audubon created erroneous breeding and/or wintering ranges for the 314 species it claims are in danger of extinction from global warming. Look for example at what Audubon determined was the current wintering range for Little Gull in 2000, a species only marginally part of the North American avifauna. For all of North America, Audubon claims its wintering grounds as of 2000 is a tiny area off the south end of the Alaskan panhandle. Audubon standard claim is that if the species will significantly move out of Audubon’s made-up ranges based on Audubon’s imaginative global warming predictions, then the species is endanger of going extinct. Of course Little Gull won’t be found in subsequent projections of Audubon because Audubon never had Little Gull’s wintering range right to begin with. The first record of Little Gull was in 2001 for Alaska and not in winter. Audubon says it relied only on its Christmas Count records for winter records throughout its report. When you check those records there is no record of Little Gull in Alaska. Check standard field guides such as National Geographic. Alaska isn’t even shown for Little Gull because Little Gull is not a bird of the Pacific Coast except as a vagrant. This is only the tip of the iceberg, if there are any icebergs left in this hotter world we are supposedly living in, as to the scandal that is Audubon’s climate report.

  4. Wallace Yater Says:

    All this powerful science and technology under the control of human greed has turned the human race into a very unfortunate cancer on the planet that is driving the mass extinction number six that you see unfolding everywhere you look. Huge human die offs have always punctuated our history and all these swarms of people you now see everywhere are all descended from a few lucky survivors of these past die offs. This leaves one open question only time will tell. If the next big die off becomes before our life support environment is too poisoned, polluted and depleted to support any human life at all there are bound to be survivors. After all when it comes to survival we have always been like rats. When you try to get rid of the rats around a farm the first ones are usually easy to get rid of, then after a while you end up with a few that have a Ph. D. in avoiding anything you can throw at ’em and these are the ones that start the next population explosion.
    Wallace M. Yater

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