I was chatting up Amphibian Ark and the amphibian crisis with a guy I respect a lot who has been in meetings with Al Gore to discuss efforts to halt global warming. To paraphrase his reaction*: “Frogs? Hey, we’re trying to save the planet here.” His meaning was clear: the most urgent environmental issue, the fundamental challenge, is climate change. (*I’m paraphrasing the person I know, not Al Gore, just to be clear. This person went on to say that he likes frogs and will see how he can get the topic raised among the corporations that are rightfully engaged in the climate change campaign.)

But preserving our planet’s biodiversity can’t wait. Rather than taking a backseat to global warming, amphibians and other threatened classes of animal life should be riding shotgun (translation of shotgun: riding in the front passenger seat of the, ahem, electric powered car). The herpetologists aren’t putting their heads in the bog and ignoring climate change.

Amphibian Ark, indeed, is the emergency measure of a larger effort that is focused on the longer view, including how to protect species from climate change. It’s called the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP), backed by the same conservation authorities that bring us the Red List of Threatened Species — the IUCN Species Survival Commission.  

Following is an excerpt from a 2005 Amphibian Conservation Summit, convened by IUCN, that shows climate change and biodiversity are inextricably intertwined. 

“Evidence of a link between amphibian declines and climate change is growing … One consequence is an increase in the probability of outbreaks of lethal diseases such as chytridiomycosis. If efforts to address climate change remain inadequate, none of the other proposed conservation efforts can save amphibians in the long term. The current spate of extinctions might be the first wave in a more general, profound loss of biodiversity.Ultimately, preventing this requires greater political will to take all necessary measures to reduce human impact on the global climate…Research will also explore ways in which ecosystems could be made more resilient to climate change…”