Thursday, January 7, 2016

book review and musings

The other night I FINALLY finished reading A Plague of Frogs by William Souder.

The first chapter or two was riveting, giving background details to what I remembered hearing on the news many years ago. It was horrifying to think about. Because so many scientists and areas and viewpoints were involved, Souder's book simply follows the timeline of the story, meaning a LOT of jumping around from viewpoint to viewpoint and area to area. It was a little hard to remember who was in what area if you're only reading the book a little at a time like I was. The last 125 pages of the book are probably the best. The pace has picked up and you think an answer is finally in sight. Only, it's not. Well, at least not in the way readers are accustomed to have endings. Basically, there are multiple reasons to the decline/extinction of the frog population, scientists don't agree on all of the answers, the tests are inconclusive, and other than the fact that frogs are dying in massive quantities and some breeds have become extinct in the last 15 years, that's about all the resolution you're going to get.

Climate chaos, climate change, global warming, (and my older cousins and aunts laugh that it had different names but same meaning back in the 1960s and 1970s) does play a factor in the environment, regardless of what we believe about its causes (or even its existence). The irony of the whole situation to me is the reaction from the various worldviews. Some of the scientists in the book were clearly Darwinists, and yet, they seemed to be the most concerned about the result. If the whole concept of evolution is that the fittest will survive whatever is thrown their way, then isn't extinction of some animals a good thing? And for the record, there were many scientists interviewed in the back, mainly biologists, who saw this as a very small part of a larger picture, one that was too complex to bullet point certain answers. I gathered from my reading (and my conclusion here could be totally wrong) that while they were very concerned, they were also somewhat acquiescent about whatever nature doles out.

To me the irony comes not only in the panic of those who believe this is how nature is supposed to play out - some make it; others don't - but also in the mirror image attitude of Creationists. Some deny the whole concept of earth warming and changing (yet to hear any explanation for why species are dying out or temperatures are clearly changing as any gardener will tell you), which means they're also denying the reality of Scriptures that there will come days of famine, a day when the sun will clearly die out (and if you remember middle school science, stars get hotter before they die) and they see no cause for concern or change in behavior - whatever comes, they'll accept. That whole mindset reminds me of the acquiescent biologists. And then there's the others who are concerned and think we should modify our behavior and fulfill our command to "tend the earth" and stop things from getting worse. They're very concerned, and like the Evolutionists, I can't help but wonder if they've forgotten their theology that will come to pass.

I'm not sure what camp I belong to. I do believe the earth is warming. What percentage is man-made and what is natural demise, I can't say, but it's quite obvious that it's happening. Bobby has commented that the frog population in the pond (which he helped his Dad build at age 5) is miniscule compared to what it was in his younger years. While we've not seen the deformities found elsewhere, in my adult years I've also not played with the frogs enough to notice such things. I have heard many bird watchers and older people comment lately about certain birds they always enjoyed hearing or watching when they were younger no longer being around. And I know there are certain trees that used to be everywhere you almost never see anymore. There's a small part of me that makes me wonder if the Amish didn't have it right. Granted, I have no desire to give my up heat, AC or electricity, but I also know that in China their source of heat is one of the many factors that is giving them excessively dangerous air quality these days. I can't imagine having to choose between being slightly warm (when I lived there I had "heat" and still wore 3-4 layers inside in the winter) and the ability to breathe.

So while I was disappointed with the book's ending, even in my own life I don't have definitive answers or thoughts about the issues and potential causes themselves. Perhaps that is why I found the lack of conclusion so unsettling - I was looking for a conclusive answer to an endlessly vague issue.

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