Friday, March 04, 2005

So What?: March 2005

Did you know there were a lot of hermaphroditic cricket frogs in the state of Illinois in the 1950's? So what?

Toxicologists and veterinarians at the University of Illinois spent some time examining the reproductive organs of more than 800 cricket frogs. These frogs had been collected in Illinois between 1852 and 2001, and apparently stored at various natural history museums.

Frogs with both male and female organs were plentiful in the 1950's according to the scientists. This was considered rare in frogs from the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Large amounts of chemicals, like DDT and PCB's, were used at this time, and researchers believe the evidence is increasing that pesticides and various industrial chemicals are able to alter the sex hormones of animals.

Because frogs go through metamorphosis and spend time in water, they are considered "sentinels" of major environmental change. More information can be found in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Some scientists are suggesting that the Arctic may not have any ice in the summer by the end of this century. Does it matter?

It could matter a lot. Ice is melting in a number of places in the world. Average temperatures are rising in the Arctic Circle and ice buildup is shrinking each year in the Arctic. The ice cap on Kilimanjaro in Tanzania may have vanished by 2015. Glaciers in South America are melting rapidly.

The largest land ice mass in the Northern Hemisphere is Greenland. If it were to melt completely, it could raise the planet's sea level by some 24 feet. If melting continues it could affect various plant and animal species, food supplies, available drinking water, especially in South America and Asia, economic development, and change regional climate patterns.

Last--but not least--as the ice melts less sunlight is reflected back in space and more is absorbed by land, increasing the warming effect further ... to what end we can't be certain. Ignorance, however, is not bliss, perhaps not even in the "short" run. Learn more about global warming and "melting" ice. It is not an environmental conspiracy.

The ozone layer is declining faster than some scientists expected. But who can worry about that?

While ozone at ground level is a pollutant, in the upper atmosphere it protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. A lot of this kind of radiation causes skin cancer. According to an article in the Denver Post, scientists last winter discovered that the Arctic ozone declined much faster than expected.

The scientists can only speculate at this point as to the reasons for this decline. A number of natural reasons such as solar storms might be a contributing factor, but human-emitted chemicals are a likely reason as well. Testing is now taking place.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Everything is connected on the Earth. No one or thing lives in a bubble. Ecosystem's integrity, stability, and integrity must be protected. Man is part of the environment, and not somehow seperate from it.