We Are Not Frogs!

frog-in-boiling-water

Image from http://www.small-house-building.com/sustainable-building/wisely-using-the-earths-resources/

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we have just experienced the hottest combined global land and ocean temperatures for April, May, and June on record (July Global temperature record will be published by NOAA on August 12, 2014). Each month individually set a record, and the three months taken together also set a record.  The departure from average for global ocean temperatures was greater in June than it has ever been for any month since record keeping began. The global measurements have been taken for the past 135 years. Let that settle in our minds a bit. For the past 135 years (at least), no human beings have experienced a warmer April, May, and June.

Most of us likely did not even notice a difference, and therein lies one of the greatest challenges that we face in mobilizing individual, social, and political will to address the greatest moral challenge of our time. Many, perhaps most famously Al Gore, have likened our situation to being like a frog in a pot of water that is slowly warming to a boil. If the water is heated slowly enough, the frog does not even know what is happening until it is too late. The only way to save the frog is to remove it from the water.

That is the bad news. Here is the good news: We are not frogs! We have the ability to see and understand what is happening to us. Our best scientists and a carefully applied scientific method are giving us all the warning we need to recognize what is happening and remove ourselves from this slowly warming situation, and we have the ability if we work together to slow and hopefully (in generations to come) halt the warming. We are not frogs, and it is time that we begin acting like it before it is too late.

As with all analogies, the boiling frog analogy has its limitations. Unlike the frogs, we can’t realistically remove ourselves from the planet like frogs can be removed from a pot of warming water. There really is nowhere for us to leap, so we have to find a way to halt or lower the heat. Also, there is documented evidence that frogs actually do become agitated and attempt to remove themselves from the warming water, leading Joe Romm to conclude that our inactivity in relation to climate change makes us more like “brainless frogs.” See http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/02/1931301/humans-are-not-like-slowly-boiling-frogs-we-are-like-slowly-boiling-brainless-frogs-2/

 

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