Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mother Earth's Tiny Soothsayers

Frogs used to be slimy green things boys carted around in their pockets. Now they're environmental fortune-tellers, slightly mysterious creatures that tell us when we're headed for trouble.

And it's their year.

The Year of the Frog is an international campaign to remind people that frogs and other amphibians are in serious trouble. As many as half of amphibian species are in danger of disappearing.
What a great story. And its in the Houston Chronicle no less. If you remember back in history 25 years or so ago, this same Houston Chronicle was frothing at the mouth against a petition to list the famous Houston Toad as an endangered species. Now, a quarter century and a ton of public education later, this same newspaper is extolling the value to human society that we gain by having frogs and toads out there warning us about the dangers that humankind is bringing onto the landscape.

In 1979, the Omaha World-Herald ran an editorial in which they bemoaned the fact that water having flowed down the Platte River that hadn't irrigated corn at least one time was "wasted water." That same newspaper in 1992, after a ton of public awareness about the value of places like the Platte River, ran an editorial in which they talked about the impact to the human psyche that would occur if the prairie white-fringed orchid went extinct. The editorial then went on to endorse an effort to list the orchid as a threatened species.

Same newspaper. Same editorial board. All that changed was the attitude of the people reading the newspaper. The same must be happening with the Houston Chronicle - and not a second too soon.

Good on ya, Houston Chronicle.

No comments: