top of page

NEWS

Frog populations have been rapidly declining across the world. Each year, frogs lose 3.79 percent of their population. A global map of threatened species highlights where the most vulnerable and endangered frog species are concentrated. There are now threatened hotspots on every continent, with particularly alarming increases in California.


The main reason for the frog population decline? Lack of water.


First, frogs are in danger of going extinct due to habitat loss. Most frogs live in aquatic and swampy habitats since their skin requires freshwater. Frogs also need water to lay eggs. In California, however, water sources are beginning to dry up. According to the California Department of Water Resources, dry conditions have been off and on for years with records from previous geological ages showing significant dry periods going back more than 1000 years. Some recent historical droughts were from 2007-2009, 2012-2016, and 2020-2022. Because of the drought, California has been getting less water than it needs. This is a huge problem for frog species because they need water to live and breed. The worsening drought is causing creeks, ponds, and wells to run dry across the state, which in turn is killing off animals like frogs.


Water pollution makes the situation even worse. Frogs breathe and drink through their porous skin. Because of this, frogs are vulnerable to chemicals and acid rain that may make their way into the water. Water is vital, especially during breeding season. Frog eggs and tadpoles are even more sensitive than adult frogs as they can be exposed to pollution in the water. These chemicals are usually from various pesticides, sewage, or industry. Some research shows that the overall effect of pollutant exposure was a medium decrease in amphibian survival and mass and a large increase in abnormality frequency. This translates to a 14.3% decrease in survival, a 7.5% decrease in mass, and a 535% increase in abnormality frequency across all studies. For example, the chemicals found in pesticides can cause frogs to grow extra limbs or develop brain problems. The pollution in the water won’t necessarily kill the frogs, but it could weaken the population so much that the next drought or infection that comes along might wipe out a whole species.


A world without amphibians would be devastating since amphibians are a keystone species of many ecosystems—when they disappear, the environment changes dramatically. Frogs are also very skilled at catching pests, so if they go extinct, insects might start overpopulating, making an unbalanced ecosystem. For example, the mosquito population could explode, causing more outbreaks for diseases like malaria, Zika virus, and West Nile virus.


Some ways you can help protect frogs from extinction include educating yourself, protecting the environment, supporting conservation, saving frogs that fall into your pool, and making your yard amphibian-friendly. Education is beneficial because it’s useful to know the threats frogs face. Supporting conservation means conservation acts could be more successful. Saving frogs from your pool could also save them from temperature shock. Making your lawn frog-friendly by adding a frog pond and refraining from using pesticides can help frogs when they desperately need a home.


Frogs are only barely surviving the harsh conditions of drought and water pollution. If we don’t try to save them, they could disappear by 2035. Luckily, California has faced a very rainy season this winter and spring, which has led to record-breaking snowpack, nearly full reservoirs, and overflowing watersheds. Hopefully, the frog population can start to increase!


Citations:


AmphibiaWeb: Worldwide Amphibian Declines. https://amphibiaweb.org/declines/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


“An Alarming Stat about Frogs May Lead Them to Extinction by 2035— Study.” Inverse, 5 July 2020, https://www.inverse.com/culture/frog-legs-extinction.


“Climate Change: How Frogs Could Vanish from Ponds.” BBC News, 10 May 2019. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48219217.


Egea-Serrano, Andrés, et al. “Understanding of the Impact of Chemicals on Amphibians: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Ecology and Evolution, vol. 2, no. 7, July 2012, pp. 1382–97. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.249.


Exploratorium: Frogs: The Amazing, Adaptable Frog / Page 6 of 6. https://annex.exploratorium.edu/frogs/mainstory/frogstory6.html. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


Human Impact on Amphibians | EARTH 103: Earth in the Future. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth103/node/960. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


Larson, Nina. Climate Change Spurring Frog Extinctions: Conservationists. https://phys.org/news/2020-12-climate-spurring-frog-extinctions-conservationists.html. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


Ramirez, Rachel. “Record Snowpack, Nearly Full Reservoirs: Here’s the State of California’s Drought after an Epic Winter.” CNN, 23 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/23/us/atmospheric-river-winter-california-drought-climate/index.html.


Resnick, Brian. “What We Lose When We Lose the World’s Frogs.” Vox, 14 Oct. 2016, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/10/14/13147056/amphibian-extinction-frog-bd.

Every time a faucet is turned on in your home, water rushes through a network of unseen pipes, driven by pressure so you can use it to wash your hands, do the dishes, or fill a glass. When you dry your hands off or raise the cool glass of water to your lips, you are probably not thinking of water pollution. That, you think, is vats of dark oil spilling into the ocean. It is piles of trash floating atop the surface of swamps and strangling wildlife. It is cyanobacteria producing toxic algal blooms. And yet water pollution is much closer than one might think.


Water can be polluted as it traverses through the pipes in people’s homes. Homes with lead service lines, pipes that connect the home to the main water line, can cause lead to be present in drinking water. Homes without lead service lines can still have brass or chrome-plated brass faucets, galvanized iron pipes, or plumbing with lead solder. Lead enters drinking water when the plumbing corrodes, because of a reaction between water and the plumbing that occurs when the water has high acidity or low mineral content. [1]


To combat contamination in drinking water, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which allowed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set standards for drinking water quality. [2] For lead, the EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal at zero because lead can bioaccumulate in the body and is harmful to human health even at low exposure levels. In addition, the EPA issued the Lead and Copper Rule under the authority of the SDWA, which requires utilities to make water less corrosive to plumbing. [3]


For young children, infants, and fetuses, lead is particularly harmful. In children, low levels of lead in the blood have been linked to damage to the nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, and impaired hearing. Ingestion of lead can also cause seizures, coma, and death. While drinking water isn’t the only source of lead exposure for children, the EPA estimates that water can make up about twenty percent of a person’s total exposure to lead. [3] In adults, exposure to lead can lead to cardiovascular and kidney problems.


Although not many houses built after 1986 contain lead service lines, there are steps to take if you think your water might have lead. Water can be tested through water utilities, and a “point-of-use” filter can be used. Cold water doesn’t corrode pipes as much as hot water, and the pipes can be flushed before drinking by taking a shower or doing the dishes. [3]


Ultimately, although the threat of lead contaminating drinking water has subsided in recent years, it’s a reminder that the world is more connected than we think. Even small choices can have an impact far greater than we might imagine.







With the rise of new technologies, we have been gradually lighting up our world. However, these indulgences place not only a burden on our environment, but also a hidden burden on ourselves. Within the past decade, megacities such as Las Vegas and Hong Kong have benefited significantly from their appealing nighttime scene. They feature daily light shows and streets lit up with LED signs and advertisements. These are major tourist attractions that improve the city’s economy, but do we really want to sacrifice the lives of native animals just so that we can take pretty photos to post on social media?


To understand the situation and conflicting values more clearly, we must weigh the pros and cons of using LED lights. They are often referred to as an “extraordinary breakthrough,” allowing us to conserve energy and save the environment. They are sturdier, have a longer lifespan, and make for a better long term investment. Cities benefit greatly from the use of LED lighting, as it has been shown that “public lighting can reduce crime by up to 20% and traffic accidents by up to 35%.” LED lights are commonly used in Christmas decorations and as shop decorations, bringing more business and tourism to shops, malls, and the city in general. People love traveling to these intensely urban areas covered with LED signs. A popular example is New York Times Square, which is famous for its digital screens and billboards, the largest of which features a 125,000-square-foot screen.


However, this popularity has led to an overuse. This isn’t the first time a miracle like LEDs has turned into a curse. Some areas are even overlit due to how luminous LED lights are compared to incandescent and fluorescent lights. Public lighting is definitely important for pedestrian safety, however light shows and streets covered with LED signs are completely unnecessary and not worth their detrimental impact to the environment.


LED signs and lighting are viewed as a “need” by large business corporations so that they can profit and attract customers, but it is completely unethical for these billionaires to overlook any negative side effects and barrel straight towards the money. An increased number of tourists leads to a higher influx of people moving into the city. This propels the rate of urban sprawl and in turn increases pollution and invades more animal habitats. Frogs, moths, and sea turtles are all attracted to city lighting. This means that native wild animals outside of the city won’t have a reliable food source, therefore hurting other animals in the food chain. Newborn sea turtles scramble towards the brightest horizon, which is now artificial lighting by cities, causing them to be crushed to death by cars. They are already classified as endangered, and bright city lighting is only bringing them closer to extinction. Greenwashing also plays a large role in the popularity of LED lighting. Because they are seen as more environmentally friendly, people feel better about themselves when they use LED lights and don’t pay attention to its downsides.


Instead of continuing to overinflate our cities with people and ruin the surrounding ecosystem, we should reduce and get rid of excessive lighting, while limiting the construction of LED signs and billboards. An effective way to prevent new lighting decorations from being built is to stop visiting these areas, convincing companies that fancy lights would not be profitable for their business. Furthermore, wavelengths of light closer to the UV spectrum such as blue and violet LEDs disrupt the circadian rhythm of animals more than longer wavelengths of light. Longer wavelengths of light like red and amber colors are less visible to wildlife, and they will be less attracted to these lights. Shorter wavelengths of light contribute more to light pollution, as they travel further and make up the majority of skyglow. While some lights and billboards can’t be removed, we can still put them into “night mode.” Similar to how our phones turn more orange tinted and less blue at night, we could do the same with outdoor lighting. This would be relatively simple with billboard displays, as the RGB of the image displayed could just be adjusted. Currently at the New York Times Square, the billboards are on throughout the day and night. Even turning these lights off for a few hours late at night would make a big difference.


City lights act as vacuums for moths and insects, bleach birds’ retinas so that they circle endlessly until they drop dead, attract and dehydrate frogs, and lure baby sea turtles to be crushed by vehicles. While basic public lighting is important, the overuse of these lights in order to attract tourism and business is unethical. The health of our environment should never be compromised for the sake of monetary benefit. We have already drained many of our earth’s natural resources dry, so reducing unnecessary LED light usage is the least we can do to save the environment.


Citations


Makumbe, Jie Lipedzi. “Led Street Lighting: Unburdening Our Cities.” World Bank Blogs, 7 Aug. 2017, blogs.worldbank.org/energy/led-street-lighting-unburdening-our-cities.


Weaver, Shaye. “North America’s Largest Billboard Is Now Displaying Hyperrealistic Crashing Waves.” Time out New York, 19 July 2021,

www.timeout.com/newyork/news/north-americas-largest-billboard-is-now-displaying-hyperrealistic-crashing-waves-071921. Accessed 20 July 2023.


“About Lighting Pollution.” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/lighting/pollution/#:~:text=Artificial%20light%20has%20several%20general.


“Sea Turtle | Species | WWF.” World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/species/sea-turtle#:~:text=Climate%20change%20has%20an%20impact.


“French Authorities Warn of Health Dangers from LED Lighting.” CTVNews, 15 May 2019, www.ctvnews.ca/health/french-authorities-warn-of-health-dangers-from-led-lighting-1.4423910?cache=%3FclipId%3D373266. Accessed 20 July 2023.


December 22, on, and 2016. “Why Is Blue Light at Night Bad?” International Dark-Sky Association, 22 Dec. 2016, www.darksky.org/why-is-blue-light-at-night-bad/


bottom of page