Could you live a happy life with only 4,200 kinds of frogs?



The NYT reports that 3% of frog species have gone extinct; even worse, another 7% are nearly certain to disappear in the next 100 years! That means with 4,700 species of frogs in the world, only 4,200 or so will remain in a hundred years time.

Frogs are at risk for a number of reasons, including epidemics caused by pathogens like the fungus B. dendrobatidis; deforestation; invasive species; and climate change.

So, intrepid reader, how many things can you find uncompelling with this article?

1) This article is clearly meant to be another piece of global warming propaganda. But by lumping so many causes in together, it is clear that scientists have no idea really why the frogs are theoretically disappearing. If frogs are dying off, it could be an entirely natural process because, as we know, species are constantly dying off. In the past thirty years, for example, there has not been a single sighting of a New England conservative.

2) We really have no idea whether 3% of frog species have gone extinct. Remember that the Earth is big, really big, and much of it is uninhabited. Remember when scientists accidently undercounted trees by 2.6 trillion?And trees are a lot easier to see than little frogs. It's entirely possible that the "missing" frogs are simply in places we aren't looking.

3) We keep discovering new species all the time. It is very possible that there are hundreds or even thousands of specices of frogs we are totally unaware of.

4) And when we talk about a "species", it's often confusing. Most people think that frogs themselves are an entire species, or that maybe there are three or four kinds of frogs. In reality, every slight difference in subgroups of frogs are treated as a different species. If you were shown hundreds of these "species" and asked where you could identify them as belonging to different groups of frogs, chances are most of them would look alike to you. If we only had 30 or 40 different kinds of frogs we could still have a great variety of different kinds of frogs.

5) Does it really matter whether the world has 4,700 species of frogs or 4,300 or 2,000 or even just 142? You didn't even know to care until you learned there used to be 4,700. Why is that the "right" number, just because, at one point in time, it might have been the total number of species of frogs at one point in time? Maybe a thousand years ago there were 20,000 kinds of frogs. Or maybe there were only 500 kinds. You never knew and never cared. My point is that as long as it doesn't affect the lifestyle of people, it may be a point of scientific curiousity but isn't so important overall.

6) And if you're a liberal please don't whine about the food or ecology chain. The food chain is elastic and has been adaptable since the beginning of time, up until the present when liberalism caused anemic Prius drivers to switch from beef to tofu. Unless we see a wholesale extinction of an entire group of animals (say... all frogs or all sheep), the appropriate response is to yawn and smile and say, "This is a natural process that has been ongoing for millions of years. What page are sports on?"

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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