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Fair warning.  This will be a bit of a rant.

 But first, some news (or at least news to some). The frogs are dying all over the world.

In moist, mossy rooms, rows of glass aquariums bathed in eerie light shelter the last of the last of the frogs. It is a secure facility, for here reside the sole survivors of their species, rescued from the wild before a modern plague swept through their forests and streams in a ferocious doomsday event that threatens the planet’s amphibians with extinction. [...]

In what may be the greatest disease-driven loss of biodiversity in recorded history, hundreds of frog species around the world are facing extinction. [...]

The villain is a rather extraordinary fungus, an amphibian version of a case of athlete’s foot from hell, with an impossible name, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis , which scientists call “Bd,” a virulent, lethal fungus that has spread around the globe.

Frogs in both of the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Australia are dying.  Particularly hard hit are species in Central America.  This loss of biodiversity is an ecological disaster caused by many factors, but likely the environmental impacts of globalization, pollution and even climate change have played a role in the spread of this killer fungus.  If you think the loss of frogs and other amphibians are not important to you watch this video:

Follow me below the squiggle thing where I rant about what this really means, and no, I don't just mean for the frogs that are going extinct.

It goes without saying that our current economic models of endless growth and endless extraction of fossil fuels for energy is not sustainable.  As human population size has exploded over the the last 200 years, the consequences to the planet have become ever more severe. One of those consequences is loss of bio-diversity through habitat destruction, environmental degradation and and the increase in disease vectors.

This chart shows demonstrates that the rise in species' extinction is a near perfect match for the increase in human population:

Medical science is having difficulty keeping up with the increase in super-pathogens which mutate into deadly forms resistant to current medical treatments and which spread far faster than in the past.  Infectious diseases are spreading more rapidly among all species, due to the massive increase in the movement of goods and peoples between countries.  The increase in disease vectors is also one of the impacts of global warming.
According to the IPCC Forth Assessment Report, climate change has already altered the distribution of some disease vectors. There is evidence that the geographic range of ticks and mosquitoes that carry disease has changed in response to climate change. Ticks have extended their range north in Sweden and Canada and into higher altitudes in the Czech Republic. While future climate change is expected to continue to alter the distribution of disease vectors, it is important to recognize that there are several other factors (such as changes in land use, population density, and human behavior) that can also change the distribution of disease vectors as well as the extent of infection.

An increase in disease vectors affects all life on this planet, just as much as changes in weather patterns such as extended droughts and more severe precipitation events.  Yet, our current civilization is based largely on an economic theory that was first developed in the 18th century, and technologies for the extraction of energy from fossil fuels that began in the 19th century.  

Many proponents of the current model rely upon the assumption that development is essentially limitless and always beneficial. They fail to account for the unintended consequences of such development, in large part because they fail to grasp that we live within a closed system.  Whatever we do to increase "growth" and "economic development" around the world has consequences, and many of those consequences are deadly for all life on this planet, including human life.  Just look at the people starving to death in the Horn of Africa, or dying from disease or being slaughtered at the hands of warlords, for a preview of where our civilization is headed.

Indeed, our own country's economy has, in my opinion, devolved into what I call "scavenger capitalism" in which those who control the largest amounts of financial resources and power are literally extracting profits from the exploitation of those with lesser financial resources and no power, through the piecemeal destruction of previously healthy economic enterprises.  This is the "Bain" model, if you will, where workers are stripped of their pensions and their jobs, and all physical assets not sold off are left to rot and crumble into ruins.

The income generated from the dismantling of these companies (case study: Hostess) goes to the "owners" of the business, who are in truth nothing but parasites who abandon their host as soon as no more money can be extracted from the businesses they purchased.  Businesses they acquired not to continue operating, but only for the "value" they could obtain by systematically destroying them.

The frogs are dying all over the world from a fungal plague spread by globalization. It's a reality and also an apt analogy for how the current global economy operates.  "Globalization" isn't sustainable, and it's leading to the deaths of entire species, and the deaths of millions of people - now.  If you are a member of the any class other than the parasites at the top of the economic food chain, you're a frog waiting to die from the plague know as globalization or "naked capitalism" or "free markets."  

And the sad thing is that this economic system we live under is literally creating the conditions that wreak havoc on the very planet we live upon. Globalization depends on the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, the byproducts of which are rapidly changing our world's climate and our civilization for the worse.  This economic system that so many defend depends on the free flow of goods and capital that are spreading real diseases and leading to extinction and loss of biodiversity.

As so many cogent observers have warned us, both economists and scientists alike, all cast reluctantly in the role of  Cassandras in this ongoing epic catastrophe, our "way of life" is not sustainable, economically or ecologically. However, those in charge of our various political systems, but particularly the "elites" among the so-called developed nations and those that make up what are referred to blithely as "emerging markets," are unable or unwilling to confront this truth.  Indeed, they seem unwilling to even talk about it openly in our major media.

So why do our political leaders never discuss these critical issues or explain them to the public at large? Why is not one of them rallying to combat the crisis that will bring down this bloated edifice we call our global society?  Blame it on greed.  Blame it on corruption.  Blame it on short term thinking.  Blame it on denial.  Blame it on madness.  But the crisis that we created and for which we are responsible isn't going away.  Sooner or later (and my bet is on sooner) every one of us will get to be one of the frogs, unable to escape the doom to which humanity's failure to address these problems is leading.

Originally posted to Steven D on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 02:11 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.

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