Frog decline: “We can’t automatically point our finger at climate change…”

Froggie went a courtin'

Froggie went a courtin’

Pointing the finger at climate change is the Pavlovian reaction of many scientists and journalists.

For as we all know, virtually anything that happens on planet Earth in the 21st century is a result of man-made climate change—more snow, less snow, more rain, less rain, higher temperatures, lower temperatures, more cyclones, fewer cyclones, more frogs, fewer frogs—you name it, some scientist somewhere will have said it’s “consistent with AGW”.

Obviously, climate change has therefore become the mother of all get-out clauses, since once AGW is implicated, why bother looking for any alternative explanation?

So it’s good to note that some proper science is still revealing a different narrative:

A deadly fungus, and not climate change as is widely believed, is the primary culprit behind the rapid decline of frog populations in the Andes mountains, according to a new study published today in the journal Conservation Biology.

Frogs living at higher elevations can tolerate increasing temperatures, researchers found, but their habitats fall within the optimal temperature range for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, a harmful pathogen they have only encountered relatively recently. The disease caused by Bd, chytridiomycosis, has led to the recent decline or extinction of 200 frog species worldwide.

The results have implications both for researchers trying to understand the rapid decline in frog populations across the globe and for conservationists looking to save the animals, said Vance Vredenburg, associate professor of biology at San Francisco State University and co-author of the study.

“Our research shows that we can’t just automatically point our finger at climate change,” he said. “We need to look carefully at what is causing these outbreaks.” (source)

Climate change is still a factor though, the research claims, but at least some scientists remain open-minded about the dominant cause.

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