It just struck me that the financial crisis we’re reeling in offers a parallel of sorts to the crisis facing the amphibian animal class (which is the point of this blog, after all). Instead of wealth disappearing, it’s entire species. Imagine losing 50% of all you have. Now imagine losing 50% percent of all species of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians. That’s what scientists predict in our lifetime. It’s not risky loans behind the frog’s demise, it’s climate change, loss of habitat, pollution, and a toxic fungus called chytrid.

Make no mistake, the amphibian animal class is in crisis after thriving since the days of the dinosaur. Now they’re in real danger of going the way of the dinosaur. It won’t take $700 billion to save them, just about $100,000 per species or $50 million in total.

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As he winds down an historic broadcasting career (but never confessing to slowing down), Sir David Attenborough, patron of Amphibian Ark, remains the best publicist amphibians could ever have. In this most recent newspaper interview, his anecdotes skew toward stories of amphibians. Excerpts:

“Even in the last series I did there is a frog which is not around in the wild any more. Soon my films will be more of an archive of animals which once lived.”

“There is a frog in Patagonia that fertilises its eggs in the male’s throat pouch. The female lays it and the male keeps it in its throat while it turns from a tadpole into a frog. Scientists knew this happened but nobody had ever seen the moment the little frog leapt out of his parent’s mouth. We took some frogs and created a special environment for them in Bristol. A cameraman and his assistants kept a 24-hour watch as the tadpole developed. After waiting for 100 hours the cameraman went for a quick pee – and when he dashed back the little frog was sitting there next to its dad. They were gutted. Eventually we did manage to capture the moment.”

Here is a photo from earlier this year capturing Sir David making time for a photo opp for Amphibian Ark during 2008 the year of the frog.


From The Hindu:

And here’s why this is so cool.

Lots of meaty stories leading up to Thursday’s World Environment Day sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme:

ENS news service – Heads of state and 87 ministers from around the world have reinforced their commitment to “substantially reduce” the global loss of biodiversity within two years. The European Commission is committed to stopping the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010. Gathered at the ministerial segment of the World Biodiversity Summit in Bonn convened by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, participants heard expressions of alarm at the unprecedented loss of species to human encroachment and also heard pledges to reverse this decline. Plant and animal species are becoming extinct at a rate 100 times the natural rate of extinction due to human activities that include pollution, habitat loss, increased consumption and climate change.

The Independent — Mass extinctions of plants and animals could have a severe impact on the living standards of the poorest people on the planet and cost up to £40bn a year, the first major report into the economic impact of biodiversity loss has found. Scientists say biodiversity is facing its greatest threat in millions of years, with three species dying out every hour. Now, the economic cost of such destruction has been assessed.

redOrbit – About 40 percent of the global economy is based on biological products and processes, according to the United Nations Environment Program. People in poorer regions, especially those in areas of low agricultural productivity, rely on genetic diversity of the environment. “However, human activities the world over are causing the progressive loss of species of plants and animals at a rate far higher than the natural background rate of extinction,” said the UNEP.