Tag Archives: extinction

Corroboree!!

I COULD NOT PASS THIS UP!! A Southern Corroboree Frog! Rob!

Melbourne Arts Centre Sunday Markets Fundraising Efforts

Not sure if you can read the sign? It encourages by-passers to kiss and or hug the large stuffed frog for the chance to donate money. Who would not want to kiss this gorgeous creature?

Here are the organisers and I was remiss in that I did not find out their names. I’m very sorry for they were devoted to their task. They told me they had raised over a hundred dollars! That’s pretty good going for 50 cents a pop. The frog is somewhat bigger than the real creature but that’s okay. Look at their cheery faces!!

The Three Frog Fans!

As readers of Man of Clay will know, Chapter 14 is imbued with the corroboree frog and what a delightful little creature it is. The colours and pattern influence Connie’s party platter. But my main relationship with a corroboree frog is in Ektek. Bash, a determined pilot, is one of these fancy chaps. (See, party platter? Bash? All about the corroboree, eh!)

http://www.corroboreefrog.com.au/corroboree-frog

http://www.corroboreefrog.com.au/corroboree-frog

Tim Flannery has a new book. It’s called Atmosphere of Hope; searching for solutions to the climate crisis. I’ll have a bit more to say about this next time because I went to a Book Club where the man himself spoke and it is full of interesting hopeful ideas. However, this quote is worth noting:

‘There is one facet of the sixth extinction where climate change is not the sole culprit. Among the most dismal catastrophes to have struck the natural world in recent decades is the disappearance of many species of frogs and toads. About one third of all known 4740 species of frogs and toads are under threat, and in 2010 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list reported 486 species as critically endangered. Up to 122 species are likely to have become extinct since 1980. Back in 2005 the cause of this calamity was unclear. Today, courtesy of new research, we know the spread of the chitrid fungus, which attacks the skins of amphibians, was the primary cause of many, but not all, amphibian declines. In The Weather Makers, I said that the extinction of Costa Rica’s golden toad (Bufo periglenes) resulted from climate change. The latest studies support this, indicating ‘medium confidence’ (better than even chance) that climate change was the prime cause in this instance.’ pg 54

Couple of things about this quote. The uncertainty of science is a language matter. For Tim Flannery to talk about an ‘even chance’ does not mean there’s much debate about it at all. In fact, according to my research, the fact that chitrid spread so quickly is not only due to a feral species being introduced to waterways – probably a frog commonly used for human pregnancy testing – but also the conditions were nice and warm for the fungus to grow. So, we can trace frog disappearances back to humans which ever road we choose.

Of course, for the corroboree frog, it’s climate change that will get the survivors now. They are mountaineers, nestling into spagnum moss, needing snow and ice for their lifecycle to keep spinning. A few of them have gone because of ski resorts but that whole global warming thing, well, doesn’t bear thinking about it, does it.

As far as EKTEK goes, you can find it on Amazon. Thank you to the very kind readers who have supplied reviews. I am so grateful for your feedback. I’m working on the print version – the cover might have an issue so I’m waiting for a proof copy from Createspace before it’s clear for you to buy. While you wait, however, Bash has a number of adventures in his short life. Here’s an exerpt from ‘Out of Spite, Out of Mind’ you might like:

Gidday, Bashy boy, came a deep, greasy voice from the dim low shadows of the tunnel—Long way from home, aren’t you? All alone in the dark, poor little creature… It was Spill, the diamond python. Spill was large for his size and Bash stared into his glittering eyes as though he’d been pinned to the ground. Bash wasn’t scared of many things but pythons were up there with the most scary things of all. Well up there. Pythons were never conducive to a frog’s feeling of good health, especially when that frog had recently been staring into a dark pit of despair. Suddenly Bash’s pit seemed very deep and very dark and there was absolutely no way out—Hi, Spill, didn’t see you there, in the dark… How have you been? How’s the family? Busy?

—Not as busy as you, Bash, from all accounts. I hear you’ve been very busy, Bashy boy. You’ve been up to some particularly interesting dealings, young Mr Frog, haven’t you, hmmmmm?

Bash nodded, following Spill’s every head sway, every movement, gently hypnotised into staying put while Spill slid just that little bit closer … —I admit, I did make a banner to encourage everyone to vote for the corroboree frog. We’ve got a lot of friends and I thought I could do my bit for the family but I haven’t done anything else, I swear, just the banner and I know that wasn’t right but corroboree frogs are in with a good chance, don’t you …

—What did I hear? Old growth forests, wasn’t it? Pulped? Was that you, Bashy? Pulping habitat. Ummm … That’s a naughty no-no, isn’t it. I would have thought you’d know better … Spill moved closer to the little frog who, in turn, moved back hard into the wall of the cave. So hard he could feel grit cutting into his thin frog skin. Spill was so close, Bash could feel the breath puffing out of his mouth. He turned his mouth to the side to suck clean air into his froggy lungs—Nothing to do with me, Spill. I swear …

—Swearing’s a nasty habit. Those poor little whales. I really feel for them. Gone for munchies. Makes me hungry just thinking about them. All I’d need would be one little morsel, maybe a little dorsal morsal, and I’d be satisfied …

—You were listening …

—Hey, froggie, the walls have ears around here. You should know that. Just happened to be passing. Fascinating the titbits that fall in one’s path, ain’t it.

Bash swallowed hard.

The things you learn, continued Spill—Makes you think, don’t it. Makes me think; that’s for sure, about all sorts of things; like, you. I’ve been thinking about you, Bash, ol’Basheola, Bashy boy; do you think you deserve to live? Or would you say I deserve a snack? A little Bashy-nashy snack?

—Spill, I didn’t do it, I really didn’t do it, whatever you’ve heard, Spill, honestly, it’s all lies. Bash became louder and louder as Spill got closer and closer. Bash was shouting for his life—Really. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s complete fabrication and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to ruin me like this. I’ve never done anything to hurt anybody …

Who is to say what might have happened if, suddenly, like super heroes, Torque and Spark had not flown down the tunnel towards Bash and Spill at that very moment with Bash stuck, hard and squealing, in Spill’s hypnotising eye beam.

Hi-ya there, Bash, all right, then? said Torque cheerfully—Evening, Spill. How’s it hanging?

Come to see you home, Bash, said Spark—Need a lift?

Without waiting for discussion, Torque and Spark flew down to either side of the little frog and lifted an arm of black and yellow each. They flapped their flight wings as hard as they could and, before the amphibian had any idea of what was happening, got purchase and winged that little black-and-yellow corroboree frog out of there as fast as they could carry him.

Spill slid round and watched the bizarre trio fly erratically down the hallway. He sneered and had a quiet little chuckle deep down in his long scaly throat before moving quietly on his way.

Thirty species in thirty pieces is a wonderful website

I’m so impressed by this great collection of information and beautiful images, In Pieces. There’s a lot to look at and think about. What are you doing, hanging around here? Go on, click here!

Posters and wallpapers are available to download with proceeds going to http://www.edgeofexistence.org/support/donation_form.php?donationType=single

Posters and wallpapers are available to download with proceeds going to http://www.edgeofexistence.org/support/donation_form.php?donationType=single

 

http://www.species-in-pieces.com/#

Simran Sethi – For the love of coffee!!

Simran Sethi

Simran Sethi (image from the Asia Society blog page)

Simran Sethi, Environmental Messenger, is part of the barrage of the Wheeler Centre‘s 2015 questions to Melbourne. She gives a talk entitled ‘Endangered Pleasures; the slow loss of food we love’ on March the first. Simran is a petite woman with shining black hair that swings around her like a mobile halo. Her generous smile is a brilliant white. She gestures with her hands, moulding meaning into the air in front of her, giving, exuding, impressing influence into her audience.

cup of coffee

image taken from Bings Boba Tea site

The focus of her speech, as best suits cafe-cultured Melbourne, is coffee. A few years ago, on a research trip to Rome, she was side tracked by a novel concept (to her). She’d been writing a book about seeds when she discovered scientists were actually concerned with teetering bioagrodiversity. Remember the beginning of that very scientific film Interstellar? Where that geeky science boffin, Michael Caine, points out the blighted corn? Not so fictional after all.

It seems many of our staple food crops are at risk of extinction. Wheat. Cows. Chocolate. And coffee. (Simran didn’t mention bees.) Of course we know the threats. Loss of habitat, pollution, climate change, disease …

Only 30% of all species are used by humans. Basically we don’t care what happens to stuff we can’t eat, drink or wear. If it doesn’t act like a pest, we ignore it. If it’s a crop we choose the best of the best, breed it up and maybe add some spicy cells to a test tube to improve it further. Then we only farm that one species. All across the world. The same species of banana. And when that one species falls prey to one disease? All gone.

farmer in banana farm

(image from http://agrobiodiversityplatform.org/)

Where the scientists see genetic erosion Simran sees cultural erosion. She became animated as she described her fantastic global research project to understand the web of coffee making. To seek the hands that make the coffee.

farmer's hands with coffee berries

(image taken from http://blog.yellow-seed.org/65/)

From the calloused farmer to the tattooed barista, it is the sweat and toil of humans that intrigues Simran. Her coffee guru comes from Seven Seeds, a Melbourne coffee roasting cafe, educator and specialist. His coaching leads her to understand the taste of coffee for the first time. Now more than just wet brown stuff, along with flavours of lemon and hints of peach, she can discern the soil and the weather of Ethopia, or Columbia perhaps. The flavour of her coffee is mixed with farmers’ sweat and the swirl of dryers’ rakes. There’s packers, drivers, container loaders, ship crew, unloaders, more drivers, roasters, grinders, and the hiss of steam at the end. All endangered.

Simran pointed out that scientists use a combination of strategies to save plant species from extinction. There’s ex-situ conservation such as seed banks (struggling for funding in the main). There’s in-situ conservation such as leaving the plant to grow in the wild or at a farm. And there’s in-vivo conservation where humans eat it, drink it and keep it alive because humans like it. Love it.

l love coffee picked out in coffee beans

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/coffee/images/34484500/title/coffee-photo

If we all learn more about our foodstuff, Simran says, we will give thanks. She believes we can save our favourite plants by our very dependence. If we consider our coffee, we will save our coffee. Her reply to the question about an individual’s ability to affect the food chain was that we should all be kind, learn the provinance of our produce and revalue what is important. If only that was all it took, Simran.

The final question about population caused her to bridle a little. As an Indian she did not think that millions of brown people in subsistence living standards damaged the planet as much as the millions of fat people living in America, consuming fossil fuels as though they are going out of style. (Which they are.) According to Simran, consumption, not population, is the real problem.

frantic shoppers

Black Friday Sales Frenzy (image from Business Insider Australia site)

Simran is an extremely highly regarded academic, journalist and eco-activist. She is working hard to activate the audience’s ‘green brain’, the part of our brains that imagines the future, that might act to save our planet if it cares about something. I’m sure her book about Bread, Wine and Chocolate (due Nov 2015) will be very well received and completely ineffective. People in the Fair Trade and Slow Food movements have been saying these things, DOING these things, for decades. In my own files I have a report dated 1986 by the World Wildlife Foundation called The Wild Supermarket: the importance of biological diversity to food security.

I can’t believe that anything Simran can add, (even if she is The Environmental Messenger and an expert on engagement) will cause millions of people to stop buying cheap food from Woolies and rush to their nearest farmer’s market. I fear those under the verdant green plastic globule that is RMIT’s entrance to Storey Hall Lecture Theatre on Sunday are already converted.

If only Simran wasn’t busy flying all over the world taking photos of hands with her great big carbon footprint. Just because it’s self-confessed doesn’t make it right. Many activists now use Skype to deliver just such communications. (People such as Professor Mary Wood, the lawyer fighting for Nature’s rights.)

Simran’s pat reply to the inevitable population question stems from her heritage and from her heart, I fear, rather than her head. Any parent, anywhere on this beleaguered planet, will raise up their children as high as they can. It is in our genes. If they are in a tent in Somalia, a slum in Mumbai or the Dakota building overlooking Central Park, that parent will try to ensure their child can afford a fridge and a car and a mortgage. And a nice secure share portfolio with an eye to growth. Consumption is of course part of the problem. Human’s need to improve their lot drives it. Human greed drives the use of fossil fuels, habitat loss, climate change …

And, as no there is no effective action to slow any of it, then the species of greatest risk of disappearing is not coffee, or bananas or wheat.

It’s humans.

And you’d think people would care enough about them, wouldn’t you.

Click here to go to WWF’s footprint calculator so you can see how many planets your lifestyle is using up!

Link

Happy Anniversary year, Martha! Not really. Last Passenger Pigeon. Ever.