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Child Abuse Prevention

Jul 17, 2010|

A discussion with Chris Otis, the executive director of the Children's Relief Nursery, about what their organization is doing to help build healthy families and stamp out child abuse.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Welcome to the program I'm Liz summer's great to have you along -- us. The topic we're gonna talk about today is fraud is in hot water to friends and saving amphibians. My guests are doctor Claude gas -- and George Meyer they are both involved with conservation international. George doctor -- turning the program. -- I guess there are many pressing global environmental issues facing us today climate change and fresh water are two big ones. But what world do frogs have to do with this issue as it turns out in my guess we'll tell us a lot. Did you know that frogs or amphibians may be our proverbial canary in the coal mine for these global environmental issues. And that understanding this link can play a key role in successfully dealing with them. My guess they are environmentalists but come from very different backgrounds. They both have a strong interest in frogs and we are going to explore the link between frogs climate change and fresh water with them. Doctor -- yes -- is the executive vice president for field models and conservation international. As head of this division doctor -- gone as a responsible for providing leadership and oversight to CI as a regional programs and is it ahead of science and knowledge and the center for applied biodiversity science. Prior to joining conservation international doctor -- gone with the project director and scientific coordinator for biological dynamics of forest fragments project in Brazil. He also directed a large scale resurgent conservation project investigating the distribution and abundance of vertebrate species in the south western Amazon region. This project was the single largest scientific expedition in the Amazon since the nineteenth century is researchers resulted in over seventy publications and three books. His most recent book lessons from Amazon -- was published last year by Yale University. George in my ear the producer and writer he attended Harvard University became president of the Harvard lampoon and graduated with a degree in biochemistry. After a -- plans to attend medical school will be joined the writing team of Late Night with David Letterman. From Barry went on to write for the new show not necessarily the new isn't Saturday Night Live -- was hired to write for the animated sitcom the Simpsons in 1989. There he led the group of script a rewrite sessions and has been widely credited -- -- comedic sensibility of the show he has held a number of positions on the show and also co wrote the Simpsons movie. Doctor for a speech a little bit more about conservation international and the work you do there. Thank you -- and it's great to be part of the show country's international is environmental organization that really works to preserve natural habitats around the world and all the wonderful pieces of plants and animals that they contain. Really for a simple reason -- the present and future benefits -- nature provides to people and you mentioned climates than freshwater though -- two of many different services that the environment or natural habitat -- of people and unfortunately we off too often forget that these services are in fact provided by by natural habitat. We try and convince governments around the world to really pay attention to the long term natural habitat needs. Other countries because this is -- too often people in their need to survive they will cut down natural habitat for harvest species. And will essentially got to be about the future value of these for the wonderful animal and plant for the future we really try and provide. So long term view on the importance of nature for people and and in that respect. -- -- part of that. Doctor -- I'm sure is -- your passion for the environment begin and how does that lead you to frogs. I've had a couple of very -- an important opportunities in my life and in many respects I should probably not have become interest for the new environment that was -- that -- city kids. Large a city and in Canada but the only time that get up to leading this environment and it was -- -- -- my cousins and I guess you could always -- too late spring early summer and I think he's got a little -- little proved that it just met a more photos from other reproductive even in the spring. In an -- trigger a liking your wonderment and amphibians in general and then of the environment as well. I I had one big experience and college where a professor at first to. Essentially put ourselves in the in the skin of an animal and write a term paper and then I took fraud and that really -- sort of a gorilla fashion nation for your animals. And really what really got me hooked completely who has the opportunity go down in the Amazon which heard biologists looked like being a kid in the candy store I mean they're. Animals and plants and insects are just wonderful -- and of course frogs were just so wonderful that I really became passionate. George can you tell us how you got started with your environmental issues and your love of the outdoors. Well I had done no love of the outdoors really when I lived in upstate New York yeah. I stayed inside and read a lot but one when he moved to Tucson. I suddenly got interested in nature and although weird things that I was fine man because suddenly we had road runners. And horned toads and he will monsters and all kinds of crazy things and I'd never even turned up. And then when I was about twelve I was a boy scout and I had a paper route in the morning delivering the Arizona Daily Star. So in about four to 4:30 in the morning I would go lot of my rounds and there was nobody out there. It was nice and cool and I would see all kinds of strange things. Sometimes I was half asleep. And one time I was riding around with my very have the a bag of newspapers. And I out of the corner in my eye I saw this kind of go launching shape hopping around it and I thought -- well I must be seeing things I mean this can be very it was the size of I'm Garay. And -- consistency grade -- so. I I went over a little closer into that my astonishment it was a giant fraud. As it turns out the largest fraud and that's native to North America. The Colorado River -- And then I saw another one and then I saw more and then I saw groups of them and I thought where these things men. How did they escape from the zoo or whatever well it turned out a little research and did an underground the whole time. It gets up to a 115 degrees in the summer in Tucson. And these frogs live in -- to escape the heat and -- the first big rain comes they all climb out of the grounding -- busy we can and that's what I was seeing. So it was one of those aha moments where I just got to really excited and wanted to learn as much as I could about them. So I went to the Arizona Senora desert museum and they had a fabulous side exhibit. And if toads of the Weston frogs and I was talk. After that there was along now latency period while I struggle with college and other things. Girls and -- cars and rock music but then around the time that I started work on the Simpsons I got intrastate again. And so I managed to working in amphibians in -- the Simpsons episode. I was gonna say are you partly responsible for release of being the environmentalists that the show. I -- and -- big trick is always to keep an entertaining and make people laugh and not beat them over the head with these issues because on the audience is far too sophisticated these days to be preached -- they won't respond and that I want to have you tell folks a little bit about a couple of the episodes where you were able to work frogs and amphibians into the plot line for the Simpsons. Well I'm when the Simpsons went to Australia -- brightest from the line and Lisa pointed out a sign saying that you couldn't bring animals into the country so of course he released it. And then at the end of the show we have them leaving and that of course there over running the country. And someone points out that they're eating all of the crops and the Simpsons have a good laugh at that. Of course that was based on the real life infestation of the cane -- which is still a tremendous problem. And if you haven't seen the documentary about them I believe it's called cane toads. It's hilarious and bizarre and just to see people struggling with this very large fraud that has no intention and leave here. And -- eating everything else in the country that'd be out. Lizards rodents some bugs. Car keys that there was also an episode where homer becomes a missionary and licks a -- in collusion six. Yeah that was kind of a silly episode where homer inside trying to escape from mount up PBS pledge drive enforcement committee -- -- he -- summit cargo plane and becomes a missionary in the south seas. He gets a little bored though and starts licking. A hallucinogenic -- and is sort of goes off and US psychedelic reverie and he calls his family on short wave radio. And Lisa says dad Gary and I make a lot of sense that they are you looking -- host any any replies. Well I'm not not -- codes can fit with the and really surprised how often that data lyme can be used in in modern life. You know that brings to mind though are frogs toads -- -- pop culture in America you've got well you've got to kiss a few toads to find your prints. There's the princess and the frog I mean it's got a good for freeware and pop culture they really aren't are. And -- -- you know I think people project both good and bad things on the frogs one of the most beloved characters of course is Kermit the Frog and there's Michigan. There are just so many frogs and culture and I think it's because they're elegant and mysterious creatures that we don't understand. And they obviously don't see things the way we do but we can project our fantasies onto them. Live radar also revered in and ancient cultures and in history. I mainly because they're very fertile until I think a lot of indigenous force. Cultures and then Latin America and elsewhere have drawing to a vote fraud and and -- -- they just like these things because they were so fertile and can produce so many young. Let's talk a little bit more about your strong interest in frogs from a more scientific perspective. Frog species are there in the world do we even know. Well we -- sciences. It is an uncertain domain. We know what we know under a lot of things that we don't know and in the case from frogs and amphibians in general we do know that there are a little over 6000 different kinds of different species has been formally described through the scientific process now. We also know that there were probably many more and I would estimate that there could be as many as 101000 different species almost double what we know today. Just on the fact that for example many of my colleagues have jars filled with with new species that need to be described and then consider this time consuming process this can't happen overnight. And there are many areas around the world the namely. -- central African force. The island of New Guinea. And some -- have been Madagascar that just haven't been -- surveys infielder probably hundreds of species that are just waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately what's happening -- amphibians frogs than around the world is that they are sort of suffering full brunt of the impact that people academy environment over the -- hundred -- hundreds and hundreds of years and everything that we've thrown -- the environment where there were. Destroying forests are polluting our water putting pesticide laden and natural habitat all of this -- sort of piled up and amphibians for no other reason that they're very sensitive because the changes in the environment are sort of the canary in the coal -- if you put it in the introduction. Let's talk a little bit about how incredibly sensitive amphibians are. To climate change in freshwater and in what way how can may be that canary in the coal miner on this issue. Well they have certain physiological. Characteristics for example they don't breeze through the lungs like most mammals and other animals do. They have very sensitive skin. Through which they exchange oxygen and other gases and then also. Through which they and they they I have -- exchanges with their blood for -- so they have already very sensitive physiology that exposes them to a lot more of the pollutants that normally. People in mammals would not be affected so anything that we throw in the water primarily. Gonna affect amphibians and in a way that's much more acute and many other animals. They also require particular types of habitat for breeding mostly amphibian -- do we know here in North America agreed and in aquatic habitats and other areas they -- distant. And then terrestrial -- but when you destroy those habitats of course you're destroying essentially -- -- and how to lure their habitats in which these animals need for breeding. So the combination of that plus of the fact that we are also changing the climate. The climate is having an effect on things that are important for amphibians such as rainfall off such as moisture in the environment. All these things combined now that could maybe -- -- of the the poster child of how we this these two are affecting the environment in general how. Of these species are threatened do we know. The latest biggest scientific. Assessment which essentially looked at each of those 6000. Species one by one. And this is the gathering of well not one gathering but an assessment that involve hundreds of scientists around the world. The results showed that the full third -- -- 3% to close to 2000 of those 6000 species are threatened in some fashion. From from the effects of are. Impact on the environment and that means that many of those 2000 species run the risk of going extinct in the next twenty to fifty years. Clark who is just over in Japan a couple years ago. Trying to figure out how to save the Japanese giant giant salamander OK doctor -- you've got to tell us about the giant salamander in Japan. Yeah -- this -- dream sort of going to see the prehistoric. Amphibian this is one of three species in the very ancient scrambling meaning that for the family that's been around handling of amphibians it's been around for over a 130 million years for these animals were funny your way before T Rex was there was Romania. The plains of Nebraska. And it was there was always a dream of mine and untreated -- -- animal that will get to about. Six to seven feet in length. If you know anything about salamanders usually they'll -- and in your thumb in the palm of your hand these animals -- bite your hand up there mouth there are immense there surely -- Net and they can weigh up to about sixty or seventy pounds home this incredibly. We did find them in Japan -- -- -- there's another species in China and there's a third species related not quite a -- which is a hell -- here in in North America. And in Japan. Although it's the threatened species there are managing it and trying to conserve this species and so they have captive breeding farms that up. We were able to it is find some animals and nature as well. And we're just. Is trying to get the story out that this for the fantastic creature it's a prehistoric animal that's survived for. Over under and thirty million years and we should be. You know we should be worried about what we're doing to the environment because if there are these the indications that amphibians are telling us is that we're doing something very harmful to the environment and we as humans often forget that we are also. Species that depend on the environment and if they're telling us that the environment is going downhill when we should be worried because our survival could be at risk in the future could. What is being done globally to protect amphibians. -- and many different things and they're into the you know there's sort of the death by a thousand cuts so. We need the sort of clean up the environment in general we need to stop polluting we need to cocoon to clean up fresh water and ponds and lakes. But the most important thing that we need to do and this is still what's the what is threatening amphibians -- destroying habitat when we put land children apart under. Murder. Channel streams for further erosion control for performing. When we throw pollutants and pesticides into the environment. All of these things are really what are threatening incidents so we can just do some simple things like preserve habitat preserve natural ecosystems. That would go a long way into. Helping amphibians worldwide of course. The big elephant in the room is climate change and climate change. Is obviously affecting amphibians but it's affecting pretty much every life form monarchs and that's a much bigger challenge and then you're dealing with habitat loss. For both -- you what are some other species are types of amphibians that you find most. Either compelling odd or amazing I understand that there is a purple frog from India that lives twelve feet underground. Yes isn't that bizarre and results are very strange to it has a sort of -- stayed like face and I hate it it's just one of those strange frogs that we we know about. There is one that was just discovered -- recently in Peru that is the first monogamous -- only can the female lays eggs on -- leave. And then the mail picks out six of the tab polls once they had two men ferries and individually. The forest. In two. And their own little swimming pools in in -- Lee adds little pools of puddle of water and then tens of them with his main unbelievable it's very strange in. So. Mother -- find -- compelling I mean I'm sure very interesting all in their own right but. Well we all miss -- very. Odd looking creature you should look it up if you haven't. It's a blind salamander that lives in limestone caves in the Balkans we can ended -- looks very odd and if can live up to seven years and and go six years without eating anything without it. You how does it we have from. I think it has a very slow metabolism -- -- -- partial hibernation not. Something out pickup truck yeah. Says George said there are some just some wonderful life history is that there are associated with drugs and in fact they're one of the most successful. Vertebrate groups there -- they exist on every continent except Antarctica. So they they haven't been able to sort of go into every kind of habitat whether its cloning for terrestrial and tropical island deserted can. Some of these animals that that George mentioned that that demonstrate what we call parental care meaning that Seattle. Whether the male and female and actually take care of the young the truth is you have to -- in many cases these are animals that are. Barely -- larger than than your thumbnail. That demonstrates the intelligence I would say to you know take care of other young defend them against predators put them in colder water carry them around. It's just a wonderful. Wonderful behavior that once you -- you can't -- you can't help but being passionate about the you know there's there's actually a little bit of good news we often talk about this. The threats in the dire. A dire a situation and they've been there and that's. Just today there was a -- to report they rediscovered. Species that there we thought had gone extinct and in Australia -- that hadn't been seen in its natural habitat and over thirty years. It was found out recently and fairly healthy populations. They are breeding and this sort of bring the one animal or one species back under the hadn't fixed it lists as opposed to putting on the -- now. Unfortunately I was hoping limits on I report I was hoping that there was one of two speeches and Australia which have both gone extinct or at least as far as we can tell. Which demonstrated perhaps one of the most interesting and potentially important behaviors for for man. Which was that they were called the gastric brooding frog no more than what they did -- it look pretty amazing that the female once she laid eggs and they were fertilized. She would swallow them and the -- it would develop and her. And her contestant in her -- -- my intention was enable her physiology was able to shut up. All of the gastric -- that you know we normally developed to digest food and so forth. Through some physiological process. Because otherwise the issued a digested the eggs and then the terrible she would keep he had until the development of -- book and open your mouth and all of a sudden. Three or four little baby frogs would come out. You can imagine the potential for. All search your thinking that that's trick of fidelity -- represented the people now these pieces are gonna. Georgia got to ask you about the one species of frog that is the your you're don't care how it happened and where is this -- Well my girlfriend and I were supporting the global amphibian assessment which was an attempt to figure out what frogs were left. How they were doing and what we can -- to conserve them. So after that I went to a meeting in DC that was kind of an emergency meeting to deal -- this crisis and down. They kind of surprised me ambushed me with the news that they named small shrubs fraud from Sri Lanka. After my daughter poppy so it's it's called a lot less poppy day. And it really just lives in this one very small area of near a -- mom plantation grown you know this fighter. So it's really feasible to protect this one. Creature. Without a huge outlay of funds. And down. I'm very honored that they knew they chose to do that and once you have a frog named after you gotta you really have to keep it a lot Betsy -- how does she feel about that she's thrilled about it and wants to go see -- but I have to explain to -- that it's it's about 111000 miles away yeah. And and very remote. And really she's at six she thinks that everybody has a frog named after sellers. I -- has gone a you have appeared in environmental education TV programs for US and Brazilian schools and George you or a father how you inspire kids. To be a lifelong conservationists. Well I mentioned before I shouldn't have probably become an environmentalist but I think Ed Wilson put it the best that we are born with an innate love of nature and of the wonderful things that stuff. -- Europe without and I think if we can to find ways to. Nurture that and kids. Is -- -- needed job unfortunately we don't always do that -- the first to be guilty with my kids. They do go to the Amazon when they're back there and -- trample around unforced. Which if you don't go outside explorer and an observed. And this is what kids do best say they ask questions. They try and find answers those questions and and believe or not that's how I define finances and asking questions than an answering those questions. If we can just keep the wonderment that we are born with and direct that in turn into young people I think will grow up to be an environmentalist than perhaps in -- To -- any thoughts. Yeah I mean on the Simpsons I really tried to just introduced topics and throw them out there. You know like we would have. -- doing a safety demonstration in just for the heck of that we make him a safety salamander BL US it was so odd and then maybe somebody -- it would get someone thinking. We we did a show about Lisa becoming a vegetarian. And down. You know we didn't really come down on any side of the issue but. I just think you know it's important to toss it out there and and down you know when I was a kid we I didn't know there was such a thing is vegetarianism. So -- Even raising the issue I think is really important and kids have to get outside that I get discouraged when I see kids just on the computer all that timer. Working with Tivo or whatever you know it's. It's it's really important that they have contact with -- -- in firsthand way. Is there any thing in just the amount of time that we have left is there anything that you both would either like to underscore or say to kind of put a bow on this topic and it's important. Thought I would just say this. What the environment is telling us is is that we we need to stop doing what we're doing. And we just need to remind ourselves that we're animals -- eventually this will come another -- of the media. In the -- and so I think the love that we have for nature should translate into supporting and in doing something to the stuff the impact we have on in the environment. And I'd say if you care about your own future in your children's future don't let frogs croak. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- For more information about frogs climate change freshwater. And other environmental issues and the work of conservation international you can go to their website conservation dot -- Doctor guest on George thanks so much for great conversation. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- What have you is trying get this information out to as many people as possible thank you all so much for listening thank you Liz this is -- microscope.