I know I'm an idiot because I think that historical evidence indicates that global warming has more to do with recurring fluctuations in the Earth's climate than does human production of "green house gasses" (primarily carbon dioxide) (http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html). I know that Niger Calder, "former editor of New Science" is an idiot for writing in "An Experiment That Hints We Are Wrong on Climate Change" in the Times Online that solar energy striking the atmosphere has more to do with global warming than green house gasses (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1363818.ece). And I know that John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel is an idiot for pointing out the truth about Al Gore's global warming fraud (http://www.businessandmedia.org/printer/2008/20080303175301.aspx).
What really worries me, however, is how all of us can be such idiots as to ignore the very real damage we are doing to our environment. The continual dumping of pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and hormones into the water supply is a far more real and imminent danger to human life than any future global warming. Unfortunately, deformed frogs and transgendered fish don't get the hype that the eventual end of the world in flames seems to get with our media and our elected leaders.
The story began in 1995 when some school children in Minnesota discovered an abnormally high number of deformed frogs. Most had more than the required four limbs, while others were paraplegics. An underfunded research began into the cause of the mutated frogs (in fact, because of budget cuts, the Minnesota research was suspended for several years).
On 9 July 2002, Stentor Danielson reported in the National Geographic News in "Pesticides, Parasite May Cause Frog Deformities" that recent studies indicated that certain pesticides, including Esfenvalerate and Atrazine made frogs susceptible to a parasite called cercariae. These two pesticides are among the most common ones used in North America. According to Danielson's article, "`Atrazine-exposed frogs don't have normal reproductive systems,' said Tyrone Hayes, the leader of a team from the University of California at Berkeley. `The males have ovaries in their testes and much smaller vocal organs.'" We should care about these frogs because, according to Danielson, "Joseph Kiesecker who published a study on frog deformities in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes: "`amphibians are particularly sensitive to environmental changes that appear to be associated with the recent emergence of new diseases and resurgence of old diseases that infect humans.' Especially disturbing, he added, is that the concentrations of two of the pesticides that caused the deformities in frogs, Esfenvalerate and Atrazine, were low enough for the water to be considered safe for human consumption under Environmental Protection Agency standards. `Frogs may be a sentinel species that is warning us about the interplay between human-caused environmental change and disease susceptibility,' he said, adding: "`Hopefully, people will listen.'" (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/07/0709_020709_deformedfrogs.html)
In addition to Danielson's report, an article in the 25 September 2007 issue of Science Daily indicated that runoff from fertilized fields increased the number of snails infected with trematodes leading to deformities in the frogs (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070925130649.htm). See also, (http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12687-frog-deformities-linked-to-farm-pollution.html). As artificial fertilizers are used increasingly in the Third World, the spread of deformities among amphibians (“a sentinel species”) demonstrates the growing hazard to humans. Pesticides and their by-products also create hormone mimickers leading to a host of problems.
According to a story on Minnesota Public Radio from 1998, "Disappearing Amphibians: Frog Deformities May Warn of Human Risk," by Mary Losure, another distinct possibility for the frog deformities is the ability of some pesticides, especially retinoic, and some chemicals (like PCBs and Dioxin) to mimic hormones, not only creating deformities, but also decreasing fertility rates. Similar declines in fertility rates have been observed in other amphibians, birds, and reptiles. These are worrisome because as "developmental biologist David Gardiner of the University of California at Irvine says, `These hormone-signaling pathways have only evolved once, so we all share common signaling pathways, and certainly, when you look at the kind of hormones we have that control development in our bodies, are indistinguishable from the equivalent hormone in something like a frog.'" (http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/199806/04_losurem_frogs03/ )
Another disturbing trend is the increasing problem with interrupting fish reproductive cycles as well as a growing number of male fish becoming "feminized" (that is, either lacking or having poorly developed male sex organs). According to "Collapse of a Fish Population after Exposure to a Synthetic Estrogen," in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (21 May 2007), abnormally high levels of estrogen and estrogen mimics (mostly from the decomposition of certain pesticides) in a number of Canadian lakes led to the virtual extinction of one breed of fish within seven years (http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/104/21/8897?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=%28Collapse+AND+of+AND+a+AND+fish+AND+population+AND+after+AND+exposure+AND+to+AND+synthetic+AND+oestrogen%29&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT). Natural hormones, in particular estrogen, and hormonal mimics, particularly from pesticides, are the sources of much of reproductive maladies in a number of animal species.
The two major sources of estrogen in our water supply is the urine of cows treated with estrogen (http://thegreenguide.com/reports/product.mhtml?id=39) and in the urine of women taking birth control pills (http://www.insiderreports.com/storypage.asp?StoryID=20009617).
The ability of pesticides to mimic hormones, including estrogen, is behind male Florida alligators experiencing various sexual abnormalities (http://www.rgp.ufl.edu/publications/explore/v11n3/story1.html ).
We should care about the sex problems of amphibians, fish, and reptiles because there are disturbing links between the maladies experienced by aquatic animals and worldwide problems including testicular cancer and low sperm quality in human males (http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/bulletin.cfm?Issue_ID=609 ).
For an excellent overview of the problems caused by the various pollutants on the endocrine and reproductive hormones, see, "Our Stolen Future" (http://www.ourstolenfuture.com/index.htm). In addition, see the article by Ian R. Falconer, “Are Endocrine Disrupting Compounds a Health Risk in Drinking Water?" in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (June 2006) which argues for the negative influence of estrogen mimickers (and, to a lesser extent, estrogen itself) in municipal water supplies (http://www.mdpi.org/ijerph/papers/ijerph2006030020.pdf).
If we put all these observations together, we must realize that pesticides, chemical pollutants, and hormones in the water supply are killing us far more quickly than moderately warmer summers. We might want to point this out to the government. In the meantime, you might want to adjust your own choices by eating more organic foods trying to eliminate pesticides and hormones from your diet. With three daughters, my wife and I have made the switch. In particular, we have switched to organic dairy products in an effort to avoid increased estrogen from the cows' milk. This is something we can control, or at least influence -- think about it.