The Incredible Shrinking Frog

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

In the New York Times, there’s an article on some research that suggest a slight shrinkage of plants and animals with warming. In the “you can’t make this up” department, here’s the illustration:

Figure 1. A big frog collected a while ago and a small frog collected more recently, which clearly proves that the frog on the left is larger than the frog on the right

The idea that creatures shrink in warmer climates seems at odds with the giant dragonflies and the dinosaurs and the like that lived when it was somewhat warmer than now. But that’s not the reason I brought this up. The beauty is in the press release.

First, the lead researcher is quoted as saying:

They cautioned that it was too early to make detailed predictions. “Things start falling apart as we try to make generalizations and impose more levels and hierarchies into our hypotheses,” Dr. Bickford said.

OK, that seems sound. Then the hyperventilating begins:

If all animals were to engage in coordinated shrinking it might not be so bad, the researchers speculate. But if, say, mice are shrinking faster than snakes, the snakes may not be able to capture enough of the mice to meet their energy requirements.

So we’re already off on the ship of speculation, miniature mice and “uncoordinated shrinking”.  Reuters picks up the story, with Bickford again quoted:

“We have not seen large-scale effects yet, but as temperatures change even more, these changes in body size might become much more pronounced – even having impacts for food security.”

One supposes that they thought that wasn’t scary enough. Here’s the real capper:

“Impacts could range from food resources becoming more limited (less food produced on the same amount of land) to wholesale biodiversity loss and eventual catastrophic cascades of ecosystem services.”

So it’s too early to make detailed predictions, they’ve never seen this in nature, only in the lab … but they are willing to predict the changes might impact food security, make snakes chase smaller mice, limit food resources, cause wholesale biodiversity loss, and at the end of the day, they break out the big guns, it might end up in, wait for it, catastrophic loss of entire ecosystems …

But it’s too early to make predictions.

This reminds me of a headline I once saw in the “National Enquirer”, an American tabloid newspaper. The big print said

Two Headed Boy Found In Jungle!

Not satisfied with the impact of that, they had added a smaller sub-headline that said

Raised By Wolves Until 14!

But that still didn’t have the punch they wanted, so a sub-sub-head was added that said

Mother Teresa Rushes To Investigate!

These kinds of claims, that it’s too soon to tell but it might cause total ecosystems to crash, should be called “Enquirer Science.” Here’s my submission for the first headline:

Two Sizes Of Frogs Found In Jungle!

Clear Signal of Future Ecosystem Collapse!

Well-Funded Scientist Rushes To Investigate!

w.

[UPDATE] A reader pointed to the Daily Telegraph, which has this:

Animals ‘shrinking’ due to climate change

Polar bears are shrinking because of the impact of climate change on their natural habitats, along with many other animals and plants, researchers say.

Figure 2. Obligatory polar bear picture. Two thirds of the worlds polar bears could be lost in fifty years. I thought they had a better sense of direction than that.

I must confess, I find the idea of leetle teeny polar bears quite appealing …

Advertisements

184 thoughts on “The Incredible Shrinking Frog

  1. Gobsmacked doesn’t adequately explain the way I feel……
    How can it be that one could actually be that stupid and still be able to write it down?

  2. Anthony Watts says:
    October 19, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I’m not putting frogs in my Gore jars to replicate this, no way, no how.

    Wimp … but regardless, even without frogs, the Gore Jar experiment will live in history.
    It would be cooler with frogs, though …
    w.

  3. Also covered by the Telegraph:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8830023/Animals-shrinking-due-to-climate-change.html
    They, however, manage to headline shrinking polar bears – so that is the reason there are so many more now than previously – smaller bears eat less food, so the available food supports a bigger population!
    The closing comment is:
    “Experimental research suggests that for every additional degree Celsius, a variety of plants lose between three and 17 per cent in size and fish shrink by six to 22 per cent.”
    So plants grow bigger in colder conditions? As a gardener, the logic of that escapes me.

  4. ah, so my labrador wasn’t really smaller than her siblings, she was just more badly affected by global warming than they were. Being just over 5ft tall maybe global warming has stunted my growth and I could claim millions in compensation from the big evil polluting countries? /sarc off

  5. And the sweetness of this is, the amount of time between the first post about the faked imagery of the experiment and this one, allowed the hyenas to shriek and cackle at the waste of time. Then you go in for the kill with the proof that the whole experiment, as presented, is a fraud. ROTFLMAO!
    The AGW thing has always been about attention to detail, a sorry truth that has always escaped catastrophic global warming proponents. Anthony, you are SO what the science needs!

  6. From Willis Eschenbach on October 19, 2011 at 1:24 am:

    Wimp … but regardless, even without frogs, the Gore Jar experiment will live in history.
    It would be cooler with frogs, though …

    Sticking a frog in a jar flooded with CO2 to see what would happen?
    Keep going on like that, and PETA may revoke your membership!

  7. Classic climate science of the “if my auntie had balls she’d be my uncle” genre. Imagine the catastrophic consequences if this happened to everyones auntie?
    With a generous government grant I could give this problem some serious thought.

  8. Somebody had better tell the horticultral industry that they are wasting £billions growing their crops inside glasshouses with raised O2 levels.

  9. Climate science, opening new fields in the area of stupidity ever day.
    Anyone want to bet that they can and will also blame AGW for any increase in size they find ?

  10. Why do I always feel queasy after reading stuff like this? I think it’s due to motion sickness from all the qualifiers…the epistemological part of my brain starts hurling from all the twists and turns and leaps of logic. I get none of that deep satiety that comes from an “aha!” moment….only a slushy unease.
    Bizarre.

  11. Oh yeah, and the froggy pictures bear a striking resemblence to the staged thermometers from “elsewhere”….visit a pond anywhere and the leopard frogs are all different sizes, so what does that really prove?

  12. You know what puzzles me, is that these little critters live through a daily temperature range of between 8C and 12C over their lifespan of about 7- 10 years (correct me if I’m wrong), so how does a relatively very gradual temperature increase as per IPCC over decades to centuries and many, many generations of frog produce an almost immediate species adaptation. If the adaptation is so quick, then the frogs have the ability to adapt to local variations in short time, be it bigger or smaller depending on local conditions. As for the press release they do slip in the “we don’t want to appear alarmist”, but the “global warming can kill you” warning is still on the pack.

  13. Perhaps, dare we to hope, environmentalists will shrink disproportionately until, like the Cheshire Cat, nothing left but their grin.

  14. Hmmm….
    1.Male frogs are smaller than female frogs. The same is true of Toads and most amphibians.
    2.Shrinkage in species is related to two factors in the environment; lack of food (smaller animals don’t eat as much) or over predation, larger animals are easier to catch.
    3.This article is nonsensical; any one could go into the field and collect specimens of various sizes, put them next to a suitable metric ruler (metric rulers convey that ‘scientific’ feel) and proclaim “salamanders in Borneo are growing at an unprecedented rate!” etc.
    (only the last bit of 3 is /sarc)

  15. Funny that you never see a photo of a polar bear covered in baby seal blood. They’re always sitting at the precipice of a legde of ice, perilously close to the water. If only they were one of natures greatest swimmers, they might just be able to survive, but alas…
    It seems we’re all doomed to have the extreme lack of biodiversity found in the tropical regions, and not the lush tundras of the north. Sometime next week we’ll be halfway between here and some hybrid Venus/Mars, did you know they both have the demon gas too? It’s invaded all the inner planets and erased all traces of life on them, and we’re next!
    I have a cunning plan though, we’ll indoctrinate the children and humourously threaten to murder anyone who deviates in any way, then all get those tax dollars to work at meetings in one of those threatened tropical paradises where we can discuss how to raise more taxes and get the banks on board. If that doesn’t change the planet’s temperature, well at least we did the right thing by raising taxes and concentrating more wealth into the hands of billionaires.
    I’m so proud to be an Australian right now! We’re pouring in at least a trillion dollars to save the planet via bankers, when will you do your part?

  16. Willis wrote: …..It would be cooler with frogs, though …
    So increasing the world’s population of frogs will halt runaway global warming in its tracks? Now there’s a thesis.

  17. The Philip Dick story with the title of this post describes an argument between two scientists who don’t like each other particularly well if I remember correctly… Nice allusion.

  18. Oh my, not only are they smaller but it looks like they are changing color as well! We’re all doomed.

  19. I think these are members of Dicroglossidae, not Ranidae. They might be Hylarana picturata, the Malaysian spotted stream frog; the only problem with that is this frog is a lowlands frog, inhabiting streams, ponds, marshy lowlands and caves. It is very popular in the pet trade, however.

  20. Isn’t it already a degree warmer than two centuries ago?
    So why aren’t all the animals already shrunken?

  21. Willis, Anthony, and crew, how do you discover all the nonsense that is produced by the ‘titled’ idiots. Is the title Dr. becoming short for Dumb reasoning in academia?

  22. KPO says:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:30 am
    “If the adaptation is so quick, then the frogs have the ability to adapt to local variations in short time, be it bigger or smaller depending on local conditions.”
    Theoretically such a quick adaption could be due to epigenetic activation of pre-existing genes, changing the methylation pattern. But this would mean that the species is already prepared for such changes, so no threat to survival; just an adaptation to something that happened in the past before – during the MWP, for instance, and many times before that. This would be another proof that the current warming is nothing unprecedented, so the incredible shrinking frogs could be interesting for the AGW-skeptic position. Just check for changes in the methylation pattern, and try to reverse them in a breeding experiment in a lab setting.

  23. It is actually true that (most) animal tend to grow larger in a cold climate. This has been well known since the nineteenth century (at least 1847) and is known as “Bergmann’s rule” for the german zoologist who was first to describe the phenomenon. It seems to be most reliable for endotherms (mammals and birds) and for large animals. In some mammals the effect is so pronounced that it is possible to date fossils to glacials or interglacials on size alone.
    There are however many exceptions (it does not seem to apply to animals living on small islands for example), and it certainly does not apply to plants (which on the whole tend to grow larger in warmer climates).
    Please note that this does not mean that there are no large animals in warm climates, nor that biomass decreases with rising temperatures!
    As for any catastrophic effect, this is something happens during every glacial cycle without any noticeable ecologic effect.
    The large size of some ectotherms (particularly insects) during past geologic epochs was more probably due to more oxygen in the air rather than higher temperatures. The insects have a rather primitive respiratory/circulatory system that does not work well except for small bodies.

  24. “If all animals were to engage in coordinated shrinking it might not be so bad, the researchers speculate. But if, say, mice are shrinking faster than snakes, the snakes may not be able to capture enough of the mice to meet their energy requirements.”
    What surprises me is the complete lack of ability to understand the prey/predator relationship between the two. Does this particular scientist picture a bunch of fat snakes withdrawing to the smoking room after unwittingly eating the last of the mice?

  25. omnologos said on October 19, 2011 at 2:17 am:

    This post defames the good name of the National Enquirer!! 🙂
    PS whatever happened to bat-boy?

    Bat Boy is still appearing at Weekly World News, “The World’s Only Reliable News”, where he’s always been afaik. They “transitioned” from being a dead tree periodical to being all-online.
    Top headlines:
    Confirmed: World will end October 21, 2011.
    Obama on new dollar bill. (Closing line: FYI: The Obama dollar will reportedly be worth $0.47.)
    Strange, I thought currency only featured, as the slang term for it goes, “dead Presidents.”
    Obama’s teleprompter stolen!
    Other less-entertaining news pieces said the podium and Presidential Seals also vanished, but all were recovered later, found abandoned.
    Uh-oh, could cunning terrorists have hidden small explosives in the gear and are planning on blowing up the POTUS on the 21st?
    Nah, the stuff was probably stolen by some college kids on a dare, taking a break from thinking about attending an “Occupy” protest. And they hacked the software of the TOTUS to randomly display “Allah Akbar” or something similar that he’ll read without thinking. No biggie, nothing new there.
    Oh look! Now on sale, Bat Boy Bobble Heads! Wow, Christmas shopping is getting easier this year.
    😉

  26. I know people in families with with great differences in height and weight could this be caused
    by climate change? Apologies for this just trying to emulate the stupidity of the article.

  27. OK, how about putting a photo of an average Norwegian side by side with an average Malaysian. The average Norwegian (from a much colder climate) is much bigger. Please can I have some money to investigate the climate change implications?

  28. When they said two thirds of polar bears might be lost in the next 50 years it never occurred to me that they meant two thirds would be lost from EACH BEAR! I obviously need to read this stuff more carefully.
    More seriously bears live surrounded by water and ice. Indeed they spend a lot of time in water that is full of ice. I wouldn’t think there would be too much temperature variation in that environment unless they somehow changed the freezing point of water somehow when I wasn’t looking.
    I also would have thought other changes in their environment likely to have had a greater impact on size. Humans have always been their greatest predators, but only recently have we started hunting them with rifles, a method where big bears no longer have an advantage over small bears in terms of their chance of escape. Furthermore their main food source, seals, suffered a massive decline in abundance in the mid 20th century and has not yet recovered to its previous level. Smaller bears needing less food may well be favoured in a seal scarce environment.

  29. zac says:
    October 19, 2011 at 3:11 am
    First of all we need to know which frog it is, the article neglected to include that detail, which is quite odd considering the poor thing has lost a third of it’s body size in just 20 years or so. Then we need to know the ages of the two frogs.
    I think we need to know the SEX of the two frogs, actually: male frogs are 1/3rd the size of females. I am fairly sure they are both Hylarana picturata, although the colouring difference indicates they may be from different regions.

  30. Is it a trick of the light or is the colouring different? The smaller appears to have blue bands which could mean its a different type of frog or something.
    The blog on the article linked to has the answer in the comments I think, that they don’t understand what they’re seeing when they raise the temps for fish – post 19 from W.A.Spitzer: “There needs to be a better explanation here. The trout in the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park have been well studied. The trout living in the warmer water nearer to the geysers have become adapted; they grow faster and are larger in size. Further, it seems to me that I have read that in general, the same species of fish living in warmer waters tend to grow faster and are bigger.”

  31. I just wondered.
    Is it at all possible [ and I’m prepared to be called out for monumental stupidity here ] but
    could it be that the frog on the left is older than the frog on the right ?
    No – I’m sorry, I know now that the two frogs are the same age,
    despite being separated by three years.
    My how the time flies!
    N

  32. I haven’t really got the time to look in any detail but the elephant in the room is the temperature at Mount Kinabalu from the 80’s to 2008, as this is an article on global warming right causing animals to shrink right?
    So I had a quick check of the mean October temperatures at Sandakan between 1985 (27C) and 2008(27.4) and there was no noticeable warming, I then jumped around to April 1985 (28C) and April 2008 (27.6) again no noticeable warming I haven’t checked any of the other months though.
    http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/Sandakan/964910.htm

  33. Absolutely correct analysis. I’ve always shrunk (lost weight) in the warm months and gained weight in the colder months. Must be the warming.

  34. We can just tax the snakes until they shrink down to the size of the mice.
    It’s the seals I’m worried about. They breath through holes in the ice, y’know. If the ice melts, they’ll all drown!
    Best,
    Frank

  35. I have a big dog. My neighbor has a small dog – depending on who was born firs determines whether the earth is warming or cooling.
    This science schtick is easy-peasy.

  36. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:15 am
    Why do I always feel queasy after reading stuff like this? I think it’s due to motion sickness from all the qualifiers…the epistemological part of my brain starts hurling from all the twists and turns and leaps of logic. I get none of that deep satiety that comes from an “aha!” moment….only a slushy unease.
    Bizarre.””
    Well said Mike, the brain rebels at all these “scientific” studies.

  37. omnologos says:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:17 am
    This post defames the good name of the National Enquirer!! 🙂
    PS whatever happened to bat-boy?

    Victim of a pinhead’s pinwheel?

  38. “Two thirds of the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world could be lost in the next fifty years. ” Actually, it’s a good bet that *every one of them* will die in the next fifty years. 😉

  39. I just read an article about how “endangered” polar bears spend the summer on land eating berries and grubs and whatnot. Strange…I thought they were supposed to be on ice all year long?

  40. Hmmm, there seems to be a remake of a certain old movie in the making; this might be the frist press release.
    Could somebody please apply some Global Warming to Mr. Gore? If he, his ignorance, or his ego were to shrink to normal human size, it might be beneficial to a lot of other peoples’ blood pressure.

  41. Maybe, just maybe (gasp!), the smaller froggie is a younger froggie … ??? Anyone checked dates of birth …?

  42. Willis
    I wonder if Jennifer Sheridan and her co-authors have read this paper
    Global Height Trends in Industrial and Developing Countries, 1810-1984: An Overview, Joerg Baten
    http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/seminars/baten.pdf
    Here we have a 165 year data set containing global homo sapiens height measurements from which Baten has extrapolated a global height trend (disappointingly, the data is actual height rather than anomaly or the parallel would be uncanny). Give or take a year or two, this is also the period for which we have a recorded increase in global temperature supposedly driven by atmospheric CO2 increase.
    During the period covered by the paper, global mean temperature rose approximately 0.6ºC while global mean homo sapiens height rose (see figure 2) by approximately 5.5cm or 3.3%.
    Now the last time I checked I believe that homo sapiens was classed as a species, consequently one would have expected the researchers to have at least examined this data to see if it was consistent with their theory!

  43. I’m waiting for those domesticated polar bears.
    Clearly we’ll all need refrigerated ponds in our backyards so we can watch the cute little things frolic.
    Better get working on all that generating capacity to run the icemakers.

  44. Human says – “Mother Gaia, we shrunk the kids frogs!”
    Mother Gaia says – “Silly humans. Go back to shrinking the kids.”
    Human says – “Mother Gaia, I think you adopted me . . . I do not think you could be my mother. You are so mean to me but not to other life.”
    Mother Gaia says – “Insolent human, now I am going to punish you by making you stand in the corner with a lifetime subscription and back issues of Andy Revkin’s articles.”
    Human says – “Mother Gaia, no not that . . . anything but that! I’ll take water boarding instead!
    John

  45. Is there a limit to how much more bizarre climate science can get.
    What will it grow into in 20 years, for example.
    I’m not sure there is a limit. We’ve already seen the one that says “Aliens might come to wipe us out because our CO2 emissions demonstrate we might be uncontrollable/evil”.
    “CO2 released by Man will cause a CO2 flash-over event and the Milky Way Galaxy, possibly even the entire Universe, will be completely destroyed.” That might be as far as it goes but who knows?

  46. Hmmm,
    “Experimental research suggests that for every additional degree Celsius, a variety of plants lose between three and 17 per cent in size”
    Don’t tell that to the Hockey Team – it might upset them!

  47. Come to think of it: a Hollywood proposal for that remake. “The Incredible Shrinking Al.” Guy gets hits by AGW instead of radioactivity. Lots of CGI sound and fury; the end drowned in the usual mystic-cosmic kerfluffle à la 2001: A Space Odyssey, Phase IV, Contact, Melnacholia: hallmark of any serious SF film. (The Jack Arnold original was the first film to employ that technique, after all). I would suggest Jack Black to play Mr. G. (a follow-up to his Lemuel Gulliver; their senses of sublime humor also match).
    Any takers for the role of the cat?

  48. With regard to frogs in jars, I recall conducting that experiment about 35 years ago. I recall firecrackers as well. I don’t recall any signifcant scientific outcomes, and results were not pretty. I’m a bit more of a whimp than I was at that young age. Perhaps that’s a good thing. 🙂

  49. I have climbed Mt Kinabalu. It is an ecological island, in that it is a lone isolated peak rising out of the jungle. All sorts of weird, large things are found there, earthworms as big as snakes, acorns the size of tangerines, and the crowning glory, Nepenthes raja, a pitcher plant big enough to drown and eat rats.
    I’d say the flora and fauna could use a little shrinking!

  50. Willis,
    Yup, the “two-headed boy” story was a Weekly World News article, May 14, 1985, not the National Enquirer. Google Books has the article:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=nO8DAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PT4#v=onepage&q&f=false
    Cover is quite similar to what you said, except for probably being raised by “animals” instead of wolves (“raised by wolves” is a pretty common expression) and at the time of the article the kid was 10, not 14, which was mentioned in the text.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=nO8DAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover
    26 years later, if that was all of the details that got fuzzy concerning a tabloid cover you likely only glanced at… Not bad, could be worse.

  51. The closing comment is:
    “Experimental research suggests that for every additional degree Celsius, a variety of plants lose between three and 17 per cent in size and fish shrink by six to 22 per cent.”

    Perhaps this is how there is such biological diversity in the Amazon rainforest – the relative heat there (compared to this chilly day in New Hampshire) means plants, people, frogs, and other animals there must be really small. That allows for a lot more species to squeeze in there. Or something like that. Perhaps I should visit the Amazon lest someone point out my observation lacks supporting evidence.
    More seriously…
    While I’m here, I once raised some American toads from polliwogs a housemate brought home from a drying puddle until metamorphosis. I floated a sponge in the aquarium for the new “toadlets” to climb on. They looked much like adults, only smaller. Unless those frogs in the photo were well dated and sexed, I’m gonna be skeptical the photo supports anything other than a) there are frogs and b) frogs can be different sizes.
    And adult females are a lot bigger than adult males.

  52. It should be noted that all frogs have indeterminate growth. That means that in contrast to e. g. mammals and birds, who grow rapidly to full size on maturation, and then stop growing, frogs (and many other ectotherms) grow rapidly when young, but then keep on growing slowly for as long as they live. So I feel fairly confident that the left frog in the image is older than the right frog (also note the colour difference), but that is about all you can say.

  53. How do you know the frog wasn’t just dieting? I know lots of folk who sweat off a few pounds in a sauna.

  54. I am reminded of
    “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
    a story told by a drunken bum to Mark Twain.

  55. From:
    http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Mark_Twain/61
    “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
    “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
    “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

  56. What happened to the “humans shrunk to cold” theory like the Inuit population is the NE Siberia. They got tiny and kind of round, and the explanation was that it was an adaptation to cold (less surface area exposed).
    Anyway, this article is so full of it is not even worth the typing effort I put into it. So they are telling us, that within 25 odd years, the frogs that do not even look the same (I hope at least they identified the correct species to compare), shrunk by about 50%. Fine. So even if you say that the entire warming in the last century occurred in the last 30 years, you get these frogs to adapt really fast to a 1C warming.
    Or maybe, I can draw another conclusion, if I compare Yao Ming to the rest of the Chinese population, I see that the Chinese population shrunk by 50% compared to him. This leads me to the conclusion that a) there has been a lot of warming in China lately and they adapted fast, or b) Yao Ming lives in a very cool place.
    If the solution a is correct, then we have nothing to worry about. Since humans and the rest of the biota adapt really fast to external “stress”, there is no need for immediate action against the CO2 stress. My prediction is that by the year 2100, the planet will be populated with midgets at all levels.
    /sarc off

  57. This reminded me on an experiment I saw on TV many years ago when the hot debate was if the electromagnetic fields may have an effect on life development. The smarty panties researcher used two chicken eggs and two powerful electromagnets. He kept one (yes 1, not 10 or 100) chicken egg exposed to a positive magnetic field, and one (not 10 or 100) exposed to a negative magnetic field during all incubation time. When the chicks hatched, the one that was exposed to the positive magnetic field was actually bigger (or smaller, I don’t remember) than the one exposed to the negative magnetic field. Logical (and necessarily scary) conclusion: a static magnetic field have an impact on life development!!
    With this kind of great minds watching over our future and every day well being I really feel safer.

  58. I was told by my college psychology professor that the IQ range for PhD’s in the US is 80 to 180. Perhaps all this warming is shrinking the low end.
    Was this peer reviewed?

  59. Another fine piece Willis. I was going to point out the demise of the Polar bears in fifty years but Harold beat me to it.
    HaroldW says:October 19, 2011 at 5:20 am
    “Two thirds of the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world could be lost in the next fifty years. ” Actually, it’s a good bet that *every one of them* will die in the next fifty years. 😉

    On another note:
    eyesonu says: October 19, 2011 at 3:23 am
    Willis, Anthony, and crew, how do you discover all the nonsense that is produced by the ‘titled’ idiots. Is the title Dr. becoming short for Dumb reasoning in academia?

    I always thought the Bugs Bunny cartoon had a word play on Elmer Fudd’s name. I assumed they were making fun of the title ‘Doctor”, since “PhD” would be pronounced; “fǔd”.

  60. “In laboratory experiments, for every 2 degrees the scientists cranked up the temperature, various types of fruit size decreased anywhere from 3 to 17 percent. For fish, the shrinking was even more pronounced, from 6 to 22 percent.”
    There are 2 possibilities here:
    a) these experiments took 30 years for each 2 degrees which were “cranked up”, or
    b) the scientists increased the temperature much faster than even the craziest of IPCC predictions.
    This is a similar error to experiments concerning coral. Obviously if corals are suddenly exposed to a less alkali environment then this could affect growth, but this tells us nothing about how they would adapt to a similar change over a century.

  61. You have got to be kidding me. Global warming will shrink the animals? Every plant and animal that I have seen from a tropical climate is larger,more taxic and dangerous than most animals from a temperate or arctic climate, with the exception of the large predators. This is either an adaptation problem or diversity within the species

  62. I grew up in Maryland to a height of 6’1″. My son grew up in Florida to a height of 6’4″. Based on the (clearly sufficient as the article suggests) one data point i think the author has it backwards.
    Can I now be funded?

  63. A fine example of BS ( Bad Science).
    Any kid that has played with polywogs will tell you the the size of frogs is caused by the amount of water available. 😉 pg

  64. Olen says:
    “The list of global warming consequences is becoming very big.” – Like this – ROARRRMEMEEUW – The sound of a lion in transition. Sorry couldn’t resist.

  65. Willis,
    I have a .pdf of the original full article if you’d like it. You can email me at kip at i4.net.
    It worse than you thought…it is not a study at all really, but a Perspective piece.

  66. Hey guys
    “… which clearly proves that the frog on the left is larger than the frog on the right”
    “I’m not putting frogs in my Gore Jars to replicate this, no way, no how.”
    Stop It! My sides are hurting!
    I see there is still no common sense or reality checks for these pseudo-scientists that want AGW.

  67. “In laboratory experiments, for every 2 degrees the scientists cranked up the temperature, various types of fruit size decreased anywhere from 3 to 17 percent. For fish, the shrinking was even more pronounced, from 6 to 22 percent.”
    Really? Then please explain why the Bass in Stick Marsh Farm Reservoir in Central Florida, created in 1987 as a runoff with warmer than normal water has been producing Largemouth Bass that are growing at the incredible rate of 2.5lbs/yr – far exceeding growth rates of Bass in nearby, colder lakes?

  68. Too bad that Anthony does not want to investigate. If he did, he would find that these are not two frogs – it is actually just the same frog, which has simply been warmed with a short-wave infrared lamp. Which of course does prove that warming shrinks frogs.

  69. I will laugh my ass off if the ‘shrunken’ frog is found to be an undiscovered sub-species, one destined to become extinct without us even knowing according to WWF modeling.
    Though i’ve never been able to work out how you can claim something to become extinct if it you don’t know of it’s existence.

  70. Only Reuters would pick up this kind of environmental scare story. I do not read anything by Reuters anymore, they demonstrated their bias when the IPCC released their AR4 report in 2007 and at every climate summit since.
    Reuters causes serious facepalm.

  71. I guess they might have a point. I mean, frogs were the size of small dogs in the 80s, and they sung and danced.

  72. I don’t have a problem living in world with smaller mice and no snakes. What’s the problem with that?

  73. Do frogs expand or shrink after being stored in a jar for 30 years? If they expand, it could be worse than we thought.

  74. Smashing job, Willis! You could be a first rate writer for an “Enquirer” magazine or a Warmista pal reviewed scientific journal.
    Your take down of the press release is a classic that should be published in all science texts.

  75. Not only did the global warming make the polar bear shrink, it also turned it slightly green (in the photo). Makes a nice photo sitting on the blue ice. (Polar bears get slightly green with algae in the fur.)
    Hatcheries here in AK grow larger trout, dollies, grayling and salmon fry in warmer water. The large the fish are when they hit the wild, the better the survival and rate of return. Cheers –

  76. Dan says: “Appears as if the global warming so far has succeded in shrinking at least a few brains.”
    Doesn’t one have to have a brain before it can shrink, Dan? That leaves out these clowns.

  77. The only species in the world that is shrinking
    is Warmista-Brains, drenched in fear
    of their imaginary Epocalypse (Gore-pocalypse?).

  78. Mike Smith says:
    October 19, 2011 at 9:36 am
    So global warming is the reason I’m only 5ft 7ins?

    No, that’s a result of hypertrophy of the self-importance gland. The Goracle is also about that height, but claims to be 6’1″, and mandates that he be photographed and videoed only from knee level.
    >:)

  79. Willis,
    First the frogs shrink to the tipping point then they melt, like the witch in the ‘Oz.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1clgwabmPM&w=640&h=360]
    John

  80. Catching frogs along Omans Creek, a trib of the Assinniboine in Winnipegg, as a boy, the search was for the biggest and man they ranged from small to 2 or 3 times as large. I guess the little ones must have been born in the 1930s heat and the giants were born in the late cooling 40s. To further support this theory, there were little snakess I guess from the hot 30s taking out the old tiny frogs , while. the big newbie hoppers were serving themseves up to the young big snakes. Hey I also caught little snapping turtles and ones it took two of us to lift but I’m not sure what they ate. I’ve also noticed you gett a smaller serving of french fries than they used to 30 yrs ago. These guys are maybe onto something. Or maybe just on something. Biology along with the soocial sciences needs to be scrapped and erebuilt from scratch.

  81. These stories have been flooding the Yahoo “Science” section for the last few days now. The MSM furor to keep up the drumbeat of climate alarmism is, well, alarming.
    OT: Started Donna L’s book late last night, and it is a good read.

  82. I suggest we all kick in to generate a nice slushfund so we can give grants to a couple of teams of “scientists” to produce studies that prove that excess CO2 causes humans to lose weight. Once we put out the PRs on the results this whole AGW fiasco would be over in a day and a half. We could then do an infomercial selling home versions of those greenhouse CO2 generators and make back our investment a thousand times over.

  83. I’ve seen this claim several times – that increasing warmth will produce smaller animals. Must be easy to check though: most animals will have north-south distribution limits and if there’s any truth in the claim then presumably the part of the population that lives closer to the equator will be smaller on average if it’s correct. And, presumably someone will already have looked at this. I can feel a grant application coming on . . .

  84. Willis,
    Thanks for the frog-tastic experience!
    Here is another smaller frog scenario => Warming climate causes certain frogs to drink more beer. Beer drinking frogs are fatter. We see smaller frogs because the fatter ones who drank beer were eaten by predators who prefer fatter frogs and are filled up more quickly by eating fatter frogs.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qub614yXUY&w=640&h=360]
    John

  85. The shrinking frog obviously refutes the idea of a rapid rise in temperature. Everybody knows you have to turn up the heat slowly so the frog won’t notice.

  86. Frogs are shrinking! Please can you spare £2/2$ a month to save them? It’s not much to ask and you will be helping keep the French in food!
    Thank You.

  87. Peter Plail says:
    So plants grow bigger in colder conditions? As a gardener, the logic of that escapes me.
    Guess it’s also a mystery to greenhouse manufactures and commercial growers…

  88. Polar bears will shrink until they fill the ecological void left by the shrunken frogs and mice, so the snakes will be OK.

  89. Is it written on stone somewhere that we must pay for these studies in advance? We pay baseball players a certain—admittedly overblown—minimum, and then add more if they do better than average. Why don’t we try to perfect this sort of plan and then apply it to our grant-making?

  90. Funny, I never noticed that Nigerians are smaller than Eskimo’s…
    On the other hand, like the frogs, they are a little bit darker.

  91. “But if, say, mice are shrinking faster than snakes, the snakes may not be able to capture enough of the mice to meet their energy requirements.”
    Hmmmm. Wouldn’t snakes adapt to the shrinking mice so that they, in turn, would also be smaller and require less energy? This, no doubt, is from the same crowd that says they believe in evolution. So, what am I missing?

  92. jim hogg says:
    October 19, 2011 at 10:40 am
    “I’ve seen this claim several times – that increasing warmth will produce smaller animals. Must be easy to check though: most animals will have north-south distribution limits and if there’s any truth in the claim then presumably the part of the population that lives closer to the equator will be smaller on average if it’s correct. And, presumably someone will already have looked at this. I can feel a grant application coming on . . .”
    Been done and there is truth to that. There is even a name for it, the X Rule, which I can’t recall off the top of my head. One example is white-tailed deer. Bigger at the northern end of their range, which is why all the super-keen trophy hunters are going to central Saskatchewan these days.
    WHEN FOOD SUPPLIES ARE SUFFICIENT, being larger in a colder climate is an advantage because of better heat conservation (and being larger can be a major survival advantage in intraspecific competition and predator protection).
    That said, it is far, far more complicated than that. Size ultimately depends ofn food supply. The Pygmy Hippo lives in a climate as hot and more humid that the regular species but is necessarily smaller because of reduced food supplies in the rainforests where they live.
    For the same basic reason, some island pops of species are smaller than mainland ones.
    Meanwhile, as Willis has so well described, this current AGW scare story is so incredibly unscientific, oversimplified and stupid that I would never have believed it could make it past a grade school discussion… and it would not have in the pre-AGW Fantasy Era.
    What next?

  93. OK, can I bring the discussion back to the Hockey Stick
    – here we have a study that shows that as the temperature increases, plant & animals grow less (i.e. are smaller)
    So, could this not be the reason for the infamous ‘Hide The Decline’ decline…
    i.e. the decline that can’t be explained, and thus must be hidden, can in fact be explained thusly:
    – as the temperatures in the later half of the 20th century increased, the trees grew less, causing the decline (which was hidden)
    – this would then seem to indicate that trees can’t be used as treemometers, since they both tend to grow more and also less as the temperatures increase (or decreases), and vica versa!
    That is my theory, I also have one about dinosaurs.

  94. Goracle :
    Hmmmm. Wouldn’t snakes adapt to the shrinking mice so that they, in turn, would also be smaller and require less energy? This, no doubt, is from the same crowd that says they believe in evolution. So, what am I missing?
    Do you mean that you don’t believe in evolution, and thus believe the earth is about 6000 years old?

  95. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    October 19, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Willis,
    Yup, the “two-headed boy” story was a Weekly World News article, May 14, 1985, not the National Enquirer. Google Books has the article:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=nO8DAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PT4#v=onepage&q&f=false
    Cover is quite similar to what you said, except for probably being raised by “animals” instead of wolves (“raised by wolves” is a pretty common expression) and at the time of the article the kid was 10, not 14, which was mentioned in the text.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=nO8DAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover
    26 years later, if that was all of the details that got fuzzy concerning a tabloid cover you likely only glanced at… Not bad, could be worse.

    Is there nothing the internet doesn’t know? Very sweet find, many thanks,

    w.

  96. So the little teeny, tiny bottles of Budweiser on the miniature wagon drawn by the Cydesdales under glass at the pub was actually a PRE-CURSOR of things to come, vice an advertizing piece scaled down to, well, fit in the bar?
    No wonder I’m just a blonde and not a science major. Dang it, I don’t look good in “doomed”.

  97. OK, what I want to know is…which frog is the Republican one and which is the Democrat? Is the bigger one the Republican because it eats the small Democrat ones, or is the small one the Republican because it believes in smaller government?
    And is one of them a “crunchy frog?”

  98. It must be true. Since global warming started the New York Times company has been getting smaller and smaller. If global warming continues, the NYT company will shrivel away to nothing.

  99. We do occasionally see these odd photos of a polar bear perched on top of a small iceberg. I doubt that they are trying to keep their feet dry. Rather, I suspect they are hunting for seals — by taking a high vantage point, they can see down into a bigger expanse of water, and hence are more likely to see a seal passing by. Furthermore, when they dive in they are more likely to kill the seal on impact if they have a little more altitude.
    Note that in this case there is solid ice sheet in the distance, just a short swim for a polar bear.

  100. If the mice get to small to feed the snakes, the snakes can always swallow the deer instead. If they are not themselves proportionately smaller as well!
    😉

  101. Ahhhhh, I do hope that our esteemed British viewers don’t do a double blink and think this article is about shrinking the venerable French people.
    John

  102. Tom_R says (October 19, 2011 at 7:53 am): “Willis, you owe me a keyboard for the figure 1 caption.”
    Indeed. I was immediately reminded of the Monty Python “economist” and his bar graph:
    “This column represents 23% of the population. This column represents 28% of the population! And this column represents 43% of the population!!”
    Wait! Here it is!

  103. Even assuming the frogs are the same age, were they both collected at the same altitude on Mt. Kinabalu?

  104. Among the more dismissed questions in cosmology is “Is the universe expanding, or are we shrinking?”
    The striking case of these frogs suggest that we should take a fresh look at that question.
    (p.s. kadaka : Nobody stole Obama’s teleprompter. It ran away.)

  105. It’s well known that animals are much smaller in warm regions than in cold regions: elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus… Although after that Seinfeld episode, I thought that shrinkage had to do with cold…

  106. The link between optimal size and temperature is real, but applies only to warm blooded creatures that need to maintain a body temperature above ambient. If you are warm blooded then being big makes it easier to keep your body warm because the volume/surface area ratio is more favourable, and being skinny makes it easier to cool down for much the same reason. This reasoning obviously doesn’t apply to cold blooded creatures like frogs.

  107. As a Canadian I am struck with horror at the very though of global warming. To think that the temperature has risen by one degree a century makes me fear the future. Some days here the temperature goes from minus twenty at night to plus ten in the day, I cannot imagine what would happen when that turns to minus 18 at night and plus 12 in the day. I suspect Greenland would be a giant hot pool, the Tundra turn into orange grove and the polar bears march in protest on Ottawa. At minus 18 the whole winter parka business would go bankrupt, the only slight consolation would be the increased tourist revenue from the Christmas sunbathers on the beaches of Hudson bay.

  108. Seems to me that any organism would benefit from small size – requires less food! So how come we’re not all really teensy? (…looks up at night sky…) Never mind…

  109. I dont see how you can assume frogs are shrinkiing form observing 2 frogs. If one were to observe patrick ewing (7′) or manute bol (7’6″) 20 years ago and compare them to Elijha Wood (5’6) then you could say global warming has shrunk humans too.

  110. ! ! ! ! ! !
    Horror film of the millennium ‘The Revenge of the Shrinking Frogs from AGW’ is opening Halloween night in a theatre near you. In some IPCC enthralled areas it will be followed by the campy sci-fi flick ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.
    Note to parents: AIT will require parental presence for anyone not a PHD in PNS.
    John

  111. “I dont see how you can assume frogs are shrinkiing form observing 2 frogs.”
    Haven’t you ever heard the expression “one point defines a curve, two points defines a family of curves” before? 😉

  112. “But if, say, mice are shrinking faster than snakes, the snakes may not be able to capture enough of the mice to meet their energy requirements.”
    Surely, the bigger, slower mice are eaten by the snakes first at present so mice are at their optimal size. If mice get smaller then snakes will also get smaller – and faster.

  113. Ian H says:
    October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm
    “The link between optimal size and temperature is real, but applies only to warm blooded creatures that need to maintain a body temperature above ambient.”
    There might be a link. But the hypothesis that optimal size for warm blooded creatures decreases as temperature increases is false. In Florida, there are small squirrels. So, there is a link. But nothing else is smaller. Florida Hawks are larger than Virginia Hawks. Florida Raccoons are larger than Virginia Raccoons. And so on.

  114. Brian H… what are you spewing? Please, post English and maybe I can reply. GW appears to have added a bit too much CO2 between your ears.
    NotTheAussiePhilM…maybe I should have rephrased my post. Hope the following clears it up (and no, I don’t think the Earth is 6000 years old, but neither do I believe in the Big Band theory the way I understand it).
    They claim: warm weather slightly shrinks plants and animals.
    The lead researcher says: “… But if, say, mice are shrinking faster than snakes, the snakes may not be able to capture enough of the mice to meet their energy requirements.”
    My post: I assume the lead reaearcher is part of the crowd that believes in evolution … but then he said the above statement which IMO appears at odds with evolution … so, what am I missing? The answer is that GW is not about science… it’s about an agenda.

  115. I have a breeding colony of frogs in my garden pond. And yes, I too have big ones and small ones. Obviously it’s global warming that’s to blame for the differences in size. After all, it’s not like the small ones were spawned this spring is it?
    Oh, wait…

  116. Regarding the borderline argument from incredulity in the second paragraph: Giant dragonflies and other giant insects are famous from the Late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian), a period that was in the grip of a massive ice age, and the reason was probably largely the elevated oxygen content (>30%).
    The dinosaur size is more complex, but likely influenced by nutrient levels, which were relatively low in the land plants until flowering plants evolved in the Cretaceous; there is often a trend to evolve large body size in herbivores when only nutrient poor plants are available.

  117. TomRude: today’s elephants and rhinos are significantly smaller than the mammoths and wooly rhinos of past glacial maxima.

  118. Since we live in an expanding universe, it is not that they are shrinking, it is that their expansion is RETARDED. All things being relative of course.

  119. Goracle says:
    October 19, 2011 at 6:12 pm
    Brian H… what are you spewing? Please, post English and maybe I can reply. GW appears to have added a bit too much CO2 between your ears.

    Say what? Reply to what? I didn’t address you, or even notice that you had posted. … Oh, now I see. I was discussing The Real Goracle, not the local pseudonymous one, yourself.

  120. OT?
    The above (hilarious) Monty Python vid led me to another and then another, where I heard the following:
    “But Mr Figgis is no ordinary idiot. He is a lecturer in idiocy at the University of East Anglia.”
    Spooky.

  121. Honey, I shrunk the frogs!
    I really like the “What if the mice shrinks faster than the snakes” bit. Makes you think.
    What if the snakes shrink faster? Will the buzzards starve? And if the buzzards disappear, what will the wind farms feed on?
    Or will the then relatively larger mice beat up the small snakes for old times sake?
    We will have to build snake asylums where the evil mice can’t get at them.
    The mind is beboggled.

  122. My question is though, if they have actually witnessed this in Nature, are they sure the animals are the same ages, have had the same amounts of food supply, are geneticlly related (of the same mother & father), and various other control measures you usually have in place when running experiments! Answer; Proabably NOT. Just run a computer model & it will tell them the answer eh!

  123. Ye mockers and scoffers! You may laugh, but where I live there are already lots of smaller humans around. Mostly seen early mornings and late-ish afternoons, and all day during school holidays. Oh, wait …

  124. Obviously I am going to have to stop wearing long-Johns and heavy pants in the winter. My spouse probably wouldn’t approve of having `the size of my biodiversity shrink”.

  125. The big frog was captured in 1980 and the small one in 2008. I find it quite natural that the old frog is bigger than the young one.
    Oh wait..

  126. The utter ignorance is almost is almost sending me into despair. A story with an ‘illustrative’ picture like that on a website of a renowned newspaper – the NY Times for gods sake…… it would be laughable if it wasn’t so unbelievably sad. What oh what have we come to ????

  127. Sorry Brian… when you said “Goracle”, I assumed you were talking about my pseudonym and not the father of the web.

  128. I am in the process of perfecting a recipe (to be copywrited) for teeny, tiny chocolate coated elephants, as a new and nutritious cocktail snack. Two versions are envisaged, dead elephants for wimps and live chocolate coated elephants for real men (and women). Caution, tiny live elephants are expected to tickle when swallowed, like live shrimps.

  129. And in Australia it’s being reported that super-termites are marching south. According to TodayTonight, channel 7, Sydney, they are getting larger as they migrate and are now about four times the size of their ancestors up north. It was also claimed they can even eat glass. I take that to mean they’re evolving into silicon-based life forms. That should at least help to mitigate their carbon footprint, so they’ll be welcome in Canberra.

  130. I Guess the Pygmy Hippo will become the Nano Hippo now then?
    Will we need an electron microscope at the zoo to see one?
    As For the Human Pigmies in Central Africa, will they have to be renamed lilliputians?
    Perhaps Gullivers Travels was actually a prophetic tone, I suppose extracts will be published in the next IPCC report as further evidence of AGW!

  131. Franz Dullaart says:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:25 am
    With coordinated shrinking humans will presumably also shrink – so if all lifeforms shrink in concert, the world will be a bigger place.
    Bring on the warming!
    ________________________________________________
    The shrinking humans have already been documented!!!!! And no I am not kidding.
    US babies mysteriously shrinking
    “Birthweights in the US are falling but no one knows why, according to a study of 36.8 million infants born between 1990 and 2005.
    A 52-gram drop in the weight of full-term singletons – from an average of 3.441 to 3.389 kilograms – has left Emily Oken’s team at Harvard Medical School scratching their heads. It can’t be accounted for by an increase in caesarean sections or induced labours, which shorten gestation. What’s more, women in the US now smoke less and gain more weight during pregnancy, which should make babies heavier….”
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18434-us-babies-mysteriously-shrinking.html
    Well Willis Eschenbach has solved the mystery. It is caused by CAGW!!!!
    Good on you Willis, maybe you will get a No Bell Prize.

  132. Clearly Willis there is nothing wrong with this study, and I can prove it…
    Remember back when you were, say 3 years old? Well, that was what, 61 years ago? And there was clearly less CO2 back then. I mean, we know CO2 comes from humans, and we know that they did not start producing it in any amount till 1950.
    Now, remember how much bigger people were back then, why, they were what, 4 times your size? In fact, remember how much bigger everything was back then, why you could look under the dining room table, and you had to climb to get onto one of the chairs. Even the entire world was bigger, you had to run to get anywhere. Heck, it is even starting to effect the economy, everyone says the dollar has shrunk.
    Now, of course, we know that humans have greatly increased the amount of CO2. Now look around you, you can clearly see that everyone and everything has shrunk, see the clear cause and effect? Remember back and you will see that this all started in 1950…
    Obviously, we need to reduce CO2, I mean, if this keeps up, we will be tiny people on a tiny world and the moon will fly off to who knows where!

  133. BTW, one other thing, teeny tiny polar bears, whats the problem? I mean, the smaller they are, the more of them can fit in the same amount of land. Think of it, we could have hundreds of thousands of teeny polar bears chasing millions of teeny seals. Why, CO2 solves the whole extintion problem. Species endangered? Simple, add CO2, now there is room for them and us!

  134. Legatus;
    And since strength decreases as the square of height, but weight as the cube, we’d all be mini Superpersons, able to hop (miniature) buildings in a single bound!
    Sounds great, as long as the rats and cats and bats etc. shrank too; wouldn’t want to have to cope with them at their current sizes.

Comments are closed.