Thank goodness for the scientists who clang the bell — who leverage the drama to wake us up to what’s happening to the planet. Without them, the only endangered species we’d know about would be banks.
Most scientists, from what I can tell, are a reserved group of people — at least when talking about their area of study to regular people like me. They have hypotheses that predict a very different future for our planet. But they are usually very cautious about becoming a crusader for their prediction unless they are 100% certain that they will be proved right.
That doesn’t describe all of them, of course; some scientists clang the bell to get us to pay attention, hopefully convincing us to change our behaviors.
Enough scientists have written and talked about the crisis facing amphibians that they prompted me to create this blog.Still, I look at the traffic that this blog attracts, and it’s certainly not creating a groundswell. Frogmatters gets about 5,000 views a month, holding steady at that marker for the past few months.
I’ve compared the looming mass extinction of amphibians to a plague and to an AIDS virus. I’ve repeated the metaphor that frogs are the canaries in the coal mine at least 20 times. I’ve written about the chytrid fungus jumping the Panama Canal, and wiping out the chicken frog population of Montserrat.
I’ve tried to highlight the drama of this race to the froggy bottom because if more people are drawn to drama (and we are), then more people will become aware, and then more people will either write checks or call their governments to demand a rescue.
Then I read this quote in The New York Times: “I think a lot of this threashold and tipping point talk is dangerous. If we say we passed thresholds and tipping points today, this will be an excuse for inaction tomorrow.” That’s what Stanford University earth scientist Kenneth Caldeira said in a scholarly debate about using the phrase, “the tipping point,” to describe our climate being on a precipice. Full store HERE.
Using drama as a device to save the planet, and the animals that reside on it, is a double edged sword. What happens if you convince people to listen to your scariest, fact-based prediction — and they don’t respond? What’s left in your bag of tricks then ?
It’s a very scary thought, but not as scary as how the story will end if we don’t keep trying.