I w rote this for my firm’s sustainability blog. Thought you frog lovers might appreciate, too.

That was then: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. – Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee

This is now: Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table. – Comments at a town hall meeting, by Rep. Barney Frank

I wonder how Atticus, the selfless public defender in To Kill A Mockingbird, would fare in today’s polarized discourse and in this age of the sound bite. (Then again, he didn’t need much income; Scout, after all, was fine being shoeless.)

But just when you want to give up on the whole idea of finding a common ground, along comes sustainability. We don’t agree on sweeping topics, like global warming. But we will agree to recycle bottles and lower our thermostats. We won’t get on the same page about public welfare, but we will drop our dollars into the Salvation Army kettle. National healthcare, no. Taking walks, yes.

Sustainability is where the actions can have universal appeal, but the participants associate them with different goals. When a supermarket installs an aluminum can bin, very few of us will consciously walk past it to throw a soda can into the trash. We’ll use the bin. But why did the company put the bin there in the first place? To be socially responsible, or to keep the parking lot from looking trashy? Or to get some income from the recycling company? And why do we use the bin? To save the planet? Or to avoid waste and conserve resources? Your personal slant on the world will determine the answer.

And yet your viewpoint really doesn’t matter, because sustainability has you doing the same things as other people with whom you would never agree.

And from this viewpoint, promoting sustainability might just be the most unifying activity an organization can ever take.

Get your webbed feet hopping with this video from the Missouri Department of Conservation that I somehow missed last year.

In Madagascar, scientists have discovered up to 221 new species of frogs. Here’s the CNN report. This has led the research team to wonder if the count of 6,000 amphibian species we have assumed are on the planet are, in truth, 12,000. Excerpt:

“The diversity of species in Madagascar is far from being known and there is still a lot of scientific research to be done. Our data suggest that the number of new species of amphibians not only has been underestimated but it is spatially widespread, even in well studied areas,” said Professor David R. Vieites, CSIC researcher to the press at the Spanish National Natural Sciences Museum in Madrid.\

That should not create any false sense of security, or relief, about the plight of amphibians. Applying the new, suggested number of 12,000 species, that just means 4,000-6,000 of them could disappear in our lifetime, instead of 2,000-3,000.

The bat crisis hit home this morning in my city of St. Louis. A nearby cave has been closed because of a fungus that’s killing bats. Bats are dying off in alarming numbers because of a fungus called “white nose syndrome.” The problem was discovered in the Northeast several years ago. This lead from the Washington Post in early April sums it up:

“First, the frogs began disappearing, with as many as 122 species becoming extinct worldwide since 1980. Then honeybee colonies began to collapse. Scientists fear that bats might be next.”

Very interesting story from Mongabay. Read HERE.

OK, for this off-the-wall, posting, I really need some comments!

One of my father’s favorite TV shows in the late 1960s was Green Acres starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. This memory was conjured as I researched the history of Earth Day and learned that the first Earth Day observance, in 1970, was set specifically on April 22 because it was the birthday of Albert, who was a leading advocate for the environment. (I hope I’m not spreading an urban legend — I came across the Albert factoid in several places. And, I’m not saying they created Earth Day in honor of him; they didn’t. They just needed a specific date for the observance, so they picked his birthday.)

So let’s stay with this funny show for a minute and think about the absurd characters and the roles they might play in today’s eco-debate. Imagine you are the casting director for Green Acres 2008. Who would you cast for these roles?

Oliver: A bit idealistic and impractical, but earnest and intelligent and utterly frustrated that nobody around him seems to see things his way.  Pick any extremist on either side of the environmental debate. They all have a little Oliver in them. Who’s your suggestion?

Mr. Haney: Definitely a pitchman for any company guilty of greenwashing! Go ahead, name your 2008 Mr. Haney.

Eb: Clueless. Look at anybody or group needs to wake up to what’s happening to our planet and the creatures on it. Who’s your Eb?

And if you’re a Green Acres trivia expert and would like to cast other modern-day equivalents to Lisa, Mr. Drucker and others, go right ahead!

Looking forward to your comments. I reserve the right to not post anything that’s mean in spirit. We need people from all political walks of life to rally behind Amphibian Ark.

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