February 28, 2011

More Good News for Frogs

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

A couple of months ago we featured some recent scientific studies that showed that the future for frogs was apparently not going to be as bleak once projected—especially when it comes to the impacts of global warming.

Our article “A Frog Revival” was particularly popular, so we decided to highlighted some other fairly recent scientific papers that conclude that climate change is really not likely to be all that bad (and perhaps even pretty good) for various frog and other amphibian species.

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December 13, 2010

A Frog Revival

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

About 15 to 20 years ago, folks began to notice problems in amphibian communities around the world. At first, physical deformities were being noticed and then large population declines were being documented.

The finger was initially pointed at the coal industry, with an idea that perhaps mercury was leading to the deformities. But this didn’t pan out. Next, farm practices came under fire, as excess fertilizer running off into farm ponds became the leading suspect. But that theory didn’t hold water either. Then, attention turned to the ozone hole, with the idea that increased ultraviolet radiation was killing the frogs. No luck there either.

Then came the Eureka moment—aha, it must be global warming!

This played to widespread audiences, received beaucoup media attention and, of course, found its way into Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

But, alas, this theory, too, wilted under the harsh glare of science, as new research has now pretty definitively linked an infection of the chytrid fungus to declines, and even local extinctions, of frog and toad species around the world.

Perhaps the biggest irony in all of this, is that while researchers fell all over themselves to link anthropogenic environmental impacts to the frog declines, turns out that as they traipsed through the woods and rainforests to study the frogs, the researchers themselves quite possibly helped spread the chytrid fungus to locations and populations where it had previously been absent.

Now a bit good—although hardly unexpected—news is coming out of the frog research studies. Some frog populations in various parts of the world are not only recovering, but also showing signs of increased resistance—gained through adaptation and/or evolution—to the chytrid fungus.

Thus opens a new chapter in the ongoing Disappearing Frog saga, and one that likely foretells of a hoppy ending.

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April 23, 2010

When South is North (aka Let’s Blame Global Warming)

Filed under: Health Effects

The story making the rounds today is that global warming may be responsible for unleashing a deadly new disease on the U.S. and Canada.

But, a closer look at the evidence reveals that the global warming link is rather slim to none (and that’s putting things generously).

The story was generated by a just-published article in the journal Pathogens by Edmond Byrnes of the Duke University Medical Center’s Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and several of his colleagues.

Reuters picked up the story, which was then highlighted on the Drudge Report, which, in turn, caused it to go, well, viral.

Actually, “viral” is not quite correct, for the new disease is the result of a fungus—Cryptococcus gattii, to be exact.

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November 12, 2008

Beating a Dead Frog

Filed under: Extinctions

Just in case there are still some folks out there who continue to insist that there is a firm cause-and-effect relationship between anthropogenic global warming and the decline of amphibian species around the world despite our pointing out on numerous occasions just how tenuous such a linkage is (pay attention here Al), we present the following abstract of a paper by Jason Rohr and colleagues titled “Evaluating the links between climate, disease spread, and amphibian decline,” published November 11, 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): (more…)




March 31, 2008

“Warming Island”—Another Global Warming Myth Exposed

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

In our continuing theme of exposing ill-founded global warming alarmist stories (see here and here for our most recent debunkings), we’ll examine the much touted discovery of “Warming Island”—a small piece of land that has been “long thought to be part of Greenland’s mainland”—but that turns out to have been known to be an island back in the early 1950s.

Another good story out the window.

As was the case of the previous two scare stories we examined that turned out to be untrue (global warming leading to amphibian decline in Central and South America, and the Inuit language lacking a word for ‘robin’), the story of “Warming Island” was also prominently featured in the New York Times. On January 17, 2007, The Times dedicated an article to “The Warming of Greenland” and described the recent “discovery” of islands that were exposed as such when the ice connecting them to the mainland melted away.

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March 28, 2008

The red, red Koyapigaktoruk comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Arctic, Polar

One of the most well-known and beloved harbingers of spring is the appearance of our feathered friend, the red-breasted robin. And as is the case with virtually every other cute species, it is the subject of climate change speculation from time to time. But in the robin’s case, it doesn’t surround global warming pushing the robin to extinction. Quite the contrary, global warming is expanding the robin’s range into never-before-seen-territory.

How is this bad news, you may wonder? Well the creative minds behind the global-warming-makes-all-things-worse mantra must have been working overtime, but finally, they did manage to come with a good one—the appearance of robins in high northerly latitudes is a sign the global warming is impinging upon the Earth’s sacred Arctic regions, and robbing them of their uniqueness. Case and point, there is no Eskimo word for ‘robin.’

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March 25, 2008

Global warming NOT killing frogs (just like we told you)

Filed under: Extinctions

Declining frog populations have once again made their way into the news, but this time, it is because new research concludes that global climate change IS NOT the reason behind their disappearance.

While this seems to be big news for some, we have been telling you this ever since the stories that attempted to link amphibian declines to global warming first appeared.

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January 11, 2006

Jumping To Conclusions: Frogs, Global Warming and Nature (Revised)

Filed under: Extinctions

(This is a revised version of our original posting. It is been changed to correct for a misinterpretation of our original reading of the Pounds et al. Nature article. Please see the * and the footnote at the end of the article for more details. Our original conclusions remain unchanged.)

Me and my apparently few friends have been ragging on the review process at Nature for some time, which was once the world’s most prestigious science periodical for all subjects. While it still may be the best for certain biochemical and genetic topics, it surely has lost it on global warming.

My antennae went up on this one in 2003 when my colleague, Robert Davis, and I submitted a paper to Nature showing that, as our cities have warmed, heat-related mortality declined significantly as people adapted to the change. They declined to even send it out for review; but after it was accepted in International Journal of Biometeorology it was awarded “paper of the year” by the Climate Section of the Association of American Geographers. Something is clearly amiss.

Nowhere is that more clear than in a paper, “Widespread Amphibian Extinctions from Epidemic Disease Driven by Global Warming,” by J. Alan Pounds, that appeared in their January 12 issue. We’ll put it simply: with regard to global warming papers, the review process at Nature is dead. Gone. Kaput.
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March 31, 2004

Extinguishing Extinction Hysteria

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Extinctions, Plants

Human-induced climate change is not leading to mass species extinctions, nor should it in the future.

On March 29, 2004, a pair of Congressional briefings exposed the bad science currently being published on climate change and mass extinction. Patrick Michaels, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and senior fellow in environmental studies at Cato Institute,

Michaels examined the plethora of recent claims concerning anthropogenic climate change and its possible link to past, present, and future species shifts and extinctions. Michaels’ overarching conclusions? 1.) Climate affects species distribution. 2.) Plants and animals adapt, evolve, or perish under changes in climate. 3.) That process may be slowed or accelerated by human activities. 4.) Little evidence exists to suggest anthropogenic climate change is leading to mass extinctions, nor should in the future.
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