The U.N. conference on climate change in Bali is generating a flurry of headlines that should make the biodiversity camp jealous.  It’s a boisterous, argumentative, messy, emotional cacaphony — but from a satellite view, we can take heart that the crisis is being discussed, and progress being made.  (The Convention on Biological Diversity Web site has a news page where you can track stories from the conference.) According to Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the conference: “The outcome of this conference will, to a degree, determine whether Bali — and other vulnerable places — are destined to become a lost paradise, or not. If the outcome of this conference keeps pace with the many positive political signals of the past year, we are on a good road to preventing a lost paradise.” Another threatened paradise discussed at the conference is the Amazon forest. The WWF announced that 60 percent of the Amazon could be lost by 2030 because of global warming and deforestation.

Reading all of the stories coming from Bali, and reading much less about the dire plight of animal life, I was reminded of a Jack Nicholson line in the movie, “As Good As It Gets.” Jack’s character is pleading with a friend to help him think through a personal crisis, and when the friend’s advice isn’t helpful, Jack bellows: “I’m drowning here, and you’re describing the water!” (And what about the Elvis verse, “A little less talk, a little more action”?) Imagine either line being croaked by a frog, the last in a species, covered in chytrid somewhere in South America, that somehow was able to read the news out of Bali.

The irony is this: Climate change is heating up earth’s sixth major extinction event, but we can’t get enough people focused on the biodiversity crisis because they’re concentrating on climate change. It’s not a complaint. Just the situation we’re in.

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