17 November 2011

Say goodbye to the frogs

Frogs are delightful little buggers. Look at this little rascal in the photo, a red-eyed tree frog. With his goofy expression and padded toes, you can't help but love him ... or her.

Too bad, really, that they are doomed. As we humans press on causing the world's sixth great extinction, amphibians are perhaps the most in danger. About half of amphibian species are in decline with a third facing extinction. They face three major threats—climate change, habitat loss and disease—two of which at least are created by us. Now scientists have discovered that these threats often overlap to the extent frogs' future may be grimmer than formerly realized.

And after the frogs, what next? My bet is the creatures of the coral reefs. As carbon dioxide levels driven by fossil fuel use increase in the atmosphere, so does the amount absorbed by the world's oceans. This leads to acidification and an environment that erodes corals. The oceans are now more acidic than they have been at any time in the last 800,000 years, and at current rates will be more corrosive by mid-century than they have been in the past 20 million years. At least one quarter of all species of life in the oceans are associated with coral reefs. Most can now look forward to the same bleak future as the frogs.

If any of these species on land or sea survive the holocaust, I hope the red-eyed tree frog is among them.

1 comment:

  1. Other than just being darn cute, this little guy plays his part in the great web of life on this planet. Humans may be able to survive climate change and the coming extinctions, but the future of our species is looking pretty bleak too.